A classic dude ranch experience has the ability to truly capture the imagination. Whether you’re ambling on a horse along remote trails, lazing on a lake while trying to catch fish, or gathering around a fire to roast s’mores, it all feels like a refreshing journey back to simpler times.
But when we think of dude ranches, we often conjure the vast wildernesses of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Texas—classic settings for these western escapes. There is also a thriving guest ranch culture and tradition in sunny California, however, as I learned on a recent visit to the historic Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, set on 10,500 acres of rolling hills in Southern California’s Santa Ynez Valley, slightly north of Santa Barbara.
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