Silvan Dale Ranch, outside Loveland, CO is a guest ranch that offers a holiday in a true western setting. The location is incredible: 3200 acres overall, with the ranch office and accommodations concentrated on several acres.
We had ‘Mama J’s’, a four-bedroom charming old house that sat next to the Big Thompson River. We arrived at the house to find our names engraved on a wooden sign that hung on the side of the house; a nice, personal touch. We loved the screen porch, too. The beds in the loft bedroom was not as comfortable as the others, but there was plenty of space for our party of 7, and the large, fully equipped kitchen and big living room made our accommodations especially nice.
I had never been to a dude ranch so had no idea of what to expect and was concerned because several people in our party chose not to ride. However, our hosts, Susan and David Jessup, were gracious and extremely accommodating and insured that the non-riding guests had plenty to do. Bass fishing, skeet shooting, rock climbing, fly fishing or just relaxing in the hot tub or pool gave everyone a choice of activities beyond the realm of horses and cattle. In addition, the ranch offered to arrange white water rafting which was an adventure in itself.
The riding was outstanding. Our horses were assigned on the first day, and if rider and horse matched well, that horse and rider were a team for the rest of the week. I appreciated the fact that their horses were in top shape, with shiny coats and gentle dispositions. The tack was clean and the training areas were very suitable. Their wrangler staff was knowledgeable and helpful. Those guests who were learning to ride were channeled into groups according to ability. Those of us who knew how to ride were allowed acceptable freedom with our mounts and could choose adventure rides where we could trot and lope under the supervision of a wrangler. Personally, the most entertaining ride was learning to cut cattle from a small herd; The most educational ride was actually learning to harness and drive a draft horse from a small cart. The most beautiful ride was a breakfast ride up a mountain trail at daybreak; The most satisfying ride was an overnight to the ranch’s ‘cow camp’ high in the mountains (a 4-5 hour ride) where guests were treated to a steak dinner over the open fire and a sleeping bag under the beautiful Colorado sky.
Silvan Dale’s children’s program was exceptional. We had a 10-year old with us who absolutely loved each and every minute. The program leader was responsible and very competent. The children had their own program including riding, grooming, foaling, swimming, fishing, rock-climbing and more. They even got to make a short movie!
The food was good comfort food. All meals were buffet-style. The buffet each evening could have had a larger choice of vegetables. Beef was home-raised and tasty. My husband was diabetic and I had requested sugar-free jam, sugar-free syrup and Splenda. The waitress in the dining room told us they had Splenda but no jam or syrup that was sugar-free. I should have pursued this, as I learned the last day that they did, in fact, have the requested items but the waitress had not been informed.
An interesting extra was a DVD that could be purchased at the end of the week, showing all the activities and people that participated. The DVD was expensive ($70) but was well put together and provided extra memories for those who wanted it.
Conclusion: This guest ranch gave our family an exceptional experience of the outdoors and took us back in time where there are no cell phones and no t.v. It was truly wonderful.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Named "Best Family Vacation" by Frommer's Colorado guidebook and rated among the "Top Ten Colorado Dude Ranches" by True West Magazine, Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch offers year ‘round outdoor adventure. Conveniently located just one hour from Denver in the Colorado foothills near Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park, Sylvan Dale’s 3200-acre working Dude Ranch and Retreat Center is nestled along the banks of Colorado's beautiful Big Thompson River. Offering activities such as cattle drives, trail rides, horseback riding, trophy trout fly fishing, hiking and nearby hunting, nature experiences, tennis, swimming, and many other activities,true adventure awaits you! Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch is perfect for your next vacation adventure! Much more than just an historic working ranch, Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch also provides exceptional services for business retreats and private meetings, holiday parties, picnics, reunions, family vacations, bed & breakfast, weddings, and a variety of exciting outdoor adventures. Sylvan Dale's delicious and healthy Heart-J natural grass-fed beef is also available for purchase. Come experience all that is the beauty of Sylvan Dale! ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch Hotel Loveland
- Sylvan Dale Hotel