Cattle drives to tube rides

Saddleback Ranch adds another family attraction to activities

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Justin Iacovetto drives a team of Belgian horses on an old-fashion sleigh ride at the Saddleback Ranch Cowboy Christmas on Sunday. The event featured activities such as tubing, visits with Santa, sleigh rides, and served hot chocolate and cookies.

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Finn Dresen, 4, with his dad Charlie Dresen had as much fun going up the Yee-Haw Tubing Hill as they did going down it at the annual Saddleback Ranch Cowboy Christmas on Sunday. The tubing hill and its towrope are new this year. People hiked up the hill Sunday because more snow is needed before the towrope can be used.

— Luanna Iacovetto first came up with the idea of opening her family's 8,000-acre ranch to outsiders after watching a movie.

The 1991 film "City Slickers," starring Billy Crystal, told the story of three men going through a mid-life crisis who found relief from chaos in the big city by going on an old-fashioned cattle drive from New Mexico to Colorado.

"She saw that and said 'I'm going to start taking people on rides,'" said Wayne Iacovetto, Luanna's husband. "We started taking people with us, and that's how it started."

Inviting people to come to the ranch to help them tend to the 3,000 cattle on horseback was just the beginning.

It has been more than 10 years since the Iacovetto family opened its ranch to visitors. A tubing hill that opened Sunday is the Iacovetto's latest addition to the ranch, located three miles from Milner off Routt County Road 179. Four years ago, Wayne Iacovetto said they started to add attractions at the ranch to make it a destination for families.

"There are not too many places you can take your family and have fun with the family," he said.

In addition to the Yee-Haw Tubing Hill, the ranch offers a variety of snowmobile tours, dinner sleigh rides, horseback riding, and cattle feeding sleigh rides. Snowshoeing and cross-country trails are planned for the future.

"People come to Steamboat to ski, but people from back east say they can't ski every day and are looking for something else to do," Wayne Iacovetto said. "They're here to have fun."

The ranch provides more options for families vacationing in Steamboat, but the Saddleback Ranch also is an example of how one ranching family was able to meet the challenge of making a living from agriculture.

"This way we have other options," Wayne Iacovetto said.

Because they do not solely depend on ranching operations, they do not have to run as many cattle, which means there is less stress on the land.

"Our grass is doing better now," Wayne Iacovetto said. "We are better stewards of the land."

Promoting the ranch as a tourist destination also brought the Saddleback Ranch to stardom. The ranch has been featured several times on television. It was the location for the E! Entertainment Television eight-part series reality show "Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive." It was also the location for the Travel Channel reality show, "This Job's a Trip!"

Locals are also taking advantage of the activities at the Saddleback Ranch.

On Sunday, the Iacovetto family hosted its third annual Cowboy Christmas and Sledding Party. It was a free community event attended by more than 1,000 people, Luanna Iacovetto said, and included Christmas music, hot chocolate and cookies, snowmobiling tours, sleigh rides and the new tubing hill.

Santa and Mrs. Claus also were there, and 3-year-old Kenzie Radway took the opportunity to tell them she wanted a purple backpack and a camera for Christmas.

Santa also wanted a few things for Christmas.

"I want a lot of things, but some peace in our world would be great," he said. "We could also use snow."

Once it snows more, the Iacovetto's will be able to open the towrope, which will pull people in their tubes up the 700-foot hill.

Luanna Iacovetto, who was serving hot drinks in the new Longhorn Lodge, seemed to be the most excited about the ranch's newest addition.

"I've loved to tube all my life," she said. "I'll be the grandmother out there with the grandkids."

Comments

cclamo 7 years, 9 months ago

In your picture above, the driver of the team of Belgians is Justin Iacovetto, not Jerad Iacovetto.

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Scott Stanford 7 years, 9 months ago

cclamo:

Thanks for pointing out the mistake. It has been corrected. The photo will be reprinted Tuesday with the correct name in the caption.

Scott Stanford Editor, Steamboat Pilot & Today (970) 871-4221 sstanford@steamboatpilot.com

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