As we turned off of US 40 towards Lagito Ranch, civilization began to melt away. As we drove higher the trees thickened and fields of columbines turned their purple and white heads towards us. We had the sense that we going to a very place special and we were right.
As we pulled into Latigo, a Colorado dude ranch, a bell was ringing, an honest-to-goodness dinner bell that clanged merrily – lunch was being served. It was a Thursday and most of the guests of the ranch had been there since Sunday, but we had no problem fitting in.
Homemade pizza was on the menu, along with a stunning salad bar that was available at every meal. We tucked into our food and started making friends at the community style dining tables. At that first meal we met Liz from Minnesota, Willie and Kathy from Kentucky and Jim Yost, one of the owners of Latigo.
After a delicious lunch and great conversation, we headed up the hill to settle in to our cabin. We felt right at home immediately, despite the lack of a television, and do you know what? We never missed television.
We were scheduled for our first ride at 2 p.m. As we sat in the barn going over mandatory pre-ride paperwork with Renee, Latigo’s head wrangler, we were entertained by Buddy, the ranch cat. A cat that apparently does the work of 20 cats, killing more mice in a single day than anyone thought possible.
We were assigned horses, Lady for me, Shadowfax for Ryan. As a Lord of the Rings nerd, Ryan was overjoyed about his white horse. At Latigo you ride the same horse for the duration of your stay.
Our first ride took us along a ditch with fast running water. The scenery eventually opened up and we rode along the edge of a cliff, enjoying expansive views and wildflowers. Wildflowers were everywhere, including hundreds of columbines. Jim told us that in his nearly 30 years at Latigo, he’s never seen a columbine season like this one.
The diversity of landscape at Latigo makes this a fantastic place to ride. Every day you can set out on a different trail with its own diverse scenery and obstacles.
Near the end of our ride thunder began to roll in the distance, but we lucked out and the storm only sprinkled a few drops on us as we arrived back at the barn.
Smelling of horses – I love that smell – we took drinks out to the ranch’s large fish pond to wait for dinner. As we sat on the shore the peacefulness of this place began to sink deeply into us; permeating our skin and burrowing deep within our souls. I know it sounds “woo woo,” but this place really does have a way of getting under your skin (in a good way). It’s a sort of Latigo magic.
Dinner was a full Christmas style meal of ham and turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and sweet potatoes. Jim regaled us with stories about his experience as an anthropologist living in Ecuador for a decade during the seventies. This inspired both Ryan and I to read an excellent book he recommended, “The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey.” I highly recommend it.
We chatted with Jim and our table mates long after our plates had all be whisked away, and the dancing was just getting underway when we made our way to the community building. Thursday is Western Dance night at Latigo and everyone participates – guests and staff.
Jim’s wife, Kathie, was leading a large group in a rousing line dance. We jumped in and by the end of the first dance we were laughing and sweating.
After several more dances including some square dancing and polka, we made our way to the porch where we engaged in a fascinating conversation with Jo and Ian, a couple from England, who also have a home in Greece. You will meet the most interesting people at Latigo.
Back in our cabin we crashed, too tired to even dream about the exciting days to come.
This is the first post in a three-part series about Latigo Ranch located in Kremmling, Colorado.
Read my pre-series post, “Six reasons to love Latigo.”
Thank you to Latigo Ranch for hosting us on this trip.