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Yellowstone Is Creating A Surprising Cowboy-Cation Travel Trend For 2023

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Americans are gearing up for a year of travel, with many choosing domestic trips over international. This year is also shaping up to be filled with some rather unconventional travel trends.

While there is no shortage of places to explore in the U.S., one unexpected trend is happening in the American West, where people are booking trips in search of experiencing the cowboy lifestyle. Dubbed the cowboy-cation, this kind of trip is appealing for many reasons and just might be the most surprising travel trend this year.

Cowboys on horses overlooking snow topped mountains

Why The Interest In Cowboy-Cations?

It’s likely that the popular TV show Yellowstone is the reason. With its stunning scenery and beautiful backdrops, Yellowstone seems to be enticing viewers to come and see for themselves the wide open spaces of the American West. 

The concept of booking a holiday based on your newest favorite TV show is not unique for 2023, but the specific increase in demand for cowboy-themed holidays is a new trend. 


You heard it here first! 2023 is the year of cowboy-cations. 🤠 (Videos by: @margefraz, @Jon Purcell) #Vrbo #VacationRental #CowboyCation #TravelTrend #RanchLife

♬ Something in the orange fiddle version – Philip Bowen Music

There are many reasons that Yellowstone’s cowboy-cation is taking over, but a lot comes down to location and cost. While shows such as Emily In Paris and The White Lotus might inspire a trip abroad, Yellowstone fans don’t need to venture so far.

Aside from staying state-side, the cowboy-cation can be cost-effective due to its locations, meaning guests can avoid big city prices for food and other common costs. For example, it’s doubtful you will have to shell out $50 a day just to park your car out in rural Wyoming.

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Besides influencing travel, popular television shows are also known to impact our clothing and lifestyle choices. Retailers for western wear have reported an increase in sales since Yellowstone premiered back in 2018, and the trend doesn’t show any indication of slowing down anytime soon. 

So dust off those cowboy boots and find out where you can go for an authentic cowboy experience this year!

cowboy couple on horses, travel west

Head West 

It will come as no surprise that the majority of cowboy lifestyle vacations are to be found in the vast American West. This area takes its cowboy culture to heart and is known to embrace visitors and newbies who are looking to saddle up and learn about life on the range. 

cowboy family petting horse together, travel west

While a number of states can give you the cowboy-cation you are seeking, there are a few standout stars. Both Airbnb and Vrbo list many beautiful properties throughout the states listed, from barn lofts to entire homesteads. The options for your 2023 cowboy-cation are seemingly endless. The only thing you need to decide is where you want to hang your hat. 


Likely the first state to come to mind when thinking about cowboys is Texas, and for good reason. Texas is considered to be the cowboy capital of the world, with over 250,000 farms and 126 million acres of farmland. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that applies to cowboy culture as well. The Lone Star State has also been getting some travel buzz lately, with more visitors seeking out small towns over big cities.

texas longhorns in a field out west where you can travel


When a state is commonly referred to as both “The Treasure State” and “The Big Sky State,” you know it must be bursting with natural beauty. Montana doesn’t disappoint when it comes to wide open spaces, and ranches dot the rolling landscapes in every direction. With at least half of the state's population working in ranching, Montana provides many opportunities for a cowboy-cation. 

montana cowboys riding horses


Nicknamed the “Cowboy State,” Wyoming is an obvious choice for those looking to try their hand at a ranch during their next vacation. 

Aside from ranching duties, those looking for nature will be happy to know that Wyoming boasts an impressive SEVEN national parks. A visit to the Cowboy State wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Yellowstone itself, where guests can stand back as Old Faithful blasts into the sky with her powerful spray. Almost as famous as Yellowstone, you can also check out Grand Teton National Park and the nearby popular vacation town of Jackson Hole. 

Teton mountain range reflection in the Snake River at Schwabacher's Landing in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Fall scenic nature landscape with evergreen trees and a mountain water reflection.

To Dude or Not To Dude?

The cowboy-cation is not a completely new concept, and you might recall the popular film City Slickers sending Billy Crystal and his friends out west to a dude ranch back in 1991. 

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The dude ranch holiday is still alive and thriving, and guests looking for a more structured vacation can find sites in a number of states, from Iowa to Alaska. A dude ranch experience is ideal for solo travelers, couples, and multi-generational families. The best part is that the itinerary can be as planned out as you like, letting travelers forget about the worries of having to plan every activity themselves. From cattle rearing to gold panning, there really is something for everyone. 

Important to Remember 

As with any increase in tourism to an area, there is always the possibility of adverse effects. While the majority of locals and business owners have embraced travelers seeking a cowboy-cation, there are some ways guests can make sure to leave a positive impression on the local environment. 

It’s important to remember that these places are someone's home, not a movie set or an Instagram backdrop. The people that live here often appreciate a bit of privacy and deserve the respect of visitors.

totem pole

One thing to mention here is that locals such as old-school cowboys and Native Americans are not photo props, and visitors who see them as such will likely not be treated very kindly. As with any travel, learning about the culture and participating in local customs (when invited) is the best way to ensure a smooth relationship with any locals. Leaving you with lasting impressions on the American West and cowboy culture.

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