Tourists drive cattle at the Saddleback Ranch near Steamboat Springs. The ranch is an example of how local ranchers are moving into a new era that blends ranching and tourism.

Photo by John F. Russell

Tourists drive cattle at the Saddleback Ranch near Steamboat Springs. The ranch is an example of how local ranchers are moving into a new era that blends ranching and tourism.

Agritourism conference aims to help ranches

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If you go

What: Agritourism conference

Where: Saddleback Ranch, 37350 County Road 179

When: 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. today

Cost: $25

Call: C.J. Mucklow at 846-2358

— Cows and calves have been money-making resources on the Monger ranch for more than 100 years, but the Monger's have also discovered a new source of revenue on their land - a small cabin rented out to tourists.

"It's a way to diversify the ranch and find new ways of making money," Mary Kay Monger said. "It's a little one-bedroom cabin we rent out on a nightly basis. It's pretty much booked year-round."

The Monger's are one of many Routt County ranchers and farmers embracing agritourism, which welcomes tourists to experience the western lifestyle. Some ranches offer fishing, while others offer metalworking. Routt County Cooperative Extension Service Director C.J. Mucklow said no matter what activity is offered, it's a chance to keep ranches economically viable.

"With places around here, you have to find a new value of the land to justify farming," said Mucklow, who is hosting an agritourism conference today at Saddleback Ranch. "We are looking for ways to make money from a new resource base or find other occupations for ranchers on their land."

The conference is one of four in Colorado, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to highlight the rewards and pitfalls of tourism on a farm or ranch.

The agenda for the conference includes sessions on engaging the community, assessing a ranch's resource base, understanding the legal implications for agritourism operations, and branding products and strategies to create an image for the operation.

"This is a growing trend across the country to diversify farm income," he said. "We are also inviting the agriculture tourism folks. Northwest Colorado heritage tourism goes hand in hand with agritourism, with getting more people on ranches to generate income."

Mucklow said resources are also available for ranchers and farmers through Colorado State University with funds from the federal grant.

"This grant helps provide some one-on-one time with people with experts across the university," he said. "It can help with their business plan and resource evaluation."

For more information about attending the agritourism conference, contact Mucklow at 846-2358.

Comments

Fred Fenimore 6 years, 10 months ago

Agritourism is growing nationwide. Glad to see the movement in the Steamboat area. We plan to participating on one of our trips to Steamboat.

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