It probably goes without saying that one of the best ways to view “cowboy country” is from on top of a horse. So if your only mode of transport around the ‘Boat involves four wheels and a motor, then you’re definitely missing out on some “horse” power. If your kids are over 6 years old, then corral up your crew and head out on horseback through the Yampa Valley wilderness.
Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch has been leading horseback tours for over 50 years. The grandchildren of this outfitter are 6th generation residents of this valley, the family definitely knows their way around a saddle. The ranch is situated in the Mt. Zirkel wilderness area, north of Steamboat in the tiny town of Clark. You can take a 1-hour, 2-hour, half day or full day excursion. Kids absolutely love the fact that they get to ride their own horse. The horses are gentle and easy going and the guides take great care in matching them up appropriately. If you’re lucky enough to be led through the elk and deer habitats by 4th generation local, Ray Hyde, be sure to ask him about his cousins, Buddy & Skeeter Werner. Or about his Olympic ski racing days. He’s got a tale or two to tell as you hoof it around the Continental Divide.
Saddleback Ranch (about 15 miles west of Steamboat) has some additional options for day horse backing day trippers and is another one of our family’s favorites. We love the horse-drawn wagon dinner rides with a stop off for at the Double Dollar Lodge. The steaks are huge, the kids are hungry and the Iacovetto family hosts couldn’t be more hospitable. After dinner, one of the charming cowboys gathers up all of the kids and teaches them how to rope a calf. And a few brave adults (such as yours truly who aren’t too averse to humiliation) can give it a whirl as well.
With real lassos and pretend calves, the kids (and adults) are thoroughly entertained and you city slickers might just be one step closer to your first rodeo!
- Lizzie Larock