#TravelTuesday: Campfires, Cowboy Fun for the Family, and Luxury in the Rockies

by Heidi Gollub on July 13, 2021 in Travels,

A unique all-inclusive luxury dude ranch, C Lazy U is tucked away in the foothills of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, an easy two-hour drive from Denver International Airport. Enjoy camaraderie around the campfire and cowboy fun for the whole family at this working ranch reminiscent of the Old West.

C Lazy U has been a guest ranch for more than a hundred years, with a mission to preserve the Great American West. Through old-fashioned hospitality and homemade apple pie, the ranch aims to delight guests with a picturesque retreat from modern life. The schedule is full of cowboy pastimes and home-cooked meals, promising to both wear you out and fill you up. You will sleep well on this vacation. 

After the work and horseback riding is done for the day, the horses of C Lazy U Ranch are guided to the pasture for some down time. Courtesy photo

When my teenage son and I arrived at C Lazy U Ranch, we were greeted like family. Not only by the staff, but guests too seemed genuinely pleased we had come to stay. They welcomed us with tales of their time on the ranch, even though most had only beaten us there by a few days. Every guest was an ambassador, raving about the food, the horses and the many scheduled activities. They assured us we were in for a treat. 

In many of the ranch’s private cabins, guests can cozy up around their own fireplace or relax in a bubbling jetted tub after a long day of outdoor fun. Daily housekeeping services are included all year around. Photo Heidi Gollub

Named after the shape of Willow Creek which runs through the property, C Lazy U has nearly 200 horses—and two donkeys—on 8,500 acres of private land. Guests who rise with the sun to enjoy cowboy coffee by the campfire are right on time for the morning Jingle, which takes place six days a week. This tradition, named for the jingling bells ranchers put on horses to find them early in the morning, is a sight to behold as wranglers guide hundreds of horses in from the pasture. 

Two of the horses were soon introduced to me and my son. These were to be our horses for the duration of our stay. With up to two trail rides a day, which are included for everyone age three and up, guests get to know their horses well. 

With up to two trail rides a day, which are included for everyone age three and up, guests get to know their C Lazy U Ranch horses well. Photo Heidi Gollub

In addition to horseback rides, seasonal activities at the ranch include trap shooting, archery, BB gun shooting, hatchet throwing, hiking and rock climbing. My son and I signed up for it all. Since we visited in the off-season, we did the activities together. During the summer, children’s programming allows kids ages 3 to 17 to have their own camp experiences without their parents. 

During your visit, take the opportunity to go on a real cattle drive. Complimentary cattle pushing clinics are offered from mid-May to mid-September and are perfect for adults and teens. (Each guest participate in a trail ride prior to joining a cattle clinic.) Photo courtesy C Lazy U Ranch

While some activities at the ranch cost extra, all meals are included in the cost of your stay at C Lazy U. Breakfast and lunch offer delicious buffet options and the three-course dinner is a highlight each evening. All of the gourmet dinners were tasty, but my favorite entrée was the hearty Spring Chicken Pot Pie

Family-style seating at dinner means making new friends while you eat. One family we dined with told us that they visit the ranch every March, when it’s still snowing in Colorado. They love feeling like they have the property to themselves to enjoy winter activities like dog sledding, snowmobile tours, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, fat bikes, tubing, ice skating, and snowcat skiing. 

Spring Chicken Pot Pie, one of the gourmet home-cooked meals served daily in the dude ranch dining room. Photo Heidi Gollub

There is also the option to simply relax on the ranch and enjoy the serene mountain surroundings. The Lazy You Spa offers yurts by the creek overlooking the Indian Peaks Mountain Range, with deep copper tubs inside designed for “Cowboy Soaks.” After a few days in the saddle, you’ll have earned being a “lazy you.”  

Once you are under official C Lazy U welcome sign, your dude ranch vacation has truly begun. Get ready for a warm welcome! Courtesy photo

Le Meridien, Denver

If you’re flying in to Denver, consider spending the night downtown to rest up for your cowboy adventure. Before heading out to the ranch, my son and I stayed at Le Meridien. This boutique hotel is so charming, from the champagne vending machine in the lobby to the cozy, retro furnishings in the room. We loved every minute here. 

The delicious Peanut Butter Pie from 54thirty in Denver’s Le Meridien. Courtesy photo

While at Le Meridien, be sure to head to the rooftop bar 54thirty (the minute it opens because seating fills up fast). Order a slice of delectable peanut butter pie and bask in the Rocky Mountain views. On Thursday nights there’s a DJ and if you stick around, you may just witness an incredible Colorado sunset.

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At C Lazy U Ranch, the pool and hot tub outside the Patio House are a great place to relax and unwind on your Colorado vacation. Courtesy photo

Cover photo courtesy C Lazy U Ranch

Heidi Gollub is delighted to be traveling after spending a year in her closet office. She lives in Austin with her five children and can’t wait until they can all travel together again.