By Amiee White Beazley
Wide-open spaces, top-notch accommodations, and exceptional cuisine make a winter escape to The Home Ranch near Steamboat an essential addition to your Colorado bucket list.
Beyond the borders and downhill ski trails of Steamboat Springs, there is a quiet stretch of highway that travels north, taking you into another time—a time when the Yampa Valley was full of working ranches. For 18 miles, this winding road follows the scenic Elk River and eventually leads to a small town called Clark. There’s not much there except the Clark Store, which serves as post office, grocery, liquor store, and café (with a mean prime rib sandwich). Just past Clark, a turn off the highway leads up a long road, and suddenly, the world opens up around you. You can see for miles and miles, with Hahn’s Peak in the distance, and you know you’ve made it Home.
WHERE TO STAY:
- One of only three Relais & Châteaux properties in Colorado, The Home Ranch is an all-inclusive dude ranch with six guestrooms in the main lodge and eight private cabins for four to six guests. Each room is charmingly decorated with a mix of Western touches such as Pendleton blankets, braided rugs, twig- and branch-adorned furnishings, Western art by regional artists, and a mix of vintage accessories and antiques.
WHERE TO EAT:
- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are a communal experience in the dining room at The Home Ranch. For every meal, a long table is set up for guests who sit side by side, engaging in stories of their ranch experiences, stories from home, and news of the day. Food is sophisticated and fresh, prepared by executive chef Jonathon Gillespie, pastry chef Douglas Short, and their team of innovative chefs, with many of the ingredients grown, foraged, or raised right on the ranch.
WHAT TO DO:
- In winter, while there is backcountry skiing, horseback riding, and sleigh rides available to guests, it is the 20 miles of world-class cross-country skiing that allow guest to see every nook and cranny of this historic and pristine 4,000-acre property. Grab your gear at the ski cabin, where you will be outfitted with the latest skis, poles, and boots, and head out either alone or with one of the ranch’s experienced Nordic guides.
BEFORE YOU GO, READ THIS:
- A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, originally published in 1976 by Norman Maclean. A seminal read of a young man’s life in the American West.
LISTEN TO THIS:
- Ranch manager Michael Moon and his wife, Dawn, met and began singing together after meeting at The Home Ranch. Besides having five children, they also compose and record music. Their CD, “Land of the Columbine,” is a love letter to the Colorado ranching life.
- Documentary filmmakers Ken Burns and Stephen Ives spent five years traveling to create The West, an eight-part documentary series that was released on PBS in 1996.
SAVE THE DATE:
- From Jan. 18 to 21, 2019, join members of the Stranahan family, who own The Home Ranch and are distillers from the brand of whiskey that bears their name, for the annual release of their celebrated Snowflake blend.
- “I can’t think of a better way to spend a winter weekend than cozied up in the charming cabins at Home Ranch. The food was phenomenal—certainly not your typical ranch fare—and it fueled miles of fun on perfectly groomed cross-country ski trails. Trip highlight: listening to local musicians The Moons sing their love songs to Colorado by the fire.” —Kate Oliviero, Boulder