Hands-on fun with some real cowpokes– by Kyle Wagner
Over the years, we’ve visited many dude ranches, one of the top reasons folks come to Colorado. If you’ve never been, this summer could be your chance to check out one. Here are a few of our top picks, and if one of these doesn’t catch your fancy, visit www.coloradoranch.com for more.
C Lazy U Ranch, 3640 Colorado 125, Granby, 970-887-3344, clazyu.com. One of the more modern dude ranches, an upscale experience that pairs a superior horse program (on the trail or in an arena) with fly-fishing and other area outdoor pursuits.
Colorado Cattle Co. & Guest Ranch, 70008 County Road 132, New Raymer, 970-437-5345, coloradocattlecompany.com. Adults-only, the Cattle Co. takes you out on a true cattle drive, branding, fencing and roping with the staff.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch, 3 miles east of U.S. 40 on County Road 83, Tabernash, 800-933-4339, devilsthumbranch.com. Luxurious cabins and a new lodge (with bowling alley!), and a horse program that truly encourages riders to spread out and achieve new skills, and a world-class spa.
The Home Ranch, 54880 Routt County Road 129, Clark, 970-879-1780, homeranch.com. Amazing gourmet food is served at this 1,500-acre Relais & Châteaux property with the Elk River running through it and the Routt National Forest as a next-door neighbor.
North Fork Guest Ranch, 55395 U.S. 285, Shawnee, 303-838-9873, 800-843-7895, northforkranch.com. An Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing lodge, North Fork has the vigorous North Fork of the South Platte River zooming smack through it. Rafting and massage are among the amenities offered, along with horseback riding, hiking, swimming, target, trap and bow-and-arrow shooting, square dancing and day trips to Breckenridge.
Smith Fork Ranch, 8 miles west of Crawford on Needle Rock Road; 970-921-3454, smithforkranch.com. Get a massage, try a wine from the well-stocked cellar, look at the stars through a high-powered telescope, learn how to rope a steer or shoot with a bow and arrow. The family-friendly spot caters to kids, and special weekends, such as the popular culinary and cowgirl ones, fill up fast.
Sundance Trail Guest Ranch, 17931 Red Feather Lakes Road, Red Feather Lakes, 800-357-4930 or 970-224-1222, sundancetrail.com. Laid-back and nurturing, this well-situated ranch with spacious cabins is 140 acres of fun and casual comfort.
Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, 2939 N. County Road 31D, Loveland, 877-667-3999, sylvandale.com. Guests can help move, pen and brand cattle at this working ranch, once they demonstrate adequate horsemanship skills. Fishing in the Big Thompson and tennis on the well-maintained courts are other popular pursuits.
Tarryall River Ranch, 27001.5 County Road 77, Lake George, 719-748-1214, 800-408-8407, tarryallriverranch.com. Very family-oriented, with appealing kids programs, rodeos for the guests to strut their stuff and evening talent shows. Adjacent to the Lost Creek Wilderness Area with a clear view of Pikes Peak and the Tarryall River, activities include horseback riding, fly-fishing, river-rafting, hiking, swimming, square dancing and sand volleyball.
Vista Verde, 58000 Cowboy Way, Clark, 800-526-7433, www.vistaverde.com. The stand-alone cabins with private hot tubs and stoves have mountain views, and the swimming pool and endless trails in this alpine setting mean exercise and kid-friendly. An indoor arena offers one-on-one time with your horse, and you can fly-fish, mountain bike, rock-climb and raft on the property or nearby.