The Elk River Guest Ranch consists of 38 private acres including a half-mile of the upper Elk River. The horseback trails lead into the Routt National Forest by way of Seed House Ranch which is a residential development that was originally raw land and part of the Elk River Guest Ranch. The land behind the Elk River Guest Ranch is approximately 9.5 million acres of the Medicine Bow & Routt National Forest. Trails for our rides run between the ranch and Pearl Lake where you generally won't see another person.
The Ranch's elevation is 7,205 feet rising quickly to 8,600 feet along the ridge of Zirkel View Trail overlooking the Ranch and the Continental Divide. Our average snowfall is 350 inches per year. The mountains in view to the East are part of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area: Little Agnes on the left, Big Agnes on the right, and Mount Zirkel is the smaller craggy mountain in the middle. Mount Zirkel is actually the largest of the three rising to 12,180 feet. To the right of Big Agnes is Saw Tooth Ridge--this range is part of the Continental Divide.
The ranch was homesteaded in 1902 and used for a summer base camp for miners. The main house was a mining lodge in the early days when they were looking for gold, silver and precious jewels. There are still gold, rubies and diamonds found in the local rivers and hills. After it was determined that cattle and sheep ranching were more profitable than mining, the ranch was used as a family retreat by the original homesteaders.
In the early 1950's, when leisure travel became more common for more people, the ranch was sold and established as the Elk River Guest Ranch. Since that time guests from all over the world have been enjoying this year round mountain paradise. The Elk River Guest Ranch is the oldest operating guest ranch in North Routt County.
For more information on the Pearl Hartt House (main house at the Elk River Guest Ranch) and Pearl Lake, check out THIS LINK.
The house at Pearl Lake
The Pearl Hartt Lodge made the move to Elk River Guest Ranch in 2002
March of 2015, renovations almost complete
The ranch in recent past has gone through a series of owners. Bill and Kathy Hinder were among the longest-running ranch owners and put Elk River Guest Ranch on the map with horseback riding, pack trips, sleigh rides and more. The video below was posted in 2009 and gives an idea of the activities and experience offered at the ranch under the Hinder ownership. Prior to Bex and Scott's purchase of the ranch in 2014, the ranch was owned by Josh and Susan Boles who now own and operate the Twisted Trails Running Store in Steamboat Springs.
Who We Are Now
We operate as a Colorado dude ranch in the summer months and offer week-long, all-inclusive stays. Our goal is to provide you with a western adventure experience while getting you out into the beautiful Medicine Bow & Routt National Forest. The heart and soul of what we do in the summer revolves around horses. We have a great mixture of trail riding, arena instruction and horse activities to keep you plenty happy on your steed for the week. We're in an amazing location for you to be able to enjoy nature in the surrounding forest and wilderness areas but also to take advantage of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and the historic Pro Rodeo Series there every Friday and Saturday nights during most of the summer.
If you're looking for an intimate setting for your next Colorado dude ranch vacation where you can relax, unwind, and take advantage of any or all of our activities then you've found the right place. In addition to horseback riding, we also have opportunities to hike, mountain bike, fish, kayak, and raft right out our back door. Literally! Visit our Dude Ranch Rates page for more information on rates and inclusions. Then, contact Bex to set up your reservation-- because of our small capacity (15), spots fill quickly!