Best of the Boat: Best Guest Ranch — Home Ranch
With tomatoes and peppers plump on the vine and chickens running around their coop, the Home Ranch Relais & Chateaux in Clark is in the middle of its fall season. That’s when the ranch’s “green” staff harvests much of its delicious veggies, despite a mere 59-day grow season in northwest Colorado.
“The farm-to-table aspect of our cuisine is remarkable,” says general manager Brooks Bradbury as he walks through the ranch’s greenhouse and gardens filled with flowers, herbs and vegetables. “We use everything we grow on the property, including our own eggs and poultry and pigs.”
And, of course, Home Ranch still runs cattle, via the Sand Mountain Cattle Ranch, which also provides beef for guests.
Voted this year’s Best Guest Ranch, the Home Ranch sits on nearly 5,000 acres of the upper Elk River Valley, surrounded by golden tipped mountains in the fall, magical snow in the winter and lush green in the summer.
A staff of 60 caters to guests who may want the full effects of a working ranch or those just there to enjoy the mountain air, hiking or fishing on private river frontage.
“In the summer we have children’s awards and cattle competition awards,” says Bradbury.
Yes, guests can also ride horses all week and even learn how to round up and drive cattle with well-trained horses. For accommodations, while the horses have their own barn and tack room filled with personalized saddles and gear, guests can stay at the original lodge or one of eight rustic cabins dotting the ranch. Elk, deer and other wildlife are included for free.
“Tonight we have margaritas and music on the deck,” says Bradbury as guests look out over a pond while eating their farm-to-table cuisine.
In summer and fall, the ranch picks up guests in a horse-drawn wagon and takes them to a campfire dinner, served out of a real chuckwagon and sheepherder’s wagon.
In the winter, a horse-drawn sleigh picks up ski and snowshoe guests from their cabins to attend a hoe-down in a barn that’s been warmed and ready for live music.
The Home Ranch added Relais and Chateaux to their title back in 1986, a designation that puts them into a worldwide family of “exceptional” small hotel properties and free-standing restaurants.
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