Sometimes life exceeds expectation. That’s what I’ve found with winter ranches in the Rockies.

In summer, hundreds of dude ranches draw thousands of visitors. They’re crazy-diverse: homespun and elegant; private and heavily peopled; mostly self-service or with staff at your call. You’ll find Spartan working ranches as well as places with canapés and kidney-shaped swimming pools.

The few ranches open in winter are outstanding – magnificent settings and staff, excellent facilities and food, and snow so delicate it drifts through the air like cold smoke. They’re run for cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and, increasingly, fat bikers by people who love the season and their profession.

Wecome to Latigo Ranch

A prime example is Latigo Ranch, near the town of Kremmling in north-central Colorado’s Gore Range. It’s owned and managed by Lisa and Randy George and their kids.

Latigo used to run cattle, sheep, and “dudes” before it totally converted to guest ranching in 1987. Once you turn off Highway 134, you start climbing, trading sage for pine, spruce, and aspen, interspersed with vast meadows. It feels like the top of the world.

Latigo can cater to pretty much any culinary taste, be it red meat, vegetarian, kosher, low carb, or low fat. Breakfast is my favorite meal. I have fond memories of buttermilk pancakes imprinted with the ranch brand, complemented by genuine maple syrup.

Latigo comfortably handles 22 guests, but you’ll seldom find that number except during holidays. Cabins are ski-in/ski-out, nestled in pines above the lodge with wood-burning stoves. This is a ski ranch, not a resort (no phones or TVs in the rooms).

50km of groomed trails lace through Latigo

Latigo grooms 50 kilometers of trail for track, skating, and fatbiking.

This is gorgeous, rugged country, with some of the most enjoyable skiing and diverse trails I’ve ever experienced. For example, the descent on Arena Run can be like silk in fresh snow; lightning in the spring.

High up on windswept Jumper Flats, you’ll find a broad panoramic view. You can tear down The Luge at sunset, when you may be greeted with a spectacular play of colors over the Indian Peaks Wilderness – 70 miles of mountain and valley snowscape.

If you’re altitude-sensitive, book a longer stay and take it easy for at least the first day. (Latigo’s trails range from around 8,600’ to 9,400’ above sea level.)

It’s a wonderful thing to ski back to the ranch on a crisp afternoon, saunter over to the Social Center, and finish the day with a sybaritic Jacuzzi soak!

When You Go

Latigo is 150 miles from Denver International Airport. In addition to trails, you can go sledding, tubing, and snowshoeing. Skis, snowshoes, and pulks can be rented at the ranch, but you’ll need to bring your own fat bike.

Adult rate for winter 2021-’22 is $225/day and covers lodging, meals, trails, and “100 % free views.” The season begins just before Christmas and runs into early March. Interested in learning more? Call 970-724-9008; email [email protected], or visit www.latigoranch.com.

One Comment

  1. Joseph E. Slick says:

    Hi Jonathan,
    Memory time. About 20 years ago in February…B Bar Ranch…I spent an afternoon skiing with you and Jean Arthur. We skied up to one of the ranch’s outlying cabins. It was areal challenge keeping up with you two.
    I still have been skiing here in the “mountains “ of Western Pennsylvania all these years but have yet to get out this season. At 85 I am dealing with some health issues but I expect to get out at least once this season. It is difficult to find a better outdoor activity than xc skiing.
    Thank you for helping to make my stay at the B Bar a most memorial time.
    Keep the pointy ends forward,
    Joe Slick

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