Reviews Summer

Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch

If you’re already starting to miss the mountains, you don’t need to despair. There are so many wonderful summer activities, from hiking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, and rafting that can keep you enjoying the Colorado mountains all year long. If you would like to do all of those activities in one-stop, consider a trip to Black Mountain Ranch.

Every night the horses run out to pasture

Black Mountain Ranch sits about 45 minutes outside of Vail in the small town of McCoy. Devin and I had the opportunity to stay with a friend last summer for our honeymoon and can’t wait to make it back again soon. And with a view like that, who could blame us? The scenery was seriously stunning.

The ranch paradoxically feels very small and amazingly open and grand all at once. The ranch has up to a few dozen people at once, and many of the activities (dining, riding, swimming in the pool, feeding the ducks, dancing at the saloon) take place with other guests or the ranch staff. By the end of your stay, the family-run ranch, staff, and all the guests feel very comfortable and familiar. At the same time, with activities like day-long horseback rides, overnight campouts, and cattle drives, it’s hard to forget how majestic the Colorado wilderness can be.

Dinner by the pond after a long trail ride

Horseback riding works a whole different set of muscles than skiing, and our first few days proved to be quite sore as we had limited experience. But there are enough other activities to space things out and make it all fun. We enjoyed swimming at the pool, hiking around the property, sitting by the pond, feeding the resident ducks and geese, watching the burro wander around, and even practice our lasso skills. And all the while, we were lucky enough to spend a week in a beautiful place, meeting wonderful people, and eating phenomenal food. (Every meal, even when packed for lunch or camping, was always world class! Luckily all that horseback riding burns a lot of calories…)

Our honeymoon was unconventional to be sure. I did not expect to shoot shotguns to celebrate marriage, and I definitely didn’t expect to like it enough to kind of sort of want one of my own. We had plenty of time to ourselves, but we were also immersed in a big group at every meal, meeting new families from around the country. Devin probably wasn’t imagining I would start lobbying for the acquisition of a baby goat. But I think that’s why Black Mountain Ranch was perfect for us. I can think of no better way to start our life together than hanging out in one of the most beautiful places and starting out the adventure of marriage with an adventure in the mountains.

One night we rode to a camp set up with tents and a campfire

The ranch accepts reservations for the summer months. There are a handful of adult-only weeks left this season but it’s worth planning ahead now for 2013. Learn more at

Denver, Colorado, United States

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