Diana Lynn Rau: Devil’s Thumb Ranch Nordic season in full swing
Nestled in the shadow of the Continental Divide near Tabernash, Devil’s Thumb Ranch has over 5,000 acres of sweeping meadows and meandering creeks. With about 80 percent of its 100-plus km of groomed and tracked cross country ski and snowshoe trails open, Devil’s Thumb Ranch is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Since 1938, cowboys, poets, ranchers, cityfolk and Nordic skiers have escaped to Devil’s Thumb Ranch and today the ranch offers a classy and upscale getaway. The recently completed lodge offers cozy single rooms and multi-room suites, a cafe, pub/bistro, fitness center, theater, a six-sided, three-story fireplace constructed from stones gathered from a rockslide near the Ranch, and even a miniature bowling alley. The cabins range in size from one bedroom lofts to spacious four bedroom cabins with full kitchens and two baths and many are dog-friendly. The original Elk lodge at Devil’s Thumb Ranch was moved down the road a couple of miles and has been repurposed as a bunkhouse designed for the budget-conscious traveler including nine rooms with private bath, four rooms with a shared bath, and two small common areas. Both Heck’s Tavern (B,L,D) and the Ranch House Restaurant (dinner only) are open daily and have received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.Trail passes to use the extensive cross-country or snowshoe system are $18 per day or $12 if you are a guest. Grand Nordic members pay $13. Not a member? Go to http://www.grandnordic.org. Devil’s Thumb season passes are $180 until Dec. 11 and $240 thereafter. Special pricing applies for kids and seniors. Punch cards, family passes. Grand Nordic member rates, local business passes and a joint pass with Snow Mountain Ranch are all available by calling the Adventure Center at 970-726-8231.The Ski Shop has the latest in clothes, cross-country ski equipment and other gear with lessons and rentals available including snowshoes, ice skates, ski joring harnesses and leashes as well as sleds to trailer toddlers on the ski trails. The tubing hill is free but available to guests only. Sleigh rides are available in winter and horseback riding in summer along with fly fishing, hiking and mountain biking which is for guests only. And to end your day, relax in the hot tub or massage out the kinks at Ranch Creek.The National Ski Center for the Disabled has cross-country ski days every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and every Friday is Grand County Public School Kids Fun Day. During January and February, kids 3-10 enjoy free lessons Friday mornings. Every month there is a Skijoring Clinic to learn to ski with your dog — equipment available. And ski, skate or snowshoe under the full moon each month and then warm up with a bonfire and complementary hot chocolate.The TOMMELFEST is the season’s grand kickoff 11 December complete with free lessons by University of Denver Nordic team and Grand Nordic instructors featuring famed US & Swiss National Coach Trond Nystand.Grand Nordic members additionally receive free equipment and trail pass if needed. Watch the team sprints or the keg toss, have grog and beer and barbecue, take advantage of retail specials and win prizes. For more formation call 970-726-8231 or visit http://www.devilsthumbranch.com. Other events this year include the 24th Annual Governor’s Cup and Ski and Soak Day in January, and the Grand Huts Progressive Dinner in February.
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