02 Jan Colorado’s Devil’s Thumb Ranch
Author: Ronnie Greenberg
Photos by: Joe Hilbers
5310 Dubois Ave
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Colorado’s Devil’s Thumb Ranch
By: Ronnie Greenberg
Photos: Joe Hilbers
Craggy mountain ranges cast their shadows across the shimmering canopies of quaking Aspens that grow thick along the Colorado River heading to Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Located in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Devil’s Thumb Ranch encompasses 4,000 acres at the foot of the Continental Divide. A haven of myth and beauty, the land reaches deep into America’s history, when buffalo roamed free and smoke signals were used to communicate.
Towering high above the Ranch is the visually awesome 300 foot Devil’s Thumb, a rocky outcropping and perpetual reminder of peace and harmony Legend has it that back in time, after the warring Ute and Arapahoe tribes settled their differences, they buried the Devil, but left his thumb exposed to signify that good conquers evil.
The Ranch is a rustically upscale year- round Resort and Spa and is a great place to reconnect to what life is really all about. There’s a variety of lodging options ranging from five historic base area cabins, to 16 deluxe- ridge-top loft bedroom cabins that are ideal for couples, two bedroom cabins that sleep six, or the four bedroom cabins that can be divided into two duplexes that’s good for up to 12 people. Each cabin is personally decorated and furnished by the Ranch owners Bob and Suzanne Fanch. All lodging includes a complimentary Swiss style Continental Breakfast with house made breads, smoked ham, trout, cheeses, hard boiled eggs, granola, oatmeal, yogurt, fresh fruit, juices, coffee and tea.
The Ranch House Restaurant & Saloon set in the Ranch’s original 1937 homestead looks out across stunning views of the Ranch and Continental Divide. All aspects of food service presents a farming-based artisan-style dining experience. The more adventurous foodies can get to savor the mountain dishes for a true Colorado experience that include antelope satay. The more traditional can stick to something more familiar like beef tenderloin, Ranch trout, turkey cutlets, lavender lamb, or Niman Ranch cowboy steak. The finale includes a medley of fine cheeses, a devilishly rich chocolate pound cake served with mounds of whipped cream, and a fresh fruit cobbler of seasonal fruits. The chef will be happy to suggest wine pairings for the various courses and menu selection.
Re-claiming an 1850’s circa barn from Indiana, the Broad Axe Barn serves as the frame for the Ranch’s multi use activities center, Spa and private dining room. On the lower level, the Ranch Creek Spa specializes in providing luxury treatments with aromas that complement the wilderness. The cozy facilities offer seven treatment rooms and private relaxation areas, including a terrace with a hot tub, a sauna, steam room, and Jacuzzi. The carefully crafted menu of spa treatments, massages and facials is designed to restore and pamper. Right alongside the Spa is Zach’s Mercantile & Rental and Adventure Center a retail shop and center offering an expansive menu of year round recreation options. Expert instructions are available for all levels of winter ski and snowshoe programs; and in the summer fly fishing (where you can learn to tie a fly and develop the perfect cast); river rafting and other guided events. Licenses and top of the line equipment rentals are available for all sports.
Winter recreation activities on the Ranch from mid- November through mid- April include: cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on groomed trails, ice-skating on frozen lakes, one horse open sleighing, skijoring, swimming in the heated indoor/outdoor pool, and outdoor hot tub. Nearby activities that are diverse enough to please everyone from beginners to experts encompass downhill skiing and snowboarding at Winter Park, carving turns through Rocky Mountain powder, and at Granby Ranch ski areas, snowmobiling, dog sledding, hot air ballooning are all part of the local winter scene
Summer and fall recreation activities on the Ranch from Memorial Day to mid-October include: fly fishing, hiking, river rafting, kayaking, swimming in the indoor/outdoor pool, outdoor hot tub, nature walks and bird watching. You can try your hand at Hatha Yoga, Pilates, Nordic Walking classes or even a guided mountain bike tour. Nearby you can ride a ski lift up a mountain and take a gentle hike down a wildflower-strewn trail. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy one of the area’s three championship courses.
The Ranch’s Cabin Creek Stables provides a year round equestrian adventure program for all ages and levels. Depending on the season, a half or full “day on the range” is available. You can get to tour the Ranch’s 4000 acres with an experienced guide or if you “wanna feel like a real cowboy,” a little cattle work can be added in the arena. Ranch wranglers will show you the ropes.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch is located at 3530 County Road 83 in Tabernash, Colorado. For information phone: (970)726-5632 or www.devilsthumbranch.com
In the area
Rocky Mountain National Park is a vast outdoor geology museum that was declared a National Park in 1915. Spectacular vistas of nature’s handiwork are readily accessible from your car and along more than 346 miles of trails. If you’re looking for wildlife- from May through September, elk can be seen where meadow and forests meet, and Bighorn sheep roam around Sheep Lake. Moose frequent willow thickets along the Colorado River and mule deer can be found in open areas. www.nationalparks.org
Winter Park sits among the pines, tucked up against the Continental Divide. Downtown occupies the original site of Hideaway Park, where you can find shops, restaurants and entertainment, all year round. The nearby slopes of Winter Park and Mary Jane ski areas have kept bringing skiers and riders up for primo Rocky Mountain powder and backcountry skiing for more than 60 years. During the summer, these same slopes and parks host several homegrown and world-class musical festivals.
Hot Sulphur Springs almost lost it raison d’etre when the springs fell into disrepair at the turn of the last century. Fortunately in 1990 the mineral springs once used by the Ute Indians as a healing encounter, were refurbished and reopened. Today the quirky town is booming with skiers from the surrounding resorts who come to relax their muscles . www.hotsulphursprings.com