Welcome to the fourth installment of the “Ranch Edition” of the Dude-Halloo! At the Dude Ranch Foundation, we deeply appreciate the diverse audiences who support the dude ranching industry, including ranchers, industry partners, and the general public. In this special “Ranch Edition, we address ranchers and industry partners directly, focusing on the issues that matter most to you as valued DRA members. We also highlight the numerous benefits that come with your support of the Foundation, tailored specifically for you, the dedicated and passionate Dude Rancher. Enjoy this edition!

Visit the Museum!

Outdoor Signage

We are back in full swing this summer at the dude ranch museum. Foot traffic has been really good this year. We are averaging about 100 to 125 people a month coming in to learn about dude ranch vacations. These are mainly families and/or couples loving Cody’s Western experience and wondering what else is out there for their families. We are handing out DRA brochures and individual ranch brochures. These guests come from not only the good ole USA but also from overseas.

DRF Museum Walk-in Donations

Dude Ranch Museum Exhibits

Saddles on Display

We have updated some of the museum displays to better reflect the history and heritage of the dude ranch industry. If you are in the area and have time, we would love it if you would swing in and say hi.

Our Summer hours are 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Wednesday and Friday through Saturday. We are closed on Sunday and Thursday. You’ll find Brandi Gideon at the museum on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and Colleen Hodson on Friday and Saturday.

The Dude Ranch Foundation Museum Has Its First Volunteer!

Colleen Chisman

Colleen Chisman, who has worked in Immunochemistry research for eight years, decided she needed a break and started working at Dude Ranches. She has worked at several DRA member ranches over the years and is currently working here in Cody, Wyoming. During some of her downtime, she volunteers at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and now at the DRF Museum.

We could not be happier to have her. Thank you, Colleen!

The DRA in the Beginning

DRA Past Presidents

From the Dude Ranchers’ Association website on the history of the DRA:

How Railroads Contributed to Dude Ranch History

As the railroad expanded in the 1920s, dude ranches spread across the west and as far south as Arizona. The cattle industry was struggling and many ranchers were faced with financial hardship. Ernest Miller of Elkhorn Ranch in Montana convinced Max Goodsill of the Northern Pacific Railway that there was an opportunity for a mutually beneficial relationship. Goodsill passed the idea along to A.B. Smith, passenger traffic manager for Northern Pacific who arranged a meeting at the Bozeman Hotel.

Ranch History Is Made

This became the first official meeting of the Dude Ranchers’ Association on September 27th and 28th, 1926. Thus, the leading and governing body of the West’s dude ranch industry was formed. Ranchers, railroad officials, and national park officials attended the two-day event […].

We found an article from the Bozeman Gazette about the first meeting of the Dude Ranchers Association in 1926 when the association was formed. Some excerpts are below:

The plan outlined at the closing session was broad and covered the following points:

  1. Classification of ranches according to accommodations and rates.
  2. Active support of work for the protection of game and fish.
  3. Co-operation with Northern Pacific officials and sales organizations to promote travel to ranch resorts.
  4. Aggressive advertising plans and personal solicitation of positive patrons in cities of the east and middle west.

There were 42 ranches at this first meeting: one from Idaho, 23 from Montana, and 18 from Wyoming.

First officers elected of the DRA in 1926 (Four out of the below nine ranches are still operating today)

  • President – Larry Larom, Valley Ranch, Wyoming
  • Vice President – A.H. Croonquist, Camp Senia, Montana
  • Secretary – Treasurer – Ernest Miller, Elkhorn Ranch, Montana

First Directors Elected of the DRA in 1926:

  • Mrs. Walter Shaw, Shaws camp, Montana
  • Richard Randall, OTO Ranch, Montana
  • Paul VanCleve, Lazy Bar K, Montana
  • Ed Weyman, Trappers Lodge, Wyoming
  • William Eaton, Eatons’ Ranch, Wyoming
  • Irving Corse Bar B.C, Wyoming and W.A Binko, Montana

The DRF’s Horse Safety/Risk Management

Adaptive First Aid for the Trail and Equine Health Program

Wrangler Trainings

We are in our 20th year of this amazing safety program. Keeping the Guests, the staff, and the horses at dude ranches safe and healthy is the main objective. Every year we hold wrangler trainings at Dude Ranch Association (DRA) member ranches and other riding facilities. This year was an exceptional year as more wranglers were trained in 2023 than any other year. There were 19 DRA member ranches that participated, two non-DRA member ranches, and one kids’ camp. One hundred and fifty-one wranglers trained. And there have been over 1,000 wranglers trained over the years.

This course has been established to train wranglers and guides in the skills needed to meet the Minimum Horse Safety and Risk Management practices accepted by the DRA ranches. This course helps to provide the skills and knowledge needed to help prevent potential accidents and demonstrates how to anticipate dangerous situations on the trail. Participants in this program must already have a good working knowledge of horsemanship skills. This is both a hands-on and classroom experience. The course follows the material presented in the DRA Horse Safety Manual. You can find out more HERE.

Wrangler Trainings

Does the program work? Yes. According to our DRA members that participate, it does. Yearly we conduct a survey of all DRA members in the fall regarding any injuries etc., for the season. Last year there was a total of 702,784 hours in the saddle for the ranches who answered the survey, and the rate of injury was much less than half of 1 percent at 0.15%. So yes, the program works.

We want to thank everyone who has supported the horse safety program over the years, as we could not continue to do this without all your generosity and support.

Next Wrangler Training is in Arizona:

Where: Tombstone Ranch
When: Aug 13, 2023 – Starts at 9:00 AM
Contact Michell to Register – (520) 457-8707
Instructor: Russell and Laura True

WyoGives Fundraiser

The total for WyoGives 2023 is still being tallied, with several outstanding gifts. In mid-August, a comprehensive report will be finalized and shared in the September 2023 Dude-Halloo.


The Dude Ranch Foundation continued to experience a year-over-year increase in support, with over 93% of Donors fully funding the processing fees for their gifts. This resulted in more direct monies to the Foundation.

The program continues to attract new Donors to the Dude Ranch Foundation. This year, we are pleased to have so many gifts made in honor of individuals and specifically designated to the core pillars and programs of the Foundation:

  • Investing in the future – the Scholarship Program
  • Safe trails for all – the Horse Safety Program
  • Conserving millions of acres of land – the Fire Mitigation Program
  • Preserving Dude Ranch History – the DRF Heritage Museum and Research Archives

If you did not have the opportunity to support the Dude Ranch Foundation on July 12th, and would still like to donate, contact Colleen Hodson at 307-250-1981 or go to our donation page.

Please Give through Bing

There are many ways to support the Dude Ranch Foundation. And Giving with Bing is one way to support that rewards everyone! Find great search results and help create great results for the Dude Ranch Foundation!

Give with Bing is a feature of Microsoft Rewards that enables you to support a cause you care about simply by searching on Bing. It starts by signing up for Microsoft Rewards, their loyalty program. After joining, points earned for Bing searches will be automatically donated to your selected cause.

Once you register at Give.bing.com, your search activity on Bing, at no expense to you, provides funding for the Dude Ranch Foundation.

Give with Bing is currently available in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

Join now!

Alliance Partners

Thank you to the Alliance Partners that support the Dude Ranch Foundation mission.