The Small's Dude Ranch

Dude ranchers on horses moving cattle

It’s not easy holding onto a lifestyle that fewer Americans seem to understand and appreciate. Even when you work hard the economics of ranching is tough. So about a dozen years ago the Smalls came up with a novel idea, a way to bring in some extra cash. They would start a dude ranch based in their cow camp in the Dead Horse hills. It’s a rustic location with big open country perfect for cattle, cowboys and cowgirls. Here guests aren’t pampered; they’re expected to show up ready to ride and work.

“I think it’s unique. Some people want a hot tub at end of day this isn’t place for them. This is place for people who want the real experience of what it might have been live to live in this country a hundred years ago. That’s the uniqueness.”
-- Mary Ellen Sheely, guest

The whole family pitches in when they have guests at the cow camp. Butch’s daughters Molly and Mary Frances help with the dudes and the horses while Sheila often handles the meals at the cookhouse. The Smalls have hosted visitors from around the world. During their stay they usually gain a real appreciation of what this western lifestyle is all about.

Dude ranchers riding horses on a cattle drive

“I think so many more people need to feel this for all the reasons. I think it’s awesome that this tradition is carried on. This guy is running a real ranch, he’s not kidding around.”
-- Marsha Hartley, guest


“For me it goes clear to my toes. It’s the kind of place I wish I could just stay in 99% of my life, just have this around me. … It doesn’t get too more real than in this country.“
-- Cheryl DeGroot, guest

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