Home Ranch Review by Ryan Levander

There is no shortage of beauty, adventure, or ranches in Colorado; the abundance of untouched beautiful land, incredibly scenic landscapes, singletrack trails to ride, streams to fish, areas to ski…(this list could get real long real fast). I digress…

This winter, I had the privilege of spending three days at The Home Ranch in Clark, Colorado, 18 miles outside of Steamboat Springs. If The Home Ranch is the only ranch that I visit in my lifetime, I'll be just fine with that. Judging by the conversations I had with seasoned ranch-going folk there, that was the consensus on why there were back there, too. In other words, try all the ranches, because you'll be back to the isolated, hidden gem that is The Home Ranch and you’ll be hooked just like the ranch guests.

 

The only problem with my three day stay at The Home Ranch was that it was three days and not a month (or two). Having lived in Colorado for a little over a year, and not having been to a ranch or ski resort for more than a half day at a time, I was very excited for the outdoor activity aspect. Looking back on my stay, I think along with all of the great amenities and activities, the food was the unexpected, over-the-top highlight. It was beyond compare and truly the part of my stay that was the cherry on top (no pun intended, of course).

From the moment I got there, I regret not getting there sooner. I threw my bags on my cabin bed and ran outside to strap some cross country skis to my feet and hit the fantastically-groomed trails. There wasn't even a need for a map to find out which sections of the 25km trails I wanted to hit. Andy, one of the knowledgeable and friendly guides, went out with me to show me his favorite loop. After falling several times on skis that were MUCH faster, lighter, and skinnier than I was used to, I still couldn't seem to wipe the smile off my face. I had never skied in such amazingly soft and feathery snow. People always say the snow is a lot different up near Steamboat Springs; now I know what they are talking about! Dare I say I was "falling" for the snow. It was a memorable experience to finally move skis through the “champagne powder” that the Steamboat area is known for worldwide.

 

After a few breath-taking sunset pictures and mental images I soon won't forget, I was off for the first dinner. Before I go on about how extravagant and savory the meal was, let me just state, for the record, I'm a hardcore foodie. Okay, now that we know more about each other, let me tell you, the food was "Ohh, soo good!". The Home Ranch’s highly-acclaimed chef, Clyde Nelson, would come out as everyone was seated and explain the choices of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. It seemed as though every meal was prepared for you as if it was going to be your last and I found that oddly charming.

My favorite meal was dinner on the second night. Having been a vegetarian for over a year, I broke the streak that night. As soon as the Chef said, "The T-bone steak from cattle raised across the field," I knew I had no choice. (Sorry, cows.) If I was to reject meat at that moment I would for the rest of my life. I had absolutely no regrets, to say the least! Each meal was better than the next, and it got the point to where I was stuffing myself so full of great food I had force myself to quit so I could begin to digest it and go play outside. What a fantastic first world problem to have: getting over served on gourmet food to the point that it might just affect your ability to ski.

The outdoor activities that were offered were quite astounding. From dog-sledding to tele-sking and everything in between, The Home Ranch had it to offer. My favorite activity to do was skate skiing. It was my first time trying such an activity and it didn't come naturally; the stubborn me had to keep at it. Mark was a fantastic teacher/guide as he's been skating around for almost as long as I have been consuming oxygen. He was willing to watch me fall, flop, and twist like a fish out of water, and still give me the right pointers to enable me to cruise like a cheap Cadillac on day two.

The stories from some of the other guests were too good not to share, especially about the dog sledding. One of the guests went into detail, explaining he was taking a little too long to get all his winter gear on and ready before the sled took off. The lead sled dog started to bark, getting anxious that they hadn't gone yet. Seconds after the lead sled dog barked, the rest started an uproar. All the dogs were howling with energy, more than ready to take these guests on an adventure they would never forget. I'm not sure if it was the sheer contrast from the load barking, but the same guest told me he was taken away with how surreal it was to be pulled at speeds of close to 25 miles per hour by second tier Iditarod sled dogs. All he could hear was the breath of the dogs while blazing through the forests on that crisp, 30 degree sunny morning.

Just when I thought the activities and then the food could not be topped, I was left amazed again; the people were even better. Now I'm not trying to come across as all goody-goody here, it's just the truth. Everyone in this group of around 15 was incredibly down to earth. The luxury guest ranch experience is like no other, in that the guest list is kept short and the interaction factor high. Sitting amongst the other ranch guests while dining at each meal was simply wonderful. The underlying factors that everyone shared in common were: an appreciation for the beautiful outdoors, exquisite food and dining, fantastic conversation with one another, and a break from the busy day-to-day lives we lead. My favorite part of my room accommodations, besides the amazing log cabin feel, was the fact that there was no television.

All in all, the Home Ranch is absolutely a slice of paradise. There is no reason why it shouldn't be on your list of "places to see and experience before you die,” which, by the way, it is actually listed as if you want to check the “1,000 Places To See Before You Die” books. If you like adventure, second-to-none outdoor beauty, exquisite dining, and smiling faces all around, this is your place. Photos and words just don't do it justice, you absolutely have to visit and take in the clean mountain air, champagne powder, warmth and beauty that is The Home Ranch. Go once and you’ll be hooked for life.

Richard Jensen About Richard Jensen

Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Fort Collins, CO. Helping clients buy and sell homes, relocate to Northern Colorado, and create wealth with real estate investments. NoCo transplant, avid hiker, leisure runner, amateur father, camera-happy photographer, convenience blogger, and willing to lend a helping hand.

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