Holiday parties are a great way to celebrate and reconnect on a personal level with staff and their families…we’ve been hosting holiday parties for over 60 years, and have recently introduced a variety of fun activities for to enhance your holiday party experience:

  • Holiday campfire, with S’more and hot chocolate- nothing says “cozy” more then sitting around a campfire enjoying yummy s’mores and hot chocolate.
  • Horse drawn wagon ride- Belgian draught horses and sleigh bells make this a holiday favorite
  • Tractor-drawn hayride- a slow and easy ride along the foothills trail
  • Christmas caroling and singalongs a songfest of classics carols accompanied by piano or guitar…it’s not fancy, but it will warm your heart
  • Cowboy entertainment, singing and lots of laughter- Cowboy Jake is the funniest gunslinger around…the real deal
  • Cowboy Santa Claus- it’s the Jolly old elf himself…don’t forget your wish list
  • Face Painting for the kids -Santa’s elves bring their own brand of fun
  • Caricatures- sure it’s goofy, but a great ice-breaker too
  • Holiday Hoedown-all your dance favorites- line dancing, square dancing, two-step and Cotton Eyed Joe!
  • Holiday Karoke- here’s your chance to belt out your favorite holiday (or other) tune to the whole company… go for it!
  • Holiday Photos- add your company background or choose from different backgrounds…no charge for posing or making fun faces with the boss.
  • Holiday Crafts- create your own old-fashioned wooden Christmas ornament…we’ll supply all the materials, you supply the creativity

 We offer a choice of party rooms, tasty brunch, lunch and dinner menus and bar service featuring fine wines and Colorado brews.  Plus 50% savings off your party room rate!

If you’re unsure about your holiday party plans, give us a call or email…we’d love to help.  Cheers!


Thanks to Rocky Mountain Anglers and Guide Randy Hicks for this report:

“Al Ritt’s fighting craw was good out of boats with sink tips all day. Trail it with a damsel nymph.  Hopper dropper was good with chironomids and damsel nymphs underneath. Fish were cruising close til about 10 am, then moved farther out. Beetle was best dry fly. Hoppers took a few, but only on the twitch warriors, blue poison tungs. River fished great.


A Young Happy Angler on Mother Lake

Mother Lake was good from shore early, weedy in some areas. Looks like some fish are pre-spawn in some sections. Try moorish hopper from idylwilde, with black or red chironomids below. Fished Mother Lake til noon then hit the river. River was best with RS2s; rainbow warriors on the lake.”

Filed under Conditions, Fishing by on #

Another super-successful Grandparents Day celebration is over.

This year almost 270 Grand Family members attended for the Grand Families’ picnic at Daddy J’s, (which is SO appropriate, since Maurice had a large and very special place in his heart for children who struggle.)

For those who don’t know this organization, it is a support group begun by the Namaqua Center, ten years ago, for grandparents who have stepped up and are raising their grandchildren. Many of the biological parents of these children have become meth, or other kinds of addicts and alcoholics, have become abusive, are in jailor have died.

Most of these children have been traumatized repeatedly. They have been abused, neglected, abandoned and exploited. They are not easy children to raise. They range in age from 2 years through adolescence.


The number of grandchildren being raised by one or more of these grand parents ranges from one to five. The grandparents provide them with love, safety and stability, often at great cost to themselves, their financial well-being, and their own dreams. I have never heard anyone of them complain!

Read more on Grandparents Day 2012…

Thanks to Fish Acquisition Specialist, Wallace Westfeldt, for another of his helpful reports.  And check out his website with more pics of monster trout caught on Sylvan Dale Ranch’s private fly fishing waters.

“Mother Lake: Early fish were caught mostly on legless Autumn Splendors slowly stripped deep, preferably with sinking line. As the day progress, red or green snowcone Chronomids were taken. Reduce size and raise in water column as the water temp warms up.”

Ranch Member, Franky K, with his lucky CYO (Colorado Youth Outdoors) cap & a big beauty on Mother Lake, mid-August ~

Frank K rainbow float tube Zoom

Frank with a Gorgeous Rainbow Trout

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As of Friday August 24, the big Thompson was running clear near 150 CFS. Trout were seeking shaded pools as water temps were still in mid sixties. Some caddis have been seen with more prevalent midge hatches occurring.  Prince nymph patterns with black beauty dropper flies have been productive.  Dry /dropper combinations using caddis or mayfly patterns on top have brought the occasional strike. Overcast skies seem to provide the best fishing as does early morning or late afternoon.  Grasshoppers are abundant along the shoreline, so prospecting with a chernobyl ant or a joe’s hopper might be productive.

Filed under Conditions, Fishing by on #

Calling all Cowgirls…get ready for another weekend of fun and riding adventure, 9/27–10/1/2012!


Lori & Susan — Ready to Ride!

While you’re at the ranch, make plans to treat your body right, too.

What’s better then a classic massage and hot-tub soak at the end of a perfect day of riding?

Massages are performed indoors or out, subject to the weather. We offer a choice of natural oils…Citrus Blend, Peppermint and Eucalyptus are current favorites. Choose a deep tissue, therapeutic massage to relieve sore muscles and rejuvenate and re-energize the body. Or try our Relaxation Massage, offering a lighter touch to relax the overall body and mind…you may even fall asleep!

Wrap up your massage experience with a leisurely soak in the hot tub as you share laughs and stories with new found friends.
Treat your body right!

For more information visit

Too book your stay or schedule your massage, call Karen at 970-667-3915.

“Mother Lake in the Big Valley continues to fish well, especially in the morning up untill early afternoon.  The damsel hatch is waning but fish can still be taken on damsel nymphs fished deep.  Terrestrials are the hot ticket for dry flies.  Grasshoppers, beetles and Chernoybl ants are working well when there is chop on the water.

Note: We are seeing dead fish due to stress of prolonged struggle and/or time out of the water for photographs. Please get the fish in as quickly as possible and keep them in the water for photos.

The river is great using attractor drys and nymphs. Elk Hair caddis, Wullfs, H&L Variants and Stimulators are working all over the Ranch. Prince nymphs, Hare’s Ears and Pheasant Tails make effective droppers below the drys. Fishing is best before mid-afternoon due to the heat.”

Greg Sheets is the ranch’s Head Guide and can be reached for guided trips at 970.667.8596 or

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Adults Only Dude Ranch Vacations

Adults Only Dude Ranch Vacation Week — August 19th – 25th, 2012

No doubt, kids are special — the little ones add a special spice to life with their innocence and unspoiled insight … at the same time they can be a lot of work! Everyone needs a vacation every now and then but if vacation becomes “work”, it’s no vacation at all.

Your best vacation might just mean getting away alone — no “kidding”!

We really love kids here at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch and do everything we can to make a stay at the ranch a fun and memorable experience for the little cowpokes as well as adults. We also appreciate the times you need a respite, to simply get away from the routine and re-create.

Our Adults Only Vacation may be just the ticket!

Many experts agree that there are great benefits to taking time away to relax, gather oneself, reflect and just have fun. The emergence of several new “child free” vacation websites like seems to affirm the growing trend for Adults Only getaways.

Shelly Phillips makes several thoughtful points in her article The importance of time away from your kids:

When you get time away you’re able to look at things from a new perspective. You might get some new insights into a recurring dynamic at home, or you might just relax and enjoy yourself, allowing yourself to let go and stop being responsible for another human being for a moment. When you get time away you’re able to look at things from a new perspective.

Read more on Don’t “Kid” Yourself (Adults Only Getaway)…

Forrest, Head Guide for Elkhorn Fly Rod & Reel just up the road from the ranch’s private flyfishing waters, submitted this great report from his trip this week with a couple from Florida.

We started our day off fishing on Mother Lake around noon. We saw some risers but only got a couple takes on beetles, so we went to Island Lake for a while. The fishing was unbelievable!”

Immediately we had intense action on red chronomids. We were constantly fighting and landing fish. Between the two clients, I hardly had enough time to get one fish off the hook before the other was hooked up again! We had 6, yes SIX doubles on the day, and the smallest fish was 17″!!! Red chronomids, damsel nymphs and the occasional take on the beetle accounted for every fish landed.

After a couple hours of fun at Island and then landing a monster 25″ rainbow right at the inlet, they said they wanted a shot at some real giants in Mother.

forrest fishing w lady

Joni, of Florida, w/1 of many catches & smiles of the day!
Guide Forrest can’t help but smile as well!

By this time the clouds had rolled in and it began to sprinkle a little, which really turned the fish on. We sighted one of the 30″+ sharks in Mother Lake, but were unable to get it to take anything. No problem though, because we picked up right where we had left off earlier at Island Lake hooking fish after fish in various spots on Mother!!

At sunset as the night began to roll in, the husband, Tim, standing right next to the spring hooked up on a dandy fish. As he was fighting the fish, it decided to swim directly at him! In an attempt to keep the line taut, he began to walk backwards…and tripped. The icy spring water poured down his waders but since the water was shallow, there were no problems other than Joni and I trying to keep a straight face.

As his wife was laughing about 20 yards away, line began to scream out her reel as they hooked up on another double! Both fish were landed quickly and easily.

The wife’s fish was 21″ and the husband’s was 23″ but weighed 5 lbs! With the perfect end to a perfect afternoon of fishing, they decided to call it quits on that note. The total for the day ended up being 20+ fish landed and over 35 hooked. It was amazing, and I can’t wait to get another group out to Sylvan Dale’s private waters again soon!

Ranch Editorial:  Forrest is not only an accomplished angler and guide, he is a musician and artist, too!  We’re so glad he shared the following photo along with this note: “I just painted my 12 string guitar like a rainbow for some of my longer trips where entertainment is a must!”  WOW! If any of you would like to be serenaded in the shade a big cottonwood tree, sipping a refreshing beverage after catching a bunch of trout, call Forrest, Head Guide at Elkhorn Fly Rod & Reel.

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Sylvan Dale Ranch is the home of the Preston Middle School Wildlife Research Project, a project based learning program in association with International Telementor Program.

This unique project enables Preston’s students to improve wildlife habitat, learn scientific inquiry, explore web resources and, through the process, experience what it means to produce quality work.

Plus they get to see quite a bit of Sylvan Dale‘s wildlife and have allot of fun in the process.

The good folks at the Journal of the International Telementor published a full report in their Spring 2012 Issue and are kind enough to share it with you all:  

 There’s also a great video with great wildlife footage here

Firefighters have been taking the heat for a while now and they were rewarded Sunday by achieving full-containment of the High Park fire. We say a big “CONGRATULATIONS!” and express deep gratitude to all fire workers involved. And we know there’s still work to be done.

Sylvan Dale Loves Firefighters!

Sylvan Dale Loves Firefighters! ⇱

The High Park Fire is 100% contained at 87,284 acres. A Type 3 management team, led by Ken Paul, assumed responsibility for the fire yesterday. That team is based at CSU’s Pingree Park campus.

It should be noted that “containment” means that a containment line exists around the fire, which fire managers believe will hold the fire within the perimeter. “Control” means that the fire is actually out which, on a fire of this magnitude, typically requires an act of nature such as prolonged rain or snowfall.

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Fly Fishing Report 6-30-12 by Wallace Westfeldt 

Okay I’ll admit it:  I was concerned about the heat at Mother Lake. So, I talked my guest into going very early … well, we were fishing by 7:15. Early morning action was all on midges.

Dry Dropper rig with a Chernobyl on top and #20 UV midge did the trick. When the midges died down, switched to a lime green Damsel nymph. Definitely the fly of the day … all day. We were fortunate to get afternoon cloud cover so fish continued to take into the mid afternoon. Highest water temp one foot down was 68 degrees. Not bad for this weather. Springs are running well. Also caught fish on Orange Blossom Special and Callibaetis nymph.

Wallace client bent rod Mother Lake

Bent rods on Mother Lake = Big Fish!

Did see some Callibaetis spinners, but not too many takes on those. Trick of the day was Loch Style Rig from a Belly Boat. Don’t know what that is? Send me a note and I’ll tell you … or better yet let’s set a date and I’ll show you!  ~ Wallace, MudBugCo, Fish Acquisitions ~ More Pictures Here

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A couple days after JB’s previous report on this blog (scroll down), he had another great day:  “The fishing continued to be outstanding for my guests Joe and Michael on Mother Lake while sight fishing from the bank in the morning.

JB client Michael's first trout

Michael’s First Trout! ⇱

The choppy surface and slightly overcast day were perfect conditions that produced double digit numbers of rainbows taking a Chernobyl Ant trailed with a damsel nymph. The damsel bite is on!

This was Michael’s first fly fishing experience and he may be “spoiled” now by Sylvan Dale’s wonderful fishery!   The afternoon was spent up on the Main Ranch River and the fishing was good using a Pat’s Rubber Legs trailed by either a PMD or caddis larva nymph…not too many rising fish, as the sun seemed to keep them down, but a great day for Joe and Michael!”

Submitted by:  John “JB” Bruning – Guide & Sculptor –

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JB client Felicia June

Felicia’s Biggest Rainbow

“The Peterson family enjoyed another magical day of fly fishing on the lower valley lakes and ponds with Kirk Bien (Kirk’s Fly Shop, Estes Park) and John “JB” Bruning. Catching was fast and furious in the morning as several 18-24” fish were caught and released in Mother and Island Lakes.  The main medicine was trolling weighted black leeches trailed with damsel nymphs behind float tubes or suspending nymphs (red & black chironomids and damsels) four to six feet deep.  A bit of sight fishing around the bank of Mother Lake also produced a big handful of beautiful rainbows on a Chernobyl ant trailed by a damsel nymph.  The day finished down at the bass ponds where the Peterson boys found some eager largemouth bass using woolly buggers…it was a wonderful day at Sylvan Dale Ranch!”

Check out JB’s website for contact info to have him guide your next trip!

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Tuesday June 19, 2012
by Forrest, Elkhorn Fly Rod & Reel


Another Trophy Rainbow on Mother Lake

The fishing on Mother and Island lakes was incredible today.

I had one client who had a decent amount of fly fishing experience, but zero lake fishing experience.

The weather was in the mid 90s with a little breeze and blue skies, other than the plumes of smoke from the fire to the North. Before today, the client’s biggest fish was 18″. At the end of the day, with 28 hookups and 17 fish landed, only one fish had failed to break that record.

Three 24" rainbows topped the day with a tie for the longest fish, but the second one weighed in at nearly ten pounds, and had him in his backing in 6 seconds!!!

We had most of our success in Mother Lake, fishing a sink tip line with a pine squirrel leach and a damsel fly nymph, dragging it behind the belly boats.

Both big browns and rainbows were landed on both flies. After a while, we moved down to island lake fishing the newly dug channel at the inlet, and caught a few more nice rainbows, including the third 24 incher on top with a beetle. Red chronomids also had great success there.

In all it was a day for the books, and one that I look forward to witnessing again soon! They really do a spectacular job managing these lakes, and it pays off with unforgettable memories like these!