Variety is the spice of life and at The High Lonesome Ranch that sentiment carries over into our equestrian program. For those guests whose interests are focused on and around horses, make sure and look at our week long Dude Ranch experiences. On the ranch you’ll find a tremendous number of options that will satisfy a child, a first time adult rider, or an incredibly skilled horseman. Come explore a combination of our miles of trails that are cut throughout the 300 square miles of western landscape. Each trail was hand charted and cut with the wide variety of skill sets of our guests in mind. Some trails follow creek bottoms while others venture throughout the alpine mesas and valleys. Horse aficionados sometimes favor our overnight rides, with clean clothes and gourmet food being brought to your private house or Out of Africa-style tent. Ride for an hour, ride for a day, ride for a week. The possibilities are endless.
Mountain bikers have been flocking to this area extending from the Western Slope of Colorado to Utah for years. What brings them here is the dryness of the air, the variety of terrain, the change in elevation, and the vast, unspoiled beauty. Mountain biking at The High Lonesome Ranch is where all of the beautiful worlds come together. Begin your trek with an easy warm up on relatively flat elevation, and choose a trail to suit your mood. You’ll find easy through single-track trails cut throughout the ranch, and they’ll take you past ponds, creeks and fields. The views are unparalleled, and are eclipsed only by the wide variety of wildlife that you’ll see along the way. Ride accompanied by one of our naturalist guides or explore on your own. All of our rides and hikes are accompanied by guides for those who like to venture out very far from headquarters.
Our Kimball Creek and N. Dry Fork valleys offer a series of cascading trails that wind through the lowland valleys up towards the alpine mesas and in and out of the century-old cattle trails. The ranch covers all the altitudes from 5,000 – 9,000 feet. At lower elevations, hikers enjoy lush views of the fertile riparian corridor. At higher elevations they can hike through the aspen and conifer stands to enjoy seemingly endless views into Utah. From easy hikes with plenty of wildlife along the way to vigorous, calorie-burning sojourns, you’ll find it all at The High Lonesome Ranch.
One of the most popular activities on the ranch is birding. With a variety of habitats and elevations ranging from 5,000 to 9,000 feet, the ranch provides great viewing opportunities. Essentially an ecotone, this transition zone is where two distinctly different habitats come together and birds from both zones can flourish. There are more than 100 species of birds to see on The High Lonesome Ranch, and we’ll provide you with the binoculars and the field guides necessary to identify them. Guided field trips are available, so come see raptors, songbirds, game birds, waterfowl, and wading birds to name just a few. The ranch’s dramatic change in elevation creates great diversity that brings even the most seasoned wildlife enthusiasts back for more. Combine birding with another activity like horseback riding, hiking or mountain biking, and you’ll be sure to cover ground while locating birds on your list.
The staggering size of The High Lonesome Ranch makes for an enjoyable wildlife safari. Enjoy a back-country tour led by our veteran guides throughout the wilderness reaches on the ranch. You’ll find black bears, elk, mule deer, eagles, mountain lions, and even moose, antelope or the occasional Big Horn Sheep. Some of the best viewing is enjoyed from horseback or mountain bike, but if you prefer, our fleet of 4x4s will take you to parts of the ranch that very few people see per year, so pack your camera, an assortment of lenses, and come along!
Conservation and restoration projects are a joint effort of three sectors: public, private and scientific. Every year there are new projects that are added to our ever-growing list. From ecological assessments of flora and fauna to wildlife restoration efforts to measuring relationships between predators and their prey, the odds are likely that you’ll hear about the teams of scientists roaming remote areas of the ranch. Some say that there are even dinosaur remains here. We bring together a wide community of scientists, corporate and non-profit partners, educators, students, and everyday citizens to find creative ways to contribute to our research efforts.
The ranch offers guests a variety of fun and educational ecotourism activities designed for a wide range of skill levels, from novice naturalists to expert birders. These activities enable our guests to learn more about the fascinating ecology of this quintessential Western landscape. Guests have the opportunity to join the exciting scientific research and ecological restoration efforts on the ranch. You might choose to sit at dawn helping count songbirds to measure biodiversity, observe elk behavior at dusk, hike among the sagebrush on the high ranch surveying aspen communities, track wildlife with expert wildlife trackers, or help search for elusive threatened Gunnison sage-grouse. These and many other conservation activities on the ranch bring science to life for persons of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. You don’t need any special skills to participate, just willingness to learn and curiosity. Learn about sustainable resource management, riparian ecology, habitat connectivity, measuring and maintaining biodiversity, and what it means to do science on a mixed-use landscape. By participating in some of the vital science that’s taking place on the ranch, you will make a difference in conserving America’s rich western legacy of open spaces and healthy landscapes.
White Water Rafting
Seasonal white water rafting opportunities await the beginner through the experienced paddler. The rivers that flow through the Western Slope offer 18-30 mile treks through Class 1 through Class 5 water. After running the rapids you’ll leisurely float through the slow water surrounded by gorgeous canyon walls.
Over the last decade, Colorado has gained a reputation as a producer of high-quality wines, but residents yawn at the recent notoriety. Winemaking in the Grand Junction area is over a century old, with 586,300 pounds of grapes being harvested in 1899. Some 1,744 gallons of wine was produced that year. We’re sure that the number is significantly higher these days, for the 19 local vineyards located in close proximity to The High Lonesome Ranch make for either a perfect tour or for an addition to another offsite activity.
Mid-September is a perfect time to take in the Colorado Mountain Winefest. The event is the oldest wine festival to celebrate the state’s finest vineyards. From chef demonstrations to tastings, a grape stomp and a jazz concert, schedule your visit for when the leaves are ready to turn. The fall harvest throughout the Western Slope is not to be missed.
Mark Twain said, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” Evidently he never played at Battlement Mesa Golf Club. The view from the high plains plateau overlooking the Colorado River may make you take your eye off the ball. Then you might want to visit Redlands Mesa. The mild climate allows for year round golfing. Think about it. In how many places can you either ski or hunt in the morning and golf in the afternoon? Not many.
The Western Slope of Colorado has been famous for its rejuvenating hot springs for over a century. It is true that guests occasionally stumble upon them while fishing a river, but the best way to enjoy them is at the hot springs pool in Glenwood Springs. At over two blocks long, the pool is the largest in the world. Native American Utes regarded the warm mineral water as a sacred healing place. Other guests who have enjoyed the 100-degree water at various points throughout the past century are Al Capone, Titanic-survivor Molly Brown, Doc Holliday, and none other than President Theodore Roosevelt.
The hot springs pool in Glenwood Springs was officially founded in 1888 and is located along the banks of the Colorado River. Panoramic views are common from poolside steamer chairs, and the view of the Rocky Mountains is unparalleled. An abundance of activities and games for kids are available, and they range from water slides and inner tubes to diving boards and bubble chairs.
Of particular note are the vapor caves. These inhalatoriums are said to purify body and spirit as they soothe away aches and pains. These are some of the few known natural vapor caves in North America where hot mineral waters flow through the cave floors to create a natural geothermal steam bath. These caves were once a sacred healing destination for the Ute tribe, and have been updated only by the addition of marble benches in the caves, which makes for a more relaxing experience for visitors.
Colorado’s Western Slope provides an unbelievable variety of activities. At lower altitudes the snowfall is light, which makes for outstanding winter bird hunting. Our wing shooting season runs through the end of February, so come visit us and shoot a round of clays and hunt our five species of game birds.
Powderhorn’s secluded mountain setting rises 4,000 feet above the valley on the edge of the Grand Mesa some 45 minutes from The High Lonesome Ranch. You’ll find outstanding downhill skiing as well as snowboarding at the nearby summit that reaches 9,850 feet. Celebrate the New Year with Powderhorn’s annual Torchlight Parade & Fireworks show. Ski all day, watch the area’s best skiers compete in the Rail Jam, and head back to the ranch to usher in the New Year. Combine your ski trip with a few days of bird hunting for our popular Black Powder/White Powder package. The possibilities are all here – including snowmobiling on the Grand Mesa, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and visiting Aspen for the day.
The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, so you should pamper yourself in one of our private cabins. You’ll enjoy unparalleled views from the warmth of your living room couch. After a morning coffee, have your choice of snowshoeing or perhaps a cooking class with our executive chef. Enjoy a morning hike followed by an afternoon massage.
From circle games to puppet shows or origami and a variety of arts and crafts, our counselors will keep all kids supervised and entertained if their parents want to embark on adult activities. Teachers blend indoor and outdoor age-appropriate activities. We make sure that the children have so much fun on the ranch that they never miss their parents.
Nothing much beats a yoga class with Mount Logan as your background. Our certified instructors follow the Vinyassa Flow style, which is also known as power yoga. Our one-hour classes are tailored for beginners, intermediates and experienced levels. Yoga improves vitality, agility, and creativity, and all the while it builds strength and increases flexibility. At the peak of every class members reach Savasana, also known as the quieting of the physical body. Stunning sceneries, blue skies, fresh air and an hour yoga class is the perfect way to start your day.
Southwestern cuisine is a rustic fusion of ingredients that blends cooking styles of the regions earliest settlers. In our open-kitchen classroom you’ll learn to mix beef, chicken, pork or fish with a variety of spices and vegetables, which range from the famous chili pepper to corn to a wide range of beans. As all of our meals are prepared from scratch, you’ll also learn foundational techniques that you can practice when you’re back at home.
During the day, our cooking class is oriented around preparing for an evening feast. Knead dough for freshly baked bread or make piecrusts from scratch, and other accompanying appetizers and side dishes. Toast a splendid day afield and bring the recipes home to prepare in your own kitchen.
Or you can cook a meal that you caught. The pond next to the Pond House has trout that you can catch, and then cook for dinner. Our experienced chefs teach everything from proper preparation to elegant presentation.
Wild Horse Viewing
And if you like, we can arrange a short drive to see the wild horses that are descendants of Native American and Spanish horses from years ago.