While sitting weary in traffic, some urbanites might drift into visions of roping cattle or herding sheep on the open range.
Residents and visitors alike can get a taste of what that's like while learning about the realities of ranching during a bus tour of several local ranches Sunday.
A bus tour of three private Routt County ranches is from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The tour costs $40 for adults and $20 for teenagers. Each adult may bring one child 13 years or younger for free. Additional children will cost $10 a child. Buses will leave from and return to the Depot Art Center at 1001 13th St. Tickets must be reserved by Friday evening. Call Steamboat Central Reservations at 879-0740 or visit www.steamboatsumm...
From 1 to 4 p.m., participants will experience different aspects of three ranches: Highlands Meadows Sheep Ranch, M & M Elk Ranch and Rocking C Bar Cattle Ranch.
During the tour, ranch owners and managers will explain everyday operations and how the ranches stay viable while facing growing challenges in the agriculture industry.
Participants will spend time with the animals, touch raw wool, rope cattle and learn hand-on about ranchers' routines.
Along the way, guides from the Community Agriculture Alliance, Historic Routt County and the Routt County Cooperative Extension Service will explain how ranching has changed in the Yampa Valley.
For example, while ranches are growing in number, they are shrinking in size. Ranchers also are aging, and there are fewer young people willing to take over ranching operations, Community Agriculture Alliance Executive Director Marsha Daughenbaugh said.
This is the first year the tours have been offered. The idea evolved through a cultural heritage tourism program in Northwest Colorado.
The program aims to attract a growing segment of tourists that experience a place through its culture and history. The program includes partners, such as the Community Agriculture Alliance, which is exploring ways to introduce tourists to agriculture, a prominent force in shaping Yampa Valley communities.
"We thought maybe this would be a good way to test the water and see if there's interest in that," Daughenbaugh said.
The tour is about half full. Most reservations have been made by visitors to the area.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org