By Darla Guillen Gilthorpe at Chron, October 9, 2020
Bandera, Texas: just call it the dude-ranch capital of the state. And for that matter, of the nation.
Nestled into the Edwards Plateau, this small central Texas town may have a tiny population, but it regularly welcomes numerous tourists for its wealth of cozy, countrified resorts. Especially those city slickers in search of a true cowpoke experience.
Better known as “dude ranches,” these destinations are central to this state’s agritourism, and they all started in the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. At that time, “dude” was the term commonly used for city dwellers, some of whom visited these ranches for a taste of rural life, cattle wrangling, and lasso tossing. And that’s what they still offer today, albeit with less tumbleweed and more Wi-Fi.
833 Dixie Dude Ranch, Bandera, Texas 78003; Phone: (830) 796-7771
Perhaps the most popular dude ranch in the state, this facility offers the quintessential wild-west experience. With good reason: real cowboys work the real rodeos and tend to the variety of rugged landscapes and their goats, longhorns, and pigs. The 725-acre Hill Country expanse offers horseback riding, barbecue cookouts, rustic cabins, fishing, and hiking. Unwind after a full day with a visit to the ranch’s swimming pool, or opt for some massage therapy. You may need one after a hayride or fossil hunting. This Certified Historic Texas Ranch option is great for families but also welcomes solo travel, especially now. Rates average $140 to $170 per night.
675 Flying L Dr, Bandera, Texas 78003; Phone: (830) 796-7745
More polished and less rugged than the Dixie Dude Ranch is this luxurious rustic accommodation. One hint: it features a golf course, and it’s also visited for its conference and wedding-hosting venue. But that doesn’t mean it lacks country charm. Flying L offers horseback riding, wagon rides, campfire S’mores, and live western tunes. There’s also a water park and lagoon area for cooling off after playing at ranch hand. It was designated a Texas Historical Commission Landmark in 2016, as it dates back to 1947 when Colonel John H. Lapham acquired it from Polish settlers. Rooms vary from suites to villas and the “Colonel’s Quarters,” a nine-bedroom lodge that spans roughly 3,800 square feet. For more of a ranch feel, reserve the Fort Apache Cabin or bunkhouse.
350 Mayan Ranch Rd, Bandera, Texas; Phone: (830) 796-3312
More than 330 acres of rural sprawl welcomes guests at this Hicks’ family parcel. The prominent Lone Star State relatives founded this facility in 1951, and it kept the original moniker (which may explain why its name conjures images of Chichén Itzá, not spurs). Families descend on this ranch for horseback rides, saloon-style dancing, and refreshing swims in the nearby Medina River. Its family-friendly activities include lasso lessons for kids and a petting-zoo-like range of friendly animals to enjoy. Rates here are all-inclusive: they include meals, lodging, ranch fun, and drinks.
810 Farm to Market Rd 470, Bandera, Texas 78003; phone: (830) 796-3628
Founded by Bandera native Frank Anderwald and his wife, Houston-born Mary, this operation is still considered a ma’ and pa’ ranch. Situated at the fork of the Indian Creek and Medina River, this ranch allows for modern tubing but also offers a look at pioneer days. Packages include the “Cowboy for a Day” deal that includes a roping and branding demonstration, as well as a one-hour horseback ride. Or opt to hike through the wooded land in search of the Native-American teepee that shows how people once lived on these acres. Keep in mind that it doubles as a wedding venue, so you may want to plan ahead to avoid crowds or limited-capacity lodging.
872 Hay Hollar Rd, Bandera, Texas 78003; phone: (830) 796-9339
Active travelers will enjoy this dude-meets-fitness ranch, where they can saddle up and lose weight. Workout camps including two-week and 60-day fitness programs are offered at this 5,500-acre rural getaway. And those workouts don’t include the 20-plus horseback riding trails, pools, and other activities that will invigorate your wellness goals.
See the original article: https://www.chron.com/life/travel/slideshow/5-Texas-dude-ranches-to-visit-this-fall-210457.php