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“Wonderful Family Trip!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of North Fork Ranch

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North Fork Ranch
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55395 Highway 285, P.O. Box B, Shawnee, CO 80475   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Shawnee
Brooklyn, New York
1 review
“Wonderful Family Trip!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2012

We are a family of two adults and two kids, and we joined another family for a shared holiday at The NFR. It was heaven! There is a wealth of activites, changing every day, offered for all ages--and while there is a calendar of planned special activities, the staff are extraordinarily accomodating. We missed the river rafting day, for example, but the staff at the Ranch were happy to set up a rafting trip for us on a different day--and the cost was still included! Riding, fishing, hiking in the gorgeous mpountains, it is all there. Eat light before you go: the food is terrific and abundant. Above all, the entire feeling of the place is relaxed, welcoming and fun. The staff were warm and responsive without exception. I give credit for this to Karen and Dean, the long time owners/hosts. They are splendid warm people, and that clearly sets the tone for the whole team. Kudos to them. It's a long way from Brooklyn, but we are already looking forward to our next visit.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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63 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (13)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Stafford, United Kingdom
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 6, 2012

Quite a long trip for us Brits, but worth every mile! We stayed for a week, and loved every minute, a beautiful setting, amazing food, great company, luxury rooms, and most of all
great trail riding. As experienced riders we were delighted to be able to choose horses,
go out all day on great trail rides and have long "lopes" across the mountains, We definitley
found our western spirit!
We also had fun white water rafting, shooting and fly fishing, what more could country girls
ask for! We would go back in a minute!
Planning to return again soon.

Room Tip: Cabins are amazing, great for families or larger groups, Rooms in the main ranch beautifully design...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2012

I booked 3 nights stay at North Fork Ranch based on the good reviews here, and the information on their website. We were a party of 6; my husband and I, our two children (ages 1 and 7), and my parents stayed there last week. I was a little worried about having to rough it at a dude ranch, but my fears were completely unfounded. This is a gorgeous spot with very comfortable accommodations. They put us in the Klondike cabin. which was perfect for our family. The kids had a room, we had a room, and my parents had a room. (There was another room upstairs that we could have used if we'd wanted to, but we didn't need the additional space.) The cabin was just a short walk from the main lodge, a short walk from the fishing pond, and a very short walk from the pool. It really gave us a sense of privacy without isolating us, and I can't recommend it enough for a family or family and friends traveling together.

The one thing I do want to mention is to be aware of the altitude. It is at approximately 8000 ft, and we were flying in to Denver from sea level. My husband and I weren't bothered by it, although we did take it a little easier than we might otherwise have, but my mother really noticed it. While the beds were very comfortable and we (and the kids) slept very well, my mother didn't sleep as well because of problems adjusting to the altitude. Just be aware of it when planning your trip, particularly if you know you have altitude issues.

The offered activities, even for the 3 days we were there, were varied and interesting. My husband and I rode every day. We did both trail rides (with just the two of us and a guide or two most of the time) and bushwhacking out into the national forest nearby. Our 7 year old son did not feel up to doing multiple hour trail rides, so they led him around the ranch on a couple of occasions. Most of the people staying at the ranch went out whitewater rafting one day, and seemed to have a great time. (While they have childcare available, we did not want to leave our one year old daughter for the 10 hours the group was going to be gone.) They did a hayride one evening, followed by an entertainer singing cowboy songs around a bonfire while the kids (and some of the adults) roasted marshmallows. They had archery lessons one afternoon, which our son really enjoyed. They also had a fly-fishing workshop, which the other adults in our party enjoyed, and thrilled our son, because he actually caught a rainbow trout. All of this, and we were only there 72 hours.

This was the best ranch of its type we could find for our family, because we wanted something that was really kid friendly, but didn't send your kids off all day away from the family. They have a petting zoo (which currently has a mini mule, goats, chickens, and a rabbit), a playground, a teepee the kids can play in (or sleep in!), childcare available if you want it (at no extra charge), a heated pool, a pond to fish in (if you don't want to pay a guide to take you out fly-fishing, since only the teaching workshop is included) and, of course, horses to ride.

The food at North Fork Ranch is all included. It was consistently both good and plentiful. Others have already praised it highly, and I all I can add is that they are right. They also made gorgeous desserts, and had a cookie jar with the cookie of the day available all the time. I'm not sure if my husband or my son snuck more cookies!

I wish I had known that you could do your own laundry (they will even provide the detergent), so we could have packed a little lighter. I also wish I'd know how much we would enjoy it, because I'd have tried to find a way to book a few more nights!

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Middletown, New Jersey
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 5, 2012

The Location: Perfect. an hour from Denver (1.5 from the airport since they decided to build the airport so far out on the prairie), it's far enough out to be in a pristine, gorgeous setting but close enough to the city that you could go back for an emergency (which we nearly had to do thanks to a lost piece of luggage - but didn't have to thanks to the owner's generous lending of clothes!).

The Property: Perfect. Nestled against a river (yes, I'll be the hundredth person to say "a river runs throught it" with a steep mountain backdrop and under a blue dome of sky, the property is just breathtakingly beautiful. Everything is spread out enough you feel private (there are three lodges outside the main one - Klondike, Homestead and Stonehenge) and yet close enough it's not a long trek to your room if you don't stay in the main Wildhorse Lodge. We stayed in the Homestead lodge for the majority of our time there, then had to move to the Wildhorse Lodge the last night (we knew this in advance) and it actually was nice to get the feeling of both. If you're a couple or a pair of singles, I'd recommend staying in the Wildhorse. If you're three or more, definitely get one of the outlying lodges as it really feels like you're staying in your own home. Be prepared - they don't look that big on the outside - but they are actually huge inside. Each lodge has it's own story and was built a long time ago - Stonehenge for instance was built in the 30's by a mason (a previous owner of the property) - but they've all been updated by the current owners (of 27 years!), Karen and Dean. We were amazed at the instant hot water! It may look rustic, but there was nothing rustic about it. Just note that in all of the rooms they put the amenities in the bottom of the basket on your vanity with fan-folded washclothes behind them - kind of obsuring the amenities. I freaked out when I thought they had no amenities until I discovered them in the bottom of the basket (note to Karen: you might want to put the amenities in front of the basket for stupid people like me). Every room has two plush white bathrobes for going back and forth to the pool and jacuzzi. Also note that the lodges have no phone or TV - this isn't that kind of place - and cell coverage is spotty to zilch. If you're type-A enough that that bothers you, stay in the Wildhorse, the Wifi from the lounge area works well in the rooms. Cell coverage is spotty in the Wildhorse, but if you walk out front or even up the hill to the parking lot, it's much better. There's a nice sitting area in the Wildhorse, a really great porch overlooking the river, and wonderful treats (a daily cookie, ice-cold lemonade and water, etc) by the fireplace. In addition to the lodges, there's also a Trading Post for just about everything you'd need including the all important logo'd T-shirt and a Rec Room with games, foosball and pool table (we never needed it, Scrabble in our living room at night was way fun!).

The activities: Perfect (are you noticing a theme here?) A great range of things to do, you'll never be bored. I never thought I'd enjoy skeet shooting as much as I did. The views from the riding trail are simply breath-taking (yes, the ride starts off by ascending the cliff across the river!) and the river-rafting was great fun. A note for experienced white-water rafters: there's a drought going on right now, so they're not releasing water from the damns up-river right now so the Arkansas River where it's done is pretty low low at the moment. It's running at about 20% of the volume and speed it normally does. We had novices in our group who loved it, for those of us that have done class IV and higher rapids before it was kind of disappointing. I would recommend - if you're experienced and looking for a real white-water experience - that you check with them before you make the 1.5 hour trek. Also, make sure you do the full day, not half day, ride... the only class IV rapids are at the very end of the route, and not covered on the half-day. The instructors/guides on all the activities were knowledgable (the skeet guy was very good in his instruction although he did take the wind out of my sails when he said "the first one's luck, the second one's skill" after I landed my first hit. luckily, I did get a second and more. lol) and Travis, our horseback riding guide was very friendly and knowledgeable. Hayley, the owner's daughter, is a marvel with the work she does with the horses and even the ranch dog Indy (do not encourage Indy to bark, or you risk getting "schooled" on ranch dog behavior along with Indy!).

The staff: Perfect. It's just amazing what Karen and Dean do with their staff. I have never met a more friendly, generous, and accomodating group of people anywhere I've stayed. Just be careful of one thing: the wait staff is like calorie crack-dealers. They seriously will offer you more and more and more food. One morning I was asked if I wanted "another egg" and then Bry-anne came back with a full plate of 2 eggs and sausage. Which of course I ate. And Karen and Dean themselves are beyond accomodating, kind, generous, and knowledgeable.

Which brings me to the last thing:

The Food: I saved the best for last because I'm just not sure I can do it justice. Karen and her staff are amazing cooks. Dinner starts with a different salad every night; they're all good but the Colorado Pine Nut Salad was a standout (they even give you the provenance of the local Pinons used). Then a different home-baked bread (here it's a toss up between the Peasant bread - those are some damn lucky peasants - and the pumpkin bread). Then an entree that can be as homey as Thanksgiving dinner - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and green beans - or as exotic (for a city boy like me) as elk. It's served family style and it just keeps coming. The desserts are amazing as well from vanilla bean pane cotta to pumpkin cheesecake. And if you want seconds or thirds or a doggy bag, they just don't quit until you do. They are also very accomodating with food needs - someone in our group is off carbs, and as quick as he mentioned it, a bowl of quinoa just for him hit the table.

Lunch is incredible too. Something as simple as hamburgers was just great at this ranch. I actually asked Dean if they ground their own beef as I've never tasted a hamburger that good before (and I really got to taste it as I was laying off the bun trying to cut back on carbs myself at that point - even though that was difficult since they had three different kinds of buns to choose from!). Turns out they don't grind it themselves, but they found a local purveyor who just uses the best beef and they're really good.

My breakfast is usually a Venti Starbucks latte, but here I had to try it all, and it was just sick how good and plentiful it was. They do offer a continental style, but once you've tasted the crack they call French Toast Stuffed with Blueberries and Cream Cheese, you're pretty much addicted to the whole thing. Whatever you do, do not miss the French Toast.

All the food is just simply prepared with really fresh ingredients and so good. Between being hungry from the activities, the clear mountain air, and the draw of Karen's addictive recipies, you're going to find yourself eating a lot. I think I put on 10 pounds. And it was worth every bite.

Some advice: do read their tips about altitude sickness and take precautions. Knowing in advance I get bad headaches at high altitudes , I started with ginko the week before I left and had a precscription med while I was there. It really worked for the headaches, but I didn't bring any sleep aids and I did have bad bouts of insomnia while there. Also, the air is insanely dry, whatever you do bring lipbalm (which I did) and a saline solution like Ocean Spray for your nose (which I didn't and really regretted when I started sneezing blood from the dryness by the second day). I don't think you should let the altitude disuade you from going to this ranch, most of it's beauty is derived from it's location, but do take their advice to heart and go prepared.

I just can't say enough good about this place. Oh, and the sunsets, did I mention the sunsets???

Room Tip: Any of the outlying lodges are great. The rooms in the Wildhorn Lodge are just as nice, but having...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Naples, Florida
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2012

Actually, 13 years later but who's counting. I've returned to the ranch, with and without family members, every year since (and so I must concede a personal connection with Karen and Dean).

From St Petersburg to Nairobi, I'm pretty well traveled and I'm a Ritz Carlton, Royal Suite on the cruise ship, kind of guy. I mention this not to impress but to put into context my refreshed assessment of North Fork Ranch.

It is one of the rare vacation spots that is simultaneously as luxurious as can be (in a rustic, old west kind of way) but at the same time, completely laid back. What is evident in every aspect of the ranch and the experience is that this is much more than a vocation for Karen and Dean. This is their life and welcome to it. If I had a single criticism, it is that they almost try too hard, love their ranch too much and therefore, on rare occasions, come across as taking it too seriously. The winner: anyone visiting the ranch. The loser: Dean May's stomach lining.

And finally, let me say, if it took me 10 years to get around to bad mouthing a vacation spot (there must be no statute of limitations on such things) and I did that despite otherwise universal ly glowing reviews since then, I would certainly hope nobody paid the least bit of attention to my comments. This is because I try to live by the "golden rule" and I sure wouldn't want someone to rub my face in the way I might have acted a decade after the fact. Now, to be sure, being as perfect as I am, if I were on heavy duty meds, recovering from a life threatening illness, I would have disappointed hundreds of guests with reservations, shut down ranch and probably lost it to the bank and the tax collector, rather than risk offending a single guest. But that's just me. And I'm perfect, God knows.

Room Tip: You can't go wrong but I like the Lodge. Close to the kitchen.
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  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lamar, Colorado
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2012

Beautiful scenery, family atmosphere, trail riding, hiking, relaxing, superb food, these are just small factors in what makes North Fork Ranch great. When you first pull in to the ranch, You will instantaneously get the feeling that you will never want to leave. Owners Dean and Karen will make you feel right at home and like you are part of the family. They are incomparably hospitable, gracious, genuine, and will bend over backwards, just in order to make your stay the most relaxing and most enjoyable time you've ever had. The staff at North Fork is equally hospitable. Your week will be filled with any combination of horseback riding, fishing, hiking, relaxation, fine dining, rafting, dancing, singing, and swimming. If you want a secluded getaway, away from life's troubles, where you will be treated with gracious hospitality, in the beautiful mountains of Colorado, then North Fork Ranch is where you need to be. However, be prepared to love it so much, that you'll want to come back year after year.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2011

It's been 10 years since being a vacationer at NFR. Obviously time may have changed the way things are now run at the ranch, and that obviously should be taken into consideration when planning a return trip- but I felt we needed to share what we experienced, so others can at least take it into consideration when making plans to vacation at this particular dude ranch.

The scenery and food were great- in fact, superb. However, our experiences were anything but fun- in fact attitude meant everything at NFR.

After doing hospice care for a dying relative, going to a dude ranch in one of the most beautiful parts of the country seemed like the best retreat possible. It was for the most part comfortable, as long as we kept our distance from Dean, (Karen & Dean owners of NFR). His negative attitude and spoiled rotten behavior about his health, paying vacationers, weather and employees was just rotten, and anything but hospitable. Trying to avoid the negativity at NFR deemed impossible and clearly after several days we noticed how Dean's attitude had effected everyone who worked at NFR, including his wife, Karen, and those of us who were paying guests.

Weeks after our vacation at NFR we received a newsletter Karen had written that went on to describe how sick Dean had become and how his pneumonia and mono had effected everything. It's very unfortunate he had become so ill, but after caring for a dying relative and witnessing her incredible positive attitude about life and death, and then witnessing a grown man's spoiled rotten attitude about his own health and making it everyone's problem at the time, years later has given me and my family much thought as to what his attitude would be like now that he's ten years older.

Age mellows some people, others it makes rotten. I wonder what Dean is like today? We don't think we want to find out, but if we do- we'll surely write another review from a fresh perspective.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about North Fork Ranch

Address: 55395 Highway 285, P.O. Box B, Shawnee, CO 80475
Location: United States > Colorado > Shawnee
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Shawnee
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 19
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to life at North Fork Ranch a premier guest ranch and fishing lodge. Established in 1985, this family oriented ranch rests on a half mile of private river, the North Fork of the South Platte. One hour from Denver, in the majestic Rocky Mountains, you'll find horseback riding, whitewater rafting, world class fly fishing, campfire, intimate accommodations, dining with a gourmet flare and activities for all ages! **Colorado's Newest, Orvis Endorsed Fishing Lodge** ... more   less 
Also Known As:
North Fork Ranch Colorado/Shawnee

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