The time I worked on a dude ranch

I repeated to myself ‘No, Susie, that’s crazy. You’re too old, it’s too far, your family will think you’re crazy…’ BLAH BLAH BLAH.

Well, guess what?? They already think I’m crazy, I’m not that old, and too far? Give me a break. How many excuses can one person create??

I needed change.

A major change. At first, I thought about Alaska or Maine – someplace far away where I’ve never been but have wanted to go. But then I decided that a dude ranch in the west would be exactly what I needed. Yes, I watched Yellowstone and, no, that’s not why I wanted to work on a ranch. haha. 

I wanted someplace where I could get away from the ‘noise’, someplace where I could just be…me, with no distractions whatsoever.  I narrowed it down to Montana or Wyoming and applied to several ranches through a website called CoolWorks. There are other seasonal job sites, such and,  but I am not familiar with how those work. I started with CoolWorks and that worked out for me so I didn’t pursue any other sites. 

I Interviewed with my top choice and was offered the job. Yay!

Let me tell you…when you want something badly and you laser focus on that thing, don’t be surprised when you get that thing. 

The experience of a lifetime!!!

First off, Wyoming stole my heart!!! You know how you hear about a place and you see it on tv but then you go and you can’t believe you waited SO long to go?  Yeah. I can’t believe I waited so long to go and no amount of pictures could ever do it justice. Just beautiful. 

Prior to arriving at the ranch, all I knew was that I would be the oldest staff member there, I would have no cell service for four months, I might see bears, and I would be cooking breakfast and lunch for guests and staff six days a week. I had an idea of what the day-to-day would look like but nothing can prepare you for a seasonal job until you get to that seasonal job. You have to be ok with the unknown; it’s part of the experience. And, it was one of the best experiences of my life.

It’s hard work.

One and a half days off a week, up early six days a week (5:30 if you’re a breakfast cook), talking to guests every day most the day, and being social even when your social battery is dying a slow death. haha. It’s a lot but it’s awesome! That hard work builds strength and character. And, even though you’ll work harder than you may be used to, you’ll sleep better than you probably ever have.


Social connection is one of the most important things for longevity. This is true in all of the blue zones and something I’ve neglected in my own life for far too many years. Like I said above, socializing with guests is expected of you. I never minded it but, then again, I was never required to do saloon duty. LOL.  Guests eat all meals with staff at community tables six days a week. I was the breakfast cook and worked through lunch so dinner was my only meal with the guests. The community factor was one of the reasons I chose a dude ranch for my first seasonal job. Something that would force me to stop isolating myself, which is an extremely unhealthy way to live.


I think most seasonal jobs will be community-focused. I suggest finding one that does encourage connecting with others. During my time on the ranch, I made several connections with guests who came from all over the country, some of who I’ve kept in touch with and many who have invited me to stay with them. There were some guests who became my friends instantly. And, of course, the friendships I’ve made with my coworkers, which I touch on below. It was very hard to say goodbye. 🙁

Take the leap and GO!

Afraid to step out of your comfort zone? Afraid to go all by yourself? Go anyway!

If you have ever dreamed of going somewhere and you’re afraid of going all by yourself because you will know no one and the unknown is scary…. PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS, GO.

I’ve traveled alone for a long time so I get it, it can be scary at first. Thinking of going to a remote location to work for a season is unthinkable to some. Especially with zero cell service or internet – with the exception of a staff computer in the lodge. This leaves very little communication with the outside world. Ummm, Jason anyone? Just don’t go on Friday, the 13th. haha. 

Listen…do your research before you go. But, please know, if you go west and work on a ranch, you’re more likely to see bears than Jason. 🙂


I was the eldest staff member by 20 to 30 years. And, believe me, that worried me so much I almost backed out. It’s one thing working a ‘regular’ job with younger people, but working on a ranch where you ALL live in close proximity is something else. Had I not had my own cabin, it wouldn’t have worked. I had to get up too early and sometimes they like to party too late. Hashtag OLD LADY. Lol! Just kidding, I’m not old. I read a TON of books and getting up early feels so good!!! Bottom line, having my own cabin was awesome.

The age difference did not matter.

Even though I didn’t share a cabin, I saw my teammates every single day. We all got along well and had so much fun. We rode horses, we hiked, we square danced, we played bags, we laughed!! Bonds were formed and I already miss them so so much. Imagine if I would have let age stop me from that experience?? I’m SO thankful I went. 


If you’re considering working a seasonal job…

Make a list of what’s keeping you. Would you have to quit your job? Do you have responsibilities you can’t leave?

Or is it fear?

If it’s fear…of the unknown, of traveling alone, of what others will think…then please take the leap. you won’t know if you don’t try. If you have important responsibilities that you simply cannot leave, then start planning now so you’re prepared when you can go. You don’t want to get there and stress; that defeats the purpose. Hope that makes sense.

Good luck on your journey and reach out with any questions. Happy to help.


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