Everybody has to have a support group of sorts, so we dude ranchers have ours too. The Dude Ranchers Association was started in 1926 as a means for ranchers to share ideas, collectively solve problems they might be encountering, and to set standards for ranchers who were hosting guests from the eastern part of the country. To become a member of the Dude Ranchers Association (DRA), a ranch must pass inspection at various levels, and be on probation for a year or two. Then, after admission to the DRA, ranches are still visited and inspected by a DRA representative every few years.
The Dude Ranchers Association headquarters are located in Cody, Wyoming, which was co-founded by the famous Buffalo Bill Cody. The headquarters and town are both worth a visit on their own. The DRA building includes artifacts and histories of dude ranching. The town has a number of historic buildings, including Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel. Cody is also home to a wonderful museum full of artwork, artifacts, guns and history of the old Wild West.
These days the DRA receives and forwards hundreds, if not thousands, of inquiries every year from people around the world who are interested in a ranch vacation. The DRA is also helpful to ranchers who are looking for employees, young people who are looking for ranch positions, and even with college scholarships for young students affiliated with the DRA.
So, this last week the DRA held their annual convention in Tucson, AZ. Typically southern dude ranches operate in the winter but not in summer, while in northern states it’s just the opposite. Therefore while we northern operators are off for the winter it is convenient to get away for this purpose. Long Hollow Ranch sent six representatives to Tucson, and we came away encouraged, inspired, educated, and challenged. We feel now that we have better insight into ways to better serve our guests, from their first inquiry to their arrival, through their stay and to their time of departure. We have a deeper appreciation for the task before us; that of providing our guests with adventure, healthy outdoor activity, new relationships, great home-cooked meals and comfortable beds, all in a safe, secure and friendly environment.