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Nordic Tracks in the Winter, Dude Ranches in the Summer

Travel Tips Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Although complimentary, a Colorado winter and summer are polar opposites. Even though cross-country ski options may not be available during the winter, these stunning trails at the ranch locations transform into thriving green forests full of potential for outdoor fun.

One of the staples, a must-experience, at these ranches is the horses. Sleigh rides are available during the winter months, but come summer the ski trails are used for horseback riding for all ability levels. After an unforgettable winter Nordic vacation, guests can trade in their skis for horses and enjoy the same ranch in a new and exciting way. Trail rides wind guests through the Rockies on horses chosen specifically for the riders. Horsemanship clinics are available for those who want to take their experience even further and learn the skills to communicate with their horse. Riding lessons are also available for guests to progress as riders by the conclusion of their ranch stay.

Like horse-related activities, guests will find that many of the winter activities take on similar summer roles, and vise versa. Once the winter season is over, cross country skiers and snowshoers can enjoy the same trails hiking, biking, or horseback riding. One perk of summer stays is the laid-back aquatic options. Depending of your choice of ranch, a morning spent fly fishing on the river or paddle boarding across a lake would be a perfect way to relax and find piece of mind among Colorado’s breathtaking scenery. For those who tend to opt for more adventurous living, ranches can arrange kayaking and river-rafting trips, another fun way to enjoy to scenery.

Keep in mind that no matter the time of the year some things on the ranch always stay the same and are reason enough to come back for another visit. Those who have stayed at these ranches leave with happy bellies, courtesy of ranch chefs. Guests also note the hospitality, comfort of living, and, of course, the endless views as timeless qualities that prompt them to return for another stay. Vacationers from a spectrum of cities and towns across the country come to Colorado, and no matter the ranch, find themselves satisfied with the western-style living. Three of Colorado Cross Country Ski Association’s ski destinations that double as dude ranches are Home Ranch, Latigo Ranch, and Vista Verde Ranch.

Home Ranch

Horseback riding, hiking, biking, fly fishing, especially the fly fishing, Home Ranch has it all. What really sets Home Ranch apart from other Colorado dude ranches is its luxury. The landscape of the ranch is luxurious of course, but that’s not the luxury those who know the ranch talk about. Home Ranch is a member of Relais & Chateaux, the hotel association, and treat guests to the same quality services, as they would find at other Relais & Chateaux lodgings.

“I think we offer a uniqueness to us because we are a luxury dude ranch,” Guest Services Manager Selina Heintz said.

Even though the outdoor activities on the ranch differ depending on the time of year, the ranch is committed to serving guests gourmet cuisine, one thing people rave about when they leave. Another thing guests can always count on all year round, warm hospitality.

Latigo Ranch

Tucked away into the mountains, 6 miles away from busy roads and without a trace of urban noise, is Latigo Ranch. Its seclusion offers esteemed views of the Continental Divide, making a vacation that much more memorable. Ranch Owner, Kathie Yost, said says the views make their location quite unique.

“We are very fortunate to have a location that is unusual, many ranches are in a valley, [...] we are on a ridge so we have views right from the get-go.” said Yotes.

She says the ranch offers guests a full experience. In the summer the all-inclusive package has 29 activities and features to make for a fun, comfortable stay, including sunset rides, high meadows horse pack trip, several fishing options, and archery. In the winter, whether your stay is one day or a couple nights, there are still plenty of options to explore the outdoors including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and tubing. Typically in the winter Latigo Ranch’s land provides the course for a cross-country ski race, and guests are able to participate too.

Vista Verde Ranch

On average, during the summer the ranch remains relatively full, with only a few spots opening up here and there. It might be easier to book in the winter when occupancy is about 70 percent, but regardless of the time of year guests decide to visit, it’s clear this ranch provides enough relaxation and adventure to draw people year-round.

Stephanie Wilson is the marketing director at Vista Verde Ranch. She says that they pride themselves in their horsemanship clinic, really taking each guest’s experience with their horse even deeper. Guests learn how to train their horse, or as Wilson puts it, “speak horse”. Even if your stay is scheduled for the winter, don’t fret about missing out on the horses. Trail rides are still a winter option, and they go for shorter distances lasting an hour long, so you don’t have to worry about getting too cold. Another point of pride is the staff’s ability to work closely with guests.

“For us, we have such a high staff to guest ratio,” Wilson said.

Personalization between the guests and staffs is capitalized on thanks to this high ratio. Guests are exposed to great professionalism and resources here.

Be it winter, spring, summer, or fall Colorado’s dude ranches are not only a great source for cross country skiers, but they can be the perfect vacation get away for anybody. With both indoor and outdoor activities, guests can be assured they will get the ideal Colorado treatment while experiencing comfortable quarters and wholesome hospitality from those who know western-style living.

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