snow in colorado Tag

Colorado’s Best Dude Ranches for Adults

Colorado’s best dude ranches are known for amazing family vacations, but they also make for incredible couples getaways. Most of the state’s ranches offer adult-only weeks, usually in the fall, when the pace slows a bit, the menus are a little more gourmet and guests can be found canoodling in front of glowing fires set amid spectacular mountain backdrops.

These all-inclusive dude ranches welcome you to take part in as many — or as few — ranch activities as you’d like, including hikes, trail rides, cattle drives, fishing excursions and boating, all of which can be tailored to all abilities.

Many ranches also throw in unexpected luxuries like spa treatments, yoga sessions and cooking classes. All of them have incredible home-cooked meals, serene settings and hospitality you can’t stop talking about (we’re serious about this one — read any online review of these ranches to see people expound on this subject).

Although a week is the standard all inclusive dude ranch stay, ensuring guests are really able to unplug and savor ranch life, these adults-only periods are a bit more flexible. Some even open their lodges and cabins to overnight travelers when they’re not booked up, featuring B&B services and a la carte activities.

Below is a sampling of the amenities that will appeal to couples looking for romantic vacatin ideas. Visit the Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association for more comprehensive listings.

Vista Verde Ranch, Steambat Springs

Toward the end of September, Vista Verde hosts an adults-only cattle gather, which is a remarkable experience on its own, but becomes even more so amid changing leaves and crisp fall air. You’ll definitely feel you’ve earned the hot-tub soak and three-course dinners that follow. Cooking classes and wine tasting are just a few of the off-horse activities to choose from.  Vista Verde also operates as a romantic winter resort from December – March.

Smith Fork Ranch, Crawford

This Gunnison National Forest ranch ranks among the best in the delicious meal category (though couples massages and guided adventures for two amp up the three-night Romantic Mountain Getaway package). Shade-tree picnics, a world-class wine cellar and private candle-light dinners focus on farm-to-table cuisine, with many of the ingredients harvested from the ranch’s own garden.

C Lazy U Ranch, Granby

For couples who aren’t on the same page when it comes to communing with nature, C Lazy U has the perfect solution: For one night of your trip, they’ll arrange a “luxury campout.” A ranch hand will guide you to a campsite with large cozy tent (with a king-size bed inside!), s’mores kit, firepit and other delights. Back at the ranch, deluxe rooms have a stocked mini-bar, plush robes, fresh-fruit baskets and options like jetted tubs and fireplaces.

Home Ranch, Steamboat Springs

A prestigious Relais & Châteaux property, Home Ranch offers two-night stays for adults each October. Live music, roaring campfires, fall-color hikes or horseback rides, and Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing on a private section of the Elk River keep guests busy — even as the in-ranch chef’s haute mountain cuisine tempts them to loiter around the dining room.

4UR Ranch, Creede

4UR sets itself apart from the outset with one major amenity: Its very own natural hot  springs. Those who can find their way out of the mineral water and into the elegant accommodations will also enjoy a cozy little bar and an Adirondack-style porch perfect for stargazing. Seven miles of Rio Grande fishing, long trail rides and food and wine from a Cordon Bleu-trained chef aren’t so bad either. Two adults-only weeks are offered each summer.

Laramie River Dude Ranch, Glendevey

This ranch also has a perfect-for-couples fall cattle drive; this one ambles through a secluded river valley. Additionally, Laramie River has a naturalist program to help visitors explore the area through wildflower hikes, birdwatchng, stargazing, orienteering and more. Three-, four- or seven-night adults-only stays are available in September.

Lost Valley Dude and Guest Ranch, Sedalia

Lost Valley refers to its accommodations as “Levi luxurious with cattle baron comforts.” The cabins, complete with stone fireplaces and porches with lounge swings, are nestled in the pines overlooking the valley. Adults-only weeks in September and October feature cattle drives and rides through golden aspen stands and a long list of activities that can be totally ignored by those who prefer to just laze around this peaceful ranch.

Snow is falling, falling on me

After 10 days of sunshine and blue skies, the clouds came back last night and we woke up to fresh snow this morning. Granted, it was pretty sloppy snow because the temperatures were pretty warm. But, throughout the day it’s turned into fluffier snowflakes and is piling up more each hour. Steve and Kelli left the rest of the guides in charge back at the ranch and headed out for an all-day ski today with Mickey, David, Sharon and Bruce. In a few minutes, I’m going to head out and do a little “quality control” on our groomed trails. And I see Rusty heading out on horseback with our honeymooners for a ride in the peacefully falling snow. I’ll see if I can get a picture of the pretty scene while I’m out scouting the trails!

Mountain Biking or ‘Biking in the Mountains’

Do you enjoy taking your bicycle down to the corner store for ice cream, or maybe you are a fitness fanatic and you get your blood pumping with a good cycling session…

Take a Steamboat Springs vacation and you can do both! Up in the beautiful mountains of Colorado there are endless trails and scenic routes to go biking. Vista Verde Guest Ranch has an amazing  program with top of the line bikes just waiting to be tested!

Steve and Kelli King head up Vista Verde’s Adventure Center, guiding hiking and biking trips all summer as well as cross country skiing and snowshoeing trips for guests coming to join us for a winter vacation in Colorado. Their goal is to give everyone the cycling experience that they are looking for, be it an adventurous mountain bike trail, or more laid back and scenic ‘biking in the mountains’. Although they appeal to both ends of the spectrum as far as fitness and adventure level, every rider will enjoy their new fleet of the Jamis bikes.

This year they invested in a new wheel which is a 650B, a 27 1/2 inch wheel. This new technology is a bigger wheel that allows more stability and rolls over rocks more easily. Guests this season are already raving about them, and a few have put in orders for their own Jamis, 650B bikes!

Steve and Kelli’s philosphy is that “if you want to introduce someone to a sport or activity, you have to give them the best equipment so they can succeed.” This is definitely true at Vista Verde. Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tag along with some guests on an easy going, scenic ride around Steamboat Lake and through the historic Hahn’s Peak Village. It was a nice relaxing afternoon, and I enjoyed it so much that I thought I was ready to step it up a bit. This past week I joined them for an intense mountain bike ride. It was such a blast! I learned how to ride over logs, and I was put to the test going up a monsterous hill, but the sense of accomplishment at the end, and the vast view of the Zirkel Wilderness at the top were worth all of the effort!

Also, some Vista Verde trivia for you…. I learned was that all of their bikes have names, so they can keep track of each one. Well three of them, named Breyer, Klondike and Cold Stone are designated for the casual ride to the Clark Store to get ice cream when guests are looking for a relaxing afternoon during their ranch holiday!

This year Steve is excited about 3 brand new snow bikes they have added to the fleet for the winter! So summer, or winter you will have to come out to our Colorado mountain resort and try out the trails on something other than four legs! Give the mountain bikes a try next time you’re enjoying a vacation at our luxury ranch in Steamboat Springs!