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At Home in the Mountains

By Megan Brincks
Escape the hustle of winter with an adventure in Colorado’s majestic Rocky Mountains.

Snow gently floats from the sky, settling on pine branches lining the trail. The stillness of the woods gives a sense of other-worldliness, almost an optical illusion as everything stays perfectly still around the singular movement of the small group of horses and riders.

The horses exhale, and miniature clouds of steam bellow from their velvet noses as they stride steadily through the snow. Tiny flakes land on the horses’ manes, as if reminding the animals that winter is a time of stillness and quiet, rest and rejuvenation before spring blooms fresh.

Hooves crunch on the well-packed trail, firm and sure. Riders, cozy in bulky winter attire, soak up the forest views and keep their eyes peeled for wildlife, while their horses smartly navigate the mountainous path.

While this might sound like fantasy, The Home Ranch in Clark, Colorado, can bring this winter wonderland into reality with all-inclusive trips. The luxury ranch welcomes guests year-round, but the winter offers a unique experience, perfect for the equestrian in search of a much-needed reprieve from winter blues.

“We want every one of our guests to have the kind of experience they’d like to have on the schedule they’d like to keep,” General Manager Brooks Bradbury said. “We also have a lot of activities that are available morning and afternoon, and guests can wander from a trail ride to do a little cross-country skiing. We want to be on the guests’ schedules more than anything.”

After an exquisite home-cooked breakfast, guests have a plethora of activity options for a winter day. They can spend the morning snowshoeing through endless forests, enjoying the peace of nature, and they might even spot deer, elk, ermine or other small animals. Although The Home Ranch is just 18 miles from ski destination Steamboat Springs, the more secluded location offers that solitude so many crave during the hectic winter months.

Head Wrangler Michael Moon describes The Home Ranch as a “refuge” in the winter.

“[Steamboat Springs] is a little crazy during the ski season. We’re close, but you’re away from it, and it’s a really peaceful place,” he said.

A complimentary shuttle takes guests to and from Steamboat Springs, where they can go dog sledding, downhill skiing, shopping, dining or catch a flight from the regional airport. The staff at the ranch can help guests set up any excursions to maximize their time in the mountains.

“The Home Ranch can provide a place for guests to either relax or explore the winter season, and there are some guests who are just happy to relax and enjoy their time away,” Brooks said. “And there are other guests who want to enjoy all the activities they can participate in. We try to keep a balance for people at either end of the scale.”

While staying at The Home Ranch, guests’ palates are spoiled at every meal. Food and wine are at the center of the ranch’s identity; they are known for their well-stocked cellar that complements a farm-to-table menu from their garden and greenhouse. The menu differs throughout the year, but the staff prides itself on excellent preparation meal after meal, including ranch-grown beef, pork and poultry.

This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Winter 2017 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.