American airlines has listed daily flight service between Durango and Dallas, however should we trust them?
The flight times are perfect for our ranch stay. The cost is fair, approximately $350 round-trip.
So why are we distrustful?
Here's the catch...each year they give us these flights and then take them away midsummer. This means our guests end up missing flights, need to be rerouted and many times show up very late or the next day at WTR- definitely not how we want our guests to start their vacation with us!
Durango is served by United and Frontier Airlines with service through Denver and has been the most consistent with pricing and number of flights offered. US Airways gives us 2-3 flights daily with service through Phoenix and has been consistent for the last several years.
So we are asking folks to let us know what you think.
Would you recommend American Airlines?
By Jan Roberts
Gene and I just returned recently from the Clearwater, FL. area where we visited with family, friends and took some time to relax before we head into our 43rd summer at Wilderness Trails. Wow! Where have the years gone??
We enjoyed getting our toes in the sand on the beach, and having the opportunity to see "Winter", the dolphin who was the star of the movie, A Dolphin's Tale. What an amazing story, and what wonderful care she receives at the aquarium in Clearwater Beach. We were able to see the trainers fit her with the prosthetic tale which enables her to swim more naturally. Very heartwarming!
Over the years we have been so fortunate to develop relationships with our "ranch" animals--horses, dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, pigs and goats, all of whom become part of our family. The attachments are strong and lasting. We still recall experiences from our early years at the ranch and how our animals created lasting bonds that have been so meaningful.
Our animal friends are so dependent upon us for their survival. We, as caretakers, provide food and nutritiion, water, health care, excercise, a secure and safe place to live, companions, plus our love and compassion.
We saw that love and compassion in the trainers who work with "Winter" on a daily basis, and we can certainly relate to their commitment to the creatures in their care. We have nursed many of our animals back to health, when at times it seemed overwhelming and almost impossible.
Our animals have instilled a satisfaction and commitment that has become instrumental in developing who we are....it has done the same for our children and eventually, it will be important for our grandchildren as well. Our lives are enriched because of these wonderful members of our ranch family. Our guests throughout the years, have grown to to love, respect, and appreciate them as much as we do.
So here's to "Winter" and the many amazing animals that have touched our lives!
Extreme Winter Sport: Ski Joring
This weekend was the third annual Ski Joring event in Silverton, Colorado, a town known for some of the best snow in the world! Basically, Ski Joring is an extreme winter sport where a horse and rider pull a skier at a fast pace through a course that has gates, jumps and rings. The skier is timed through the course, and penalties are assessed by missing gates or jumps, and by missing or dropping any of the rings (two seconds each). The competitors race for cash prizes, and teams are made up by a random draw before the start. Basically, you’ll see die-hard skijorers and their trusty steeds race and jump—right down snow-packed main street!
Skijoing has evolved into a sport that uses a horse and rider that pulls a skier down a snow-packed road over multiple jumps while retrieving rings in a timed competition. This event really took off in Colorado in the 1950’s. Ski Joring events include multiple classes: the Open Class, for experienced competitive teams; the Sport Class, for beginners; and the Snowmobile Class, for inexperienced and younger teams who are looking to get into the sport.
The drive to Silverton was a beautiful one, a bit windy butt the views were amazing. Silverton is a National Historic Landmark, part of the San Juan Skyway, the summer destination for the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train ride, a recreational paradise in Winter for snowmobiling, skiing, sledding, ice skating, ice climbing, and ice fishing. Secluded at 9,318 feet, a visit to Silverton is one that you will not forget any time of year. A perfect combination of supreme natural beauty and magnificent Victorian charm.
The sport of Ski Joring began several hundred years ago in Scandinavian countries as a way to travel during the long winters. Laplanders skied on Nordic skis holding the reins attached to reindeer. Ski Joring found its way to North America, where ranchers attached a long rope to the saddle horn of a horse that was ridden at high speeds down a long straight-away. Currently, the sport of equestrian Ski Joring has become a highly specialized competitive sport, where competitors must navigate a course of jumps, gates and sometimes spear rings. Competitive Ski Joring competitions are currently taking place in more than five states in the USA, and in several countries worldwide. In some parts of the world, skiers are pulled behind dogs, mules and snowmobiles. Whatever the means, the sport of Ski Soring is growing rapidly, and is just as much fun for spectators as it is for competitors. Courtesy of the North American Ski Joring Association.
Hello "Gidget Fan Club"... Thank you again for a bushel of Valentines for Gidget!
In the winter the horses are pastured on the mesa south of Durango. Of course they are enjoying the warm, kind of mild winter and getting a bit chubby.
As I walk towards Gidget (the most famous horse of them all) with a hand full of valentines, she seems to know I am coming to talk to her specifically. I am pretty sure she knows she is the star of "every child's horse dreams".
Gidget has been treating children to an outstanding week of horseback riding for many years.
Valentine's day is a big day for Gidget, as we read valentine after valentine. She bows her head to listen and is simply such a real sweetheart!
There are some horses you know love the children... Our Gidget is one of those amazing horses.
We are looking forward to another season.
Locals don't forget to reserve your spot at this year's youth camp, booking up quickly...
Youth Camp starts June 11th, 2012. Call for details. (970) 247-0722
The SNOWDOWN winter celebration in Durango is now in full-swing. This year's theme is "Once Upon a Snowdown" and is intended to promote costumes, games, parties, a parade, and many fun activities relating to "fairy tales" and is to help with the "Cabin Fever" syndrome that tends to infiltrate the community during the winter season. Perhaps it could be aptly called "The Winter Blues" for some, but not us!
We truly do love and appreciate the snow, partly because all of us ski or snowboard. And incidentally, our grandson Aksel, now age 3, is becoming an avid skier already! I'ts amazing to see how quickly he has learned and it won't be long before he'll be out-skiing the whole family!
But mainly the snow is needed to produce water for the summer. The rivers, lakes, and reservoirs require tremendous amounts of water to sustain our area, so we are blessed when the snow accumulates and is stored in the high mountains surrounding our magnificently beautiful area. Winters are truly spectacular here!
This brings to mind, a poem that I wrote for the WTR 2010 newsletter, which does not relate to the winter doldrums but instead to a "Once Upon a Time" story for our family. I did actually write it during the winter however , so certainly my thoughts were on reopening the ranch for the coming season.
Once upon a time....
It was actually in the late fall of 1969.
Could this really be?
Gene and Jan bringing our search to reality.
A ranch in the mountains, next to a stream,
To have horses and guests, that was our dream.
Wilderness Trails was the property's name,
the ideal place for us to stake our claim.
What a learning experience was year number one,
ending with Lance's birth, just like a home run!
We struggled through issues we didn't expect:
financial challenges, repairs, marketing, but what the heck!
We landed and lived in the most beautiful place
with no noise or pollution and miles of open space.
The next member of our family, a beautiful girl,
more love and joy into our lives, Erika, what a thrill.
Randy would spend summers to learn what he could
about horses and packing as any young cowboy would.
In traveling this path for more than 40 years,
We've had to adjust and often change gears.
Fires, drought, 9/11, gas rations, economy dips,
stock market drops and folks not taking trips.
Our family we've raised in this corner of the west
to believe that our heritage and hard work is best.
Believe in your goals, have respect and be fair.
The privilege of being here is humbling and rare.
How blessed we are to be able to share
our ranch, horses and valley with others who care
about the clear air and water, plus incredible nights
with the bright stars that glisten when we turn off the lights.
Our hearts and our souls are wrapped up in this place.
This way of life, we have truly embraced.
Although we've been through some blood, sweat and tears,
our passion will continue throughout the upcoming years.
So now we begin the next decade, with the same
resolve to learn, improve, evaluate and remain
in this valley we've called home year in and year out,
Love for our family, friends, guests, staff, land and horses---
This is what our life is about.
"And they lived happily ever after!"
See you this coming summer.....
Jan and Gene Roberts
No television, no phone and no worries means more time to create meaningful and lasting memories. A Dude Ranch vacation is a visit to simpler times, the kind of times that we remember and that we want to recreate for our grandchildren.
Wilderness Trails is THE Dude Ranch for your multi-generational vacation. A ranch vacation provides so many "firsts" that you could possibly lose count. It could be their first experience horseback riding, fishing, line dancing, seeing animals in the wild, wearing cowboy boots and eating s’mores ‘round a campfire. Watching your family experience all these new things is an indescribable feeling.
To celebrate Grandparents WTR is offering a 5% discount to all grandparents who book by February 15th, 2012. Those that book by February 1st, will receive and additional $50 gift certificate in our gift shop "The Trading Post" and free transportation to and from the airport.
So you don't ride, well we do offer a $475/per person non-rider discount.
As Grandparents ourselves and many years hosting generation after generation, we know that children just seem to come alive on our ranch. As history and tales show, children will tell the stories for years to come. We often hear the adult version of a childhood memory that describes how they lived the life of a real cowboy or cowgirl, what horse they rode and how many fish they caught with grandpa.
“It’s wonderful to have grandparents that travel and can think of no better traveling partners than our precious grandchildren.” - Sandy, WTR Ranch Manger
Our daily youth program has been voted "best of the best" in multiple editions of Gene Kilgore's Ranch Vacations. We have four great youth programs insuring "never-bored kids"! WTR’s counselors provide fun-filled days in a safe environment. At WTR the daily schedule is pre-planned so that there is something for everyone.
It’s comforting to know that the kids are always taken care of no matter what you decide to do. There are no worries about them being away from your watchful eyes, knowing they are having a super time with the kids counselors. During your all-inclusive ranch stay you won’t have to worry about reservations, meal planning, buying tickets, transportation, etc. Family members can simply focus on capturing memories and spending time with the grandchildren.
Grandparents that are not wanting to horseback ride can accompany the kids to the barn in the morning to see them off on their rides then enjoy reading, taking a leisurely walk, or relaxing at the lodge. Now that is until Friday when we have the "Kids Rodeo" where they will show off to Grandparents/Parents/Staff/Visitors the horsemanship skills they have learned throughout the week. This isn't just any rodeo, it is fun, full of games, complete with grand entry and of course the stars of the show - your kids.
With all of the unique opportunities in the kids program, there is no doubt that the grand kids will be busy the entire week with horseback riding, water sports and more. The grandchildren will have a blast! Yes, those that want to spend every minute of the day with their personnally selected horse can do so and help feed/groom and smell the horses 24/7. Yes, we know about little girls and their horses!
Making new friends
Fishing and digging for worms
Exploring wide open spaces
Riding the trails with the Wranglers
“There are fewer distractions. There’s not the hustle of going to museums or restaurants. There are no computers, no shopping. There’s more time to talk.” -WTR Guest
The Pony Express, 3-5 year olds, are introduced to horseback riding on "pony" rides twice each day. Attentive counselors spearhead natural crafts, games, short hikes and swimming.
The Saddletramps, 6-10 year olds, receive riding instructions, ride THEIR horse for the week, learn about the outdoors and southwest history, plus have nature hikes, picnics, crafts, scavenger hunts, and swimming.
The Bandits and Posse (ages 11-12 & 13-17) help construct their week with choices from activities like half and all day rides, water-skiing, hiking, fishing, team games and challenges. Family rides are also offered during the week. You'll be amazed that your kids won't miss TV, the mall, or the Internet, however there is Wifi in the lodge!
A stay at WTR will create lasting memories in the mind of a child. It's a true eye-opening experience and one they'll never forget.
Children under 3 are free and babysitting can be arranged.
Please call or email us to book your stay!
Come ride with us! Only this time we're talking knobby tired fun- Mountain Bikes (don't worry the horses aren't going anywhere!
Wilderness Trails Ranch is excited to invite you to check out our newest website addition, our Mountain Biking page. After our successful debut in 2011, we've decided to take this new program feature from beta to full offering.
Mountain Biking (MTB) may not have been born in Southwest Colorado, but our mountains and trails are certainly where it came of age.
Durango is host to countless cycling enthusiasts every spring, summer and fall and for many is considered amongst the very greatest areas to ride. The region has been host to numerous cycling events, including the first ever UCI World Mountain Bike Championships which were held in Durango and hosted at nearby Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort. The annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic pits rider against steam train every spring, as cyclists make the famous 48 mile trip from Durango to Silverton trying to beat the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Train in this epic test of sustained climbing and descending over some of the most scenic and rugged geography on the planet.
The trail network around our part of Colorado provides a range of riding second to none. At the lowest elevations the trails are desert like while the highest elevations will make you wonder if you might be able to touch the sky.
Check out the video below- it was right before the first snows came and buried the high elevation singletrack. The video was shot with duct tape, zip-ties and rubber bands... no fancy POV camera here! Amazing what you can do with an iPhone, a point and shoot video cam and a computer. The video quality terrible. The scenery amazing. The riding sublime. Enjoy the ride.
We want to wish everyone and their loved ones a Happy New Year!
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain
Last Wednesday our friend and returning guest passed away. We received word and a special request from her husband, Billy.
Thank you for following up on our request. Unfortunately, Gloria died suddenly Wednesday morning while I was asleep. However, it was her wish to take our grandson to WTR this summer, so I plan to do that. I think that the week of July 22 would be a good choice at this time. We will not need the Anasazi cabin, but will need one with two beds if you have one available.
One more question for you. Gloria wanted her ashes to be strewn on Vista Grande. Are there any problems or restrictions that would prevent me from doing that?
More information about Gloria's memorial service is available at this site:
I will be posting a tribute ther that expresses her love of WTR and her final wishes.
Here is Gloria's funeral notice, followed by a beautiful letter written by Billy Smith.
Gloria Bess Smith Date of Birth: Wed, 09/26/1945 Date of Death: Wed, 12/14/2011
Friday, December 16, 2011 - 18:40
My Dearest Gloria,
You left so quickly that I did not have a chance to say “Goodbye!” or “Thank you!” for all the happiness that you gave to me, like our two wonderful sons. Therefore, I will try to put into words what my kisses would have conveyed.
We had a good life together through many ups and down. I doubt it would have lasted so long except for you (you were definitely stubborn). Our forty-six years and ten days together were filled with so many marvelous memories, yet that time still seems much too short. We had numerous things planned to do in the coming years. Nevertheless, you taught me many things and I truly appreciate the patience you showed until I learned them. I am a better and wiser man than when we first met. Now, you will teach me how to live without you. It not an easy lesson, even with the help and love of Darren, Jason and all our other family members and friends. Although you did not go to college or become a nurse (as you dreamed early in life), you always knew more about the needs of people and cared deeply for all groups that could not give voice to their own rights and needs. You “nursed” a multitude of people and causes outside your family and friends. You always spoke out for truth and the rights of people, and all living things. Politics was one of your passions since you served as a precinct judge when our sons were in grade school.
We had discussed on many occasions our plans in case of death. With the help of our sons, I have begun to fulfill your ardent desire for a memorial service with no religious connections. While that is only natural for an atheist, it will be a first in our family. Then one day, I will follow your example. Some of your favorite music will be played. There will be tributes to you and your life, which you lived/loved so well despite your many health problems. In lieu of flowers, you asked that donations be made to organizations such as: Sierra Club, NRDC, NWF, GREENPEACE, or other groups who help to protect the wild world.
I am so thankful that we were able to return to Colorado and the Wilderness Trails Ranch our last two summers. You fell in love with it on our first visit over thirty years ago, and I did as well. We will scatter your ashes and Maggie’s together at Vista Grande. Mine will follow later. LAMK!
- SO WE RIDE... To the Top of Vista Grande...
A few days ago we told you about our friend and musician Tim Craig who played at the ranch every Thursday night throughout the season in 2011 and hopefully will be again in 2012.
Many of you are now following Tim Craig on facebook and other websites. Here is the most recent link to Tim's overnight success tune:
Tim Craig on KDVR Fox 31 News
As the story reads:
It was bound to happen. After much adoration, and some criticism, a song was finally written about Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.
"It's a phenomenon," says Durango resident and musician Tim Craig. "It's just hard to believe...it just keeps growing."
That is a very popular sentiment these days when discussing the lightning rod that is Tim Tebow.
"He's an all-around, almost-perfect person," adds Craig.
Tim Craig, who is a member of a country band in the four corners area of the state, was inspired himself the other day to pen a Tebow tune. It is written and sung to the tune of the 1982 country hit "Tulsa, Tulsa Time" performed by Don Williams.
"The second verse, I think, is the best, and it goes, "He's on good terms with his maker, he's a mover and a shaker..." sings the author of the Tebow song titled "Winning on Tebow Time."
Tim Craig wrote the song one day and secured a publishing contract the next day.
Here at the ranch, we are listening to this tune daily and humming a few bars ourselves. We so... enjoy seeing Tim's video and watching him have fun! Yes Tim, being a Bronco's fan is a sickness, and... that brings us all a bit closer, thank you!