Hill Country Dude Ranches

If there is one thing that Texas is known for, certainly the state's cowboy heritage is high on the list. From the way Texans dress, to the food eaten in the state, the cowboy is one of America's most popular icons. Of course, 150 years ago, cowboys and horse riding were as common as cars and driving are today (well, maybe not quite), but sadly, the modern world has fenced in the American outdoors, and replaced the Pony Express with UPS, and much of the wild west with Las Vegas and strip malls.

Texans, however, are proud of this heritage, and are increasingly bent on saving this piece of Americana. In fact, less than an hour outside of San Antonio, in Bandera, TX, the cowboy spirit is alive and well at the many dude ranches located there. Certainly, for anyone who has never been to a real Texas ranch, the experience will remain forever, and kids will especially enjoy the numerous activities offered. Many of these getaways resemble resorts as much as ranches, ensuring that cowgirls as well as cowboys are cared for, and that, although guests may get dirty out on the trails and ranges, they will be well cared for upon returning.


Here are a few of the ranches located in Bandera.

  • The Flying L Guest Ranch: Going strong for 60 years, this ranch was founded by a retired WWII fighter pilot, and has since become more than just a ranch. The Flying L offers horseback riding for those looking to enjoy the beautiful scenic Hill Country. Others may want to take in the sights via golf cart, as they make the rounds on the Flying J’s 18-hole course. The ranch also features a spa and lagoon to cool off in. The accommodations are top notch, and guests will spend their nights inside their own villa, complete with fireplaces, entertainment centers, and patios or balconies.
  • The Dixie Dude Ranch: While certainly offering all the luxuries that demanding guests require, the Dixie also is a working ranch, featuring longhorn cattle, goats, pigs, and real cowboys participating in rodeos. The ranch also offers daring guests the chance to truly get into the cowboy spirit by taking an overnight trail ride into the Hill Country where, rather than roughing it, they will be fed by the trusty chuck wagon cook and sleep in trail cabanas. The ranch also offers wireless internet, massage therapy, fishing, and a pool.
  • Rancho Cortez: Fully equipped for any type of meeting, wedding, or other event, Rancho Cortez prides itself on offering guests a wide range of activities. Horseback riding for every level is available, as are luxury accommodations, children’s adventures, mountain biking, and tubing or rafting on the Medina River. For guests looking to get in shape, the ranch also offers a fitness center, complete with a program to get you into shape. The program is complete with healthy food, personal trainers, horseback rides in the afternoon, and your choice of activity (hiking, kayaking, and biking).

The Texas cowboy spirit is alive and well in Banderas, TX, and these working ranches are just a few of the many, located just an hour northwest of San Antonio. Whether it’s for a weekend or longer, getting into the Hill Country and spending time on a real ranch is as Texan as you can get.