Grand County’s dude ranches welcome you to an American tradition
Known as the “Dude Ranch Capital of the United States,” Grand County boasts six world-class dude and guest ranches. Most offer all-inclusive packages that include lodging, meals, trail rides, and other activities such as tennis, golf, swimming, hayrides, and cookouts. Each establishment also takes its own unique approach to the authentic Western experience, from down-and-dirty cattle drives to square dance dinners, and rustic cabins to elegant lodges.
The oldest, continuously-operated guest ranches in Colorado is located on the Gold Medal trout fishing waters of the Colorado River near Parshall. Since 1912, the Bar Lazy J Ranch has been a favorite destination of fishermen and, more recently, visitors interested in exploring the adjacent 30,000 acres of state and federal forestlands on horseback or foot. Relaxation is the password here, and the staff specializes in personal attention. The owner even keeps a supply of hats and boots for visitors who arrive without them, and during the summer the staff puts on a Friday night talent show for the guests. (www.barlazyj.com)
Owners: Jerry and Cheri Helmicki – 800-396-6279
Built on an original pioneer settlement on the Williams Fork River near Parshall, Aspen Canyon Ranch today covers more than 50 square miles of private and leased land, encompassing pristine pine forest, rugged valleys, and rushing rivers and streams. Whether a greenhorn on your first trail ride, or a seasoned rider ready to take on rodeo action, visitors are given personalized instruction and attention, leaving with greater skills and an appreciation for the West. (www.aspencanyon.com)
Owners – Steve and Pam (800) 321-1357
Just up the road from Granby is the C Lazy U Ranch, has earned a reputation for providing first-class services since 1925. The ranch offers luxury accommodations, elegant dining, and first-name-basis service. Riding is available on 8,000 acres of trails and in the 10,000-square-foot indoor arena. Guests wanting a taste of ranch work may join in the three-session Cattle Working Clinic. Other activities available include; tennis, racquetball, cross country skiing, and shuttles to nearby ski resorts. The ranch caters to families by offering extensive supervised programs for children ages 3 through teen. (www.clazyu.com)
General Manager: Tim Hennen (970) 887-3384.
King Mountain Ranch, on Highway 125 north of Granby adjacent to the Arapaho National Forest, features a number of unique offerings. In addition to an excellent riding program, ranch facilities also include a skeet and trap shooting range, lighted tennis courts, and Olympic-sized heated swimming pool. The private 50-acre lake and the children’s pond are stocked with rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout; Willow Creek, which runs through the property, offers the best in Rocky Mountain fly-fishing. Another unique feature is the recreation center with its centerpiece: an antique two-lane bowling alley. The ranch is a favorite destination for corporate retreats, family reunions, and mountain weddings. (www.kingranchresort.com)
Contact: Marcie Smith (303) 792-9467
Nestled in its own private mountain valley, the 600-acre Drowsy Water Ranch has specialized in providing authentic western vacations for over 70 years. The approach is decidedly informal, with horseback riding, meals and entertainment as the main activities. Adult and children’s programs also include swimming, horseshoes, steak fries, trout fishing, square dancing, jeep trips, hayrides, movies, pack trips, gymkhana rodeos, raft trips, golf, and more. (www.drowsywater.com)
Owners: Ken and Randy Sue Fosha (800) 845-2292
Latigo Ranch, near Kremmling in the western part of the county, strives for a personal and intimate feel. Arriving guests are welcomed with a jar of homemade caramel corn. Accommodations are limited to 35 guests, and the focus is on horsemanship. Each guest and horse are matched as to temperament, ability, and physical requirements, and progress through the various levels of skill at their own pace. Individual instruction is available, and Horsemanship Clinics taught by noted western horseman and trainer Marty Marten are offered in each fall. During the late summer, riders can even sign up to work a real cattle drive with a local rancher. (www.latigotrails.com)
Owner: Randy and Kathy George/Jim and Kathy Yost (800) 227-9655
Grand County’s dude and guest ranches are located in the central and western part of the county, an approximately 90-mile drive from Denver. Online, check out the website for the Dude and Guest Ranches of Grand County (www.dude-ranch.com) and visit the Web site of the ranch that interests you.
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Winding River Ranch, a wedding venue known for breathtaking views of the Never Summer Mountains, now takes the breath away in a much different way.