• Dude Ranch Colorado - Best Family Vacation
  • Dude Ranch Colorado - Best Family Vacation
  • Dude Ranch Colorado - Best Family Vacation
  • Dude Ranch Colorado - Best Family Vacation
  • Dude Ranch Colorado - Best Family Vacation
  • Dude Ranch Colorado - Best Family Vacation
  • Dude Ranch Colorado - Best Family Vacation
  • Dude Ranch Colorado - Best Family Vacation
  • Dude Ranch Colorado - Best Family Vacation
  • Dude Ranch Colorado - Best Family Vacation
  • Dude Ranch Colorado - Best Family Vacation
  • Dude Ranch Colorado - Best Family Vacation
Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch — Experience the Beauty — (970) 667-3915

Rocky Mountain National Park Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is just 22 miles west of the Ranch on U.S. 34. Entrance to the park is via either U.S. 34 or U.S. 36 (Moraine Ave.). The main entrance is via U.S. 36 and the Fall River Entrance is on U.S. 34; there is a charge for admission. A great way to save time seeing the park is to enter the Fall River Entrance and take the Old Fall River Road to the Alpine Visitors Center, returning via US 34- Trail Ridge Road. The U.S. 34 by-pass around downtown Estes Park and can save an hour or more on a busy summer afternoon (although you will also bypass the famous caramel corn). Make sure your vehicle's cooling system is in good shape and visit the high altitude tips page before your trip if you're new to the area.

Roosevelt National Forest Roosevelt National Forest

Roosevelt National Forest is directly adjacent to the Ranch on the West, and surrounds our "back-country" where we go on overnight pack trips. The National Forest encompasses the Cache la Poudre, Big Thompson, St. Vrain, and Boulder Creek watersheds. Multiple-use management allows a wide range of back-country recreation. The Cache la Poudre Wilderness is quite literally visible from a high-rise in Fort Collins.

Village of Estes Park Village of Estes Park

Estes Park (18 miles west of the Ranch) is the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. The valley was homesteaded in 1859 by Joel Estes and soon attracted the attention of travelers, including the intrepid English traveller, Isabella Bird, in the 1870s. Estes Park has been in the tourist business ever since. Unlike many other mountain resort towns, such as Aspen, Central City, Crested Butte, and Telluride, Estes Park is outside the Colorado Mineral Belt, so it has no history of mining and the spectacular mountains that surround the town are not scarred and tunneled.

The most scenic route to Estes Park is via US 34 to Drake and then right toward Glen Haven on the North Fork of the Big Thompson. Above Glen Haven, continue on the Devil's Gulch Road, entering Estes Park at its NE corner by MacGregor Ranch (now a museum).

Estes Park Area Historical Museum is just east of downtown on US 36. The museum contains fine local history collections and exhibits. Phone (970) 586-6256.

MacGregor Ranch — Devil's Gulch Road, NE of Estes Park. Turn-of-the-century cattle ranch restored. Phone: 586-3749.

Estes Park Rooftop Rodeo — Frequently voted PRCA's "Best Small Rodeo of the Year," the Rooftop Rodeo happens every July. For scheduling information for this exciting rodeo please refer to: www.rooftoprodeo.com

Stanley Hotel — Grand, turn-of-the-century hotel built by Freland Stanley, inventor of the Stanley Steamer. Stanley's steam cars were reputed to be great mountain-climbers, so the new Big Thompson Canyon Road was a preferred "run" for the fashionable automobiles. Long lines of "Steamers" picked up tourists at the Depot in Loveland, drove out past Chasteen's Grove, around "Devil's Elbow" (on the old road across from Daddy J's), past Sylvan Dale Ranch, and headed up the Canyon to Estes Park.

The Big Thompson Canyon was impassible until 1904-1905, even to hikers. It was called the Box Canyon or Loveland Grand Canyon and was accessible on foot only along a wooden flume that was hung on the north wall of the Narrows to bring irrigation water to Sylvan Dale's Home Pastures. The old route to Estes Park avoided the Narrows, instead following First Street west of Loveland to about where Flatiron Reservoir is now, and then heading down Dickson Gulch to join the Big Thompson River near Cedar Cove.

Returning, you can either drive down US 34 to Sylvan Dale or—if you want a longer trip—down US 36 to Lyons, to pick up Colorado 66 and return to Sylvan Dale via Longmont, Berthoud, and Loveland on country roads. By the way, Lyons is the barely disputed "Antique Capital" of northern Colorado. It is also the home of Lyons sandstone, the flagstone that decorates so many buildings in the area, including the campuses of CU-Boulder and CSU in Fort Collins. This same stone is exposed as the "rim rock" on Eagle Ridge.

Or take an extra hour and head east on Colorado 66 to Platteville, home of Fort Vasquez — one of the fur-trading outposts of famed "mountain man" Ceran St. Vrain. The fort has been reconstructed by the Colorado Historical Society. Take US 85 or I-25 to Colorado 66, 16 mi. S of Greeley or 16 mi. E of Longmont. Admission is free. Phone: (970) 785-2832.

Loveland the Sweetheart Town Loveland the Sweetheart Town

Loveland is 7 miles east of the Ranch, and is famous for its bronze sculpture and art galleries. America's "Sweetheart City" was founded in 1877 as a stop on the Colorado Central and Pacific Railway, of which William A. H. Loveland was the president. There were earlier settlements nearby, namely Namaqua (about 5 miles east of Sylvan Dale, a stage stop on the Overland Trail, where the notorious Mariano Medina had a toll bridge across the Big Thompson) and St. Louis, about 3 miles downstream from Loveland, too low for a good railroad bed. Medina is a protagonist in David Jessup's historical novel, Mariano's Crossing.

After growing up as an agricultural town, a number of high-tech industries are now located here. Perhaps Loveland 's greatest claim to fame today—after Sylvan Dale Ranch, of course!—is its annual valentine re-mailing program, in which sweethearts and would-be sweethearts from around the world have their cards postmarked "Loveland."

Loveland is the Sweetheart City, but its history can be summarized as the "Sweet Art City," because it has shifted from a sugar beet processing center to a Mecca for the visual arts, with attractions too numerous to mention, including Benson Park Sculpture Garden (at the north end of Lake Loveland, on 29th Street just east of Taft — phone: 667-1114) and the Loveland Museum Gallery (see below). Chapungu Sculpture Garden, in the Promenade Shops at Centerra on 1-25 at Hwy. 34, features a walking path with monument size African stone sculptures. Some of the best bronze foundries in the United States are found in Loveland, attracting many sculptors to the area.

Loveland's historical downtown area—just north and south of 4th Street between Lincoln and Cleveland—is being revived with art galleries, restaurants, retail shops and the historic Rialto Theatre. Don't miss the Corn Roast Festival in the downtown area in August. It includes corn shucking contests, corn eating contests, parades, concerts and loads of fun for the family.

Loveland Museum Gallery — 503 N Lincoln, Phone: (970) 962-2410. Excellent exhibits of local history and fine arts exhibits. Admission is free.

Larimer County Fair and Rodeo — Contact: www.larimercountyfair.org

Berthoud — South of Loveland on U.S. 287 (or S on Garfield), is this charming little country town, rightfully self-proclaimed as the "Garden Spot of Colorado."

Carter Lake — 5 miles south of Sylvan Dale, past the Big Valley, is a major water sports destination including sailing and water-skiing.

Golf — Loveland offers the avid golfer three golf courses within 7 miles of the Ranch.

  • The Olde Course at Loveland — Public 18 hole course at 2115 W. 29th St. (970) 667-5256.
  • Cattail Creek Golf Course — Public par 3 course across the street from the Olde Course. 2116 W. 29th St. (970) 663-5310.
  • Mariana Butte Golf Course — Public 18-hole course west of Loveland at 701 Clubhouse Dr. Phone: (970) 667-8308 About 5 miles from the ranch. Rated Four Stars in Golf Digest, and honored as one of 100 Great Value Golf Courses by Golf Digest.

Visit City of Loveland, Colorado Golf Courses for more information.

Fort Collins Fort Collins

"From Cowchips To Microchips!" Famous Old Town is just 17 miles from Sylvan Dale.

Fort Collins was founded in 1864 as a substitute for Camp Collins, which was on the site of present-day La Porte, and was washed away in a flood. Fort Collins was an outpost of Fort Laramie (on the Oregon Trail, near present-day Wheatland, Wyoming). It was situated on the Overland Trail -the route from the Oregon Trail to the Santa Fe Trail - which ran along the edge of the plains just east of the foothills (roughly along what is now Loveland's Wilson Ave).

As a fort it was short-lived (decommissioned in 1867), but as a trading center and agricultural city it was destined for great development.

Colorado Agricultural College (now Colorado State University), founded in 1879, is the major magnet attracting high-tech industry in the last few decades. Among numerous world-class programs are the Equine Science Department, the College of Veterinary Medicine, and the College of Natural Resources.

The most interesting route to Fort Collins from Sylvan Dale is through Masonville (see below). The short way from here to Fort Collins is via Wilson Avenue through Loveland. If you want a longer ride you can drive through Masonville, up Buckhorn Canyon to Stove Prairie School and from there go down Rist Canyon to Bellvue and Fort Collins. And if you really "have time to kill" or just want to see more beautiful country, head on north to Stove Prairie Landing on the Poudre River, turning east (downstream!) to Fort Collins via Colorado 14 and US 287 (College Avenue).

Horsetooth Reservoir — 10 miles NNE of Sylvan Dale (east of Masonville) is the northernmost major structure of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, destination of the water in the Hansen Feeder Canal that crosses the top of the Home Pastures at Sylvan Dale, from which the Ranch gets its irrigation water. Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake are the local destinations for water sports, including sailing and water-skiing.

There is much to see and do in Fort Collins.

  • Fort Collins Museum — 200 Mathews Street, Phone 221-6738. Admission is free.
  • Avery House — 328 West Mountain, Phone 221-0533. Admission is free.
  • Birney Streetcar 21 — Historic Trolley. West Mountain Avenue from Oak Street to City Park. Open weekends and holidays, May through October.
  • Anheuser-Busch Brewery — I-25 at exit 271 (Mountain Vista Drive). Phone: (970) 490-4691. Admission is free.
  • The Farm at Lee Martinez Park — 600 N Sherwood Street. Phone 221-6665. Free admission. Pony rides available on the weekends.

The most interesting shops in Fort Collins are in Old Town (north of Mountain Avenue, east of College Avenue—park along College or in municipal lots at College and East Oak or at East Mountain and Remington). The other major shopping district is College Avenue south of Prospect Street—a classic strip-mall with just about every fast-food outlet and big-box retail outlet known to humankind.

Masonville Masonville

Masonville, five miles away, continues as a quarry town, exploiting the flagstone of the Lyons Formation. One of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered was dug from a nearby hillside, and was promptly named the "Masonville Monster." The general store, leather shop, and Buckhorn Llama Company are worth a visit.

Take County Road 29 around Green Ridge Glade Reservoir (the City of Loveland's raw water supply) past Sunrise Ranch, Guidestone Farm (an example of community-supported agriculture), and Eden Valley Institute. Then curve through a short canyon to intersect County Road 27. This is the site of Arkins, a former quarry town of several hundred people! Turn north to Masonville.

Greeley: Hub of an Agricultural Empire Greeley: Hub of an Agricultural Empire

Greeley is the home of the University of Northern Colorado, formerly Colorado State College of Education. Named for Horace Greeley, Greeley is where Greeley had in mind when he said, “Go West, young man! Go West!” Greeley's meticulous influence is seen everywhere, from the grid of extra wide streets to the green lawns in a semiarid landscape, watered with moisture captured as mountain snows. Proud of its history, Greeley has wonderful museums.

Municipal Museum — 919 7th Street-on the east end of the Public Safety building It shares a door with the Lincoln Park Library. Phone: (970) 350-9220. Admission is free.

Centennial Village — 1475 14th Avenue "A" Street, Island Grove Park. Enjoy the historic architecture of Greeley — 1860 to 1920.

1870 Meeker Home — 1324 9th Avenue, Admission is free. Nathan Meeker was Horace Greeley's agriculture editor and leader of the Union Colony that settled Greeley.

Greeley Independence Day Stampede — June 22—July 4, 2012

For many, the most interesting things about the Greeley area have to do with agriculture. Weld County is one of the nation's top producers of potatoes, onions, and fed cattle. Weld County farmers also grow truck crops, forage crops, and dry-land wheat.

JB Swift runs one of the world's largest cattle feed lots east of Kersey, the first town east of Greeley on US Highway 34.

Pawnee National Grasslands — To Nunn from Greeley on US 85 (8th Avenue), or take Nunn Exit from I-25 N of Fort Collins. Shortgrass prairie and the storied Pawnee Buttes, this area and the cities of Greeley and Fort Collins were the inspiration for much of James Michener's historical novel, Centennial. Michener taught at Colorado State College in Greeley in the 1930s, where he and a student named Maurice Jessup were the tennis doubles team to beat!

Come home via Windsor. Formerly a major sugar beet refining center, Windsor now is home to a major residential community, with high-tech industries.

The Windsor sugar plant played a major role in the history of Sylvan Dale. It was the promise of work at the sugar factory that lured Hubbard and Leone Tomlinson and their family (including little Mayme) to Colorado in the 1920s.Hubbard (later to be nicknamed "The Duke" by his son-in-law, Maurice Jessup) drove mule teams hauling wagonloads of beets. Mayme Tomlinson became Mayme Jessup (and eventually "Tillie the Toiler") and for over a half century she baked the cinnamon rolls that put Sylvan Dale on the map of the West!

Farther Afield… Farther Afield…

Boulder — (40 miles via US 287 to Longmont and Colorado 119), or ask for David Armstrong's famous back road route! Be sure to visit University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Heritage Center, and Fiske Planetarium, art galleries, and Pearl Street Mall — distinctive shopping and sidewalk entertainment.

Central City/Blackhawk — (70 miles via Golden, US 6 and Colorado 119). These nostalgic, Old West towns have been transformed into the closest limited stakes gambling casinos. They're still a bit reminiscent of their former "olde tyme" grandness. This really is the wild West, and Colorado 119 has become Colorado's drunkest highway (and the one with the most attention from the Colorado Highway Patrol). Please drive carefully. We want you back.

Cheyenne, Wyoming — (65 miles via I-25) Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, "The Daddy of 'em All" is held the last full week of July. For tickets and information call (800) 227- 6336 or visit www.cfdrodeo.com. Also visit Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, Frontier Park, Wyoming State Capitol, and the Wyoming State Museum. Railroad buffs will enjoy the Cheyenne Depot Museum.

Denver — (50 miles via I-25) — "Queen City of the Plains," now a cosmopolitan metropolis. Numerous attractions, including Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Gates Planetarium, Denver Art Museum, US Mint, Colorado Heritage Center (history museum), Denver Botanical Gardens, Denver Zoo, Black American West Museum, Larimer Square (restored lower downtown), Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

Golden — (60 miles via Boulder and Colorado 93 or via Denver and I-70/US 6). Colorado School of Mines, world's foremost school of mining technology; and Adolph Coors Brewery. Golden claims to be the "Gateway to the West" Some might argue, but Golden is the home of the Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum on Lookout Mountain, and there's no dispute that "Buffalo Bill" Cody and his "Wild West" put the American West on the map of our imagination.

Morrison — (65 miles via Golden-see above). Morrison is home of world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheater, the "The Fort" Restaurant-food and drink of the Old West, Morrison Museum, and Dinosaur Ridge Nature Trail.

Laramie, Wyoming — (80 miles via US 287). There is lots to see in this fabled frontier town. The University of Wyoming is there and also the Wyoming Territorial Park, including Frontier Town with its saloon, historic buildings, and living history re-enactments. For hours of operation and other details call (800) 845-2287. Laramie Plains Museum, 603 Ivinson, Phone: (307) 742-4448.