We live a very wonderful life here on our Colorado dude ranch, the Rainbow Trout Ranch. We’ve been doing it for twenty-one years, although my husband David and I worked on other ranches for a few years before his parents and he decided to make a full fledged dude ranch out of what used to be the Rainbow Trout Lodge, a long time fishing destination with some riding on the side for many Texans, Oklahomans, and anyone else prepared to make the trek to a remote part of the southern Colorado Rockies.
Our life consists of wonderfully busy summers and Septembers, complete with a dynamic handpicked staff and truly delightful guests who choose us out of an array of ranches scattered across the Rocky Mountains. Fall is the time to catch up with all we’ve put aside for the previous few crazy/great months and preparing for winter. Springs mean cleaning staff quarters and starting on the magnificent lodge or at least part of it (kitchen, staff breakfast room and library den), shoeing and riding the horses, meeting and getting to know staff as they arrive from all parts and anticipating golden summer days and nights.
We own a stallion and several mares, so each summer we have three or four foals decorating the meadows that lie on either side of the driveway up to the Lodge and cabins. We have two dogs, one of them with three legs and great character. We have nearly 130 horses and we have steers in the summer for roping, as well as a herd of cattle for team penning. We have elk and deer and mountain lions.
And we have some of the best trout fishing in the Rockies. The Conejos River, little known except amongst hardcore fly-fishermen, tumbles right through the ranch, giving us over a mile and a half of prime fishing amid spectacular scenery. Having said that, I have to admit that I am not a fisherman–but I do love that river.
And in the winter, when it is just David and I and our three kids living at the ranch and up the canyon, we often see bald eagles flying high above the river and at our level as we walk or drive down the road. Yesterday, we watched one swoop around a big bend and when we found him again, he was high and mighty in a cottonwood tree with the mountains behind him.
As I said, it is a wonderful life, filled with laughter, hard work, animals and the kind of country that is good for one’s soul. I really do appreciate each day and week and year that I’m privileged to live here.
Jane Van Berkum 719.376.2440