Cool Summer Job: Wrangler on a Dude Ranch

We're highlighting great ways to get outside this summer—and get paid for it

Courtesy of Ellise Chase

This is a job for anyone who loves horses and the American West. Paradise Ranch in Bighorn National Forest is one of the oldest dude ranches in the business and located in a lush mountain meadow often blanketed with wildflowers—hence the name visitors gave it in the early 1900s.

“When you’re loping across the mesa you feel like you’re actually in a western movie,” said Ellise Chase, a Pittsburgh college student who worked as a wrangler there during the last two summers.

In a typical day, a wrangler will wake at 5 a.m., bring the horses in from pasture, saddle them up and pair them with guests, after which he or she will “lead [guests] out into the wilderness,” said Chase. “We spend most of our day on horseback.”

“You see all sorts of wildlife, all the natural wonders you can find in the middle of nowhere," she said.

In addition, wranglers lead rodeo clinics (there’s a rodeo on Saturdays), participate in a weekly talent show, eat gourmet dinners with the guests and teach them how to western swing dance.

The camraderie Chase developed among both her fellow staff and the guests was a high point for her. Some of my absolute best friends I’ve made at that ranch. The people that you meet there, they stay with you forever.”

Asked if she'd like to return next summer, Chase said: “Oh my gosh, yes!”

DATES: through August 24
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This post is part of a series highlighting interesting outdoor jobs in partnership with the seasonal jobs board Cool Works. For more listings, visit and see our slideshow.


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