I’ve always wanted to go horseback riding in Colorado. Sure, I could go any time I want on the beach just steps from my house, but there’s something about being on horseback in the mountains that seems more authentic.
A quick search on the Go Breck website revealed two options for our recent trip to Breckenridge: one right in Breckenrdige and another in Kremmling, a little under 50 miles away. Rusty Spurr Ranch, the option in Kremmling, promised no “nose-to-tail” riding and expansive views across the Colorado countryside with no other people or cars as far as you can see.
We opted for Rusty Spurr Ranch and it lived up to its billing. The entrance to the ranch is approximately 33 miles north on Highway 9 from the Silverthorne exist on I-70. From there, you travel 4.5 miles back on a gravel road across acres upon acres of private and public lands.
Upon arrival, you’ll find a small outbuilding for check-in, portable toilet facilities and two corrals full of horses. We even spotted two deer playing at the edge of the tree line behind the building. And you’ll hear – absolutely nothing. It’s blissfully quiet and tucked away from the rest of the world.
We made our reservations by phone about a month in advance and found only one other couple had booked with us that morning. Check-in included a brief release we signed and the $75/person we forked over for our two-hour ride.
Our small group was led over to the closest corral and four horses were led out one-by-one and lined up for us. Thankfully, for short people like me they had a step stool and helped you climb up. Then each person was individually instructed on how to hold the reigns, how to make the horse stop or turn and how to keep the horse from stopping to eat every few steps.
Haven’t not ridden a horse in 20-25 years, I was essentially starting with zero knowledge, as was Chadd. As we got started, our guide Bart instructed us to spread out at least a horse length apart but explained that we were welcome to take our horse further afield as long as we stayed in his view – which covered a pretty expansive area.
Bart came alongside each of us and corrected anything we were doing wrong or could do better. In no time at all, I was steering my horse Captain forward, left and right with only a mild amount of stubborn pushback.
Our two-hour trail ride took us up a small mountain on the property, which gave us some incredible views out over the landscape, including a valley carved by the Colorado River, the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park and almost as far as Wyoming. The views were every bit as stunning as the ones we had to work 100x harder for while climbing Quandary Peak earlier in the week.
Cameras were encouraged on the ride, which I only mention because they are strictly prohibited on the horseback riding offered on the beach where we live. I highly encourage taking a camera with a neck strap, as this allowed me to hold the reigns in one hand while taking photos with the other hand. I had my smartphone with me in the saddle bag, but I could only use it when we were completely stopped.
We did stop a couple of times on the way up the mountain to let the horses rest, which allowed for some great landscape photography opportunities. And when we reached the top of the mountain, the guide positioned each couple with the amazing views behind us and took photos of us with our own cameras. Those photos turned out fantastic, so I’m appreciative they did that for us.
By the end, I felt like I was in almost complete control of Captain — although I’m sure Captain could have taken me for a ride, so to speak, if he’d really wanted to. I definitely felt comfortable and was able to take him on my own path as we traveled across the ranch versus simply having him follow the horse in front of him.
A two-hour ride was plenty for us, as my knees were starting to get a little stiff from the odd angle you have being in a saddle. The ranch does offer four-hour rides, however, and even an option to participate in a real cattle drive. You can also check both horseback riding and rafting off your list with the full-day “Saddle and Paddle” package, which is what the other couple in our group was doing that day.
Although we, of course, enjoyed this ride kid-free, they do allow children as young as 7 to ride on their own.
If you’re close enough to make the drive to Kremmling, you won’t be disappointed. What an amazing way to experience all that the great outdoors has to offer in Colorado!Breckenridge