Photo: James Ross
LuxuryDenver Contributor Jamie Ross pays a visit to Colorado’s Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa and finds out that ‘home on the Range’ has never been so luxurious!
Grand County Colorado is my kind of place. It’s home to wide-open spaces, wild wilderness, stunning mountain scenery and authentic old-west towns.
More than 70 percent of the county’s area is held in the public trust as free open lands. With so much unrestricted space, most of the local lakes, rivers, forests, and mountains remain accessible and relatively uncrowded for fun things to do such as hiking, biking, fishing, riding… or simply soaking up the views.
Grand County also lays claim to the title of ‘Colorado’s Dude Ranch Capital’. Located 75 miles west of Denver inTabernash, Colorado, Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa is a year-round, eco-luxe and 6,500-acre guest ranch resort, spa, and corporate retreat venue with full-service meeting and special event space for up to 350 people.
The ranch buildings are first class, built to fit into an amazing setting, with great attention given to every detail. Accommodations include 87 guest rooms in two splendid lodges and 15 ridge-top cabins which range in size from one-bedroom lofts to two- and four-bedroom chalets.
Riding the Range at Devil’s Thumb Ranch
My wife and I had ventured to the ranch with the intention of playing cowpokes for a few days on the resort’s working cattle ranch program. We are introduced to the saddle on a relaxed day ride that has me and my horse, Colonel, moving cattle from one pasture to another.
I think I am ready for an old-fashioned cattle drive, but unlike the cowboys of yester-year, I head back to our comfortable room afterwards and then book a massage to tend to my saddle-sore muscles. Overnight guests can sign up for ‘A day-in-the-life of a Wrangler’ experience, which includes the opportunity to participate in a cattle drive and assist in the ranch’s special branding and vaccinating process.
Guests can also participate in the ‘Unbridled’ equine retreat that embraces the healing power of horses. Hands-on interactions with horses on the ground and in the saddle guide you to trust your intuition, live in the present, and reconnect with your joy. Guests leave empowered with a renewed focus. All ability levels welcome, and no prior horse experience required.
The Reel Thing
The next morning we are up early to wade into the magical world of flyfishing, including casting lessons at the ranch’s private trout-stocked pond.
Recently endorsed by Orvis as one of its designated flyfishing lodges, Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa elevates the guest experience through its multi-faceted fly-fishing program. Anglers of all ability levels will benefit from the rich history, quality, integrity, and service standards that are part of the Orvis endorsement.
The resort also offers a broad range of flyfishing gear and equipment, talented guides, and a sustainable approach to fishing the ranch’s private waters.
Much More than Just Baked Beans from the Chuckwagon
The Ranch’s culinary programs include organic, sustainable, and locally sourced farm-to-table mountain cuisine that features Ranch-raised Wagyu beef and honey as well as fresh produce sourced onsite from the ranch’s garden.
Heck’s Tavern is the favourite gathering spot offering breakfast, lunch, cocktails, and a limited tavern menu in the evening. The Ranch House Restaurant offers fine dining, with American mountain cuisine cooked with real ingredients, including the Wagyu beef.
The view from both restaurants is spectacular, a spectacular vista of ponds, pastures, grassland and forest, sweeping up to the ragged mountain peaks of the Continental Divide that provide the backdrop – including the rock pinnacle, ‘The Devil’s Thumb’, which gave the ranch its name.
To start the day we pay a regular morning visit to the Hallowed Grounds Coffee Shop for a cup of java to be enjoyed outdoors with the mountain views.
Pamper Your Saddle-Sores
Sore from the saddle and suffering from angler’s arm, we decide that the best place for us to recuperate is at The Ranch Creek Spa. This 18,000 square foot spa located in a quiet corner of the meadow overlooking the ranch.
Warming fireplaces, homemade tea, and panoramic mountain views set the stage for pampering massages and rejuvenating skin treatments meant to reset body, mind, and spirit. We cap the evening under the stars in one of the outdoor hot tubs.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch :The Perfect Winter Retreat
While our ranch visit is in the beautiful autumn season, when the elk can be heard bugling through the night on the mountain slopes, the ranch is a four-season resort. Winter recreation options include cross-country skiing, fat biking, horseback riding, sleigh rides, sledding, tubing, ice skating and snowshoeing on 75 miles of groomed and tracked trails, 10 miles of dedicated skijoring trails, and 3 miles of lit trails for night skiing.
Snow sport enthusiasts can go out on their own with a trail pass or hire one of the Devil’s Thumb resort’s professional guides and instructors. Visitors are encouraged to bring their canine companions for the special program ‘Skijoring & Dog Spa Day’, where you will learn the sport of skijoring – cross-country skiing with your dog. As a reward to you pooch for helping pull you around the packed winter trails, your pup can join you in the Spa for a massage and pedicure.
The Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa offers experiences that embrace the pioneering spirit of the early homesteaders, while honouring and preserving the pristine landscapes for future generations. Ranch guests can participate in real, authentic ranch adventures from horseback riding, fly fishing, mountain biking, zip lining, and cross-country skiing, on the ranch’s more than 6,500 acres of Rocky Mountain wilderness.
Though the experiences might be traditional ranch fare, this luxurious escape is certainly not. The ranch boasts refined modern comforts like the renowned spa, acclaimed restaurants, elegant lodge accommodations, and private rustic cabins.
During our visit we are encouraged to unplug from everyday life, lounge by the year-round heated pool and hot tub, de-stress with stand-up paddleboard yoga, or to simply curl up by the fireplace in our cozy room in the High Lonesome Lodge nestled in the hills above the main resort.
Check out Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa for further details.
Contributor James Ross writes about destinations and travel adventures for various international publications. You can see more of his work at www.thejamesross.ca.
Contributor Kim Kerr explores Colorado’s Mile High City using the handy, money-saving Denver CityPASS. Her verdict? Do it!
Travel writer Bryan Dearsley is a frequent flyer and shares this list of the best luxury hotels near Denver Airport for 2023
Denver’s revitalization has seen many heritage buildings become unique places to stay. Check our list of the coolest hotels in Denver Colorado
Travel expert James Ross shares this list of the best luxury hotels in Denver Colorado, including the best hotels in the ‘Mile High City’
Cozy, classy, chic… and quiet. Contributor Maureen Littlejohn shares this list of the best boutique hotels in Denver Colorado