Retreat to Paintrock Canyon for a taste of dude ranch life in the Wyoming wilderness, complete with archeological site visits, riding and gourmet dining. Olivia Palamountain reports

Ranchlands has officially opened its 80,000-acre Paintrock Canyon Ranch in the Bighorn Mountains of northern Wyoming, offering guests the chance to fully immerse themselves in authentic western life.

The sustainably-focused retreat is one of a growing number of “dude ranches”, homesteads that include everything from experiencing day-to-day life on a working cattle ranch to luxuriating in the semi-wild with gourmet meals, spa menus and activities.

Located in a landscape characterised by creeks, springs, meadows and vast canyon walls, this striking terrain is a playground for guests of Paintrock Canyon, a remote setting that fosters diverse off-the-beaten-path adventures.Paintrock Canyon RanchUltra-comfortable accommodations also keep guests close to nature with large, luxuriously appointed safari-style tents that feature full-sized beds and furniture. Meals, meanwhile, are prepared by a private chef and incorporate Ranchlands beef plus local produce and dairy whenever possible.

Paintrock Canyon RanchActivities include taking a long canter to the top of Lumen Canyon or Courthouse Rock, spending the afternoon learning about the 2,000-year-old Native American petroglyphs at the Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site, or fly fishing in one the many fishing holes near camp.Paintrock Canyon Ranch“The goal is for guests at the Paintrock Canyon Ranch to leave with a deep understanding of the rich history of the area and the important role that ranching plays in restoring our natural resources, while exploring nooks and crannies that only a few people have ever seen,” says Duke Phillips III, founder of Ranchlands.

The ranch will operate from May to September and offers two vacation packages – a five-night Ranch Vacation stay or a 7-night Pack Trip experience. Pricing starts at $3,950 per person, which includes all meals, lodging and unlimited activities.Paintrock Canyon Ranch“Days will be spent visiting surrounding lakes, hiking, and riding miles of trails, and riding out to the Ranchlands cow camp to spend the day with the ranch team,” said Phillips III. “Evenings will be spent around the fire with new friends under a carpet of stars.”Paintrock Canyon RanchAnother new dude ranch opening in Wyoming this year is the Yellowstone Pop-Up Ranch in Cody.

The pop-up will be housed in the historic Blackwater Creek Ranch, which will be under the management of True Ranch Collection for this year’s summer season (May 26 to Sept 28).

Blackwater Creek Ranch first opened in 1915, and sits in an area once described by Theodore Roosevelt as “the most scenic 50 miles in the US”, just 15 miles from the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

When it reopens as Yellowstone after a series of updates and renovations, the rustic yet refined property will be ready to accommodate up to 35 guests at a time across its expansive lodge and cosy log cabins.

The lodgings have been outfitted with beautiful Western-inspired decor including Navajo rugs and plush bedding, immersing visitors in an authentic ranch experience from the moment they arrive.

Guests can look forward to classic dude ranch adventures such as horseback riding, hiking, archery, sport shooting, fly fishing, and even whitewater rafting excursions.

The nearby town of Cody offers additional entertainment with its nightly rodeo and cowboy culture. For those wanting to explore further, Yellowstone National Park is just a short road trip away.

All-inclusive three- and six-night stays are available, starting at US$1,500 per person based on double occupancy and US$2,700 per person based on double occupancy respectively. Stays include accommodations, meals, ranch activities and amenities, off-ranch excursions, entertainment and special events.

Proceeds from stays at the Blackwater Creek Ranch will benefit the historic OTO Dude Ranch near the North Entrance of the park in Montana, where True Ranch Collection held its Yellowstone Pop-Up Ranch in 2022 and 2023.