Experience the West: See Steamboat the Farm Stay Way
Forty-seven. That’s how many baby goats the Wattles family had delivered in the past three days by the time I pulled up their dirt driveway this spring at the Horse & Hen bed and breakfast. Three fresh arrivals were in their arms as the Wattles rolled up in a wagon pulled by a pair of Percheron horses.
These stunning draft horses are how the Wattles regularly power their chores around the ranch. If I had settled in for a few nights at the farmhouse, I would have spent my mornings helping bottle feed the baby goats, roaming the yard for fresh eggs and chasing down adventurous piglets. This is the Yampa Valley’s newest B&B. More precisely, it’s a cozy farm stay where your breakfast is so fresh that the eggs might have been harvested that morning from under Ryan Wattles’ grandmother’s prize sarvisberry bush that sits beneath your bedroom window.
It’s hard to imagine a sweeter way to hunker in and immerse yourself in the Western roots of Steamboat Springs’ wider agricultural community.
Horse & Hen is home to a herd of goats, pigs, cattle, a milk cow and a flock of chickens. The garden, which heralds your breakfast, bears a plethora of deliciousness – no small labor of love in a valley with a notorious 59-day growing season. The farmhouse’s four rooms are light and airy, a contemporary country design with quilts and soothing palettes and a creative use of relics from four generations on the ranch.
Rebecca and Ryan Wattles have created the makings of a romantic getaway in a single room (or one room for you and one for your kids) that comes with full breakfast, or an extended family reunion utilizing the entire farmhouse. If you rent the entire house, there’s even an option to bunk kids (the human ones, not the goats) in a couple sheep wagons. There’s no television, but they do have Wi-Fi if you simply can’t disconnect.
The real connection comes with the landscape and the Yampa River flowing through the ranch. Sandhill cranes and eagles are a common sight. The farm is close to downtown Hayden (and within sight of some of the region’s best coffee and baked goods at Wild Goose Coffee at the Granary) and great little hikes like The Nature Conservancy’s Yampa River Preserve. The farm stay is designed to bring families together with cozy nooks for reading, games and puzzles – and more than a hundred acres of open space to let your spirits run wild.
If you seek a break from the tranquility, fresh air, open space and real-life agriculture, it’s just a 20-minute drive into Steamboat Springs for a night on the town, fine dining, hot springs, art galleries and a jam-packed schedule of summer and fall entertainment.
Ryan’s great grandparents homesteaded north of here before buying the Horse & Hen property in the 1930s. His grandfather, Chuck, ran the ranch, conserved the land, and fed his livestock with a team of draft horses until the end of his life. Now Ryan, Rebecca and their two young daughters are making a full-time enterprise out of running the ranch and bringing the deep experience of four generations of hospitality to their visitors. Despite all the baby goats, they’re not kidding around – but they sure are having fun.