The 2024 tourist season is sneaking up on Montana, with shoulder-season arrivals coming soon, if they're not here already.  Twelve million tourists visit Montana each year, many exploring Big Sky Country from May to October. According to an NBC Montana report, they spent around $5.8 billion in our state in 2023.

"Hi! We're from California!" Credit Canva
"Hi! We're from the Bay Area." Credit Canva
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Playing cowboy in Montana can be expensive.

Stateside tourists and international travelers come to Montana to ride horses and experience what they hope is a taste of the Old West on a ranch. Locals often call this "playing cowboy", like when you were a little kid who got to dress up like a cowboy or cowgirl one year for Halloween.  And what better place to it than a ranch in Montana?

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Credit Canva
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Three Montana Dude Ranches are ranked in the Top 10 in the US.

If you've ever wondered how much tourists pay to enjoy a week living the cattle raising, horse ridin' dream... it's not cheap. These upscale dude ranches in Montana cater to a clientele that probably won't flinch at the price; a weeklong, family-of-four package is comparable to a trip to Hawaii.

USA Today ranked the Top 10 Best dude ranches, based on selections by a panel and voted on by readers. Let's check out the Montana winners.

Paws Up Resort. Screengrab via YouTube/Top Flight Family
Paws Up Resort. Screengrab via YouTube/Top Flight Family
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Paws Up Resort in Greenough, MT

Perhaps the glitziest dude ranch in Montana, Paws Up Resort offers glamping, ranching, luxury cabins, and more. The average summer rate for a 4 to 6-person luxury tent is over $4,700 per night. There is a 4 - 5 night minimum. Paws Up Resort and Ranch ranked 8th place in voting.

Screengrab via YouTube/Nine Quarter Circle Ranch
Screengrab via YouTube/Nine Quarter Circle Ranch
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Nine Quarter Circle Ranch in Gallatin Gateway, MT

This operation at the mouth of the Gallatin Canyon is an attractive option for the thousands of tourists who pass from Bozeman to West Yellowstone each summer. An all-inclusive weeklong stay at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch will cost around $3,700 per person (adult, double occupancy) per week.  The ranch ranked 6th place in USA Today's poll.

Screengrab via YouTube/Nancy D Brown
Screengrab via YouTube/Nancy D Brown
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The Covered Wagon Ranch, Gallatin Gateway, MT

One of the oldest dude ranches in Montana, the Covered Wagon resembles one of the more authentic dude ranch experiences in Montana, in our opinion. Rates are comparable to the Nine Quarter Circle and USA Today voters awarded the Covered Wagon Ranch took the top spot for the best dude ranch in the US. 

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Paws Up Resort. Screengrab via YouTube/Top Flight Family
Paws Up Resort. Screengrab via YouTube/Top Flight Family
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Montana luxury dude ranches are much more than just riding horses.

Guests can experience various adventures like whitewater rafting, ATV riding, hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, and much more are available either on-site or nearby for these Montana ranch vacations. Paws Up even has an old-time western town set up its private gun range.

Sitka Ranch, Montana

Gallery Credit: Tammie Toren

10 Biggest Montana Ranches

The 10 Biggest Ranches in Montana

Gallery Credit: Tammie Toren

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