Gran Plans Home on the Range - My Family Travels

Have you ever wondered what life would have been if you had been a part of the early West and had been a cowboy? Dixie Dude Ranch in Bandera, Texas, offers an authentic glimpse of the early frontier.

Throughout American history there has been much written about the early West and the hardy folks who made their living by raising cattle while other tilled the land. At times there was conflict between the two life styles. However, in spite of many hardships endured by the people, our overall impressions leads us to envision an exciting and somewhat romantic lifestyle when consideration is given to beautiful flower-covered hillsides, clean spring-fed waters and glorious sunsets. There is a place in the Texas Hill Country — outside Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World and just 55 miles from San Antonio — where you can get a taste of the early frontier.

The Dixie Dude Ranch ( 800/375-Y’ALL; 830/796-7771) is not a resort ranch, but rather an old-time working stock ranch, which was founded in 1901. In 1937, the ranch was opened to visitors. It is situated on 725 acres, and although the size of the herd has been reduced, there are still remnants of orange and white Texas longhorns.

In order to provide comfortable lodging on a year-round basis for frequent guests, several cabins and extra rooms have been constructed to go along with the original, spacious ranch headquarters. The new facilities provide the modern comforts that families need to create a relaxing vacation, and I guarantee you will always remember it.

The Dixie Dude Ranch has many planned activities such as horseback riding, hayrides, campfire sing-alongs, horseshoe pitching, fishing, swimming or dancing. You can set your own pace by exploring the ranch on hiking trails, hunting for fossils and arrowheads, or checking out the century-old barn and Range War cemetery. If you just want a little peace n’quiet you can sit in the lodge and read, or rock on the front porch and visit with the other guests. You will also be treated to an evening of entertainment by a nationally prominent horseman and roper. It is amazing what he can do with a rope and a bull whip! He loves to include guests and children from the audience in his presentation.

The ranch offers an endless variety of carefully prepared food in the friendly atmosphere of a big family gathering. The servings are family and home-cooked style, so people who have large appetites can get their money’s worth. There is an outdoor Barbecue Dinner where you will be entertained by musicians who bring back memories with their upbeat songs of yesteryear. For the Cowboy Chuckwagon Breakfast on top of the mountain, you and the youngsters have a choice of riding a horse or a haywagon up the mountain for breakfast. On Sunday, the ranch features their famous fried chicken for lunch. But remember, when the chow bell rings, don’t delay. You had better get to the dining hall because there are no nearby fast food restaurants to accommodate late sleepers!

All the ranch personnel and cowboys are very courteous and their great humor makes it a good place to bring your family and your children. Even a short three- or four-day vacation will bring you closer together. We met one family who were returning for their seventh year.

If you are looking for room to stretch your legs, breathe fresh air, and gaze at the stars far from city lights, this is the place to visit. When you return home and reflect on your vacation, you will feel you have captured some of the grandeur, laughter, songs and romance of the Old West.

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