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Spring Break in Denver 2016–Over 50 Activities Featured!

The countdown is on for Spring Break 2016! If you’re staying in Denver, no need to dismay as we have updated last year’s popular Spring Break guide. Whether you want to hunker down indoors, get outside or explore something new, we have you covered with these fabulous Spring Break offerings, categorized by geographic area. 

CENTRAL DENVER

  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science–The big news at Denver’s favorite natural history and science museum is the new Chocolate: The Exhibition. Be sure to explore the Museum’s south side that added 126,000 square feet and five levels of discovery to the Museum last year, providing even more space to engage, delight, and spark your imagination. 
  • Mizel Museum

    Mizel Museum

    Botanic Gardens  – These top-ranked U.S. botanical gardens offers spectacular garden displays, outdoor art exhibits, gardening classes and workshops at two great locations–Chatfield and Denver.

  • Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus. The Museum has recently doubled its size with eighteen exhibits that are divided into four types of play. They are Explore, Imagine, Investigate, and Create.
  • The Denver Firefighters Museum (downtown) – The Museum offers not only outstanding exhibits on the history of fire fighting in Denver focusing on the Denver Fire Department, but innovative and exciting hands-on activities that allow visitors to interact with the traditional exhibits
  • History Colorado Center–This $110 million experiential museum makes Colorado history fun and has exciting new workshops and exhibits including the 1968 Exhibit, which brings to life this pivotal American year through photographs, artifacts, vintage pop culture items and interactives.
  • United States Mint Tour (downtown) – Discover how our currency is made and take home a souvenir – FREE. Reservations are required for the 45-minute tours that are run every 90 minutes.
  • Molly Brown House Museum (downtown) – Learn about the life and times of “Unsinkable” Molly Brown in her restored Victorian home in Denver, Colorado. This is one of the most visited historic sites in the state of Colorado, and one of only a handful of sites nationally dedicated to the interpretation of a woman’s story. Admission to the Molly Brown House Museum is by guided tour only.
  • Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys. Where beloved childhood toys are elevated to art, and workshops are inexpensive.
  • Denver Art Museum (downtown) – Each spring break they have a themed break that allows the whole gang to make art in the galleries, work alongside artists, and check out Family Backpacks from the Family Activity Cart. Kids 18 and younger receive free general admission.
  • Downtown Aquarium. This features over 500 species of marine life and mammals in the million-gallon Aquarium Adventure Exhibi
  • Mizel Museum. Rooted in Jewish values that have universal relevance, the Mizel Museum is a gem tucked away in a residential area in Denver’s Hilltop neighborhood. Kids will love their interactive road map as they journey along the 4,000 Year Road Trip: Gathering Sparks. They’ll learn about art, artifacts and digital media that narrates and illuminates Jewish history and culture.

NORTH

  • Mid-air Adventures. Mid-Air Adventures offers a safe, active and unique experience for guests of all ages. Our 12,000 sq. ft. facility offers giant swings, zip lines, 20’ climbing wall, rope bridges, slides and a toddler area.
  • Hammonds Candy Factory Tour (Denver) – Hammond’s complimentary candy factory tours are fun and educational for candy lovers of all ages. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe have seen how their famous, handcrafted candy canes, ribbon candy, and lollipops are pulled, twisted, and shaped by hand. No reservations are required for small groups.
  • WOW Children’s Museum (Lafeyette)–This interactive museum educates children in the areas of arts, sciences and life. At the new and improved Bank of WOW! Exhibit, children and families can practice money recognition, counting and basic math skills, and learn about saving and spending
  • Butterfly Pavilion (Westminster) – Home to over 5,000 animals including Rosie the tarantula and a tropical forest where 1,600 butterflies rule the sky. They offer a daily spring break camp.
  • Go hiking. There are so many beautiful hikes in the Boulder area and my favorites are at Chautauqua Open Space Park. Be sure to stop in the Ranger’s Cottage for interactive fun or eat at the historic Dining Hall. For here for more Boulder hiking ideas.
  • Louisville Community Park is a park that has it all. There is a grassy area for the kids to run free in, spray grounds to cool off in the summer, a large sandbox, playground and even a dog park with swim beach to watch the pooches play.
  • Boondocks Fun Center (Northglenn)–This 8-acre indoor/outdoor amusement center offers everything from bumper boats to laser tag to a Kiddie Cove to batting cages.
  • Greeley Freight Station Museum: Examine intricate model railroad layouts, a wooden caboose from the Colorado and Southern Railroad and more than 1,000 railroad artifacts. See actual trains come and go on nearby tracks.
  • Adventure Golf and Raceway (Westminster). This is a great place for mini golf and go karts in the Denver area. 
  • Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge (Commerce City)–Located 10 minutes from downtown Denver, this 17,000-acre refuge is one of the largest urban wildlife refuges in the United States. It consists of open lakes, wetlands, prairie grasslands, and woodlands and an excellent hands-on visitor’s center.
  • Celestial Seasonings. Visit the Celestial Seasonings headquarters in Boulder, Colorado and unlock the mysteries of tea with a free guided tea tour.

SOUTH

  • Hudson Gardens (Littleton) – The Hudson Gardens’ 30 acres non-profit botanical gardens are located along the bank of the South Platte River. Admission is free every day.
  • Westlands Park (Greenwood Village) – The Westlands playground includes three play areas sized for toddlers to teens. There are two large climbing structures which satisfy both the technical climber as well as the inexperienced child. In addition to the main play area, there are three multi-use playing fields, an in-line hockey rink, a natural water sculpture, a pond and a hike / bike trail.
  • Jumpstreet Indoor Trampoline Park (Littleton, Lakewood, Greenwood Village) – Wall-to-wall trampolines provide fun, indoor exercise and a perfect outlet for inclement weather days.
  • Carson Nature Center

    Carson Nature Center

    Jungle Quest (Littleton). Exciting Indoor Ziplines, Huge Safari Swing, 20-foot High Rock Climbing Wall, Swinging Cargo Net, Burma Bridges, Treehouse and Slides and Jungle Caves –for Kids 5 and up.

  • Carson Nature Center (Littleton)–South Platte Park has over 880 acres of open space along the South Platte River with five lakes open to fishing, 2.5 miles of the South Platte River and the Mary Carter Greenway for walking and biking, nearly 4 miles of natural surface trails, and the Carson Nature Center and classroom.
  • Lollipop Park (Centennial)–This indoor children’s amusement park is located inside the Family Sports Center and offers a carousel, bounce castles, train ride, small Ferris wheel, teacup ride and more.
  • Great Play (Highlands Ranch)–This unique gym for kids 6 months-10 years old makes it fun while developing motor skills, sport skills, fitness and coordination in their patented Interactive Arena.
  • Fun City (Littleton)–Fun City is the largest indoor entertainment facility in the Denver metro area with 144,000 square feet of fun including Little City, the Foam Factory, Minature Golf, Laser Jam and Grand Prix.
  • Robert F. Clement Park (Littleton)–Clement Park is set on a 60-acre lake with a 1.4-mile walking path around it, tennis course, baseball fields, batting cages, multi-purpose fields, horseshoe pits and three separate playgrounds.
  • Littleton Museum. Located on 39 acres, this free museum consists of two living history farms (one from the 1860’s and one from the 1890’s), a small lake, a collections center, and a main exhibition and administration building.
  • iFLY Denver Indoor Sky Diving (Lone Tree). Fun,  safe indoor skydiving adventure Safe for ages 3 and up.

EAST

  • Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum (Denver) –An extensive collection of aircraft and related aviation and military exhibits preserving the history of the service men and women who served at Lowry Airforce Base. There are more than three dozen aircrafts on display in this 44,000-square foot space.
  • Dart Warz (Centennial)–Want an ultra cool alternative to paintball or airsoft? Look no further than Dart Warz.
  • Centennial Center Park–This 11-acre city park has a killer playground, nature areas, amphitheater and a water area in the summer. Located on the north side of Arapahoe Rd., between S. Revere Pkwy. and S. Vaughn St., adjacent to the Centennial Civic Center.
  • Wildlife Experience – The Wildlife Experience services became part of the Liniger Building at CU South Denver as a wildlife conservation exhibit featuring fine art.
  • Monkey Bizness (Centennial, Denver, Lone Tree) -You’ll find interactive inflatables, play structures, climbing walls, and games of all shapes and sizes. There is a separate section just for toddlers with their own play equipment.
  • Morrison Nature Center at Star K Ranch (Aurora). Star K Ranch “regulars” include mule deer, painted turtles, snapping turtles, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, western meadowlarks, great horned owls, and blue jays. Costumes, blocks, puppets, kids’ books, and live animal exhibits make Morrison Nature Center a great place for kids.
  • Plains Conservation Center (Aurora)–The Plains Conservation Center is an outdoor education facility and state-designated natural area that educates children about Colorado’s eco-history, and nurture conservation efforts.
  • Unser Cart Racing – Kids… go carts. Can’t lose right? 

 WEST

  • Dinosaur Ridge (Morrison) – Part of the Morrison Fossil Area National Natural Landmark, Dinosaur Ridge area is one of the world’s most famous dinosaur fossil localities. Enjoy exhibits, a shuttle tour, and real dinosaur tracks. 
  • Majestic View Nature Center (Arvada)–Majestic View Nature Center and Community Park has more than majestic views–The 3,000- square foot Nature Center features hands-on nature and environmental displays, wildlife exhibits, a kid’s area, classrooms and meeting space.
  • Apex Center

    Apex Center

    Big Time Trampoline (Arvada)–With 27,000-square feet of interactive fun, kids of all ages love the 50 feet of floor-level trampolines lined to a giant foam pit with rope swings and climbing structures, dodgeball trampoline court, wipe-out wrecking ball, maze, rope swings, little kid’s area, boot camp obstacle course and more.

  • Earth Treks Climbing Center (Golden)–Earth Treks Golden features more than 28,500 sq ft of climbing with walls up to 48 ft high, including tons of bouldering and roped climbing for all ages and abilities.
  • Majestic View Nature Center (Arvada)–Majestic View Nature Center and Community Park has more than majestic views–The 3,000- square foot Nature Center features hands-on nature and environmental displays, wildlife exhibits, a kid’s area, classrooms and meeting space.
  • Apex Center (Arvada)–Perfect for an inclement weather day, this recreation and entertainment center houses two ice rinks, an awesome indoor aquatic play area, climbing wall, gyms, indoor track, themed indoor playground and more.
  • Colorado Railroad Museum (Golden)–Lose track of time year-round at this 15-acre railyard featuring over 100 engines, cabooses and coaches, a garden railway, renowned library and roundhouse restoration facility with working turntable.
  • Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave (Golden) – The Buffalo Bill Museum’s exhibits include memorabilia from Buffalo Bill’s life and Wild West shows, Indian artifacts, antique firearms and more. The spectacular views overlooking Denver are a bonus!
  • Casa Bonita (Lakewood) – It’s about the atmosphere and entertainment, kids love it, menu is limited.  Euphoric memories from your childhood?  Visit again–it hasn’t changed.
  • Lookout Mountain Nature Center (Golden)–Lookout Mountain Nature Center invites kids to connect with the natural world through interactive exhibits about the flora and fauna of the foothills ecosystem. Kids enjoy a hands-on play room and observation room.
  • Hiking. The western slope is home to some of Denver’s best hiking trails. Our favorites including Red Rocks, Matthews/Winters, Evergreen, Deer Creek and much more. Go here for maps, directions and regulations: http://jeffco.us/parks/open-space/.

What adventures would you add to our list?

 

Let your little ones dance this summer!

With summer right around the corner, what could be more fun for your children than keeping them active at one of the Colorado Ballet Academy Summer Dance Camps?  As the official school of Colorado Ballet, our summer camp students will show off their creativity through movement, dance like ballet royalty, learn about the magical world of ballet fairies and improve their dance skills through a series of day camps for children ages 3 to 9.

Young dancers ages 3 to 4 will explore movement through the popular Creative Dance Camp using imaginative games, songs, music and rhythmical patterns.  Our creative dancers will also enjoy dance-inspired crafts and story time.

danceDoes your little dancer dream of dancing like a prince or princess on a grand stage?  Classic ballet royalty from Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake come to life in Ballet Prince & Princess Camp, with two sections: ages 4 to 5 or 5 to 6.  Little princes and princesses will practice ballet movements, listen to music, create dances and make crafts inspired by these different characters.

Fairies, fairies and more fairies! There are 11 fairies in The Sleeping Beauty, 1 in The Nutcracker, and even more in A Midsummer Night’s Dream!  Children in Ballet Fairy Camp will practice ballet movements, listen to music, create dances and make crafts inspired by these different characters.  We offer two sections of this camp: for ages 4 to 5 or 5 to 6.

Young dancers ages 7 and up with previous dance training will improve and focus their ballet and dance skills in the fun and fast-paced Level 1 Dancing Camp.  Our Level 1 students will also take classes in modern dance, character, dance history, improvisation and introduction to jazz.

Level 2 Dancing Camp is designed to prepare students ages 8 and up for more rigorous dance programs by focusing on refining their technique and exposing them to additional classes which will help round out their dance education.  Classes will include ballet, modern, character, jazz, dance history and related film to provide a balanced day of dance.

Our students train in the same facility as the professional dancers of Colorado Ballet, the state-of-the-art studios at the Armstrong Center for Dance in the Art District on Santa Fe near Downtown Denver.  The Colorado Ballet Academy summer dance day camps will take place in June and August.  Visit www.coloradoballet.org/summercamps for dates, times and prices of these camps.

Humor: You know you’re a bad mom if…

Do you ever feel like a bad mom for the most ridiculous reason?

Take a moment to watch “You Know You’re a Bad Mom If,” where the funny moms behind the YouTube channel, The BreakWomb, poke fun at all the parenting rules and decide to pay less attention to others’ opinions while trusting their own instincts more.

Funny mom re-creates Academy Award nominees with daughters

The Academy Awards are on Sunday. Whether you care who goes home with the Oscar or not, you will love Maggie Storino’s adorable photography series featuring the Academy Award nominees for best picture–featuring her daughters Sophia, 5, Sadie, 3, and Sloane, 8 months.

To see all the photographs, be sure to go to her Tumblr page Don’t Call Me Oscar.

The Revenant

revenant

revenant1

Bridge of Spies

bridge

bridge1

Brooklyn

brooklyn

brooklyn1

Mad Max

mad

mad1

 

5 Quick “Dump” Dinners You Can Make in Your Crockpot

Pressed for time (really, who isn’t?) We’ve rounded up five delicious “dump” one-pot dinners you can throw into your slower cooker and several hours later, dinner is served! 

Crockpot Zucchini Chicken Parmesan 

This meal is packed with veggies and protein for a filling dinner that’s even great as leftovers for lunch. Top it with some cheese at the end for an extra special treat! You can serve over pasta or quinoa, but I just ate this plain and was totally satisfied. Yay for protein!

 http://smilesandwich.com/2014/09/10/crockpot-zucchini-chicken-parmesan/

Slow-Cooker-Zucchini-Chicken

Slow Cooker Potato and Corn Chowder

The beauty of this recipe is just how easily this comes together. Simply throw everything into the crockpot, let it cook on high for 4 hrs (or low for 8 hrs), and then stir in your butter and cream.

http://damndelicious.net/2014/09/12/slow-cooker-potato-corn-chowder

potatoshowder

10 Beef Dump Recipes

These beef dump recipes are easy to throw together and perfect for freezing. Freezer meals make a lovely gift for friends who are going through an illness or loss or adding to their family through birth or adoption.

http://www.thechaosandtheclutter.com/archives/beef-dump-recipes

beefdump

Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken

This recipe was from a neighborhood cookbook but that version was to bake it in the oven and who has time to bake? This mom decided to dump it in her slow cooker and it was the best decision ever! 

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2014/01/slow-cooker-sticky-chicken-recipe.html

sticky-chicken

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

Make this for delicious casserole for breakfast (simply keep your crockpot on warm all night) or have breakfast for dinner. Either way, you win!

http://momsneedtoknow.com/crockpot-breakfast-casserole-recipe/

Breakfast-casserole-recipe

Add your camp to our Denver Summer Camp Guide 2016

Mile High Mamas will soon be launching our Denver Summer Camp Guide 2016. Now through March 1 you may post your listing for free: milehighmamas.com/places/camps

We have other affordable advertising options available as well. Be sure to email us themilehighmamas [at] gmail [dot] com.

Bring on summer!

 

Contest: Acupuncture for moms and kids: is it right for you?

A few months ago, I did an open call on my personal Facebook page asking for help regarding my husband’s rheumatism. I received lots of great advice but if there was one reoccuring piece of advice, it was acupuncture. One friend in particular was insisted we connect with Karen Marks from Alpenglow Acupuncture in Wheat Ridge so we setup four appointments to put their Acupuncture and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) techniques to the test. Following our series of appointments and some small lifestyle changes, he found some reprieve. That was enough for me to start researching these methods that send gentle signals through his system, nudging his body back toward homeostasis.

TCM is often used for treating chronic issues that are often poorly managed by western medicine and rarely have side effects. “It has been used for thousands of years by millions of people around the world,” says Karen. “It is one of the few complimentary therapies recognized by major health organizations such as the World Health Organization and National Institutes of Health.”

acupuncture1I sat down with this new mom who has been practicing acupuncture and Chinese Medicine since 2003. She primarily uses Japanese-style acupuncture, as well as adjunct therapies such as moxa, cupping, tuina/shiatsu, and electrical stimulation. Karen enjoys working with children, using a Japanese technique called Sho-ni-shin, which utilizes special tools for tapping and rubbing the skin in place of- and sometimes in addition to- needling. She is also trained in Acutonics and cosmetic acupuncture.

“I am again learning firsthand how useful this medicine can be. From the residual aches and pains from delivery (I had the benefit of being able to use acupuncture DURING my labor even) to the aches and pains of developing a whole new set of muscles from toting around a baby and/or car seat, I have been lucky to have this tool to help resolve issues. I have also been treated for irregular digestion/mood swings/night sweats all related to hormone imbalance. I have also started doing Sho-Ni-Shin and using Acutonics on baby Henry. He has had some torticollis and trouble eating from a bottle, so in addition to doing some stretches, I have been treating him. He loves it!”

For kids, Alpenglow Acupuncture addresses allergies, eczema, asthma, colds and ear infections, sleep disorders, digestive issues and teething pain, as well as many other problems. For mom, they tackle stress, sleep, fatigue, digestion, hormone imbalances, fertility, pain and more.

Karen got into acupuncture after having received a successful treatment when her friend talked her into going to a student clinic. She was super skeptical about being treated for low back pain but after a number of sessions she noticed that not only did her back feel better, but her asthma had pretty much gone away. She learned firsthand how TCM sees health issues as patterns of disharmony, and quite often several seemingly unrelated symptoms can actually fit under the same pattern. She was hooked and eventually enrolled in acupuncture school. 

Because Acupuncture is not often covered by insurance, Karen tries to keep the price point affordable at $60 for the initial appointment and $40 for tune-ups. Appointments are determined by which of these modalities you need. For example, if they need to do cupping, they would book a standard appointment to allow for the time needed. If you are in the maintenance phase and only need a quick check-in followed by needles, a tune-up appointment would be appropriate.
 
Contest
 
Alpenglow Acupuncture is offering an initial appointment + tune-up for a giveaway. You may enter as many as five times.

 

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7 fun events in Denver this weekend

Go here for Mile High Mamas’ event calendar

Colorado RV, Sports, Boat & Travel Show at the National Western Complex
Feb 24  – Feb 28. Times vary
Check out the 60th Annual Colorado RV, Sports, Boat & Travel Show, the region’s largest outdoor recreation show. Giant exhibits of RVs, boats, vacation ideas, travel packages, fishing, hunting and four-wheeling. Great family fun on KID’S DAY, Saturday, Feb 27 with Star Wars characters, face painting, a kid’s area and children’s book signing by children’s author Jonathan Lannen. Catch a fishing, camping, RVing or travel destination seminar from industry experts.

2016 Special Olympics CO Denver Polar Plunge at City Park 
Feb 27  9:00 am – 1:00 pm
The Special Olympics Polar Plunge Splash and Dash presented by Westerra Credit Union is a fun and unique way to support Special Olympics Colorado and our amazing athletes. Participants have the option to plunge into a pool filled with freezing cold water, run/walk in a 5K… or better yet, do both!

Free Day at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield 
Mar 1,  9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Go here for a full list of free days: http://www.milehighmamas.com/blog/2015/12/29/denver-free-days-2016/.

Free Day Target First Tuesdays at Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
Mar 1, 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Target is committed to giving back to the communities where their guests and team members live and work. Through thei6r generous sponsorship of the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, families can play for FREE the first Tuesday of each month from 4 – 8 pm

Junie B. Jones, The Musical at Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities
February 16-April 8, Times vary.
Wowee, wow-wow! Guess what? Everyone’s favorite first grader, Junie B. Jones is visiting the Arvada Center! Come watch Junie B. and all her friends as they have outrageous adventures and learn lots too. Don’t miss out on all of the fun.  Cost: $9 – $12.  6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada, CO 80003.

Zula Patrol: Mission Weather Exhibit at WOW! Children’s Museum

The Zula Patrol, those intergalactic fact-gatherers, have been planet-hopping across the Solar System, and they’ve finally landed on Earth to study the weather on our home planet. Captain Bula and his friends invite you to this hands-on, interactive exhibit to learn all about clouds, precipitation, wind, temperature, and other weather phenomena. The exhibit will be on display at WOW! from January 27th to May 8th.  110 N. Harrison Ave., Lafayette, CO 80026

Inside the Orchestra’s Tiny Tots Concert at The Wildlife Experience

On February 29, Tiny Tots gets children truly inside the orchestra by seating the audience on the floor and surrounding them with a 30 piece orchestra. Tiny Tots audiences receive an up-close-and-personal performance in a casual, fun environment. Inside the Orchestra offers the only professional orchestra performance for kids under six in the country. 10035 S Peoria Street, Parker.
Cost: $9.95 suggested price. Performances at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 p.m.

10 Colorado Dude Ranch Getaways for Spring Break or Early Summer

I know, Dude Ranches can be even more expensive than a ski trip, but not if you are booking correctly. There’s no penny pinching at the ranches, usually sitters, activities and food are all included. However, if you pick the right time or are looking for a specific activity, here’s great deals and information on what ranches are open in Colorado, when to book, and what you’re going to get. You don’t have to stay seven nights at any ranch, horseback riding might not be available, but off-season doesn’t mean it’s not worth the trip. Ask for children’s rates, boutique pricing or even their bed & breakfast rates. All ranches offer different items, types of cuisine, lodging and activity from snow-shoeing to sleigh rides to cooking classes. Inquire for best rates and personal interests with a quick phone call. Saddle-up, these are authentic Colorado!

Wait, what’s a Colorado Dude Ranch? To be a member of the 80- year-old organization, the roughly 30-Ranch group must adhere to strict standards and include the following during summer season: 7-night lodging requirement in summer season, meals, daily horseback riding, a place to soak, and usually an entertainment hall or building as well as massive amounts of activities throughout the day for all ages of the family. Children typically need to be 6 years of age to participate in the Children’s Programming.

Deer Valley Ranch

Nathrop, deervalleyranch.com

Deer Valley backs up to Mt. Princeton, located between Buena Vista and Salida in the small town of Nathrop. Attractive and known for it’s Hot Springs, is also Deer Valley Ranch, one mile past Mt. Princeton Springs Resort. Open year-round, there is only 11 weeks of summer season filled with out-of state folk, the rest of the year, guests can rent out cabins, kitchen included to cook their own meals or mosey down the road to the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Restaurant. No horseback riding is available, activity in spring is mostly-snow related, and you are 45 minutes from Monarch Ski Mountain or you can cross-country to the ghost town Saint Elmo. The pools are not open during the off season, except one outdoor hot tub. There are 14 cabins to choose from that are two, three and four bedroom, with a wood-burning fireplace, except one with a gas fireplace.  The cabins have fully equipped kitchens. With lots of return visitors during the off-season, the escape at the ranch really resonates with its guests. Occupancy is 75 – 80, as their 10-room lodge is only available when meals are in service from the main lodge.  Spring and early summer for the end of ski season and last bits of snow with really warm days are abundant at Deer Valley and a good find.

C Lazy U

C Lazy U

C Lazy U

Granby, clazyu.com

This might be one of the most infamous ranches in the State. Located just outside of Granby, Colorado (less than two hours from Denver), the ranch was recently rated the #1 resort in Colorado by Condé  Naste Traveler. The ranch offers an authentic experience with comfortable lodging, gorgeous family-style meals, an old fashioned bar, and hosts an abundance of outdoor activities including horse-back riding through the surrounding forest or in the enclosed riding arena, Orvis endorsed fly fishing, shooting, and much more. The morning fire in front of the main lodge amongst views of the horse drive, or “jingle” as they call it, are worth getting up early and enjoying some cowboy coffee. They also offer an entertaining kids program with an extensive list of activities for those starting at age three. The ranch’s quintessential family-catered style boasts itself as one of the most popular and historic dude ranches in the state. Don’t assume a luxury experience is not in the cards; this ranch is far from rustic. One of my favorite experiences was a massage in their award-winning spa made of wall tents located along the on-site river.  There’s phenomenal winter activity as well including downhill skiing, sledding, tubing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing all on site. Check out clazyu.com to book your stay. They are open year round including holidays and offer discounted rates depending on the time of year. 

Home Ranch

Clark, homeranch.com (Work Week May 5 – 10)

This is one of the more high-end ranches in our state, The Home Ranch is known for it’s cuisine, remoteness 18 miles North of Steamboat Springs, and luxury accommodations. Their age limit is 6 years to join the ranch family, so note that the wee ones will need to stay home. An incredible experience for the teen or college student who can swing taking days off in May, is The Home Ranch’s Work Week were their prices are the lowest of the year, and you become a working member of the ranch. Tasks include rebuilding trails, helping to get the  horses ready for the summer after their winter season off, the surrounding 4,000 acres and assisting Master Gardner Adele Carlson in preparing the beds in the greenhouse. You can still book a winter getaway until March 26th before they close for a few weeks. Call for specialty weeks.

 

(Home Ranch)

(Home Ranch)

Latigo Ranch

Kremmling, latigotrails.com

We visited this spot on very cold NYE four years ago, instantly fell in love, and could only imagine what warmer weather would bring. There is no horseback riding in the off-season; but, that’s ok, because the high elevation and incredible amount of snow result in one of its most popular activities—cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, plus lessons. Miles of terrain, landscape, animal, solitude—Latigo deserves the recognition.  This ranch is super affordable for the first time ranch visit. Meals are delicious, there is plenty of space between guests as almost everyone stays in their private cabins ranging from single to three-bedroom cabins. A hot tub for the masses, and a separate large lodge with a game hall, dance hall, bar, pool, small workout facility and more provide any other winter and spring activity such as old fashioned games, movies, etc. The remoteness is a gem, and there is plenty of spunk in this place for a young family with children who want to explore a Dude Ranch for the first time. Latigo closes on March 20 and reopens June 5 for the summer.

Lost Valley Ranch

Sedalia, lostvalleyranch.com

Located on a 9-mile dirt road near Cheesman Reservoir, this easily accessible Front Range ranch is about 1.5 hours Southwest of Denver. Open from March 7 through Thanksgiving weekend there are one, two and three bedroom cabin suites with a living room, fireplace, coffee service, mini fridge and porch with a swing. During spring there is only a 2-night minimum stay. Horseback riding, hiking, fishing (pond and creek on site when thawed), trap shooting, three hot tubs, recreational facilities, tennis court, ½ basketball court, horseshoe pit and sand volleyball court are available. Spring is a slower pace at night, but over the weekend there will be a bonfire and s’mores on Friday, Saturday, a square dance. Meals in off-season are all included and the 14,000 acres to ride the horses, year-round is remarkable so close to the urban corridor. Wifi is available in the main lodge, but no wifi in the cabins or telephones or TVs so be prepared and retreat back to yesteryear.

Sundance Trail Ranch

Red Feathers Lake, sundancetrail.com

We gave this ranch a test run during one very chilly December weekend. This ranch is very homey and close to Fort Collins and other metro areas. It’s quite affordable for a dude ranch in winter, spring is a bit pricier but offers more activities. The current owners, Dan & Ellen have owned/operated the ranch since 2000 and make it extremely friendly for the really small of tots and spacious enough for the teens. The food is simple and filling served family-style. We stayed in two-bedroom room right off the dinning room and my 2 and 4-year old had a blast.  My husband enjoyed the daily 2-hour horseback rides included in the price and dips in the outdoor hot tub.

Waunita Hot Springs

Gunnison, WAUNITA.COM

Ideal family spring break get-a-way, simply because of the hot springs pool. Open year-round, they offer  dinners to add on to a Bed & Breakfast stay. Proximity to Crested Butte Ski Mountain and Monarch Ski Mountain along with wilderness for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or even a dog sled tour can be planned from this locale. There is a small entertainment area with game’s, puzzles, a pool table in the TV room and a library. Families enjoy getting out during the day and coming back to family-style meals and comfort. March usually has availability and the beginning of April is open as well. There are 35 – 45 guest spots available in the lodge that was rebuilt in 1915 from a fire. Its original 1890 inception was for healing water and spa purpose. Plus, it’s a good time to sample the ranch and see if a summer return is in order. Come sport and soak at this dude ranch.

sylvandaleSylvan Dale

Loveland, sylvandale.com

This is probably one of the most accessible for spring break and early summer, it’s open year round and located just outside of Loveland. This ranch took a huge hit in the 2013 flood. My husband, kids, parents and I were one of the first visitors for the reopen, and the magic has not been lost. From year-round horseback riding, to  cabins and guest house quaint and large cabin options, this ranch really offers the classic dude ranch experiences and allows riders as young as  six  three years of age. We all sang happily around the fire as the owners strummed their guitars and played the classics. The food and dinning area is perfect for big or small groups and there is even an outdoor pool for the warm weather. They do shorter stays in the off-season and this one is very special to my folks and I. There is a real sense of family and it’s the perfect multi-generational ranch. Also, don’t forget to look for heart-shaped rocks for add to their collection. I still have one I keep outside my studio door for good luck.  

Vista Verde

Steamboat Springs , vistaverde.com

This is the most expensive dude ranch in the State, and for good reason —diversity of activities and depth to each program. People who come don’t have enough time to get through all the activity, regardless of season. The hefty staff return rate combined with the over 1 to 1 staff  / guest ratio, screams luxury. Truly all inclusive, only add on for hot air balloon rides and massages. From pick up at the airport, to alcohol, it’s all taken care. Dec through late March is their winter / spring season and only requires a 3-night stay. There’s trail riding, daily horse clinics, tubing, sleigh rides, back-country skiing, yoga, cooking classes, photography, Pilates, wine tasting, you name it, it’s available. Ranch maximum is 50 guests with families. Early June and late fall are discounted and winter is always their best deal. Families will especially love the children’s program as it is one of the most extensive with a great balance of new things and classics on horse and ranch to really create a well-rounded experience. They flex either way, families together or in separate programming.

zapataZapata Ranch

Mosca, zranch.org

This dude ranch experience is quite possibly the most unique in all of North America as it is one of the largest working and guest bison ranches in the world. Yes, that’s correct! Open at the very beginning of March, you can book for weeks or just a couple nights at a time, and at the best discounts. This ranch is a bit pricier, but you are amongst one of the great herds of our nation, some of the most pure specimens of the plains bison that originally brought many people out West. Their riding program offers horsemanship for ages 8 and older, and this is the oldest limit in the State, and for good reason. You are riding through the Sand Dunes National Park and through one of the largest Valley’s imaginable, the San Luis. It’s an aquifer; streams and small ponds suddenly appear each spring. Spring is also birthing time for the bison, and it’s a majestic black horizon on their guided bison tour (costs extra) where car seats are available to be placed in their vehicles. Food is protein-heavy with emphasis on none other than the bison. We took an extra afternoon just to visit the Sand Dunes in early May and play in the stream (Medano Creek) that only appears for a couple weeks at a time during peak run-off. Save up, this ranch is one for a lifetime of memory.

 

 

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