What Do You Do on a Dude Ranch?
When 180 horses’ hooves pounded the ground a few feet from me, manes flaring and breaths misting ghost-like, this city boy was transfixed.
It was the 5:30 morning roundup at the C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, Colorado, up in the snow-capped Rocky Mountains.
The whinnying echoed in the nearby corrals as we walked the short distance to the campfire and joined the handful of early risers around the big enamel coffee pot, watching the sun burn off the mist.
I’ve always wondered what people did at Dude Ranches.
And at the C Lazy U they do a lot of things, all connected to the Cowboy Culture, with the horse at the heart of the experience.
The ranch’s 8,000 acres of rolling meadows is just about as “home on the range” as it gets: Wranglers lead trail rides, others practice lassoing or give pointers to guests perfecting their riding techniques.
Anglers lazily practice the art of fly-casting in the streams or small ponds.
At night there’s square dancing or maybe some cowboy poetry, but it all comes back to the daily trail rides out on the ridge of a mountain when now and again a Golden eagle pirouettes in a thermal.
Some of the six Dude Ranches in Grand County, Colorado, are more ranch vacation than Dude Ranch experience.
At Devil’sThumb Ranch in nearby Tabernash, guests come for the western hospitality and extraordinary views of the mountains, but also for a touch of pampering.
Folks eat well at Dude Ranches, but they dine graciously at Devil’s Thumb Ranch and stay in fully-equipped, beautifully designed log cabins.
No one said the Dude Ranch experience had to be rough, just fun… and a different kind of travel
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