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The guest ranch, also known as a dude ranch, is a type of ranch oriented towards visitors or tourism.
Guest ranches arose in response to the romanticization of the American West that began to occur in the late 19th century. In 1893, historian Frederick Jackson Turner stated that the United States frontier was, at least demographically, "closed." This belief led many people to have feelings of nostalgia for bygone days, but also, given that the risks of a true frontier were gone, allowed for nostalgia to be indulged in relative safety. Thus, the person referred to as a "tenderfoot" or a "greenhorn" by westerners was finally able to visit and enjoy the advantages of western life for a short period of time without needing to risk life and limb.
In the United States, guest ranches are now a long-established tradition and continue to be a popular vacation destination. Depending on the climate, some guest ranches are open only in the summer or winter, others offer "year-round" service in all four seasons. College students are often recruited to work at guest ranches during the summer months. Common jobs offered to college students include: housekeeping, wrangler, dining staff, and office staff or babysitters. A number of working ranches have also survived lean financial times by taking in paying guests for part of the year.
Guest ranches have also become a feature of the Australian Outback.