A ranch reborn: C Lazy U reopens to guests

Longtime C Lazy U employee Jude Dwyer cuts the ribbon on reopening day, April 1.
Courtesy C Lazy U

Lining the winding gravel road into C Lazy U, the scorched patches of landscape dotted with blackened trees, from where the East Troublesome Fire burned in October, are now starting to show new signs of life just in time for guests.

After 168 days closed, Granby’s guest ranch welcomed its first visitors on April 1 since the fire.

“It’s been a really nice start,” C Lazy U General Manager David Craig said. “I think that phrase coming out of the ashes does apply here.”

C Lazy U closed on Oct. 15, before the East Troublesome Fire caused the ranch to evacuate, and, shortly after, moved their herd of over 200 horses to safety. Then, on Oct. 21, the fire exploded across roughly 16 miles of Grand County, including through the heart of C Lazy U.

The ranch lost a number of buildings, including eight member homes, a workforce housing unit and its historic 99-year-old barn, while several others were damaged.

Currently, Craig said there are plans to build a bigger barn in place of where the old one stood that will be updated to include more space and amenities for guests. Construction is set to begin in the fall.

“Truthfully, we were bursting at the seams in that barn,” Craig said. “We’re designing it to fit the needs over the next 100 years.”

C Lazy U’s iconic 99-year-old barn burned in the East Troublesome Fire, but the ranch is working to rebuild. In the meantime, a temporary barn structure has been set up.
McKenna Harford /

Aside from replacing the barn, C Lazy U enlisted its staff and others to deep clean every guest building on the property, apply fresh paint and clean up smoke and burn damages before reopening.

Some buildings, including the check-in lodge, got remodels as well as the repairs.

With the hard work, the only noticeable differences are the void where the iconic barn once stood and some charred shingles on the roof of the ranch’s lodge building.

So far, those details don’t seem to be impacting guest experience, Craig said, noting that feedback from recent guests has been positive. Summer bookings are already filling up as well.

“People come here because they enjoy the spirit and culture of the ranch and that’s what they want to continue doing,” Craig said. “The most important asset of our ranch is the people.”

C Lazy U General Manager David Craig holds the metal plaque from the ranch's historic barn, which will likely get a prominent home in the new building.
McKenna Harford /

The fire also provides the unique opportunity to educate guests about land stewardship and natural cycles that keep the forest healthy. Craig said the ranch is planning to compile an archive of information about how the ranch survived.

In addition, a historic metal plaque from the barn featuring the name of C Lazy U’s founder and the American flag that flew over the ranch in 2020 will likely be showcased on the property.

“The way that we’re looking at it is, last year the ranch was 101 years old. It had been through world wars, famine, disease, depression and this is just one more thing that the ranch has been through that will quickly look like a blip on the radar,” Craig said. “The ranch will endure.”

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