Archive for the ‘The Smith Fork Ranch Experience’ Category

This holiday season we shared the ranch with families from Virginia, Texas and Massachusetts.  With Family and friends everyone enjoyed all that winter in the Rockies has to offer!  We had a fabulous time with our return friends as well as new families experience our ranch for the first time.  Fun was had by all on our ice luge tubing hill, cross country skiing, snow shoeing excursions, sleigh rides and fun holiday activities.  It was a “first time” snow experience for some of our guests, and we were lucky to have a good snow before the season opened.  With the Cabins a-lit with lights and the snow draped landscape – the ranch was a glow with cozy merriment and celebration of family and friends during the most special time of the year.


“We all are so pleased with how the season turned out,” says Jim Nielsen, General Manager. “It was like our friends came to visit for the holiday, my family and the staff had a blast each and every day.”  Warm and welcoming – SFR is truly your ranch away from “home for the holidays.”


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Snow falls gently on the mountainside, decorating the evergreens in a way that can only be described as “picture perfect”.  Family and friends come in, stomping snow off, red faced and flushed from snowshoeing and sledding. The warm crackling fire, the sound of laughter and smells of hearty meals being baked, roasted, and braised float through the Dinner Bell Cookhouse.  Welcoming comfort of luxurious cabins and cheerful staff provide a great escape from the chilly weather – until the jingle bells signal that it’s time for a sleigh ride.  The Elk Lodge lit up in the evening snow hosts family and friends together to experience a true western holiday season in the most traditional, quality way.  Make the dream happen, spend the most special time of the year with the ones you love at your ranch away from home – Smith Fork Ranch.

We will be open December 19th – January 2nd (dates may be flexible)



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Smith Fork Ranch was the topic of a great travel spot on Fox31 in Denver.  Check it out!


Here is Peter Birdsong’s Blog spot for photos of his stay at SFR!




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…some of the newest members of the SFR team!  Our new General Manager Jim Nielsen and Executive Chef Seth Bateman.  Coming from similar worlds of boutique luxury lodging and hospitality, we are so delighted to have them both join the Smith Fork Ranch team.

A special part of every guests visit is the interaction and friendly manner of the SFR staff.

SFR staff love taking care of you during your stay.

Jim Nielsen brings more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry to his position as General Manager of Smith Fork Ranch. Prior to joining Smith Fork Ranch, Jim was General Manager of The Resort at Paws Up where he was responsible for all resort, outfitting and equestrian operations for this 37,000-acre luxury ranch resort in Western Montana.  Jim also served as the General Manager for Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colorado where he headed up the final phase of the Ranch’s new 52-room main lodge, Heck’s Tavern and Ranch Creek Spa openings.

Early in his career, Jim served as Food and Beverage Director for the Marriott City Center in Salt Lake City, where in addition to his oversight of the restaurant, room service, bar and catering departments, he developed, planned and executed Anheuser-Busch’s Bud World event for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Nielsen’s F&B experience also includes the Grand Summit Lodge at The Canyons ski resort in Utah; Claremont Resort, Spa and Tennis Club in Oakland, Calif., and Assistant F&B Director for The Lodge at Pebble Beach. For Pebble Beach, his duties included managing all of the F&B operations for the annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament (PGA Tour) and the Concours d’Elegance automobile show. He also led the F&B organizing committee for the 1999 United States Amateur Golf Tournament and served as Assistant Director of F&B Operations for the 100th U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach in 2000.

Jim enjoying a day on the water.

Jim takes a “hands on” approach to guest service. Over time, he has found the key to successful hotel and resort operations and customer service programs is through a participatory management style that involves the input and ideas of owners, managers, staff and most importantly, guests.

A Cum Laude graduate with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing/Business Administration from Utah State University in Logan, Utah, Jim is an outdoor and travel enthusiast with interests in fly-fishing, sailing, skiing and photography. Jim and his wife, Audra have two young girls, Emma and Sophie.

Executive Chef Seth Bateman heads our talented culinary team to provide you exceptional cuisine during your visit. Chef Seth trained at the California Culinary Academy, and is a veteran of renown farm-to-table California restaurants, Meadowood in Napa, The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, and Pesce Blue and Terra Luna on Cape Cod.  Chef Seth centers his cuisine around the special, fresh produce and ingredients from our own organic farmstead garden, as well as superb local fresh lamb, beef, game and fish from the organic growers in the nearby North fork Valley.

Executive Chef Seth Bateman

When asked about his culinary perspective, Seth replies, “My approach to food is simple. If you take the best local ingredients at the peak of their season, and cook them simply, you’ll always have great results.”

The SFR farmstead

Our garden will again be bursting with life this year – filled with organic heirloom varietals and unique fruits and flowers – a wonderful bounty of inspiration for our kitchen.

And we know the Chef’s results are great, having already sampled his terrific cuisine.
We do hope you all will be out to visit us this year, enjoy the extraordinary foods of SFR and the North Fork Valley, and get to know the newest members of the Smith Fork Ranch family.

Nearby Jack Rabbit Hill Vineyards and Peak Spirits Distillery, one of many local vineyards offering fantastic wine and spirits to compliment the SFR cuisine.

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THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTNING!  Or should we say ‘winners’?!  Congratulations Susan O. and Julie K. for your suggestions and thanks to all for your ideas – such creative friends and fans!

‘Thunderbolts and Lightning, very very frightening me,   Galileo, Galileo,   Galileo, Galileo,   Galileo Figaro – magnifco-o-o-o…”

Our new team is very cool referencing Queen/Wayne’s World – and we’re sure they will most certainly be magnifico-o-o-o!

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We here at Smith Fork Ranch are very excited to announce the arrival of our latest team members – two lovely Percheron-Paint cross geldings – and they are in desperate need of names!  To meet this challenge we are requesting your help:  send us your team name idea (i.e. Chance and Charlie, Scotch and Soda, etc.) and the winner will receive a special prize!

Get creative!  Only two rules apply: the names can not rhyme with “whoa” – so Moe, Joe, etc. are out – and they can not be names we’ve used in the past:

>Chance and Charlie
> Scotch and Soda
> Prince and Earl
> Duke and Dutchess
> Skip and Lou
> Blue and Bell
> Minnie and Pearl
> Dixie and Yankee
> Curly and Moe

Post your name ideas on our facebook biz page  and/or email to ciara@smithforkranch.com

Act fast, the winner will be chosen within weeks!  Good luck and Giddy Up!!!

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The view of the West Elk Range and Smith Fork Valley from Needle Rock in Spring

This spring take a break unlike any you have before.  Enough of the crowded beach resorts and the chaos.  Fly into the great Rocky Mountains of Colorado and stay at Smith Fork Ranch.  For one special month (May 19th – June 20th, 2011) we will be offering a unique variety of custom packages for you all, our friends, to come back to Smith Fork and take full advantage of springtime in the Rockies!

Learn to blow glass at a nearby studio

Raft the mighty waters of our nearby rivers, hike the peaks for epic views, fly fish the incomparable Gunnison River during the great salmon fly hatch, learn new horseback riding skills in our arena, even learn a new craft – pottery perhaps, painting, or glass blowing from world renowned masters.  The choice is yours.

The road to the Ranch in spring

Follow the road back to the Ranch this spring and take that horseback ride you didn’t get a chance to take last trip or land that big fish in the Gunnison or just kick back and relax with a creekside massage and spa treatment followed by a romantic fireside dinner on the Pavilion.  Spring and early summer are a unique time to be at SFR – the great winds from Utah have settled, the flowers are blooming, the mood is serene, and the activity options are endless.

Some of our friends from last year hiking through the great green woods

Let your friends at Smith Fork Ranch help you experience the extraordinary wonders of the Rockies and this special region of Colorado in spring.  We can customize a trip just for you complete with favorite activities, new adventures, and surprises!


Enjoy a comfortable suite in one of our historic cabins, each room uniquely decorated with American antiques and custom furnishings and every room has a view!

Ring or email reservations – 970.921.3454 – info@smithforkranch.com – for more details and availability.

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For several years SFR has enjoyed the beauty and serenity of a winter morning in the Rocky Mountains all to ourselves.  So we thought next year why not share the fun with all of you – and open for winter!  We will be offering a variety of nordic activities including cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and snowmobiling.


photo courtesy of James Ray Spahn Photographer

In addition, we will have indoor pursuits for those more inclined to a seat by a toasty fire or warm oven, such as puzzle and card game tournaments, knitting and cooking classes, learning to tie flies, or just enjoying the solitude of a good book, a hot drink, and a fire.  We will help you master the art of enjoying yourself at our one of a kind destination amongst incomparable Rocky Mountain surroundings.

Never tried cross country skiing before?  No worries!  We will have the equipment and knowledgable guides to introduce you to this wonderful sport.  Wanting to move a little faster?  Experience the exhilaration of snowmobiling in the wilderness!  Even a simple snow shoe expedition in the white woods is a thrill.  And returning to the lodge for a warm cider or coco and homemade soup is incredibly satisfying.

A Colorado mountain winter may have a chill some days but nearly every day the sun is out and the possibilities are endless.  And next year we’ll have great holiday packages available complete with unique classes, special events, and plenty of merriment!  Some special holiday events in the works include our Holiday Bazaar with a wide variety of local artists, craftsmen, and vintners, cookie and tree decorating, and speciality dinners and brunches.

courtesy of James Ray Spahn Photographer

So when you start thinking about Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years Eve and the holiday planning begins again, consider Smith Fork Ranch – where we’ll take care of everything and you can just have FUN!

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Click for more details!

Subscribe to the fabulous and delicious edibleASPEN and be entered to win a trip for two to Smith Fork Ranch – including accommodations, gourmet farm to table cuisine, and ranch amenities!*

Visit http://www.ediblecommunities.com/aspen/ for more details and to subscribe!

And visit http://www.smithforkranch.com for more information on our Western Colorado luxury guest ranch!

Winner will be announced February 14th – enter to win today!!!

Savor farm to table cuisine from our organic farmstead garden and surrounding farms

Fly fish our three plus miles of private waters in pristine surroundings

Enjoy multi-course seated dinners with wine pairings from our cellar of over 500 wines

Horseback ride through thousands of acres of the surrounding forests and wilderness

Relax in our comfy beds with deluxe sheeting and down comforters

*some black out dates apply; tax, alcohol, guided activities, excursions, and service charge are not included

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Feelings around the holiday so often grow into anxiety and chaos rather than the genuine happiness and excitement for the season.  When we were children, the decorations magically appeared, the baked goods were endless, and the presents plentiful!  Well we can make things that way again.

This December reclaim the delight in a new kind of holiday shopping – one where there’s no driving in circles to find a parking space, there are no fighting the crowds, no screaming crying children waiting in line for hours for a photo with mall Santa, and no overpriced electronics or hustling salesmen.  Just a fantabulous array of unique and special gifts from our incredibly unique and special valley at the First Annual Holiday Bazaar at Smith Fork Ranch.  In a relaxed, cozy setting with the music playing, fires going, cookies, hot cider and coco, leisurely stroll the pavilion picking up all the delicious goodies, jubilant jewelry, super ceramics, terrific local wines, awesome apparel and accessories, and gorgeous glass – among other things.  And, to top it all off, a portion of the profits go to charity!  Now that you can feel good about.

Enjoy the fire in the Old Elk Lodge and relish in the delight of your one-of-a-kind Christmas finds!

The First Annual Holiday Bazaar at Smith Fork Ranch on Saturday December 11th will be a wonderful opportunity to bring the communities of the North Fork Valley together for a common cause: helping out the Crawford Town Hall while taking care of your holiday shopping and socializing!  With a wide variety of gifts for sale, you’re sure to find that perfect little something for every loved one on your list and enjoy the company of friends in relaxed, comfortable SFR style.  And we’ll even offer gift wrapping services!!!

Come out and see the beauty of the Smith Fork Ranch and surrounding mountains wrapped in a blanket of snow.


Featured vendors include:

K Dahl Glass, Orchard Valley Farms and Black Bridge Winery, Smiling Son Pottery, Bob Little Hawk Heid, Peggy Papon Jewelry, Jim Dawson, Paradise Pottery, Pillow Postcards by Connie Willett, Alfred Eames Cellars, North Rim Glass Studio, David Strong Pottery, Lea’s Organic Herbal Skin Care, Smith Fork Ranch Round Up Store apparel and accessories, Alex Ridge Studios, Clay Chic Jewelry, Jack Rabbit Hill Winery, and MUCH MUCH MORE!

AND admission is FREE!


It's a stampede to the Smith Fork Ranch Holiday Bazaar!!!

You don’t want to miss this!

See you next Saturday December 11th from 1 – 5pm

Smith Fork Ranch

45362 Needle Rock Road Crawford, Colorado


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