At C Lazy U Guest Ranch in Granby, Colorado, I truly stepped out of my comfort zone: Taking a leap of faith on their challenge course, throwing hatchets, trying archery, country line dancing, and topping it all off at the nature-inspired spa with a classic massage and soak in a big copper tub. My colleague and friend Tamara Don joined me to make the adventure of a girlfriend getaway even more exciting. Most people know that you can ride horses at a dude ranch, but don’t always think about the diverse adventures that can be had in addition to saddling up.
After attending Denver’s Outdoor Retailer, Tamara and I hopped an Amtrak train and headed deeper into the Rocky Mountains. The scenery on the train ride was beautiful—snowcapped mountains and rushing rivers with the occasional rafter on view. We were both excited to be traveling to the ranch this summer, as C Lazy U is celebrating their 100th anniversary. When a ranch is around for 100 years, you know it’s special. C Lazy U is located in the small town of Granby, which dates back to 1904 when it was founded along the route of the Denver, Northwestern, and Pacific Railway, so a nice way to get there is by train.
Hatchet Throwing and Archery a la the “Games” TV Series
We got picked up by the ranch from the train station and immediately started our adventures at the ranch, channeling Jason Momoa from “Game of Thrones” and Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games”. You know, it feels good to throw things once in a while and sometimes that includes sharp objects. It took a bit of bouncing, but finally Tamara and I felt pretty confident in our hatchet throwing abilities. We then changed pace and went for archery.
I went to summer camp, where I definitely got to try lots of different things, including archery. The bows have improved a lot since my camp days. Like anything you learned as a child, there’s some muscle memory there. I was excited when I finally hit the target. I definitely don’t want to be thrown into The Hunger Games anytime soon, but C Lazy U at least prepared me a little more.
Dude Ranch Horseback Riding
We had to giddy-up at the ranch. A wrangler from Atlanta named Halsey, who grew up competing in equestrian sports, matched us with a horse–Starbucks for Tamara and Jeff for me– and we were off. C Lazy U has around 200 horses and a sizeable staff, so I felt like I was getting some personal attention on this riding adventures. The ranch is on over 8,500 acres and abuts public lands, so there are lots of choices for trails for riding.
We stuck a little closer to the ranch because of potential storms, but nonetheless had a diverse ride, winding through a patch of pretty aspen trees and to spots with Rocky Mountain views; we even got a few trots into the mix. Tamara hadn’t ridden horses in quite a few years and I’m more advanced, so I took it a little easier on this ride, but enjoyed the scenery and adventure of riding in Colorado nonetheless. Who doesn’t love fresh Colorado mountain air and the smell of sage? Little wildflowers lined the ground, along with the occasional scurry of small squirrels and various birds.
We opted to try C Lazy U’s challenge course. Recently, I’ve had a lot of challenges: Climbing the world’s highest artificial climbing wall in Reno, taking on the world’s highest commercial bungee at the Macao Tower, learning freestyle skiing with Olympian Jonny Moseley in Squaw Valley and more (and that’s all within a few months). At C Lazy U, I was able to try my second ever climbing wall and made it to the top. I kind of like climbing now and definitely want to do it again.
Next, I tried the vertical play pen, which consists of swinging ladders and some really challenging climbing and scrambling. I made it to the top, but not without some cursing and almost giving up on two occasions. The leap of faith may have been the most trippy and difficult: You have to climb up on a pole and then somehow stand up on top this pole (requires major balance) before you decide to try to jump and grab onto a trapeze bar. It’s not easy! I made the leap–truly ninja style–and got my hands on the bar, but I think the weight of my catapulting body brought me down. I swung in the air and twisted round and round a bit, before being belayed down.
Finally, Tamara and I ziplined over to our cabin to finish the fun adventure.
Lazy U Spa
After all of that, you need a little spa time. C Lazy U’s spa is pretty unique. A series of heated tents in the round are set over and beside Willow Creek; there’s truly an inside and outside feeling. C Lazy U was actually named after the shape of Willow Creek. The tents can open up to reveal mountain and creek views. I always think the sound of rushing water is so relaxing, and as you lie down on your massage table, you can look down at the river. Part of the floor is glass, so you can see straight down.
We then hopped into bubble baths in two big copper soaker tubs… divine!
Glamping, Cabin & Cuisine
We really liked our cabin accommodations, complete with a fireplace and L’Occitane products, but wanted to also experience “glamping.” It was a little chilly to spend the night, so instead, we hung out by the fire pit and checked out the Conestoga wagons, complete with beds and amazing views.
Just in time for another dinner, we returned for outdoor tapas and hit the ranch bar before a family-style meal was served. My favorite food item at the ranch for this trip was the morning avocado toast, but also really liked the taco lunch. There’s definitely enough diversity—options for those with dietary restrictions and those who like to indulge in sweets.
Nights at the ranch were also really fun. From a talent show to the barn dance, we kicked up our cowgirl boots and mingled with the other guests who hailed from across the USA. We did a lot during our time at the ranch and still managed to leave off a few things, like mountain biking, Orvis-endorsed fly fishing, trap shooting, rowing boats, tennis, yoga, volleyball and more. While our visit was a busy one (because we vibe like that), many people come to just relax amid beautiful mountain scenery, take advantage of kids and teen camps, for adults only weeks or, during snowy winter, to ride horses or celebrate festive holidays. It’s a girlfriend getaway I will never forget and am already looking forward to my next Colorado ranch vacation.