Even though almost all the snow here at the ranch had melted, this picture is from this past Saturday and is my view from the Tahoe before heading out to go horse hunting on the western slope of Colorado near Grand Junction. Scott followed behind with the truck and trailer (to give me a break from towing with a manual).
He loaded up his mountain bike in the tack room of the trailer, packed in the dogs and other gear.
It's a typical occurrence for us to make things a little more difficult than they need to be, and the snow proved to make this one of those occasions. Luckily, the snow and rain stopped a little before we reached our destination.
My first stop was just beyond the Black Canyon of the Gunnison to meet a horse named "Blue," and we ended up buying him. He's a big grey, quarter horse gelding that will make an awesome addition to the herd. He'll be a wrangler horse at first, and then we'll slowly drift him as a guest horse as he gets better and better.
The picture to the right is our muddy trip to the Escalante Canyon to see a horse. We didn't end up buying her, but the trip down the canyon was quite the adventure! Cows everywhere, mud galore from the recent rains. And, when we arrived we were bombarded by about six dogs, all different breeds and sizes from cattle dog breeds to a Doberman and Rottweiler.
If you're not already aware, the state of Colorado has a "fence out" statute that property owners must have a fence in decent repair set up to recover any damages that someone else's livestock makes. In other words, if you don't have a fence and your neighbor's cows come on your property and nibble on your window sills, there's generally no recourse you can take. Obviously the area in the picture to the right is open range, which makes the drive a bit slow.
The next stop was Glade Park to pick up "Indy," a bay, gaited Missouri Fox Trotter, which sent us right up Monument Road leaving Grand Junction and through the Colorado National Monument. The pictures below are of that drive. This was our last stop and after, Scott headed to Fruita and Moab for a quick mountain bike trip. So, the the dogs (Madly and Benjamin), Indy, Blue and I hopped in the truck and trailer and made the four hour drive back home before dark. It was sure nice to finally see Steamboat Mountain again!
Ok, so I've been in the dude ranch business for nine years now working, leasing and now owning. There's a big mixture of how the existing dude ranchers have gotten into the business. Those that inherited, those that bought an established place and those that bought a ranch where they, more or less, had to start from scratch. And, there are definitely different versions of "scratch."
"Scratch" at Elk River Guest Ranch means needing to build up a herd, tack and all the different areas, buildings and aspects that are crucial to a typical dude ranch stay. And, while a short fall, winter and spring flies by incredibly fast, we're very close to "dude ranch time" ready. In fact, by our grand opening on May 31st, neighbors, Steamboat locals, all our guests this summer and I will have a Colorado dude ranch to be proud of.
Scott and I have had gobs of adventures this winter with snow, sleighs, monster hay bales, broken pipes and water heaters, dog drama and the works. I know it's a bit cliche, but through it all, we have truly been made stronger for it. Not to mention all the things we've learned that we'll never do again! :)
Enjoy my next blog that I'll write and share with you today. This past Saturday and Sunday, Scott and I traveled down to the western slope of Colorado to horse hunt. And of course, the trip wasn't without its adventures!
The Colorado spring weather is about as predictable as a dude rancher's day. When I wake up in the morning there could be three inches of snow on the ground, it could be a perfectly clear, bluebird day, or it could be cloudy with 30 mile an hour winds. Whatever the case, there's always work to be done.
And, I definitely try my best to use the gloomy and cold days for office work, and the better days for outside work and runs to town. But, it doesn't always work out that way. In fact, I think Scott and I have managed to pick some of the absolute worst driving days for hauling horses, taking the trailer in to get serviced, picking up rails for the buck and rail fence, etc. But you know, what's the adventure in always planning things perfectly?
Despite the weather and other variable aspects of a Colorado spring day, most days....well, some days, work out something like this for me:
*Coffee, glass of OJ or almond milk and breakfast with Colin Cowherd (no, there's nothing western about that...he's a sports commentator) and the computer to check emails from wonderful folks like you
*My plan for the day sometimes begins with a run into town for a quick exercise at Steamboat Crossfit
*Then, the rest of the morning includes picking up old rails from our buck and rail fence, building new fence, organizing and fixing things around the property
*Lunch, sometimes later rather than earlier
*More rail and fence work, marketing work, chainsaw work, trail clearing, hay stacking, cabin cleaning, cabin painting, etc.
*Late dinner with Better Call Saul or Law and Order or Shark Tank or American Greed. :)
*Ahhh, the bed feels so good after a hard, physical day's work. I doze off with dreams and exciting thoughts about how fun this summer at Elk River Guest Ranch is going to be with you riding along the trail with me.
It's not the most interesting time of the year to outsiders, and the work is often a little more physical than most folks would prefer to experience on a day-to-day basis. Yet, the anticipation of summer and your visit is what motivates us, keeps us constantly pushing to improve. We want this ranch experience to be the fulfillment of your vacation dreams, to be that place where you feel a little piece of you has been left behind when you go back home.
Variety, variety and more variety.
Our trail riding is some of the best in the country. Why? Because from one end of our property to the other, we have desert landscape with sage and limited water to lush green grass on the other side. And, our trail up into the National Forest from the property covers both ends of that spectrum.
Then once you're on top, you get sweeping views of the Zirkel Mountains, aspen and pine forests, open meadows and a mountain lake on our all-day ride. What more could you ask for?
Well, I figured you actually could ask for more. So, we offer several additional things to enhance your horseback riding experience. One, we teach trotting and loping/cantering on the trail. Two, we don't make you ride nose-to-tail all the time. Three, we have the ability to trailer our horses a couple of miles up the road (giving you the cowboy trailering experience). And last, for those days that you'd rather not ascend as far and stay closer to the ranch, we'll have arena instruction on trotting, loping, basic horse cues and training techniques as well as cattle work where you get to divide up into teams and sort cows giving you a goal to reach while you work with your horse.
With all of these options within our horseback riding program, we do feel that you'll stay happy and entertained on your horse for the entire week. Be sure and check out our horseback riding page as part of the Dude Ranch Experience. CLICK HERE.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado: Top Four Cowboy Events to Catch While Visiting Elk River Guest Ranch this Summer
1) Professional Rodeo Series featuring roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, bronc riding, bull riding and kids' events. Every Friday and Saturday night between June 19th and August 22nd. For more information, check out the Steamboat Chamber's description of Steamboat's rodeo events, ticket information and history.
2) Ranch Rodeo on July 2 - Kick-off of the 112th annual Cowboys' Round Up Days features events such as Wild Cow Milking, Stray Gathering, Team Branding and Trailer Loading. Located in the Brent Romick Arena, the same location as the Pro Rodeo Series, it's bound to keep you on the edge of your seat!
3) National Cattledog Association Finals from June 10-14th at the Flying Diamond Ranch showcases the best cattledogs as they perform different tasks and go through different obstacles to gather and herd cattle.
4) Bull Bash takes place September 6th (Labor Day Weekend) as members of PBR (Professional Bull Riders) go head to head for over $15,000 of prize money.
More information available at the Steamboat Chamber's website for all events.