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Lowdown

  • Established

    1897. Guest ranch since 1967
  • Owner

    Tom and Sue Murphy
  • Manager

    Tom and Sue Murphy
  • Tel

    800-432-8812
  • Nightly Rates (per adult)

    $299 - $328
  • Nightly Rates (per child)

    $170 - $242
  • Minimum Stay

    1 week
  • Maximum Guests

    30
  • Works with travel agents?

    Yes
  • Great For

    Romance, Action & adventure, Peace & quiet, Solitude, Diverse scenery
  • Memberships

    Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association, Dude Ranchers Association, Certified Horsemanship Association

Elk Mountain Ranch is high and remote in the San Isabel National Forest with off-the-beaten path charm. Adjacent the Browns Canyon National Monument. Unique for spectacular scenery, quality horses, variety of activities & superb menu. Here you will savor hospitality second to none - warm, friendly and sincere.

At Elk Mountain Ranch families are encouraged to spend time together, though we do offer adult weeks in September where up to 20 guests can enjoy the peak of fall colors, with an emphasis of riding and relaxing.

The ranch is a pleasant 2 1/2 hour drive from the Denver Airport. Nearby Buena Vista is home to the largest collection of peaks over 14,000 feet and the "White Water Capital of Colorado."

Week includes horseback riding through unspoiled wilderness, thrilling white water raft trip within minutes of the ranch, trapshooting, marksmanship, archery, trips to Aspen, hiking, fishing, mountain biking and excurson to Browns Canyon Ropes and Adventure Park. Hayride, square-dance and musical entertainment take place in the evenings.

Elk Mountain Ranch is very family-oriented ranch, our supervisors offer fun-filled, well supervised activities for children, ages 3-7. Activites revolve around the "theme of the day," whether this be a cowboy day, Indian day, etc. To learn more about our children's programs visit the "children" tab above.

Elk Mountain Ranch has been the Murphy family's home and passion since 1985.

Good time to go

Every day is a great day at Elk Mountain Ranch.

Children at the Ranch

Great for children aged 3 and over

We are a very family-oriented guest ranch. In concert with our regular ranch activity program we offer a full kids' program for children ages 3-7 years of age. Two children's counselors will offer youngsters a supervised, fun-filled day of activity. Each day includes riding in the arena and activities that revolve around the theme of the day. Cowboy day includes roping, panning for gold, and making sheriff badges. On Indian Day children will make Indian headbands and necklaces, paint faces, hike to a tepee and hunt for arrowheads. Spend a day at the Mount Princeton Hot Springs pools and enjoy the water slide on Water Day.

Children 8 and older are usually able to participate in our regular ranch activities, but are always welcome to join this program.

The following is a typical schedule for children ages 3 through 7 years. Naturally, activities will be tailored to the interests of the children each week.

Activities

hiking, biking, picnics, outdoor play area, cookouts, petting zoo, supervised swimming, Trip to Mountain Princeton Hot Springs Pools and Water Slide. Hike to tepee for Indian Day - make crafts and hunt for arrowheads. Pan for gold. Learn to rope.

Games

scavenger/treasure hunts, board games, horseshoes, volleyball, badminton, pool table

Baby Sitting

From age 0 to 3. Hourly cost $15.

Baby Sitting Provided By

Childrens counselor and ranch host

Environmental & Social Practices

Environment

Practice leave no trace policy upon our National Forests. The ranch recycles and practices water conservation with staff and guests. We try to be good stewards of our lands.

Ranch History

Over 100 years ago the area surrounding the Arkansas Valley was teaming with mining activity. The ranch was the original “mill site” for the Futurity Mine. At this site, the ore was processed from the surrounding mines of Futurity. Today, the Trading Post, an original building from the late 1800’s, still stands as a reminder to the heritage of our mining past.

Tom and Sue met at the ranch as wranglers back in 1985. After managing the ranch for 10 years, they were given the opportunity to purchase. The have been blessed to be able to raise two children in a spectacular setting surrounded by so many wonderful people. The family of summer staff are so good about keeping in touch and returning to visit. The ranch has been “match makers” for fourteen lovely couples. Tom and Sue have been hosts to over 11,000 special guests from all over the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Ireland, Norway, Finland, Egypt, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Denmark, Kuwait, Bermuda, Italy and U.A.E. We are thankful to be able to spend our lives doing something that we truly love, and thankful that we can share our little piece of heaven with all of you!

Lowdown

  • Enjoy

    Ranch-style
  • Meals served

    family style, everyone eats together, scheduled meals
  • Alcohol

    BYOB
  • Enjoy dining in

    nature settings, dining room (casual attire)
  • You'll definitely love

    fresh daily bread, fresh daily desserts
  • Dietary restrictions catered for

    lactose intolerant, vegans, vegetarians, Gluten free, other

Superb, varied, home-cooked meals to delight both the hearty and discerning appetites. Trail ride cookouts, champagne brunch, steak fry, hors d-oeuvres, fabulous desserts, and kid-friendly options. The highlight at week's end is the country candlelight dinner.

Fresh baked cookies, snacks and fruit bowl always available between meals.

Special diets happily accommodated.

Guest Favourites

  • Lasagna Florentine
  • Beef Brisket
  • Eggs Benedict

Lowdown

  • Address

    PO Box 910
    Buena Vista
    Colorado
    81211
    USA
  • Remote Location

    Yes
  • Elevation

    9600 ft
  • Public Land

    more than 50k acres

Nearest Town - Buena Vista

Buena Vista has a population of 2000 (approx), and is situated 18 miles / 30 mins from the Ranch.

Facilities in Buena Vista include: grocery store, pharmacy, church, school, post office, medical clinic, bank, atm, gas station, museum.

For shopping Buena Vista offers: small hometown necessity shops, boutique shops, western wear.

Nearest Airports

Denver International airport, Denver

Distance

120 miles / 2 hours 30 mins

Airlines

Delta, United, Allegiant, Northwest, Alaska, United Express, Frontier, Southwest, British Airways, Jet Blue

Ranch shuttle

$485 roundtrip for a family group of 5 or less


Colorado Springs airport, Colorado Springs

Distance

100 miles / 2 hours

Airlines

Delta, United, Northwest, United Express

Rental car

Required


Private Air Travel

Nearest location(s)

Buena Vista

Travel by

Helicopter, Airplane

Distance

18 miles

Lowdown

  • Type of Riding

    Western Riding
  • Riding opportunities for

    Beginner, Intermediate, Experienced
  • Most riders are

    Intermediate
  • Rides are grouped by

    Ability, Pace of Ride, Rides tailored to guest requests, Families ride together
  • Max riders per ride

    7
  • Wranglers per ride

    1
  • Pace of ride

    Walk, Trot, Lope
  • Guest Horses

    55
  • Horse Types

    Quarterhorse, Appaloosas, Draft Cross, Paints, Fox Trotters, Other, Geldings, Mares
  • Hours in the saddle

    Morning - 2 hours
    Afternoon - 3 hours

Our Riding

Scheduled rides

We follow a weekly schedule as per our operating permit with the forest service. We have a great deal of variety in our rides offered - each heading out in different direction. Ride options include lunch ride, champagne brunch ride, opportunities to trot and canter dependent upon riders' abilities. Please call us to discuss the riding.

Weight limit for riding

225-250 lbs

Riding considerations

no riding experience needed, We consider height and athletic ability as well as a guest's weight


Why our riding stands out

  • Wide variety of rideable terrain.
  • Spectacular vistas on all rides.
  • Group size typically 4 to 6 guest with one wrangler.

Sample Riding Itinerary

Weekly riding schedule can be found on our website.  Ride options include lunch rides, champagne brunch ride, opportunitites to trot and canter based upon riders' abilities. Please give us a call. We would be happy to discuss the riding in detail with you and answer all your questions.

Riding Lessons

Details

basic riding lessons

Given by

wrangler, ranch owner or manager

Location

on the trail

Lowdown

  • Nightly Rates (per adult)

    $299 - $328
  • Nightly Rates (per child)

    $170 - $242
  • Nightly Rates (non-rider)

    $270 - $299
  • Minimum Stay

    1 week
  • Preferred Arrival Day

    Sun
  • Preferred Departure Day

    Sun
  • Style of accommodation

    Ranch rustic
  • Packages available

    1 week

Elk Mountain Ranch can cater for up to 30 guests. Accommodation includes Cabins and Lodges. See below for details and indicative rates.

Cabin | The Deer Cabin

Minimum Stay

No minimum

Description

The Deer cabin has a King bed in the master bedroom, second room with two Twin beds and sitting area combined. Bath has a shower. This cabin is nestled in the aspen and evergreen with small porch overlooking pond. Great for small family or a couple. The deer cabin sleeps 4. You may view online at www.elkmtn.com

Rooms

2

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

hair dryer, seating area

Cabin | The Bighorn Cabin

Minimum Stay

No minimum

Description

The Bighorn cabin is one of our most spacious. There is a King bed in the master bedroom, a second bedroom with Bunk bed, and bath with shower. A large sitting area also has a day bed. Covered front porch overlooks the pond. Tucked in the pine trees, near the Main Lodge and play area. Great for families with young children, the Bighorn sleeps four to five persons. You may view online at our website at www.elkmtn.com

Rooms

3

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

hair dryer, seating area

Cabin | The Beaver Cabin

Minimum Stay

No minimum

Description

Like to be in the midst of all the action? The Beaver cabin is for you. Near the Main Lodge, Trading Post and hot tub. There is a master bedroom with a Queen bed, second bedroom with bunk bed, sitting room and bath with shower. Sleeps four persons. You can view online at www.elkmtn.com

Rooms

3

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

hair dryer, seating area

Cabin | The Spruce Cabin

Minimum Stay

No minimum

Description

The Spruce was built with teens in mind. The cabin has two bedrooms (one with King bed, one with two Twins). Each bedroom has its own bath. Also a nice sitting room. The Spruce is surround by pine trees and does require a short uphill walk. Sleeps four persons. You can view online at www.elkmtn.com

Rooms

3

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

hair dryer, seating area

Cabin | The Vista Cabin

Minimum Stay

No minimum

Description

“Vista” means view in Spanish, and The Vista cabin definitely has the best. From the cabin porch you will be awe-inspired by the 14,197 foot high, snow-capped, Mt. Princeton. The sunsets are worth the wait. There is a master bedroom with King bed, second bedroom with two Twin beds, sitting room, and bath with tub/shower combo. Sleeps four persons. You can view online at www.elkmtn.com

Rooms

3

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

hair dryer, seating area

Cabin | The Aspen Cabin

Minimum Stay

No minimum

Description

The Aspen cabin is popular for its three bedrooms and two bathrooms (both with shower). Plenty of room for a large family. A short walk from the Main Lodge. Near the barn with horses just outside your bedroom window. Sleeps six persons. You can view online at www.elkmtn.com

Rooms

3

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

hair dryer, seating area

Lodge | The Pioneer Lodge

Minimum Stay

No minimum

Description

The Pioneer Lodge consists of three lodgerooms each with their own bath (shower) and private exterior entrance. They share a large, long front porch. All rooms named after Native American tribes. The Ute has a King bed. The Navajo has a King bed and adjoins (if needed) to the Arapaho with a Full bed and a Twin bed. Great for couples, singles, or families with older children that just want to “spread out”. You may view online at www.elkmtn.com

Rooms

3

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

hair dryer

Lodge | The Elk Suite

Minimum Stay

No minimum

Description

The large guest suite - The Elk - occupies the second floor of the Main Lodge. The suite overlooks the pond and has a separate outside entrance. There is a master bedroom with King bed, second bedroom with a Full bed and Bunk bed, sitting room, and bath with tub/shower combo. Sleeps five to six persons. You may view online at www.elkmtn.com

Rooms

3

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

hair dryer, seating area


Booking Policy

An $800 per person deposit required when booking. Balance is due upon the end of the stay. Deposit refundable (less 10% administrative fee) if cancelled 60 days prior to arrival.

Included in your stay

meals, activities, lodging, Riding, White water rafting, shooting sports, fishing, van trip to Aspen, excursion to Browns Canyon Ropes and Adventure Park, hay ride , square dancing , evening western entertainment. On ranch - hot tub, petting zoo, rec room, basketball court, volleyball. Hiking galore!

Extras

Tax

6.4%

Gratuity

Optional based upon your satisfaction

Massage

$80 an hour

Guided Fly Fishing

Approximately $350 for 1 or 2 persons. Half day and full day available.

Lowdown

  • You can borrow

    Cowboy boots, Riding helmets, Saddle bags, Rain coats
  • Communications

    Wireless Internet/Wifi.
  • Cell Networks

    alltel, AT&T, verizon.
  • Business Services

    common computer.

Onsite

Shopping

Ranch trading post. Basic ranch essentials are sold here.

Outdoor Activities

mountain biking, sporting clays, wagon rides, ATV Rentals - non-inclusive, bird watching, Shooting - trap / clays

Water based Activities

hot tub, hot springs, whitewater rafting-adventure

Spa

relaxation massage, deep tissue massage


Fishing & Wildlife

Ranch has two stocked ponds. Beginners fly-fishing clinic offered on Tuesday afternoon. Please inquire about options to fish on the Arkansas River.

Fishing on offer

spin, fly, stocked pond, equipment available, guided non-inclusive, instruction available

Wildlife

Elk, Deer, Pronghorn, Coyote, Bear, Badger, Golden Eagle, Redtail hawk, Mountain lion,


Local Attractions

Browns Canyon National Monument

This newly designated National Monument is within a one mile hike of the ranch. Some rides will take you through this spectacular country, but you are also welcome to journey off on your own.

Distance

1 miles / 15 mins

Ranch shuttle

Not needed


St. Elmo Ghost Town

Located just at timberline, this quaint mining town has plenty of history and spectacular scenery.

Distance

25 miles / 1 hour

Rental car

Required


Town of Buena Vista

Quaint little mountain town.  Enjoy a stroll down main street with cute shops, eateries, breweries and a distillery.  Head to the River Park to watch the kayakers.  Catch some entertainment throughout town.  Hike into the spectacular mountains - lakes, streams, summit 14ers.  You name it . . . you will not be disappointed.

Distance

35 miles / 30 mins

Rental car

Required

Top50 says

Highs

  • It's the highest guest ranch in Colorado sitting in the largest collection of peaks over 14,000 feet in the lower 48 states
  • The area is considered as the 'white-water capital of Colorado', there's rafting within minutes of the ranch
  • A natural horsemanship approach is adopted, rides are kept small, and all are accompanied by a competent and caring wrangler
  • Extensive children's program, complete with 'theme days' for the lil' buckeroos

Lows

  • The ranch generates it's own power, so it's lights out at 11pm, but it ensures time to view the star-filled sky

Visitor Reviews

Dont just take our word for it, see what visitors like you say...

Perfect

So, sometimes returning to a place you loved is not a good idea - not so at Elk Mountain Ranch. A year after our first visit we were welcomed back to EMR as family. The place is magical. It is difficult to put this down to any one thing - it is a combination of beautiful surroundings, comfy lodgings, delicious home cooked food eaten family style in the lodge dining room (or around the campfire out on the trail), amazing trail riding which is different everyday. The horses are individually matched to the riders and the rides are planned each day to give everyone the best experience possible. Safety is a priority at all times, Tom's orientation talk at the beginning of the week gives the horse's perspective which helps you understand why you need to be an active rider on the trail. There is a good variety of other activities and trips should you wish - shooting, fishing, rafting, van trips, square dancing, live country music, hayride, cycling, baby animals to feed...... Tom and Sue are great hosts and role models for their delightful staff who are sweet and funny but totally professional and for whom nothing seems too much trouble. Whether you arrive alone, as a couple or in a group you will soon feel part of the Elk Mountain Ranch family and you won't want to leave.

5 stars

You can find more reviews for Elk Mountain Ranch on TripAdvisor