Bed and breakfast planned for historic ranch on the Yampa River just north of Hayden town limits

Tom Ross

If you go

What: Routt County Commissioners consider permits for the Horse and Hen/Wattles Guest Ranch just north of Hayden

When: 2:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Commissioners Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners will hear a proposal Tuesday to convert an existing four-bedroom house on a 106-acre ranch along the Yampa River just outside the town of Hayden into a bed and breakfast where guests could experience the country lifestyle.

Ryan and Rachel Wattles propose to operate Horse & Hen B&B on his family’s historic ranch just off Routt County Road 80. The county Planning Commission voted unanimously Jan. 15 to recommend approval of the plan. If the Board of Commissioners approve the plan, the Wattles would host as many as eight people at a time in the guest house (the Wattles and their two daughters live in a nearby cabin) and as many as 10 special events — like wedding and family reunions — per year. No amplified music will be allowed.

Ryan Wattles’ great-grandfather, Charlie Fulton, was ranching on the property in 1920 and his grandfather, Chuck, carried on that tradition. Ryan and his family continue to use a heavy sled and a team of draft horses to feed herd of as many as 400 goats in winter, the same way Charlie Fulton fed his cattle.

The current team of draft horses that pulls the sled are descendants of Chuck Fulton’s team, Ryan Wattles said Friday.

The goats belong to another ranch, but the Wattles care for some of the bottle-fed kids each spring and are certain they will amuse their guests, Wattles said. In addition, they have a flock of chickens and keep a milk cow and her calf every year.

In addition to their livestock, they maintain a large vegetable garden. Guests will be welcome to take a walk along the hay meadows, too.

“Our family ‘master plan’ directly aligns with the county’s master plan,” the Wattles wrote in a letter to the Planning Commission. “Our goal is to preserve our working ranch while educating people about our way of life and what it takes to get food on the table. We believe that our way of life is becoming a rare one. We want the opportunity to share it with others in a way that is respectful to our family, neighbors and community.”

Marsha Daughenbaugh, executive director of the Community Ag Alliance, told the Planning Commission this month that it is important to keep young adults involved in agriculture here.

“The Wattles are very involved in the production of local food and always do things the right way,” Daughenbaugh said.

She called them the perfect young couple to represent Routt County in the context of cultural heritage tourism.

In order to win approval for the special-use permit enabling the Horse & Hen, the Wattles also will need the county to grant them a minor land preservation subdivision to accommodate all of the homes, including historic structures, on the parcel.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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