Black Mountain Ranch: Summer Vacation at a Real Colorado Dude Ranch
We promise ourselves every year that we will spend more time in our home state of Colorado. Seriously, dudes. I am lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. But we’re always so busy running everywhere else, we never get to enjoy our backyard.
Until Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch invited us up. They are an easy 2.5 hour drive from Denver (halfway between Vail and Steamboat Springs, Colorado), so we knew this was one adventure we couldn’t pass up.
We arrived and fell right into cowboy land.
Black Mountain Ranch is family-run, and they made us feel like family right away. Many of the staff already knew our names, and I could tell it wasn’t just because our friend Andrew Hyde was there working with them… they treated all the guests that way.
We were lucky that several friends from Denver were visiting at the same time, especially Julie’s family – which brought built-in playmates since our kids have know each other for years.
I highly suggest trying the multiple family approach at BMR – the kids were able to run off and play together in a safe environment – but still exploring things they have never done before… like feeding goats at dinnertime!
And making friends with horses.
And singing YMCA in the saloon.
Oh wait. That was me.
In the morning, we were all ready to ride horses, and the ranch has a “Boot Library” that you can borrow from in case you don’t have your own. Boots. Not horses. (Trust me, I don’t have either.)
And then we were UP UP UP on horses for the first time in our lives! WAY HIGH UP. This photo was taken of Declan about 30 seconds before I broke my finger in 2 places.
Yeah, no joke. My ridiculous health mishaps followed me to the ranch. So yup, I broke my finger. Getting on a horse. But I was just doing what they show in the movies! Jumping up there, all enthusiastic! Swinging my leg over! Being rowdy! And almost falling off the other side.
Thank heaven Ryan from BMR was there to catch me – or I would have pulled some crazy Wile E. Coyote move right on my head. Instead I grabbed the saddle and jammed my pinky, which yes, broke it in two places. I am cursed, I tell you.
But I am proud that I toughed it out. WE WENT ON OUR DAMN RIDE, DAMMIT.
Through the woods.
Straight up the side of the mountain.
Out along a ridge.
Marveling the horsemanship of our wrangler, Molly.
For probably the most spectacular view of my life.
Colorado is awesome, y’all.
After a long day out in the sun (WEAR SUNSCREEN)… all the guests were invited up to Nowell’s house for a cocktail party. And they aren’t kidding with this cocktail party business. We went from dusty to fancy in about 15 minutes flat. Gorgeous house, gorgeous views, gorgeous food.
It gave Bryan time to rekindle his relationship with CJ, Julie’s second child. The two of them have long had their own special thing.
We made it back to the ranch in time to watch the horses being released to the pasture.
Now I know why Ree takes so many photos on her ranch.
I also turned around, didn’t change any settings on the camera, and caught what maybe is my favorite photo ever.
That’s our friend Michael Cummings, an amazing photographer who was also at the ranch this summer. I used that picture in my photography session at Evo this year because it says so many things to me. First, magic happens when you just shoot. And also that photography is social – Michael and I were having a blast out there in the mud taking photos of the horses and each other. As evidenced by…
Plus, other friends were out in the field with us…
Yeah. That was fun.
But there’s more.
The ranch has this special dog named Riley. I actually think Riley needs to be on their web site. Listed as “entertainment.” See, Riley likes fire. A LOT. Like, in a crazy crazy crazy obsessive way. He waits, watches the fire outside the saloon ALL NIGHT LONG. Sometimes he will snap at the ash that spits out, but honestly – I could have taken this same photo at any time over a 4 hour period.
It would have looked like this.
Meanwhile – I got to see everyone dance! Fancy-like!
And in lines!
This is where I talk about how I am more of a dark-concert or indie-club kind of dancer girl. And how I hide behind the camera to avoid organized dancing. Unless we’re recreating Grease or Thriller or something. Then I might be convinced. After a few beers.
Guess what we did the next morning???
My booty (and finger) didn’t agree with me, but I was totally ready to get back on Newt, my assigned horse for our time at Black Mountain.
Bryan was pretty partial to his horse, Dice, too. Julie was just trying to get reception.
Guess what ELSE we did that day?
I am surprised I have any clear photos. Because watching city folk learning to rope cattle is HILARIOUS. Trust me on this one.
But, Black Mountain Ranch does this every Saturday, to allow guests to round up the baby calves and give them electrolytes. So, win-win. Cowboy roping fun for the visitors and healthy stuff for the babies.
Bryan roped two, but this was the only pic I have of any of it. He is disappointed I can’t make an animated gif for him of his heroics.
I almost have enough to show you the whole process for Howard, another guest that week.
Including when the calf shook Howard off and he landed face-down in the dirt.
And there I was, in the middle of it all, with my camera, and broken pinky.
WHAT WAS I THINKING???
I’ll tell you what I am thinking.
Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch was an amazing, extraordinary, memorable, INCREDIBLY FUN weekend for all of us.
All my Flickr photos from our dude ranch experience are here.
Thanks again to Black Mountain Ranch for having us visit! Please visit their brand new (awesome) web site or like them on Facebook. Really, really great people.
WOW Aimee! That looks SO fun!!!
What a great place! Everything about this is awesome. Your pictures are so beautiful. And, wow, there is a horse there that looks like a giraffe.
AMAZING photos! (Of course they are!) And I adore thinking of you and Julie hanging on the ranch together. xoxo
Looks like an awesome time.
The one horse looks like a giraffe.
I want my kids to go horseback riding. someday. No tme. Just the kids.
OK, looking for the giraffe – which one?!?!?!?!
I have not spent nearly enough time on ranches (despite the fact that my brother dating a girl who grew up on a farm and her sister was Ms. Rodeo Colorado). It is photos (and stories) like these that make me realize that I am definitely missing out.
Can you believe I have never been on a horse. IN MY ENTIRE LIFE? I do not even think I have ever touched one.
I need to change that ASAP, and Black Mountain Ranch looks like the perfect place to go! Hopefully I can make my way up there next summer.
That looks like so much fun!
Monika – just be sure to take your time getting on. 😉
And thanks everyone! 🙂
OMGoodness! What fun!!! What a gorgeous place brought to life by your amazing photographs and story-telling abilities.
Thank you for sharing and for adding to my list of places to vacation!
I want to go! Looks like an awesome time.
JoAnn – that is hilarious. 🙂
Excellent! Such a great combo of words and image to tell the story.
And that dog that chases fire reminds me of the same breed type at a base camp for a backpacking program I started out of Granby… only he chased beer cans, chewed them up…was missing quite a few teeth, too.
Y’all are so kind. 🙂
That looks awesome.
I always love your trip recaps. Makes me feel like I was there. I need to add this place to my list. You are so lucky to live there.
OMG – that looks so awesome !!!!!! What a wonderful way to spend a weekend.
Of course, your pictures are amazing too. I’m sure you will be going back soon .
Love the shots, looks like you guys had an awesome time!
I want to do this now too!
Not only is this the BEST blogger visit write up I have ever read, but your pictures are AMAZING!!!! Way to bring the adventure to life!! Ps… I have mega cowboy envy.
Gorgeous photos, Aimee! BMR sounds like an amazing place! Glad you had such a great time.
Oh my gosh, Dude ranch eye candy photos! LUV it. And now more from flickr.. hold on..
Black Mountain Ranch is one of our favorite dude ranches in Colorado (I’ve been to a few here in our wonderful State). Loved the re-cap!!
p.s. I, too, hurt myself at Black Mountain Ranch, but it involved trying to stumble back to our cabin in the dark after having such a good time at the bar. Ha.
Such awesome pictures. I definitely need to drag Jim up there. We need to work on his cowboy. 🙂
Okay, the whole but wait was killing me – and jealousy is not attractive I realize but damn, girl – this looks like the best trip ever! Despite the broken fingers. (Any video of the steed mounting fiasco perchance?)
And I love the photography.
And I’m still jealous.
Of your bad cowgirl self.
Dare I look at the cost? . . .
aaaah, I looked at the cost! Whoa, Nellie! Maybe when I sell a book or ten.
that was amazing. really. yr life is so good! xoxoxo
You had me at SALOON!
I used to be a cowgirl. I know…I’ve adapted to a city gal so well you’d never know it!
I wanna go, I wanna go!
Aimee, I feel like I was there with you – your photos and story are SO vivid I was seriously there with you looking at the most gorgeous view ever! I’m sorry about your pinky – and so glad it didn’t get in the way of all the fun, adventure and beauty!
It’s on my list now! Thanks for sharing your fabulous vacay!!!
Tacy: “Aimee takes, like, the BEST PICTURES EVER.”
My kids are still talking about that trip. So are Kyle and I. *Highly* recommended (especially with great friends).
Amazing!!! Seriously, my family would love this. And the photos are breathtaking….
Melissa – in some ways it’s not “cheap” but it’s an all-inclusive experience. All activities and MEALS are included. I didn’t touch on that in my post, but the daughter of the Mays family is a gourmet chef and she came home to cook for the ranch.
So, basically, while not cheap, when you do the math, it isn’t as expensive as it seems at first blush either.
ITA with Tacy! Smart girl. A-may-zing photos. Add me to the long list that wants to go to BMR, pronto.
Again, thank you all for your kind comments! I so appreciate it! 🙂
Gorgeous shots! I need to add to my bucket list “rastle a calf” or something cowboy like that!
I keep telling people how fon this was, but this post is making me home away from home sick. And you didn’t even mention the pool, hot tubs, incredible food, amazing staff, and all the other things you can do like river rafting, hiking, fishing, and good ol fashioned gun shooting. And then we went up to the Steamboat Rodeo!
And then there’s the sky! I have never seen the Milky Way so bright. Michael has a time lapse that I need to find to share with you all on here. Amazing.
I’m packing up tonight.
Did I ever tell you about the two summers I spent as a wrangler giving trail rides up in Breckenridge?
Your photos really take me back.
Love the photos, love the stories. I miss riding horses so much! You look like you all had such a blast. Yay for all of you!
So many comments about this post.
1. I had no idea this is how you broke your finger. You have the best health mishaps. I mean if you’re going to get hurt, why not get hurt and get a really cool story out of it, right? ;P
2. These pics are amazing, especially the stampede-ish looking ones.
3. I think the Pattee family may need to go to a dude ranch, because after following your awesome tips on Arches National Park today, I pretty much will follow you anywhere.
I heart you and your pics, Aimee! So glad you had such a fun time. 😀
I’m so jealous. That trip looked amazing. And your photography is gorgeous. (Of course.)
I always tell my husband I want to go to a Dude ranch. And then he blinks at me like I’ve lost my mind and reminds me that we LIVE on a glorified dude ranch.
IT IS NOT THE SAME I tell him. Maybe one day. Glad you had a fantastic time.
I think everyone has said it already, but your photos are gorgeous and it looks like you all had a blast!!!
Awesome post – that was so much fun to read and see…
Wow, it looks like so much fun! And as always, your pix are GORGEOUS!
Wow! That place looks amazing. I’d love to take my kids there. Great photos!
Wonderful post! I wish I captured such photos and wrote such story, from my awesome days at Black Mountain Ranch.
That looks awesome! I so want to go there now!
I remember that one summer when my father brought me in a dude ranch. Its like I finally felt like I’m being introduce in the society as a man. Marble Mountain Ranch