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“See how the lucky people live!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Elk Mountain Ranch

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Elk Mountain Ranch
Certificate of Excellence
Linwood, New Jersey
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“See how the lucky people live!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 December 2011

My family took a detour from the old Disney route and planned a first-time trip to a high mountain ranch (in June 2011). There were lots of expectations and a little anxiety about the unknown. I say " a little anxiety" because there were so many positive reviews about Elk Mountain that it made the plans seem less risky.
We were met at the Denver IAP, at the precise time, in the precise location, by ranch owner Tom and cowgirl Tally. They loaded up the vans and we took off for the three hour drive to Elk Mountain Ranch. First, coming from sea level, you may want to prepare for the altitude. The air's thin as I found out when I carried my daughter to the bathroom. Drink lots of water and acclimate yourself slowly. (It may take a few days to get used to the altitude.) The drive is a little long so, as I also found out, bring some motion sickness medicine since everyone can't sit in the front seat. This is about the only downside of the trip. The drive contains incredibly beautiful views of Colorado which changes by the hour. By the time you get to the ranch entrance, you'll be hungry and ready for the adventure.
There's a 20 minute ride to the ranch from the blacktop on a washboard road. Elk, mountain goats, and antelope are watching you from the many cliffs, open fields and Aspen groves. The ranch is exactly as pictured on the website.
The cabins are comfortable, clean and quiet. In June, the temps. were in the 70's during the day and 40's at night...great sleeping conditions. At night, it's as dark as the millions of stars allows and it's quieter than you can imagine. One night, almost our entire group walked the gravel road as a former cowhand pointed out constellations. The moonlight made the gravel road glow while the mountains stuck out like dark, pointy walls. We sipped coffee and hot chocolate while some of the kids sang songs. No TV, electronic games or phones needed, we had good old fashioned fun. Another night, we took a hayride to spot and sat by a big ol' fire roasting marshmallows. There was a square dance, a multi-talented violin player (skinny jeans I think) that told stories and recited poems. It's the kind of thing that makes you say to yourself, "How lucky am I to be part of this world." Many more activities are available to experience also. There's no pressure to follow an itinerary either. Tom and Sue make it clear you can participate, just spend time wandering or just clear your mind (you can do that in the hot-tub nestled in the Aspen trees).
The days were filled with plenty of activities. On day one, the cowboys and cowgirls match you to a horse after Tom's informative horse class. Then, you're off to the mountain trails. Quickly, I learned alot, especially that horses have a range of personalities. The trails are varied in geography so they offer different views. If you are new to horses, you'll get plenty of real experience to build your resume. One of the best trails was the one leading to the mountain top breakfast. You have to experience a delicious, fresh-cooked, champagne breakfast at 10,000 feet overlooking snow-capped mountains and green valleys. Afterwards, everyone played a game of wiffle ball on a mountain field. One of my favorite experiences was watching Tom try to sneak clay pigeons past me during the trap shoot. He definitley tried!
Speaking of food, it starts this way...a giant food-bell is rung. It's heard far away. That's your signal to mosey down to the ranch's dining room. They don't serve fast food here. The ranch has its own certified chef. She, along with her team, creates delicious meal after delicious meal. I'm not exaggerating either. We eat out alot and found the Elk Mt. dinners to be much better than most high-end eating establishments. The service is outstanding too. Just try to empty your plate or glass before someone is asking you to refill it. One evening, my daughter got a little headache and wanted to sleep through dinner. Elk Mtn. staff was not going to simply let her miss dinner. Instead, the staff delivered her dinner a little later and came back even later with some homemade ice cream! That's extra care that makes a real difference to a parent. Kids especially, will form bonds with the cowhands. It's amazing how Tom and Sue pick the right kids to become their cowhands. As a parent, you'll have no problem trusting them to take care of your little ones if you want to go off with your spouse on your own adventure.
There are a few choices to make while you're there, do I go on the Aspen roadtrip or go mountain fishing? Do I take the overnight camping trip of go white-water rafting? Well the rafting trip was awesome and I think Aspen is the place I'd live if I had alot of money. They are both "must dos." Some people stayed in and massage therapy from a licensed pro. (Something for everyone.)
This review is abbreviated, but I hope it gives you an idea that we had a great time and found it to be an excellent value with excellent services. One couple extended their trip while we were there. That's another point to be made. The ranch holds a limited amount of people. With a small group, you can certainly make new friends here if you choose. We now know why people go back to Elk Mountain!

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Chris S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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168 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (35)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Rotherham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 September 2011

Excellent location. great scenery, good food, wonderful companionship with the other guests ; but the over-riding impression for me was the warm welcome, constant smiles and terrific support from all the staff.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled solo
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank ajkaye
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Saint Louis, Missouri
Level Contributor
13 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 September 2011

Have been here multiple times and every one has been a great experience. Top priority of the owners and employees is to make your week as enjoyable as possible. The horses are well cared for, the food is delicious and the scenery is awesome.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank mjh0728
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Middlesbrough, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 September 2011

This is our 5th Time in 5 Years and booked again for next year. No words can explain how AWESOME this place is and I recommend everyone, young or old should experience Elk Mountain Ranch. The place, The owners Tom and Sue, The hand picked Staff, THE FOOD!! (wow) and the Horses (especially Romeo and Quigley) are all second to none. It is a Beautiful place and the scenery is to die for. (A little piece of Heaven)
If you go - you will not want to leave!

Room Tip: We always stay in the Vista Cabin which has beautiful views of the Mountains. But every cabin has it...
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  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Chris1809
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 September 2011

Our visit to Elk Mountain Ranch was certainly our holiday of a lifetime. The ranch is home to Tom and Sue and their carefully selected group of wranglers, chefs and help. The minute that you arrive at the ranch you will very quickly feel as though it is your home too and Tom, Sue and the gang will feel like extended family before long.

We chose to drive from Denver in a rental car though the ranch does have a van that will pick up guests from the airport if you co-ordinate flight times accordingly. Next time I’m sure we’ll take this option since it makes for 3 hours of entertainment with either Tom or a wrangler. However, the drive is not at all challenging and is a bit of an adventure.

We were greeted with the warmest of welcome and shown to our cabin. Tom and Sue put so much effort into making everyone feel at home and we were so touched by our little personalized welcome gifts, I even managed to restrain myself from eating the horsey treats. We were shown all of the amenities of the ranch, but just the lodge with its open fire, the hot tub, and the surrounding beautiful landscape were all so inviting that we weren’t sure what to do first. Luckily everything is so perfectly planned that there is very little need for thinking and before we knew it it was our first of many delicious meals at the ranch. Let there be no mistake there will be no going hungry at Elk Mountain Ranch with simply amazing meals served up back at the lodge for dinner, out in the forest for lunch or packed up in your saddle bag for a picnic. We couldn’t have asked for more, I just wish that I had had more room for desserts! Every mealtime was such a joy to talk with the other guests and get to know the wranglers and Tom and Sue better.


To say that Tom and Sue are experienced would be an understatement. Tom’s horsemanship expertise gives even a well-seasoned rider the opportunity to learn a lot and their horses are all lovely. They have around 50 beautiful steads to suit all ages and abilities. Tom carefully matches each rider with a horse with whom they will get to spend the week and get to know. It was funny that somehow you could see an element of each of us in the horses that he chose and I don’t mean that you are quite as ‘windy’ as Billy in case you read this Brittany ;) I certainly miss lil’ Daisy!

The wranglers lead exciting and unique trails each day with the opportunity for other activities such as shooting and fishing. All great fun and like everything, very well organized such that all we ever needed to do was enjoy. While we experienced the adult only week, it is not hard to see how children would have a ball at the ranch. We indulged our inner child with a few games of air hockey and I discovered that as a child I was probably better at it (as was the case with billiards and basketball). Likewise the wranglers talk about taking kids out for trail rides with great enthusiasm and it is clear that the ranch would be the perfect place for a family break.

In summary, what can we say about our week at Elk Mountain Ranch;

The PRO’s – having a holiday of a lifetime

The CON’s – LEAVING!

We simply cannot wait to be back at Elk Mountain Ranch, so keep our saddles warm guys, we’ll see you again soon!

Liz and Alessia

Room Tip: All of the cabins are uniquely cosy and delightful!
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2011, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank LilsG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Elk Mountain Ranch

Property: Elk Mountain Ranch
Address: 13000 CR 185B, Buena Vista, CO 81211
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Colorado > Buena Vista
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 19 Speciality Lodging in Buena Vista
Price range (per night): $4,048
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Colorado's highest guest ranch at 9600 feet. Adjacent to the Browns Canyon National Monument. Weekly package includes meals, lodging and activities - horseback riding, white water rafting, shooting sports, van trip to Aspen, excursion to ropes & adventure park, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, hayride, square dance, childrens' program and more. Massage extra. 35 pampered guests. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Elk Mountain Ranch Hotel Buena Vista

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