Welcome to the upper Arkansas River valley, a gem in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. To the west rise the magnificent, 14,000-foot collegiate peaks, framing the sky with their angular ridges that remain snow-capped from late October until mid-June. To the east lies the more modest Mosquito Mountain range, rising out of the Arkansas River to separate this valley from South Park. South of us in the far distance, one can make out the rugged peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The Ranches began as a summer camp in 1955, with the property extending 1,100 acres through grassland and ponderosa/ lodgepole pine forests up to the National forest line just beneath Mt. Columbia and Mt. Yale. 100 Elk horseback riders and ecology hikers utilize miles of our trails to discover the wonders of our alpine environment.

Programs are spread out between our corral and the ropes course in the trees, but the hub of activity is 30 year-old Valerie Lodge, a grand, log structure that houses our dining room and meeting area. Two stone fireplaces warm the comfortable rooms, large windows offer spectacular views of the surroundings, and a stage provides opportunities for theatrical creativity.

Hot meals are provided three times a day and served family style so that the students have a chance to get to know each other better. Throughout the day, snacks are offered to keep the participants going. Hot chocolate, cider and coffee for the adults are kept hot all day to warm everyone up between rotations.

Accommodations for students and chaperones are heated log cabins with indoor bathrooms and log bunkbeds. A couple of cabins even have their own fireplaces. Some of the cabins were built as early as 1864, but all have recently been refinished and fully winterized.

Getting here

Click here to see a map and get directions to our facilities