Oldest Ranches in America

7 Oldest Ranches in America

The history of ranching in America is rich and fascinating, dating back to the earliest days of colonial settlement. From the Great Plains’ vast grasslands to the Rocky Mountains’ rugged terrain, ranching has played a vital role in shaping the American West. Today, thousands of ranches are scattered throughout the country, but some of the most enduring and iconic are also the oldest.

These seven ranches have stood the test of time, surviving everything from wars and droughts to economic depressions and changing cultural trends. Each one has its unique story to tell, and together they provide a window into the rich and complex history of ranching in America.

Join us as we explore the seven oldest ranches in America and discover the fascinating stories behind these enduring symbols of the American West.

7. Circle Z Ranch

Year Founded: 1926
Founded by: Nash family
Address: 1476 AZ-82, Patagonia, AZ 85624, United States
Type of Ranch: Traditional dude Ranch

Circle Z Ranchphoto source: Visit Arizona

The Circle Z Ranch is a traditional dude ranch in Patagonia, Arizona, United States. It was founded in 1926 by the Nash family and has operated continuously ever since. The ranch is situated on a 6,500-acre property in the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains, offering scenic views and a peaceful atmosphere.

As a traditional dude ranch, the Circle Z Ranch provides guests with an authentic Western experience, immersing them in cowboy culture and lifestyle. Guests can participate in horseback riding, cattle drives, and other ranch activities and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings and wildlife.

6. Bar Lazy J Ranch

Year Founded: 1912
Founded by: James S. Ferguson, Florence Ferguson, Edgar M. Messiter
Address: 447 Co Rd 3, Parshall, CO 80468, United States
Type of Ranch: Dude ranch

Bar Lazy J Ranchphoto source: TripAdvisor

Founded in 1912 by James S. Ferguson, Florence Ferguson, and Edgar M. Messiter, the Bar Lazy J Ranch is a historic dude ranch in Parshall, Colorado, United States. Over the past century, it has provided an authentic Western experience for guests by immersing them in cowboy culture and lifestyle with activities like horseback riding and cattle drives.

The ranch, which spans over 200 acres of private land in the Rocky Mountains, boasts stunning views and a serene atmosphere. The rustic accommodations, such as private cabins and lodges, are cozy and unique, and guests can savor locally sourced and home-cooked meals served family-style in the dining room.

Did You Know?

The ranch offers additional recreational activities, including fishing, hiking, and river rafting, along with hosting photography workshops, painting retreats, and cowboy poetry gatherings.

5. OTO Homestead and Dude Ranch

Year Founded: 1898
Founded by: James Norris Randall, Dora Randall
Address: 27 Creek 8 Rd, Gardiner, MT 59030, USA
Type of Ranch: Dude ranch

OTO Homestead and Dude Ranchphoto source: Wikipedia

The OTO Homestead and Dude Ranch is a historic dude ranch in Gardiner, Montana, USA. It was founded in 1898 by James Norris Randall and Dora Randall and has provided guests with an authentic Western experience for over a century. The ranch is situated on a beautiful piece of land surrounded by Montana’s mountains, forests, and rivers.

As a dude ranch, the OTO Homestead and Dude Ranch allows guests to experience cowboy culture and lifestyle firsthand. Guests can participate in horseback riding, cattle drives, and other ranch activities and enjoy the natural surroundings and wildlife. The ranch has a herd of horses for guests to ride, and riders of all skill levels can participate in trail rides or lessons with experienced wranglers.

Did You Know?

It is a popular destination for families, couples, and solo travelers and has remained an integral part of the Montana community for over a century.

4. Eatons’ Ranch

Year Founded: 1879
Founded by: Howard Eaton, Willis Eaton, Alden Eaton
Address: 270 Eaton Ranch Rd, Wolf, WY 82844, United States
Type of Ranch: Dude ranch, cattle ranch

Eatons' Ranchphoto source: DudeRanch.com

Eatons’ Ranch is a renowned dude ranch located in Wolf, Wyoming, that has been owned and operated by the Eaton family since 1879. As one of the oldest and most respected dude ranches in the United States, it offers a unique opportunity for guests to experience the traditional cowboy lifestyle while surrounded by the natural beauty of the Bighorn Mountains.

Spanning 7,000 acres of private land, Eatons’ Ranch provides guests with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and a peaceful atmosphere. The ranch is dedicated to providing guests with an authentic Western experience. It offers activities such as horseback riding, cattle drives, and roping lessons, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in cowboy culture.

Did You Know?

Eatons’ Ranch is considered the first dude ranch in the United States.

3. Sierra Bonita Ranch

Year Founded: 1872
Founded by: Henry C. Hooker
Address: W. Ash Creek Rd. in the Sulphur Valley, approximately 27 miles north of Willcox, AZ, USA
Type of Ranch: American cattle ranch

Sierra Bonita Ranchphoto source: TripAdvisor

Sierra Bonita Ranch is a historic ranch in southeastern Arizona, United States. Founded in 1872, it has a rich and fascinating history preserved through its buildings, landscapes, and stories. The ranch covers over 100,000 acres of land and is home to diverse wildlife, including bison, antelope, and mule deer. It also features a working cattle operation and various outdoor recreational activities like hiking, bird watching, and wildlife photography.

One of the most interesting aspects of Sierra Bonita Ranch is its association with the legendary Apache leader, Geronimo. In the late 19th century, Geronimo and a small band of Apache warriors sought refuge on the ranch after fleeing the U.S. Army.

The ranch owners at the time, the Chiricahua Cattle Company, allowed Geronimo and his followers to stay on the ranch for several months before they were eventually forced to surrender.

Did You Know

Sierra Bonita Ranch commits to conservation and sustainability. The ranch has implemented several environmentally friendly practices, such as using solar power, reducing water usage, and promoting land conservation.

2. King Ranch

Year Founded: 1853
Founded by: Richard King
Address: 2205 TX-141, Kingsville, TX 78363, United States
Type of Ranch: Cattle ranch

King Ranch

photo source: MySA

King Ranch is a historic ranch located in South Texas, United States. It was founded in 1853 by Richard King, a steamboat captain and entrepreneur, and has remained in the King family for six generations. The ranch spans over 825,000 acres of land, making it one of the largest ranches in the United States.

Today, King Ranch is still a working ranch, but it also operates as a diversified business with interests in farming, retail, and real estate. The ranch produces cotton, sorghum, and other crops and operates a popular hunting and wildlife program. The King Ranch Museum in Kingsville, Texas, showcases the ranch’s history and impact on the region and the cattle industry.

Did You Know?

The ranch is also known for its distinctive architecture and design. The King Ranch style uses local materials, including mesquite wood and limestone, and has become an iconic symbol of Texas culture.

1. Deep Hollow Ranch

Year Founded: 1658
Founded by: William Bell, Frank Dickinson
Address: 8 Old Montauk Hwy, Montauk, NY 11954, United States
Type of Ranch: Cattle ranch

Deep Hollow Ranchphoto source: Mill House Inn

Deep Hollow Ranch is the oldest ranch in America, located in Montauk, New York. It was founded in 1658 and has been continuously operating for over 360 years. The ranch is on over 3,000 acres of private land, offering stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding countryside.

The ranch offers horseback riding, trail rides, and beach rides for visitors of all skill levels, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

Deep Hollow Ranch hosts special events throughout the year, such as cowboy poetry gatherings and musical performances. Deep Hollow Ranch is committed to preserving the local environment and ecosystem and works to promote sustainable ranching practices.

The ranch is also involved in local conservation efforts and has partnered with various organizations to protect and preserve the local wildlife and natural habitats.

Did You Know?

Deep Hollow Ranch is known for its long history of breeding and raising horses, particularly American Quarter Horses and Paint Horses.


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