A Week at the High Lonesome Dude RanchBy Beth McGee
Plan the perfect mountain escape at The High Lonesome Dude Ranch, where adventure, family and cowboy culture collide into one unforgettable week. As a working cattle ranch settled on the scenic terrain outside of De Beque, Colo., The High Lonesome Ranch offers laid-back luxury lodging, exhilarating excursions, award-winning meals and s’mores around the fire pit. HLR promises a unique experience that has many never wanting to leave.
HLR is offering a great reason to plan a visit soon. Reserve your spot for 2018 at The High Lonesome Dude Ranch by January 1, and your first child will come for free.
While at HLR, take advantage of the opportunity to unplug. While Wi-Fi is accessible in the guesthouses, the rest of the ranch encourages families to enjoy time off the grid. The beautiful weather, clean air, enormous open space and a plethora of animals (including kid-favorite Rio, the beloved yellow Labrador) leave families bonded in a different way. Bring along the grandparents for an extra special experience—with five paying family members, grandparents enjoy the ranch for free.
On Sunday afternoon, guests arrive and are warmly welcomed with a horse meet-and-greet and an ice cream social. The next morning, it’s off to the races! The wrangler team works carefully to match each rider with a horse that complements his or her personality. Whether a seasoned rider or a newcomer to the sport, the highly-skilled equestrians of the wrangler team get a feel for each guest in order to make the best placements. Wranglers are primarily college students, but there are a few more seasoned equestrians.
As the large majority of guests are first-time riders, wranglers pay special attention to those who are timid, taking appropriate action to ensure that each rider develops a relationship with their horse. After being paired, everyone brushes and saddles their horse before the orientation trail ride. For the duration of the week, guests enjoy daily riding opportunities with their horses. As they work with the wranglers all week, riders will feel more comfortable on horseback and gain confidence while riding.
Every moment at HLR offers new and exciting opportunities for all ages. During the day, time can be split between structured trail rides or other excursions, such as white-water rafting. Guests can take time from the scheduled activities to book massages or cooking classes, and the pool is always a good filler between the day’s equestrian schedule and dinner. Depending on the ages of the crowd, activities can be tailored to fit ranch goers. Most evenings include a family-style meal and a special experience unique to HLR.
After an exciting first full day orienting with the horses, Monday night includes the HLR rodeo, where guests get involved by participating in goat-dressing contests, mutton busting and roping relays. In addition to traditional vacation activities, The High Lonesome Ranch offers a unique learning experience for guests on Tuesday nights in the summer. Through the ranch's High Lonesome Institute, graduate students in master's and doctorate programs form a science team that presents ranch-related research in an exciting and approachable way. The team teaches kids about conservation, migration, endangered species, mineral extraction and other environmental issues that affect the ranch.
Wednesday night activities provide specialized time for the kids and adults. The wrangler team invites the children to a remote sleepover, including cowboy games and a hot meal worthy of the young cowpokes. Meanwhile, parents enjoy a 7-10 course seasonal meal. Many of the menu items are grown on the ranch itself, and the rest of the ingredients are sourced locally, a contributing factor to HLR’s recent accolade by the Denver Post as the “best dinner in Colorado.”
Thursday promises an extended trail ride through some of the most scenic areas of the ranch, followed by a hot pop-up meal right off the trail. Rest up that evening in preparation for Friday’s cattle drive, which provides the chance for guests to use all the skills they’ve acquired throughout their stay by pushing HLR cattle into new pastures and participating on a working cattle ranch. After showcasing all that they’ve learned, guests wrap up the day with Cowboy BBQ and Dancing, complete with line and swing dancing, a family-style meal, and a live band.
By the time Saturday rolls around, guests leave with full hearts, an understanding of how to herd cows, improved riding skills, and very often, a tear in their eye. Time at HLR is truly time set apart, as it provides the perfect setting to create lasting memories as a family. Don't forget about HLR's special offer—reserve your spot for 2018 at The High Lonesome Dude Ranch by Jan. 1, and your first child will come for free! For photos, details and reservations, click here
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