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Sombrero - Snow Mountain Ranch

Knoxville
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3,168 posts
12 reviews
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Sombrero - Snow Mountain Ranch

My family is going to be taking a HUGE trip out west to quickly take in the "must-see's". We will only have one full day in the Rocky Mountains and want to get a good, although quick, view of the area. In researching, I came across the option of horseback riding the Rockies and it sounded awesome!

We are going with Sombrero Ranch and are going to be riding from an area called Snow Mountain Ranch, taking their 3-hour dinner ride. The only real hesitation I have is that it's not actually a part of the park itself. Has anyone taken this ride? Can you tell me what I can expect? We want to see beautiful scenery, have the opportunity to see wildlife, and just get a feel for the area. I love Tripadvisor and rely on the posts to answer questions that I couldn't possibly know until I arrive to take the tour, at which point it would be too late to cancel. Thanks!

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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122 reviews
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1. Re: Sombrero - Snow Mountain Ranch

Your best chance to see wildlife, beautiful scenery and get a feel for the area is to drive RMNP Trail Ridge Road and explore all the many overlooks and short trails along that route. In summer, animals usually head to higher elevations. You can easily spend 6 hours going from Grand Lake to Estes Park or vice versa. I have posted many times about the easy, short and scenic trails along Trail Ridge Road and where to look for wildlife. If you need that information, I will give you a link. Tell me in which direction you will be driving the road.

As for Sombrero Snow Mountain Ranch, here are reviews. Note, many of the reviews are for winter.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g33449-d34…

I have not taken the ride at Snow Mountain Ranch but whenever I have seen the rides, they were going through the valley - nice panoramic views. Generally with dinner rides, you don't cover that much ground. The dinner ride at Snow Mountain Ranch is a total of 2.5 hours which includes time for the meal. Taking out time for the meal, that does not leave much riding time.

I would lean toward doing a different trail ride. Can you fit an early morning trail ride into your schedule either in Estes Park or Grand Lake? Early morning is a good time for wildlife viewing. On the east side of RMNP, Sombrero offers rides from 2 stables inside RMNP - Glacier and Moraine Campgrounds. The Glacier Stable is located near Sprague Lake along very popular Bear Lake Road. On the west side, take a look at Winding River Resort. They are located very near the western side of RMNP and their 2 hour ride goes into RMNP.

Knoxville
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3,168 posts
12 reviews
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2. Re: Sombrero - Snow Mountain Ranch

Your response has been really helpful in many ways . . . thank you! I noticed that the reviews of that specific area tour (in the past, I had only looked up Sombrero Ranch tours and not Snow Mtn) are REALLY good - I looked specifically at the summer reviews and was very pleased! I think I am comfortable now with keeping those reservations. By the way, the reason I am not going with another location is because their Grand Lake location (we are staying in Grand Lake so that would be very convenient) will most likely still be closed at that time of year and their Estes Park is a bit too far from where we are staying.

The other thing you have really helped me with is realizing that we will need to do a bit of touring on our own to take in more of the NP sights. What I now plan to do is get up early in the morning and drive Trail Ridge Road up to about Specimen Mountain. That way, we can pull off as often as we like and turn around when we feel like it. We will tour on our own in the morning and take the dinner tour in the evening, getting the best of both worlds! If you have any other suggestions (keeping in mind we don't want to add a lot of driving to our plan, as we will have over 3000 miles to drive during 3 weeks anyway), I would love to hear them! Thanks again.

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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9,576 posts
122 reviews
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3. Re: Sombrero - Snow Mountain Ranch

I am assuming your trip is after the opening date of Trail Ridge Road as a through road between Grand Lake and Estes Park. If you want to see what makes RMNP so famous, you need to drive at least as far as the Forest Canyon Overlook on Trail Ridge Road past the Alpine Visitor Center from the Grand Lake side. Between the Alpine VC and Forest Canyon, you would also see the Gore Range Overlook and could enjoy the amazing views from the 1 mile total Tundra Communities Trail at Rock Cut. It is east of the Continental Divide that has the more dramatic, towering mountain views along Trail Ridge Road. Eleven miles of Trail Ridge Road travel near 11,500 ft. You don't just look up at the mountains like you do at Grand Teton, you are on the mountains. Just driving time from Grand Lake over to Estes Park is about 90 minutes one way. Add 2 hours to stop at all the overlooks. Mileage wise, we are only talking about 48 miles one way.

This google maps link will show you the areas I discussed above.

http://goo.gl/maps/9Alsg

Here is a description of the Tundra Communities Trail.

rockymountainhikingtrails.com/tundra-communi…

Knoxville
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3,168 posts
12 reviews
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4. Re: Sombrero - Snow Mountain Ranch

We will play it by ear, but try to make it to Forest Canyon Overlook - I have written that in my notes. Will the road even be open in late May, though? I tried to find the information online, but couldn't. Thanks!

Divide, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Maldives
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14,021 posts
18 reviews
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5. Re: Sombrero - Snow Mountain Ranch

The annual target date for opening Trail Ridge Road is always Memorial Day weekend (just google it . easy to find)

Nederland, Colorado
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9,781 posts
12 reviews
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6. Re: Sombrero - Snow Mountain Ranch

Spammie is correct that the target date is Memorial Day weekend. The opening of TRR depends on the weather and their ability to clear the snow off the road. We've had a great deal of snow this season, it is snowing today.

You can call the park's Trail Ridge Road recorded status line at 970-586-1222 when you are here, or check the park website: nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/road_status.htm

Knoxville
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3,168 posts
12 reviews
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7. Re: Sombrero - Snow Mountain Ranch

Thanks for the date and number. Hopefully it will be open by May 28th, but I'll take the number with me and call to make sure.

8. Re: Sombrero - Snow Mountain Ranch

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