Colorado Horseback Riding and Hiking

Destination: Loveland, Colorado

| Activities: Hiking, Horseback Riding, Dude Ranch

Calling all cowgirls! The family owned and operated Sylvan Dale Ranch in Loveland, Colorado is the perfect landing spot for your next mountain adventure. Spend each day as you please, whether horseback riding, tacking and grooming your horse, or hiking on ranch property. This trip caters to riders of all abilities; the experienced wranglers at Sylvan Dale will match you with the perfect horse to fit your needs and goals. Ranch amenities include a heated outdoor pool, tennis, pickleball, shuffleboard, volleyball, horseshoes, and line dancing. This is the 'big kid' summer camp you've been waiting for! Maximum group size: 20.


  • Horseback riding across 3,200 acres of gorgeous private Colorado ranch property
  • Having experienced wranglers match you with the best horse to suit your needs and abilities
  • Hiking on private trails around the ranch and in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Splashing the day away in the outdoor heated pool
  • Soaking your tired feet in the crystal clear river that runs through the ranch

Departures and Prices

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  • 1-2 AGC guides, depending on group size
  • 5 nights lodging at Sylvan Dale Ranch
  • All meals as outlined on the itinerary
  • Round trip airport to ranch transportation at the designated pick up and drop off times and dates
  • All activities as listed on the itinerary (Massage is extra)
  • Customary gratuities for ranch staff and wranglers

Not included: Travel to and from Denver International Airport from your place of origin, alcoholic beverages (can be purchased at the ranch), AGC guide gratuities, horseback riding helmets (you're welcome to bring your own approved helmet) and travel insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Info

Maximum horseback rider weight: 240 pounds. We have rated this trip 1, 2, or 3 because of the wide variety of options available every day. The level of activity really is up to you. Choose half-day horseback rides with afternoons spent reading a book by the river or getting a massage from the onsite massage therapist. Ride a full day and then hike the entire next day. If you choose to do the overnight pack trip, the trip is a 3, and you should be getting in some longer rides before your visit. For trips that are rated 2, participants should be walking regularly at a brisk pace 3 to 4 days a week for 35 to 45 minutes prior to trip beginning. Rating: 1 [2] 3 4 5.

While horseback riding is one of the main attractions of the trip, you are welcome to ride as much or as little as you want. At the beginning of the week, you will be matched with a horse appropriate for your level of experience. All different levels of riding will be available, so beginners to experts are welcome. If ever you need a break from the saddle, miles of trails meander through the ranch, perfect for hiking and peaceful nature walks. Choose to relax and swim in the outdoor heated pool, try your hand at horseshoes and other fun camp games like pickleball and shuffleboard, and remind yourself what it feels like to be a kid again.

Lodging at the ranch consists of a mix of charming western cabins and historic guest houses, with both private and shared bedrooms and bathrooms. You can see photos and details described here. There are two tiers of single supplements available. 8 spots in side-by-side cabins for $495 each. Side-by-side cabins consist of two distinct dwellings, each with a queen bed, full bath with clawfoot tub, and a cozy front sitting room. Side-by-side cabins share a porch. (Cowgirls coming together can request their porch-mates) 3 spots in fireside cabins for $695 each. Fireside cabins each consist of a large bedroom with a queen bed and full bathroom and a spacious front sitting room with a fireplace, foldout sofa and private porch.

5 standard spots in the guest houses which offer private rooms, each with a queen bed, and a shared bathroom (3 - 4 people to a bathroom).

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Welcome to Colorado! Make sure you arrive a the Denver International Airport by 12PM for the group's 1PM meeting and shuttle to Sylvan Dale Ranch. If you are driving, you can rendezvous with us at the ranch at 4PM. Then, take some time to kick back, settle in, and get to know your travel companions!

Sylvan Dale Ranch has been an authentic working dude ranch since 1946. If these walls could talk, they'd spin yarns about a young college student named Maurice Jessup, who hitchhiked from Oklahoma to Colorado to work at a youth camp. Jessup arrived at the camp with a dream in his head and love in his heart, and he told the Camp Director during the summer of 1934 someday he would own Sylvan Dale. While many cowboy dreams fade into the sunset, this one was buoyed by determination and patience. Twelve years later Jessup got special permission to take a break from his busy work at the Army Air Corps to bid on the property. Maurice and his wife Tillie purchased the 125-acre, run-down property and slowly,tirelessly turned it into the incredible 3,200-acre guest ranch you are visiting today. Mosey on over to the ranch watering hole for your first daily happy hour on the porch and take part in orientation before sharing the first of many delicious meals together! After dinner, load up for a scenic wagon tour of the ranch property.

After the previous day of travel, you might choose to wake up this morning with a gentle yoga class in Sylvan Dale’s outdoor pavilion or just sleep in. After a hearty breakfast, we’ll meet at the barn for a demonstration on connecting with horses before you are paired with your trusty equine partner for the week and head out on your first ride. Remember, this is your vacation, and you can spend it however you choose! If you'd like to horseback ride every day, you can! If you'd prefer to alternate horseback riding with other activities (examples: roping lessons, trap shooting, pickleball, reading by the river, guided stretching, hiking), you can! Your AGC guides are here to make sure you have a wonderful time, no matter what you choose to do today and every day you’re with us. After lunch, we’ll have our first round of optional activities. Sylvan Dale means"wooded valley" and contains acre upon acre of pristine wildlife habitat, interspersed with Roosevelt National Forest lands. The main grounds, where the cabins and central lodge are located, are considered an ecological transition zone that includes the Big Thompson River, native prairie grasslands and wetlands, foothills shrubland, and ponderosa pine forest. 70% of the ranch is under conservation easement, providing a legacy of preservation for creatures great and small. Animals that have been spotted within Sylvan Dale Ranch's wildlife camera up Sulzer Gulch include bighorn sheep, mule deer, black bears, foxes, bobcats, mountain lions, and coyotes. After a beautiful day exploring and riding, end your evening with lots of laughter at a group line dancing class.

(B, L, D)
This morning one of your options is a glorious breakfast ride! Saddle up your horse and follow your wranglers to an adventurous outdoor breakfast overlooking the ranch. After breakfast, Colorado's breathtaking foothills await, and you have another full day to choose how you spend your vacation. Whether you're in the mood for a long trail ride, wish to build your riding skills and learn to trot, or simply feel like interacting with your horse with a lazy afternoon of tacking and grooming, there is the perfect activity for you. Depending on weather, options throughout the day may include visiting the colts, team sorting adventures, or trap shooting. While you're enjoying the scenery from astride your horse, don't forget to look up to see the incredible bird life on the ranch. Twenty-five diverse duck species will entertain you for hours while you lounge by the river. Or, bring along some binoculars to help you spot birds during your hike: Ring-Necked Pheasant, Blue Grouse, Wild Turkeys, Bobwhite Quails, Common Loons, American White Pelican, Snowy Egret, White-Faced Ibis, nine kinds of hawks, Golden Eagle, and Osprey (to name but a few). Tonight, you’ll be treated to an overview of the ranch’s history with Susan, the ranch owner, and an honorary AGC group member in our hearts!

(B, L, D)
Once again, begin your day with an optional yoga session before breakfast. Following breakfast, you will have more time in both the arena and on trail, working with barrels and poles and practicing for tomorrow’s gymkhana (games on horseback)! Following lunch, riders who choose to will depart to Cow Camp on an overnight pack trip—a true Colorado ranch adventure requiring stamina,a long day of riding, and the desire to sleep outdoors on a sleeping pad on the ground! Back at the ranch, options are plentiful. We just told you to look up, now it's time to look down (or all around, really) to see the incredible geology! The ranch sits at the convergence of the Rocky Mountains and the plains. Here, a host of fascinating geological formations will keep you entertained and pondering the magnificence of nature. Gravel here dates to the last Ice Age and granite found nearby on Alexander Mountain dates back 1.8 billion years! Doesn't that make you feel young again? While exploring the ranch, be sure to see the igneous intrusions, rocky outcroppings formed by the crystallization of magma slowly cooling below the Earth's surface. Rock hunters, be on the lookout for quartz and feldspar, among other fascinating specimens! Today and every day, you'll get a chance to stretch your legs, explore, and enjoy! After another wonderful dinner, sit out under the stars and bask in the warmth of a crackling campfire—and get your fingers sticky as you partake in some s’mores!

(B, L, D)
On our last full day at Sylvan Dale, you will get to spend more time doing all the fun things that have occupied the week so far. If you haven't yet, now's your time for a pickleball game, a dip in the pool, some yoga by the river, or more horseback riding! Throughout the week, a variety of hikes will be offered by your AGC guides depending on your interests, and today may be the day to venture up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a morning hike. In the afternoon, our various groups will reconvene for a celebratory Gymkhana. All levels can join in, but we welcome cheerleaders too, for our less competitive cowgirls. We’ll end our final fabulous day with a ranch party, including awards, photo ops with your horses, and even a chance to brand your cowgirl boots. Yeehaw!

(B, L, D)
In the blink of an eye, your week has come to a close. After a full week of wonderful fun with all of the new friends you’ve made (both two legged and four legged), it’s time to pack up and head home, your heart and camera full of unforgettable memories. If you are flying today, plan your flight home from Denver International Airport any time after 2PM. If you are driving, plan to leave the ranch at 10AM. Happy trails to all of you newly initiated Colorado cowgirls!



(8 reviews)
3.9 Food
4.6 Lodging
4.2 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Laura L.
1 month ago

overall I enjoyed the variety of activities and getting to know all of the ladies.

Paula K.
11 months ago

The support and camaraderie of the group made it extraordinary.

Wendy M.
1 year ago

All the people involved

Mary H.
1 year ago

Enjoyed the natural beauty of the area and the wonderful ranch where we stayed, with its many activities and excellent food. The only reason I don't give an Excellent is that I did not get along with my horse (and I went on the trip specifically for the riding). I know they would have assigned me a different horse but we only rode for 4 days and by the time I determined the (already not ideal) situation was deteriorating (Wednesday), I had only one more riding event scheduled (the gymkhana) so it wasn't worth it.

Sharon S.
1 year ago

Quality of the riding experience.

Catherine V.
1 year ago

facility was great as were the guides. Horses and activities were amazing.

Kathy B.
1 year ago

Sylvan Dale ranch is absolutely beautiful….the website does not represent how gorgeous the landscape is. The owners treat their employees and horses with respect and kindness which translates to an awesome ranch experience. Karen was able to match me with a horse that suited my riding ability.

Kathleen G.
1 year ago

It was so much fun! The shooting sports were an excellent addition to the horseback riding!

  1. Where do we eat?

    All your meals will be served family-style or buffet at the ranch.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring additional protein bars and supplemental snacks; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. Do I need to bring a horseback riding helmet?

    Horseback riding helmets are not mandatory as per the ranch's rules so you are welcome to bring your own approved helmet (no bicycle helmets!)
  4. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    On this trip, there is one shared room available for a discount, otherwise each cowgirl gets her own room with a queen bed. Bathrooms are a mix of shared and private, depending on if you opt for a single supplement or not. Please see the accommodations section for more details on rooming options.