Colorado wildfires: What you need to know
Colorado wildfires have dominated the headlines in recent months, but we’re pleased to report that none have affected any of Top50's Colorado ranches.
Photo: Toby Dahl Photography
C Lazy U Ranch, a Colorado dude ranch located near Denver, has not left anything to chance despite being in no immediate danger as a result of the Colorado's wildfires – the nearest of which being more than 100 miles away.
Says Brady Johnson, Director of Sales and Marketing at C Lazy U: “We have done tons of fire mitigation, removing trees and creating a defensible space. We have a water/fire truck on site with which we have put out small fires in the past – but nothing serious. We have a full fire-evacuation plan for the guests, staff and horses.”
Reassuring words for anyone taking their dude ranch vacations at the C Lazy U, as well as travellers looking to book a ranch vacation at the luxury dude ranch in future. “You do everything in your power to be prepared for the worst and you have to hope for the best,” says Brady. “Fortunately we are not in the line of fire and have not been subject to the smoke of other fires. Our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by these devastating fires, but at this time, it continues to be business as usual at the ranch.”
Colorado's two primary airports, Denver International Airport and Colorado Springs Airport, have not experienced any flight cancellations or issues impacting visibility or airport operations.
Another of Top50’s Colorado dude ranches, Vista Verde Ranch, is handily located in a valley that is largely protected from fires. “In fact, the officials have told locals that the ranch is probably the safest place [in the area] to be in the event of a fire,” says Stephanie Wilson from the luxury dude ranch.
That hasn’t stopped Vista Verde from taking precautions. “With the dryness this year, we have reinstated our evacuation plan and spent hours updating it, reviewing it and being ready for the worse-case scenario,” says Stephanie. “Our hope is that if we plan for the worse, we may get lucky and not have to face this problem at all. The safety of our staff and our guests is the leading factor in our evacuation plan, as is the wellbeing of our animals.”
“We’re in the clear at this point, but we have been through fires before,” says Stephanie. “In 2002 there were two large fires burning on either side of the ranch, which came within about five miles. It was scary, but we were never evacuated. The fire crews were amazing at keeping us informed, checking in on the ranch and making sure we were all safe.”
Despite putting restrictions on the Colorado dude ranch’s activities, the team got creative with their horseback riding, hiking, biking and fishing programs – and everyone still had a great time. “In fact, one of our most loyal guests came here that week for their first ever dude ranch vacation at Vista Verde,” remembers Stephanie. “Apparently they still had a good experience as they have returned time and time again, and now take dude ranch vacations at here three or four times a year!
“Hopefully we don’t experience fires this summer. However, we are prepared for it in the event that it happens, and also recognize that it isn’t a bad thing for the long-term health of the forest.”
Travelling to Colorado for your dude ranch vacations? Find useful information and updates regarding the wildfires here.
By Mel Rutherford