Yellowstone Creates 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 ones. This year is also shaping up to be filled with some rather unconventional travel trends.

While there’s no shortage of places to explore in the United States, an unexpected trend is happening in the American West, where people are booking trips in search of experiencing 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 snow capped mountains

Why the interest of the Cowboy-Cations?

It’s likely that the popular television show Yellowstone is the cause. With its stunning landscapes and beautiful backdrops, Yellowstone seems to entice viewers to come and see the great outdoors of the American West for themselves.

The notion of book a vacation based on your new favorite TV isn’t unique for 2023, but the specific increase in demand for cowboy-themed vacations is a new trend.

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

In addition to staying on the state side, the cowboy-cation can be cost-effective due to its locations, which means customers can avoid big-city prices for food and other common costs. For example, you’re unlikely to have to pay $50 a day just to park your car in rural Wyoming.

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Besides influencing travel, popular TV shows are also known to impact our clothing and lifestyle choices. Western clothing retailers have reported increased sales since Yellowstone was established in 2018, and the trend shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.

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

couple of cowboys on horseback, journey west

Head West

It will come as no surprise that the majority of cowboy lifestyle vacations are found in the vast American West. This area takes its cowboy culture to heart and is known for welcoming visitors and first-timers looking to get in the saddle and learn more about life in the field.

cowboy family stroking horse together, journey west

While a number of states can provide you with the cowboy you’re looking for, there are a few notable stars. Airbnb and Vrbo list many beautiful properties in the listed states, from barn lofts to entire properties. 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.


Texas is probably the first state that comes to mind when you think of cowboys, and for good reason. Texas is considered 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 seen a bit of a travel craze lately, with more visitors looking for small towns in large cities.

texas longhorns in a field 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 does not 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 offers plenty of opportunities for a cowboy-cation.

montana cowboys on horseback


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

Besides herding duties, those seeking nature will be happy to know that Wyoming has 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 explodes into the sky with its mighty spray. Almost as famous as Yellowstone, you can also discover Grand Teton National Park and the nearby popular vacation town of Jackson Hole.

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

To the guy or not to the guy?

Cowboy-cation isn’t a completely new concept, and you might remember the popular movie City Slickers sending Billy Crystal and his friends out west to a ranch in 1991.

The guy ranch vacation is still alive and thriving, and guests looking for a more structured vacation can find locations 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 planned however you want, allowing travelers to forget about the hassle of having to plan every activity themselves. From cattle farming 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 negative effects. While the majority of locals and business owners have welcomed travelers looking for a cowboy-cation, there are ways guests can be 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 Instagram backdrop. The people who live here often appreciate a bit of privacy and deserve the respect of visitors.


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 are unlikely to be treated very kindly. As with any trip, learning about the culture and participating in local customs (when invited) is the best way to ensure a harmonious 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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