Coyotes have a reputation bigger than life. In the Southwest and Mexico, they were known by natives and immigrants alike as “trickster” because of their wily ways, cunning, versatile, scrappy adversaries who commanded grudging respect. Coyotes are emblematic of wide open spaces. Now increasingly too familiar as suburban scavengers or even urban “dumpster divers,” coyotes evolved their versatile habits on a wild continent where wolves were “top dog.” With the demise of wolves, their much larger cousins, coyotes have expanded their range and now are common from the Arctic to Costa Rica.

coyote-the-trickster.jpgExpect to see coyotes anywhere on Sylvan Dale’s 5 square miles of diverse habitats, but they are especially “watchable” right on the Home Pastures. This year there were at least two dens within the view from The Hilltop, in the rough, brushy country just east of the canal. Both parents help to raise the pups, bring home a feast of cottontails, prairie dogs, and mice as well as carrion. They probably would harvest Susan’s chickens as well, except for some industrial grade fencing and the vigilance of their fearless, distant cousin, Maggie (the Wonder Dog).

Every night there are singing contests between the north and south ends of the pastures. Just now they prefer to perform about 3 AM, trailing grown-up calls followed by ragged choruses of youngsters’ yips.

Coyotes are no threat to people or livestock and like other native wildlife at Sylvan Dale, they have a comfortable refuge here, prospering in natural landscapes protected from future development by perpetual conservation easements.

David M. Armstrong
Resident Naturalist, SDR
Author Rocky Mountain Mammals

Photojournalist Morgan Jones recently paid a visit to Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch and captured quite a few amazing shots. Some of his photos have been compiled into this beautiful still motion video, capturing the excitement of a Sylvan Dale horseback riding experience!. Thanks Morgan!


Capturing amazing images that occur in everyday life.

View more of Morgan’s work at his blog site, Morgan’s Photo Journal.
Contact Morgan: mjdenver (@) live.com (303) 854-7685

Jesse King, a guest at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch during Bonfils Stanton Foundation’s company retreat, took a break from the activities to create a wonderful display of balance. More than a dozen actually. Despite the rising waters from the rains the stones remain steadfast.

It’s not Stonehenge but still impressive to see; slender stones peacefully projecting skyward from the rushing waters of the Big Thompson River. One might say it’s symbolic of what happens during a stay at Sylvan Dale. Finding balance in the oftentimes riotous current of life.

Shall we call it Sylvanhenge? Hmmm.

Finding Balance at Sylvanhenge
view the photo gallery

The recent show at Loveland’s historic Rialto Theater highlighted “Classical Music’s Most Wanted”. Photos taken at Sylvan Dale feature the antique coach at hilltop and some of our horses and were used for ads related to The Magnificent Seven in the Loveland Reporter Herald

I caught the biggest trout I ever caught in the Big Thompson River yesterday. Twenty-one inches. A huge, fat rainbow, like one from our trophy lakes.

That big boy came out of the stretch of river in the lower valley where it slows into a riffle above the irrigation dam. It was about 7 pm. The slanting light from the setting sun lit up every bug like a firefly, including my size 16 royal trude. The cliffs above were ablaze, and it was hard to not look at them instead of focusing on the end of my line.

Read more on The Big One!…

Ecological research will be ongoing at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch over the next few months to years.  

Dr. McCain and a variety of students will be doing ecological research on vegetation, climate, and small mammals in Sulzer Gulch and Cedar Park (especially on Palisade Mountain). They will be setting livetraps and a variety of other equipment, as well as temporary flags to identify transects and other study sites.  

Dr. Christy McCain is a biologist at CU-Boulder (a professor in the Museum of Natural History and the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology). Results from this work will help inform SDR’s land management activities.

While you’re at Sylvan Dale you may see Christy or her students at work now and then. Their vehicles may be parked near the Cedar Park Cabin or above Echo Lake near Sulzer Gulch. Their vehicles will be identified with placards.

Being a part of the Big Thompson River clean-up on Saturday April 17th was a surprisingly emotional experience. The people at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch called and asked if I wanted to be one of their volunteers for the day. As a fly fisherman I am someone who benefits from clean clear water and as a conservationist at heart I was only too happy to be included.

Read more on Emotional Ownership…

At 5200 feet, March heralds the return of Spring to the Sylvan Dale Valley.

Heading down the hill to the office I was greeted by the chatter of house finches already scoping out their nests. The frozen waterfall at the bend of the river has all but melted, and the clean white snow that has covered the ground for most of the winter is giving way to patches of mud.

I can actually smell the earth awakening!

Frozen Waterfall

Frozen Waterfall

The mama cows have returned from their winter grazing in the Big Valley and their calves – 34 to date – are finding their legs and their mother’s milk.

I overheard Margie’s baby talking to a newcomer about how you will be returning this summer to help them find their way to Cedar Park where they will graze the mountain pastures.

Things will be hopping for us in the next three months as we prepare for your return.

Can’t wait!

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Hubbard and Leone Tomlinson

Some of you may remember "The Duke" and "The Madam," Tillie’s parents from Arkansas who lived in the house across the River until their passing in the 1970’s.

Truck farmers by trade, they provided the ranch with fresh vegetables from a large vegetable garden that extended from the back of the cabins to the river.

This year some of the Ranch Crew is initiating a small vegetable garden that will provide some produce for guest meals. It has been named The Tomlinson Patch in memory of these two special people.

Five raised beds will be in place on the Hilltop tended by committed staff who desire to grow natural pesticide-free produce, yet another step down the road to sustainable green practices.

Nancy, graduate of CSU in horticulture, head gardener and certified yoga instructor, has a wealth of knowledge and will be conducting mini courses in the art of gardening the natural way.

We welcome your participation at your next visit!

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“The Tomlinson Patch”

dusty-rawhide

Horse of the Month — Dusty Rawhide

Born May 20th, 2009 “Rawhide” was the last of our colts to be born last year. We had all four colts (boys) and no fillies (girls) last year so it is fun to go out and work with the boys. Colts are generally not as sensitive as the fillies and this is proving to be true with this bunch.

“Rawhide” is out of our good brown mare “Sally” and by our stallion “Gold Dust Trail”. He is a beautiful Buckskin color with white socks with black dots in them on his back legs. It looks like he has holes in his socks!

Of all the “Sally” foals he is the friendliest and is the first one to come to the fence to say “Hi! Pet me!”

We have two full brothers to Rawhide; they are both buckskins, “Ben” who is 5 years old and “Rodeo” who is 2 years old. We have two full sisters, who are both bay in color — “Poco Jet” is 6 years old and “Cowgirl” is 3 years old. We know they will all eventually make excellent mounts for you.

Visit our Horse of the Month page

Where the Wild Things Are — Dippers

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American Dipper

The most aquatic of song birds, dippers or water ouzels are gray, robin-sized, with short, perky, wren-like tails. No skinny dippers, these are round, well-insulated feather balls, with stubby wings that allow them to fly under water. American dippers live only in the western mountains, from Alaska to Mexico.

Dippers dip. They bob up and down with quick knee-bends, apparently to allow a good view through the reflective surface of the water. Then they hike along the bottom of a tumbling mountain stream, hanging on with their toes, probing among the rocks for insects to eat.

Their nest is a hollow ball of moss on an inaccessible cliff above the water. Most summers there are two or three dipper nests along the Big Thompson on the Main Ranch. The lowest of them is just above water level at the north end of the bridge on the way to the early morning Breakfast Ride! This may be the lowest-elevation dipper nest in Colorado.

Come see us (and the dippers!). Invest some quality time communing with the dippers after that old-fashioned country breakfast!