It certainly has nothing to do with today’s younger crowd referring to each other as ‘dude’. It’s also doubtful that they coined the name after anything connected to a guest ranch. So where did this ranch classification come from? As it turns out, credit is due mostly to Theodore Roosevelt and people like him.

How Theodore Roosevelt Became the Most Famous Dude

Back in the late 19th century, Theodore Roosevelt went on many adventures in the Western United States. As a kid, he’d been a sickly child who’d had to stay home most of the time because of his asthma and his physical weakness. All that time at home made him a rather bookish young man and an avid student of zoology and natural history. As such, he was fascinated by the West.

Like many Easterners with a romantic vision of the West, the Harvard-educated Roosevelt eventually headed to the frontier, where for a few years he operated a cattle ranch in the Dakotas. That was what made him a “dude” — he was a well-born Easterner not accustomed to the rough life of the West.

Back in Theodore Roosevelt’s time, the word “dude” wasn’t used in a very friendly way by Westerners. In essence, “dude” meant an ostentatious and ignorant man who could barely survive outside his comfort zone in the big city back East. Cultured socialites, arrogant and rich, were called “dudes” when they came out West to see what life was like for the “other half.”

“Guest Ranch” is Putting it Politely

Guest ranches in the Old West quickly earned the nickname dude ranch to refer to the type of patrons they attracted. The early visitors at dude ranches were generally wealthy Eastern men who came to the West to play at being a cowboy without having to face the genuine risks that real cowboys had to face on a daily basis.

Dude Ranches Today

As the American West gradually tamed itself, dude ranches also became more tame and “dude” was no longer used as a derogatory term. Today, dude ranches like Colorado Trails offer some of the best all inclusive family vacations in the world. Offering a chance to get out in Mother Nature, relax and enjoy activities that aren’t everyday experiences. Dude ranches are still offering people a chance to get to know the Wild West, an attraction that is timeless and ageless. People of any age will love the dude ranch experience.

Interested in your own cowboy vacation? Browse through our website to see the types of activities we offer.