Elk River Guest Ranch on Seedhouse Road northeast of Clark offers the opportunity to saddle a horse and ride directly from the property onto Routt National Forest. It's also nearby major trailheads leading into Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area.

Christy Belton/courtesy

Elk River Guest Ranch on Seedhouse Road northeast of Clark offers the opportunity to saddle a horse and ride directly from the property onto Routt National Forest. It's also nearby major trailheads leading into Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area.

New owners of Elk River Guest Ranch restarting operations

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Visit the Elk River Guest Ranch's website or call 970-879-1946. The ranch also is on Facebook.

— Susan and Josh Boles closed July 15 on the Elk River Guest Ranch. Four days later, on Friday, their first guests checked in.

The North Routt property with a main house and four guests cabins was operated as a guest ranch by the Hinder family until being sold for $1.4 million in 2009 to a group led by Peter Fleps, of Chicago. That group ceased most operations at the ranch last winter, leaving dinner sleigh rides as the only activity.

The Boles bought the ranch for $947,000 recently and are breathing life back into it with a bed and breakfast vision.

Susan Boles said she and her husband had been talking about operating a B&B since they were married almost 10 years ago.

“I grew up coming to Steamboat with my family when we were little,” she said, adding that her brother lives in the area and her mother has a place here. “We actually were up here looking for, like, a 5-acre retirement ranch to build a house on.”

But when they saw this property on the market, the Boles decided to speed up their plans and go all in on the guest ranch.

Boles said she’s not sure whether the dinner sleigh rides, which now have competition from Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. at Haymaker Golf Course, will continue this winter, but they have plenty of other activities planned for both tourist seasons.

This summer, guests are taking advantage of hiking, biking and fishing.

“We’re right on the Elk River,” she said. “We’ve got private fishing access.”

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are planned for the winter, and they’re opening up the saloon on the property.

“What we’re really trying to do is focus on it being very locally sourced,” Boles said. She said they’re looking to use local shampoos, soaps, coffee and eventually involve local artists or furniture makers. The intent is to give guests an experience that is wholly Routt County.

“We’re still looking for local people that are interested in working with us,” she said.

And the immediate response has been good. A few online promotions helped with initial exposure, Boles said, and they’re almost booked through Labor Day.

“Now it’s nice,” she said. “The hard part was the past week trying to get ready. We closed on (the property) Monday and opened Friday. Now that guests are here, it’s actually kind of nice.”

Guests largely can set their own pace during their stay — whether that’s getting up early and hiking or lounging around the ranch and taking advantage of the river access.

“Our first night it was kind of a party atmosphere,” Boles said. “We hung out on the river.

“We just want to be a fun, casual, relaxing place where people can experience the beauty of North Routt,” she said. “We fell in love with it in a weekend.”

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

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