This June I took my eldest granddaughter for an overnight at the M Lazy C dude ranch near Lake George, Colorado. This outing was a definite success.
We roughed it in a rustic log cabin with modern amenities like a microwave and mini-fridge, but no indoor plumbing. Although the bathroom was down a boardwalk, it was thoroughly modern. (Other cabins have their own bathrooms, and I would likely opt for that next time.) We lounged around, playing Foosball in the community room, watching the longhorn steers, and reading.
My granddaughter befriended a barn cat that then followed her around demanding attention.
Next, we headed to the corral. We had booked a half day horseback ride in the National Forest. The two young women wranglers made sure everyone was matched to a horse corresponding to their riding level. A family of four had an experienced rider, a never-rode-before rider, and two intermediates. My granddaughter has taken riding lessons for several years. She rode Gunther, while I requested an easy horse, and got Domino.
We enjoyed views of snow-capped Pikes Peak and fields of wild flowers. The family from back east was delighted to watch one of our wranglers herd cows away from a gate. Stopping at a trough, the horses got a drink. Our lunch break was taken near a mound of rocks as tall as the pine trees. M Lazy C provided nice box lunches, and did their best to accommodate special diets.
As we drove across the ranch, heading home, my granddaughter asked when we would be back. Soon, I hope. Sure, it was a little on the rustic side, and I thought I'd need a crane to get me off my horse after the half day ride, but it was a genuine Colorado ranch experience. Who knew research could be so much fun?