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“If you can only take one awesome vacation in your life, this should be it!”

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Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch
Reviewed 11 August 2010

Well, I really should have written this sooner, but here I am!

My husband and I are from a remote area in northern Michigan so I feel that our opinion could play a part in someone's decision given the fact that we have a fair amount of "solitude" where we reside........ which is a large part of the ambiance of the Bar Lazy J experience.

I can only imagine the feelings of folks who live in the city and experience the hectic-ness of the same when they first pull into the ranch.

We,(Roger, myself, and 8 year old grand-daughter Olivia) met some wonderful people while at the ranch. There were families.........some grandparents with kids and grandkids.........and couples . Everyone had one thing in common that week. We all had ownership in a dude ranch!! (Or felt as if we did.) How cool is that?
Everyone felt totally at home and understood that they could utilize their time as they wished. They could ride as much or a little as they wanted, swim in the pool, fish,hike, go on a day-trip, read by the river, take naps, or eat themselves into total oblivion!
The food at the ranch is much more than I anticipated. Not only was it wonderful for the adults but there was special attention paid to the little ones, right down to Chef Eddie's pizza party with nutritional pizza together with a desert pizza with hot fudge and sprinkles. Not many kids would turn that down!

The childrens program is fantastic. The wranglers are great with the kids and besides the riding there are craft sessions and special programs.
Actually, the entire staff is terrific!
I don't think I have laughed as much (ever) as I did the night of the skit. Cheri's band members(all of us!) did themselves proud!

Jerry and Cheri are likely the best hosts you will EVER meet. They are a total part of your experience. They are available to their guests at all times and it is obvious that they are there to make your time at their home one of the best experiences of your life.
We will be back! I know there will be no argument from Roger. For a man who didn't think he cared much for horses, it was funny to see him find that part of himself. He's asked me several times if I missed the ranch.
My answer has continually been "Yes"!

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled with family
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2  Thank Brenda1969
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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88 - 94 of 114 reviews

Reviewed 30 July 2010

After I booked Bar Lazy J, I thought OMG what have I done, I havent ridden a horse for god knows how many years, my partner had never ridden a horse and my 10 year old daughter had had a few lessons, Anyway after Cheri's induction we headed off, what an experience, the scenery, the horses everything was great, my daughter went with the childrens club and just loved every single moment, she didnt want to come home. You can do as much riding as you want or none at all you are never pushed into doing anything. There is so much to do, The cabins are cozy, the food IS THE BEST EVER, the staff are simply the best, Gerry and Cheri must be the best hosts in the business. Dont take my word for it, try it yourself you wont regret it. We will be returning.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled with family
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2  Thank carol090159
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 July 2010

how amazing Bar Lazy J is! We had the best time of our lives! The cabins are rustic and comfortable, the staff is outstanding, the food is off the charts! We were completely happy and relaxed the entire week. Met friends we'll have for life (we hope!). We've already booked for the next two years!!! We can't imagine a summer without a week at Bar Lazy J! We have a 10 year old son and 13 year old daughter who met friends the first day. Actually, we hardly saw them the whole week! They had the best time and enjoyed a little freedom, all the while safe & happy! Thankfully, we had no cell phone service, so my kids "unplugged" and my husband actually took a vacation! The horseback riding program is outstanding. We loved riding every single day, hiking, fishing, laughing with new friends. Can't wait to go back next summer...and the next! I truly can't put into words how much we enjoyed our stay...you'll just have to find out for yourself!

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled with family
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1  Thank monkeyville68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 July 2010

OK, we were back for our 8th trip this spring. This time, a friend of ours travelled with us. Unlike us, she has grown up around horses, owned horses and competed in barrel racing. I was a bit nervous that she would not think the riding was a wonderful as we do. She already had the need for speed and had experienced it. We learned it at the Bar Lazy J.

So, meet our horse day and off to the loping lesson. Tammy took us out to the arena to lope and out for our first ride. I had the same horse that I had last year, while my friend had a horse that I had ridden the year before. My husband was on a different horse than he has ridden before, but like he has said about every horse he has been on, it was the best one yet.

We were off...began the ride with a trip through town and loped along the railroad tracks and up the gravel road to an area that overlooks the ranch and several mountain ranges. My friend was immediately smitten with the whole deal. She could not believe that these horses were carrying us up the mountain side at a lope on the gravel road. She kept commenting how handy and steady these horses were. And her amazement never wore off. Her favorite was the river crossings.

Once again, I was subjected to rides that I had not previously been on. Just when you think you've been on the best ride that they can offer, they out do themselves. It is hard for me to believe that my first trip was mostly walking rides, and they were spectacular. I couldnt imagine that it could get any better or more beautiful. But now, with a bit more riding experience and confidence the options are endless. We saw a moose, deer, antelope, eagles, marmots, fish caught, and an abundance of wild flowers.

As usual we were treated like royalty. Got to see some old friends from years past and met some new friends too. We will be going back this fall and will spend the week with other guests who think enough of this place that they come back year after year after year. Thanks again to the wonderful owners and their staff for allowing us to escape our reality and return home refreshed, but ready to come back again. As I tell anyone who asks about the trip, it is the best vacation that I can imagine and it doesnt matter who you go with. I have seen girlfriend trips, guy trips, weddings, honeymoons,family reunions, graduation trips with parents, anniversaries and just for fun. If you cant have fun here, you cant have fun! Hope to see you at the Bar Lazy J.

  • Stayed: May 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank w0rkt0travel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 June 2010

The Bar Lazy J Guest ranch is perfectly situated on the Colorado River. It's a guest ranch, not a hotel, so you stay for the week, go fishing, horseback riding, eat REALLY great food, enjoy warmth by the bon fire, soak in the near by hot springs, get a massage, laugh with the entertainment, listen to some guitar strumming and singing, shop their small though well appointed gift shop. Most of all, the time you spend with Jerry & Cheri - the owners, is special - as they make the Bar Lazy J what it is with their good humor, incredible hospitality and attention to detail. Time spent at the Bar Lazy J should be on everyone's "100 things to do before I die" list. Of course, we had our wedding here, so it was the best day of my life so far!

  • Stayed: May 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank FallsMotelMT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 January 2010

After our first trip in Sept. of 2000, we were hooked. This ranch has it all: cozy accommodations, great hot tub for an "after ride" soak, fabulous food, a short hike to the PI for our traditional table hockey (or whatever it's called) competition, and best of all, the most delightful herd of horses to carry us off on our adventures. Our host and hostess, Jerry and Cheri Helmicki, have become extended family to us, as have their warm and friendly (and attentive) staff, and we look forward to our family reunions!

  • Stayed: September 2008, travelled with friends
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Thank sabpollard
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 January 2010

When I think of a ranch with a real western experience, I used to think of roughing it, eating meals with baked beans, and a saddle sore backside. I am a Midwestern girl, born and raised, an executive business woman for 20 years, and not interested in the rough life, simply the best life can offer my. My vacation ideals were my children laughing, my husband happy, and myself being pampered with pictures a plenty to scrapbook and prove it.

Let me explain exactly how our first visit went to the Bar Lazy J Dude Ranch, and you will see exactly why we return every year, and why you should too.

We first visited the Bar Lazy J Dude Ranch in 2007. We had no idea what to expect, so we did a little research, and listened to the high praise the Bar Lazy J received across America. We checked into the Dude Ranchers Association, and they received accolades there also. So we talked to our children, then ages 7 and 10, and booked our vacation. What a blessing that booking was to our family.

Driving to this beautiful location was pleasurable, and relaxing in and of itself. The seclusion is real, but a moderately big city is not far away. We turned down from the main road to enter into the Bar Lazy J, and my children saw about 100 horses mingling in a fenced corral, and began to get very excited. One minute later we were pulling into the Bar Lazy J Dude Ranch, and leaving the world behind.

We arrived at the lodge to be greeted by first names by Jerry and Cheri the owners and two of the very nicest people you could ever hope to meet. King was there with his tail wagging to greet the kids as we left our car. Nothing says hello to kids like a dog who can’t wait to play with you, and simply hang out. Sue and Dale, immediately introduced themselves, and helped us unload our car, and get everything into our very own cabin located right on the river. During this, Sue told the kids all about the Cookie Bin in the lodge.

As we entered into our cabin, we were instantly immersed into the calm of hearing the river ramble by our screened in porch in front of our cabin. Our children immediately picked their beds, unpacked, and headed for the lodge in search of the famous never ending cookie bin. It is a bit “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” to say that the never ending gobstopper has nothing on the Bar Lazy J Dude Ranch in that the cookie bin is always full, with ever changing varieties, and they are all absolutely delicious.

So there my husband and I stood, 15 minutes after arrival, and our children have abandoned us for cookies. We finished unpacking and headed for the lodge ourselves to check everything out. After a quick 2 minute ramble from our cabin we turned the corner and walked past the fountain and antler sheds to one of the many lodge entrances. We were greeted, again by names, and shown where the cookie bin was, as well as where to get water, amazing lemonade, hot chocolate, tea, coffee, or Kool-Aid. We helped ourselves, and walked around the lodge room checking out the jigsaw puzzle waiting to be completed on a table, books about the history of the Bar Lazy J sitting on the coffee table in front of a beautiful fireplace, and comfy chairs and couches for simply hanging out.

We did not see our girls, Samantha and Jessica, so we headed out a different door and heard definite laughter coming from through the lilac bushes that were as big as trees. We cut a diagonal path towards that amazing sound of children’s laughter, and entered a play area where we could see a pool, animals like donkeys and goats, a tether ball game, horseshoes, shuffleboard, and most importantly, children chasing little kittens around under the close supervision of two counselors. The kids were all laughing, and cuddling with these darling little kittens, while the counselors watched, and every now and then had to chase down a rogue kitten.

A smile lit my face, and my husband Mike’s, and we knew we were in for some real magic. This was truly just the beginning. Other families began arriving, and their children joined in the play. Cookies seemed to be everywhere, and everyone was introduced by name to the other families.
That first evening we got to know the others fairly well, and learned about all kind of important things like getting boots from the shed, and where the meals are served. We learned who likes to fish, and who simply likes to eat fish. We learned that once inside the Bar Lazy J, people still know your name, and they call you by name with a genuine smile on their faces, and in their handshakes.

I had not been on a horse in 20 years, and was really glad that the Bar Lazy J had taken the time to have us fill out some basic information on our abilities, or in my case, lack thereof. I was very nervous until Jerry held his clinic. He was so down to earth about the fact that everyone is at different levels, and the most important thing we need to do on our vacation is to relax and have fun. He was thorough about how to “drive your horse” as I like to put it. Here is Drive, Here is reverse, and here is stop, the very most important one when you are new to this. I even was told that their horses move away from pressures. I would like that ability also someday.

We got to watch the herd of horses run the road to the corral and it was quite a sight, and something you and your children will never forget. The wind blowing the horses’ manes and tails as they trot right past you on their way to the corral is something from the old western days and frankly something I have never witnessed before, or know anyone else who has viewed anywhere else.

We met our horses later that day, and enjoyed a wonderful meal as a family with plenty of real talk, and plenty of laughter. After dinner, some of the adults hung out playing cards, while the kids played UNO. We went back and had a heavenly night’s sleep in our cabin, listening to the rambling river, and the peace and quiet of Colorado.

My children woke us up before the alarms did. That is a first, last and only since one never willingly gets up before noon and the other does not get up that early. They were excited, and wanted to go play with the kittens, and their new best friends. We let them get dressed and head to the lodge where we would meet them at breakfast. I made a pot of coffee, showered and got ready to tackle our first day of vacation. My husband went out to fly fish right in front of the cabin, while I had my first cup of coffee on the screened in porch watching him fish in the river. We were off to a great start that would set the pace for the week.

Every day the kids could not wait to get started, and they raced off to join their friends for playing, riding, eating, and true companionship. Each meal we all met and talked about what the day had held so far. The children truly enjoyed each ride, and each minute with the counselors and their friends. I took an afternoon off to sip lemonade on my private porch and read a great book while Mike fished in the perfect fishing weather until his arms ached from pulling in so many fish. Yet one more perfect day at the Bar Lazy J for each of us.

Every meal was wonderful, with my favorite being the made to order breakfasts, and my husband’s being the swordfish. My daughters loved burgers, and eating fajitas on the luncheon porch. We all loved the salad bar, and the fact that the food was plentiful, and they were amazingly accommodating of special needs or requests.

Entertainment was something I was originally a bit skeptical about, but that quickly changed. We all loved learning to line dance as a family, listening to Tammy sing with the voice of an angel, and the looks and personality to match. We enjoyed the mix and mingle night, and the campfires, and we even had smores. My kids loved the Pow wow, and playing games every chance they could with their friends. The pool and hot tub were used regularly, at least once a day, and were a great photo opportunity for me.

We did the Spa Ride, the Breakfast ride, and most of the other rides, yet my avid fisherman spouse had plenty of time to catch fish. I could watch him land about 3 in 15 minutes in the morning, and in the late part of the day, he would frequently land many more than that right out the door to our cabin. The fishing is amazing, and so relaxing. I must have 100 photos of him fishing with our kids, and all the other kids too. He loved it.

There is also a stocked pond on the property that he loved to take our girls out to. The difference is, if you catch it in the river, you must catch and release. If you catch it in the pond, you can bring it back to the lodge and Eddie will cook it up for you. We never did keep any of the fish that we caught, but my children and husband loved catching them. Some of the pond ones were pretty big too. In the river, some of them were “trophy fish” according to my husband.

We did so many things during the week, jeep rides, hiking, an Adventure ride, a Spa Ride, a breakfast ride, a hayride, a corny joke wagon ride – one of my personal favorites. I still remember Scotty’s jokes. What do you call a one – eyed deer…? Ask Scotty for the answer when you go.

Some of my favorite rides were “bushwhacking” with Scott, the breakfast ride, and watching my kids do the agility course. I loved seeing my children with ear to ear smiles all week, and excited every day for spending time with our family.

By the end of the week, we had cousins, Aunts and uncles galore, and new friends we would never forget. We felt like we were all family, and we were all relaxed, happy and so glad we chose to go to the Bar Lazy J. There was never a single thing I would change about the Bar Lazy J ranch, and that is one of the many reasons why we go every year.

All in all I can say with all honesty that this is one place that time has forgotten, and that it has a magic all its own. We talk about the Bar Lazy J all year, and plan for most of the year for the next vacation. We believe that while we go to Disney World almost every year, the Bar Lazy J is more about reconnecting as a family, bonding and creating memories that have more to do with the simple pleasures of being together and loving each other as a family should.

We will see you this summer, and the next, and the next – Holly Roper and Family

  • Stayed: May 2009, travelled with family
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7  Thank Rockin_ropers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch

Address: 447 County Road 3, PO Box N, Parshall, CO 80468-8714
Region: United States > Colorado > Grand County > Parshall
Amenities:
Free Parking Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Speciality Lodging in Parshall
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Colorado's oldest continuously operating guest ranch is nestled in a peaceful valley along the beautiful Colorado River. Near Rocky Mountain National Park. Warm Western hospitality and delicious home cooked meals served in our historic lodge will add to your experience. Enjoy Gold Medal fishing, scenic horseback rides (all levels), jeep rides, mountain biking, guided hiking, river rafting, and sightseeing van trips. Extensive children's program, evening entertainment, recreation barn, and heated pool/jacuzzi. Listen to the Colorado River rush by in your private log cabin. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Bar Lazy j Guest Ranch Hotel Parshall

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