PO Box 750, Tabernash, CO 80478
Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa ( 970-726-8231, www.devilsthumbranch.com) has great views of the mountains, more than 5,000 acres of meadows and woodlands and 100 km of trails groomed for both skating and gliding. The ranch is at the foot of the Continental Divide in the Ranch Creek Valley with great views. The 2.5 km lighted trail loop allows night skiing. The trails are wide and well groomed with outstanding scenic vistas in many directions.
Three years of capital improvements and forest maintenance affords guests a unique, environmentally sensitive, rustically elegant wilderness resort beneath the Indian Peaks. This has become one of Colorado's (and North America's) premier xc ski resorts.
On the weekends and holidays, the trail fees are $18 a day for adults and $8 for children under 12 and seniors older than 65; those ages 6 and younger ski free. There are xc ski, skate ski, snowshoe and sled rentals available for $20. Demo rentals are $30 may be changed out for other skis to try. Ice skating for $5 with a skate rental for $5. The trail fee for lodge guests is $12.
Private lessons are $50 an hour; group lessons (classic or skate) are $35 for a one-hour session. A learn-to-ski package is $60 with rentals and trail fee; children and seniors, $45. Trail passes are complimentary for ranch guests.
Devil's Thumb has a cozy lodge and 16 cabins with a hand hewn Broad Axe Barn, originally built in 1860, which houses the Ranch House Restaurant & Saloon, locker rooms, 7 room Ranch Creek Spa, Zach's Mercantile retail, and the Nordic center. There is a $15 facilities pass to use the barn. The new cabins are eco-friendly and use geothermal heat for heating and hot water. There are romantic loft bedroom cabins, two bedroom and four bedroom cabins. The lodge has rustic furniture, soft down pillows and warm bathrobes. Choose from private rooms or rooms with shared baths. The cabins have complimentary high speed Internet hookups, cell phone coverage, a humidifier, full kitchen with accoutrements, and a VCR video player. Free videos (mostly family fare) are available to use. Also ice skating (and ice skate rentals available), backcountry tours, and sleigh rides.
New this year is the Bunkhouse in the original Elk Lodge designed for the budget conscious traveler. This self-service option offers 9 rooms with private baths, 4 rooms with shared baths and a common area that has a TV. The Bunkhouse is not dog friendly.
Local lore says the Native Americans named Devil's Thumb, a rocky outcropping on the Continental Divide that towers high above the Ranch. Warring Ute and Arapahoe tribes settled their differences in the area and "buried the devil" but left his thumb exposed to remind them of the evils of war.
The Ranch was also along the stage coach route (Route 83) prior to the Trans-Continental Railroad opening in 1904. The Devil's Thumb Ranch was operated as a vacation property in 1946 and xc ski trails were first created in 1975-76. The new owners purchased the Ranch in 2001 and began an eco-sensitive improvement campaign that continues today. The Ranch House Restaurant & Saloon has become one of the best (upscale and excellent food) restaurants known in the Winter Park region. There is also lunch available on the weekends, daily wine & cheese hour from 4-5 PM, and continental breakfast for guests.
Accolades include the Colorado Meetings & Event Magazine Editor;s Choice Award for Best Green Facility in 2009 and the Mountain Living Magazine Reader's Choice Award for Best Green Development in 2008.
Winter Park and Fraser have many other activities available such as the Winter Park Ski Resort, tubing, snowmobiling, Old West Museum, backcountry skiing at Berthoud Pass, great shopping and many restaurants. If you base wax your skis in advance of your visit to Colorado, use the hardest base wax, because the temps tend to be on the cold side in the morning and skis with soft base wax will not slide well.
Summer activities include horseback riding with a large variety of programs for adults and kids including full day rides, half day rides, pony rides, meadow lunch, dinner wagon rides and more. Other action includes fly fishing, mountain biking, hiking, and a swimming pool.
The Ranch is about 65 miles west of Denver, which should take about 2 hours depending on the weather. Take I-70 West to US 40 over the Berthoud Pass to Winter Park and Fraser. Go about 2.5 miles take a right at Route 83 (sign for Devil's Thumb Ranch) and follow the signs to the registration office.