Many people love the idea of getting away from it all in their RV. The same people may also dream of escaping to a dude (or guest) ranch where they can live the life of a western cowboy for a few days or weeks. Dude ranch RV camping does exist!

Visit a dude ranch and stay in your RV!

We did this in Montana and had a fantastic time.

Scenery at the Montana dude ranch
Beautiful scenery at the Montana ranch

Dude Ranch in an RV

One of the many great perks of a dude ranch is the beautiful scenery in which it may exist, such as in the mountains of Montana, high desert of New Mexico, or foothills of Kentucky.

While most people will fly into the nearest major airport where the dude ranch exists, there is a second option worth exploring for many RV’ers  — drive to the dude ranch with your RV and stay in your RV while a guest at the ranch. Dude ranch RV camping brings the best of both worlds.

Riding with other guests at the dude ranch
Riding with other guests at the ranch

By driving to the ranch, you’ll have the added benefit of getting to stop at sights along the way, such as Yellowstone National Park if you’re visiting a dude ranch out west, or the Great Smoky Mountains if you’re visiting a guest ranch in the southeastern United States.

Life as a “Dude” While We Were Dude Ranch RV Camping

At the ranch where we stayed in Montana, it was considered a “working ranch” in that the family that owned the ranch had a thriving cattle operation on their land.

They bring in paying guests who get to help with the ranch’s daily activities such as sorting cattle.

Horseback riding through a herd of cows in a meadow at the dude ranch rv camping
Horseback riding through a herd of cows in a meadow at the dude ranch

Horse riding experience is not required and most guest ranches have horses to accommodate all levels of riders, from those with no horseback riding experience to advanced equestrians.

Visitors and those dude ranch RV camping can also choose to not participate in riding activities at all.

Horses at the ranch
Horses at the ranch

Guests stay in cabins at the ranch.

Given that we’d brought our Airstream along, we stayed in our Airstream in between barns at the ranch.

Our Airstream parked among barns at dude ranch rv camping
Our Airstream parked among barns at the ranch

Our hosts were kind enough to let us plug in to an electrical outlet nearby, which provided us with electricity during our stay.

However, for the most part we were boondocking, without the benefit of water or sewer hookups.

Beautiful views while horseback riding at the Montana working ranch
Beautiful views while horseback riding at the Montana working ranch

Most dude ranches include meals as a part of the accommodations.

Even though we had our travel trailer with a full kitchen, we ate all meals with the other guests at the ranch in a large communal dining room.

This made our stay even more enjoyable as we did not need to prepare meals (or clean up after them in our Airstream), which helped save a lot of water given our dry camping scenario.

Horse training at the dude ranch
Horse training at the ranch

Finding a Dude Ranch That Will Let You Bring Your RV

To find a dude ranch or guest ranch that worked for our needs, we contacted several dude ranch travel agents.

We explained that we would be bringing out Airstream and would not need accommodations, but that we would like to have meals included.

That way we could participate in the daily riding activities, enjoy the camaraderie of our fellow riders, all while staying in our Airstream which feels like home.

We found an excellent option for our needs and booked our stay several months in advance.

Our Airstream parked at the ranch while we were dude ranch rv camping
Our Airstream parked at the ranch

Considerations for Dude Ranch RV Camping

If you’re planning to explore staying at a dude ranch in your motorhome, travel trailer, fifth wheel, or any type of camper, there are a few things to consider:


Given that you will be staying in your RV, you will be freeing up beds at the ranch for other guests.

You should expect to receive a discount since you won’t be staying in a room that needs to be cleaned.

If only one of you is riding and a second person is only enjoying meals at the ranch, this should be a further discount.


Be sure to found out what, if any, electrical, water, or sewer hookups will be available to you during your stay.

Do not make any assumptions about this. If no hookups will be available, which is entirely likely, then make sure you can dry camp for the amount of time you’re visiting the ranch.

Alternatively find out if there is a local dump station and source of water near the ranch. This would require that you’re able to move your RV at least once during your stay.

Parking Location

Finding a place to park is unlikely to be a problem, given that ranches are likely to have vast amounts of open space.

If you want to be near the cabins that other guests are staying in, be sure to clear this up front.

If you’d prefer to be out in an open field somewhere, make sure this is an option for you before deciding on a ranch.


Working ranches with cattle and horses are likely used to bringing in big cattle trailers to the ranch.

However, you should make sure that you can easily turn corners into and out of the ranch.

Be sure to clear this with the ranch before showing up to avoid any nasty surprises with a large class A motorhome or long fifth wheel trailer.


If you plan to travel with any pets, such as a dog, be sure to clear this with the ranch before just showing up with your pet.

Most ranches have at least a few dogs that live and work on the ranch.

You would want to be sure that your dog is welcome and would be able to handle the ranch environment, complete with horses, cattle, dogs, and any other farm animals that live at the ranch.

Old barn at the dude ranch
Old barn at the ranch

Harvest Hosts Option

If a dude ranch or working ranch isn’t for you, but you do like the idea of staying at a ranch and seeing ranch life up close, consider checking out the Harvest Hosts program.

Harvest Hosts

(If you are interested in joining Harvest Hosts, use this link to Harvest Hosts and you’ll receive 15% off an annual membership of $99.)

The Harvest Hosts program is a unique network of wineries, farms, and attractions that invite self-contained RV’ers to visit and stay overnight.

The idea is that RV’ers stay for free but support the vineyard, farm, or attraction by making a purchase to support their business. Campers are expected to dry camp, meaning that you do not connect to the business’s water, electricity, or sewer connections. You can read about some of our experiences staying at Harvest Hosts sites.

There are many farms and ranches that participate in the Harvest Hosts program that have horses and other farm animals available for you to visit with during your stay.

Consider joining Harvest Hosts as a means of seeing farm life up close and personal.