Cowboy Up: Horseback Riding at the Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado

Wide open spaces, snow capped mountains and groves of aspen trees; there’s no doubting the beauty of Colorado’s landscapes. The best way to view Colorado’s stunning scenery? By horseback of course. Seeking an authentic Colorado horse experience I made my way to the Rusty Spurr Ranch.

Horseback Riding at Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado www.casualtravelist.com

Located near the town of Kremmling, Rusty Spurr Ranch is about an hour’s drive from the resort town of Breckenridge, the last 4 miles down a dusty single lane dirt road through undeveloped federal land giving me a hint of the views to come. The Rusty Spurr is  working ranch with cattle free to roam throughout the ranch’s 10,000 acres. Eschewing large nose-to-tail rides ( you know the rides where the horses are on auto-pilot and the only view you get is of the horse in front of you), Rusty Spurr limits groups to eight riders tops and offer rides from a quick 1 hour ride to a half day cattle drive. Two hours on the range would be a perfect introduction to Colorado ranch life.

 

Horseback Riding at Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado www.casualtravelist.com

Our wrangler Charlotte helped us onto our horses. Steve would be riding Rooster, a laid back chestnut steed; while I would be with Pepper, a speckled white and black horse who was as spicy as his name suggests. Along with a family of four from Florida we would explore the green, glacier carved mountains that the Rusty Spurr calls home.

Horseback Riding at Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado www.casualtravelist.com

Our ride started off on that same dirt road we drove in on but soon Charlotte led us off trail, encouraging us to explore as we wished. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the seemly endless vistas that unfolded around me, bordered by the Gore Mountains to the south and Rocky Mountain National Park to the north. The expansive sky pulled me up toward the heavens while the smell of sage kept me grounded. The wide open spaces offer a sense of freedom that I can’t get on the east coast, an endless allure that has always drawn the intrepid westward.

Horseback Riding at Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado www.casualtravelist.comHorseback Riding at Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado www.casualtravelist.comHorseback Riding at Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado www.casualtravelist.com

Reaching our first grove of aspens we encountered a small group of black cattle, about 20 of Rusty Spurr’s herd of 400. Cows and calves lounged in the aspen’s shade and paid us no mind, but their bull wasn’t thrilled with our presence. He gave our group a small charge, just enough to let us know who was boss in these parts, glaring as made our way out of the grove.

Horseback Riding at Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado www.casualtravelist.com

 

On the other side of the grove we proceeded single file up a narrow trail that spiraled higher. Pepper proved a bit of a daredevil, walking on the outer edge of the trail while I leaned inward but he was quite happy with his chosen path. Once at the top we were treated to the endless views that only 9,600 feet can provide.

Horseback Riding at Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado www.casualtravelist.comHorseback Riding at Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado www.casualtravelist.com

Going down we descended further into the Colorado back country. Deer hidden among the aspen groves, trees marked by the resident brown bears, meadows of wildflowers dotted with ponds and that blue Colorado sky that challenges the notion that Montana is Big Sky Country. I also learned that back country mosquitoes are no joke. Even with jeans and bug spray they made a meal out of my right leg.

Horseback Riding at Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado www.casualtravelist.comHorseback Riding at Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado www.casualtravelist.com

Returning to the ranch we were welcomed with smiles and a couple of tail wags from the ranch dogs.  I thanked Pepper for our afternoon’s adventures and marveled at how time, much like Colorodo’s vistas, seemed to stretch forever over my two hours exploring the ranch. The Rusty Spurr offered one of the best horseback riding experiences I’ve had and is a place I will certainly return to for horseback riding in Colorado.

Horseback Riding at Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado www.casualtravelist.com

 

 

23 Comments on “Cowboy Up: Horseback Riding at the Rusty Spurr Ranch in Colorado

  1. I’ve always wanted to experience a ranch and horseriding out in Colorado or Wyoming! Thanks for sharing your advice. It looks like this was an amazing experience.

  2. There really is something unique about western skies — that endless view grabs me every time. I love the idea of horseback riding at the Rusty Spurr Ranch! Although I haven’t been on a horse since I was 12. Were you an experienced rider before you hit the trail? Did they give any lessons, or are the horses largely mellow, even with the occasional daredevil, walking on the edge streak? I’d love to try it, and I think my husband would really enjoy seeing this part of Colorado this way. Pinned!
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  3. Haha. I’ve been on those nose-to-tail rides and I always feel sorry for the horse. This looks totally different. I’d rather have Rooster than Pepper, though! I can totally see a Western being filmed here.

  4. I haven’t been horseback riding since my twenties. This looks like such a fantastic way to spend a few hours in Colorado. The only thing that may stop me is the darn mosquitos. They love me, no matter where I am so I’m sure they would eat me alive.

  5. What a fun trip! I’d be the one waiting for you with the dog back at the ranch wondering what’s on for chow!

  6. I have to admit, I’m not the biggest horse-back rider – But something like this I would love to have a go. Colorado is high up on my list of places to visit when I finally come on my USA trip

  7. You’ve got me at that first photo, such an amazing landscape! I can only imagine what it was like to ride through those hills. Sounds like a lot of fun. 🙂

  8. My daughter and I did the cattle drive last Saturday with Hal and Bart. It was awesome and highly recommended for any level of rider. Great cow horses and wranglers. I have been on 2 other cattle drives in Montanan and this one was by far the best. I will be back. I trail ride every day at home on my own horse. The Rusty Spur has people people and horse that are good for people of all riding levels. No surprises here and a great un-eventful ride was had by all.

    • Charlotte was an amazing wrangler and Rusty Spurr Ranch ranks among my favorite rides.

  9. I was just telling my husband that I would love to go horseback riding in Colorado. I had a horse as a kid and miss riding terribly, and this seems like the perfect place to do it! I love those mountain views!

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