Diana Lynn Rau: Devil’s Thumb a mecca for outdoor lovers
The Grand Nordic Trail
Devil’s Thumb Ranch
Nestled in the shadow of the Continental Divide near Tabernash, Devil’s Thumb Ranch has over 6000 acres of sweeping meadows and meandering creeks. Devil’s Thumb Ranch is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Since 1938, cowboys and poets and ranchers and city folk and Nordic skiers have escaped to Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Today the Ranch offers a classy and upscale get-away that continues to make its mark as one of Colorado’s most environmentally friendly destinations and was recently awarded Best Eco-Friendly Getaway – Colorado 2015 by the folks at Official Best Of.
The Main 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 re-purposed as the Bunkhouse designed for the budget-conscious travelers 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 Hallowed Grounds Coffee Shop (B,L) are open daily while the Ranch House Restaurant (dinner only) is open Wednesday through Sunday and has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence among other awards.
The High Lonesome Lodge, Barn & Pavilion opened in early winter 2014. Nestled in the hillside overlooking the Ranch, the new 50,000 square foot Lodge includes 31 guest rooms, four guest suites, wine grotto, and meeting and event space for groups of up to 350 people. The centerpiece of the Lodge is the High Lonesome Barn – a Civil War-era structure moved piece by piece from Ohio, with a wall of windows providing unparalleled views of the Continental Divide and Ranch Creek Valley.
Now open with over 15km of trails rolled on Ranch Walk, Basin Trails, Left Field and sections of Black 10, Devil’s Thumb Nordic Center still offers individual season passes for $220 if purchased before Tommelfest. Trail passes to use the extensive XC or snowshoe system are $20 per day. Grand Nordic members can bring a friend for free and buy individual season passes before Tommelfest for $195.00. Check online for family passes which are priced according to how many children are included. Special pricing applies for kids and seniors. Five day individual punch cards and transferable 10 day punch cards are available. Local business passes and a joint pass with Snow Mountain Ranch are all available by calling the Activities Center at 970-726-8231. Benefits to Devils Thumb Season Pass holders include: Monday- Wednesday Lodging at Bunkhouse starting at $75/night, Monday- Wednesday stay at the Lodge for $125/night, one group ski lesson, and 15pct discount on full price shop merchandise. Best of all – Grand County full-time residents ONLY qualify for a $170 Locals Season Pass by presenting your driver’s license prior to the Tommelfest.
The Ski Shop has the latest in clothes, XC ski equipment and other gear with lessons and rentals available including snowshoes, ice skates, ski jouring harnesses and leashes as well as sleds to trailer toddlers on the ski trails and Fatbiking! Fat Tire Snow Bikes utilize oversized front and rear tires with aggressive treads for riding on packed snow and can be rented at the Nordic Center for use on limited trails. The tubing hill and ice rink are both $10 for guests not staying at the Ranch and include rentals. Sleigh rides are available in winter and horseback riding year-round. And to end your day, relax in the hot tub or massage out the kinks at Ranch Creek Spa.
The National Ski Center for the Disabled has XC Ski days every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Most Saturday afternoons at 230p from Mid Dec to Mid March, the Devil’s Thumb Junior Nordic Team hopes to instill a passion for the sport in our young skiers within a supportive and fun team environment. And every month there are Skijoring Clinics to learn to ski with your dog – equipment available.
Returning this year is the Stagecoach Classic Point-to-Point Cross Country Race and Tour on Jan 23, 2015 with 15km and 30km classic only options with a recreation-minded 15km tour as well. The race and route pay homage to the area’s Nordic history and the former Idlewild Nordic Center, with the course starting at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, traversing along the Idlewild Trail System that connects Tabernash, Fraser and Winter Park, where the course finishes. A portion of the race and tour proceeds will be donated to the Trout Unlimited Campaign to protect and preserve the Fraser River.
The Tommelfest is the season’s grand kickoff December 12 complete with free lessons with high quality coaching, free demos from Boulder Nordic Sport, and Sleigh ride available first come basis with an air rifle biathlon relay midday. Grand Nordic members additionally receive free Nordic equipment and trail pass if needed for the lessons. Watch the Viking Hat Competition or the keg toss, have grog and beer and BBQ, take advantage of retail specials and win prizes. For more information or to reserve your free lesson call 970-726-8231 or visit http://www.devilsthumbranch.com. Call early as spots for lessons fill up quickly.
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