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Americans are gearing up for a year of travel, with many preferring domestic to international travel. This year is also shaping up to be full of some offbeat travel trends.

While there is no shortage of places to explore in the US, an unexpected trend is happening in the American West, where people are booking trips looking to experience the cowboy lifestyle. Nicknamed the cowboy-cation, this type of travel is appealing for many reasons and might just be this year’s most surprising travel trend.

Cowboys on horseback overlooking the snowy mountains

Why the interest in cowboy cations?

The popular TV show Yellowstone is likely 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 vacation based on your new favorite TV show isn’t unique to 2023, but the specific increase in demand for cowboy-themed vacations is a new trend.

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

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

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In addition to influencing travel, popular TV shows have also been known to affect our clothing and lifestyle choices. Western clothing retailers have reported an increase in sales since Yellowstone premiered in 2018, and the trend shows no indication of slowing down any time soon.

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

cowboy couple on horseback, travel west

head west

It will come as no surprise that most of the cowboy lifestyle vacations are found in the vast American West. This area takes its cowboy culture very seriously and is known for welcoming visitors and newbies looking to saddle up and learn about country life.

cowgirl family stroking horses together, travel west

While several states can give you the cowboy look you’re looking for, there are a few standout stars. Both Airbnb and Vrbo list many beautiful properties in all listed states, from barn lofts to entire farms. The options for your 2023 cowboy-cation seem endless. The only thing you have to decide is where you want to hang the hat.


Texas is probably the first state that comes to mind when thinking of cowboys, and for good reason. Texas is considered the cowboy capital of the world, with more than 250,000 farms and 126 million acres of farmland. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that goes for cowboy culture, too. The Lone Star State has also been getting a bit of a buzz of late, with more visitors seeking small towns rather than big cities.

texas longhorns in a field to the west where you can ride


When a state is commonly referred to as “The Treasure State” and “The Big Sky State”, you know it must be filled 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 on ranching, Montana offers plenty of opportunities for a cowboy party.

cowboys montana riding a horse


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

In addition to ranching duties, nature seekers will be happy to know that Wyoming boasts SEVEN impressive national parks. A visit to the Cowboy State would not be complete without a trip to Yellowstone, where guests can stand back as Old Faithful explodes from the sky with its mighty spray. Almost as famous as Yellowstone, you can also visit Grand Teton National Park and the nearby popular resort town of Jackson Hole.

Reflection of the Teton Range in the Snake River at Schwabacher's Landing in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.  Scenic autumn nature landscape with evergreen trees and a mountain water reflection.

Friend or no Friend?

The cowboy-cation isn’t an entirely new concept, and you might remember the popular movie City Slickers that sent Billy Crystal and his friends west to a tourist ranch in 1991.

Ranch vacations for tourists are still alive and thriving, and guests looking for a more structured vacation can find locations in several states, from Iowa to Alaska. A vacation ranch experience is ideal for solo travelers, couples, and multi-generational families. The best part is that the itinerary can be planned as desired, allowing travelers to forget about the worries of having to plan each activity themselves. From cattle ranching 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 most locals and business owners have embraced travelers looking for a cowboy cation, there are a few ways guests can ensure they 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 Instagram background. The people who live here often appreciate a bit of privacy and deserve the respect of visitors.


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

traveler alert: Don’t forget travel insurance for your next trip!

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