I had the chance to gather with my family this summer at the Bar N I Ranch in Weston, Colorado. The Ranch itself is family-owned and I am unsure if it’s completely available to the public, but I encourage you to visit the nearby town of Cuchara and the surrounding countryside for the pristine forests and open mountain views. This particular part of southern Colorado is far away from the flocks of tourists that congregate in more popular Colorado towns during the summer months. The area seems to be a perfect place for anyone who wants a quiet getaway and enjoys outdoor activities like camping and fishing.
The Bar NI
The Bar N I Ranch is located in Weston, CO but don’t expect to find a town here. The nearby town is called Stonewall and it only has two stores, the Shopping Bag and the Picketwire Store. Both are tiny and have some souvenirs and basic necessities. If you are needing to load up on supplies, I advise you to stop in Trinidad. You will know that you’re in Stonewall when you see the beautiful and natural stone wall that runs along the mountain range. The entrance to the Bar NI Ranch is located right where the river meets the stone wall.
Bar N I Ranch Lodge
The Bar NI Ranch spans over 40,000 acres. The main lodge area has guest rooms and a fully staffed kitchen. Visitors staying in the lodge or the nearby campgrounds can gather for family meals and sit on the big back porch to admire the Spanish Peaks. Activities at the ranch include jeep rentals, horseback riding, hiking, and fishing in the nearby stocked ponds.
The town of Cuchara is about 20 miles north of Stonewall and is worth a visit. Cuchara is small, but offers some great souvenir shops, ice cream, and a couple restaurants. If you get the chance, stop by the Dog Bar & Grill for an early dinner. They are only open during the summertime and have great food and a friendly atmosphere. My group ordered a variety of food from pizza to burgers and everything was delicious.
Cordova Pass, San Isabel National Forest
Even if you aren’t much of a hiker, you can still see a wonderful view by driving to Cordova Pass. The area is open during the summer and involves driving up a well-maintained dirt road. There are some great places along the route to stop and get some pictures. The best viewpoints involve walking about half a mile on the West Peak Trail. You will have to pay a small fee for parking in the nearby lot.
West Peak Trail
You can continue on the trail for a moderately difficult hike that goes all the way up to the summit of the West Spanish Peak. The only time the hike gets steep is once you pass the tree line. Be sure to look for Kearns (some are just large piles of rocks) if going all the way to the top. The area gets rocky and it can be hard to see where the trail is going. I made it above the tree line but only stayed for a short while because of a large cloud. I really loved this hike and hope to try it again so I can make it to the top.
One of my family’s most visited hikes is to Lost Lake, which is located on the Bar N I Ranch property. We take an hour-long jeep ride from the ranch lodge on a rugged dirt road that runs along Duling Creek. Once the dirt road ends, we hike about 1 mile up the side of the mountain to reach the lake. The hike is short but has a heavy incline and not much of a defined trail. The path leads through the forest and provides some beautiful views of distant waterfalls.
Lost lake is full of small trout that you can expect to see sunbathing in the crystal clear water. Fishing is possible but my favorite thing to do at the lake is to find a good place to rest and have a picnic. I haven’t seen a whole lot of wildlife at the lake recently other than fish, but I saw a giant big-horned sheep a few years back. One definitely needs to be aware of the wildlife in the forest. It’s common to see elk, coyotes, and bears even near the highway.
Other Activity Ideas
I love this area of southern Colorado and although I’ve been visiting for years I still feel like there’s so much that I haven’t discovered. One thing that I would like to do eventually is summit nearby Culebra Peak. There are plenty of hiking trails in San Isabel National Forest as well as on the Bar NI Ranch property. Another area that I would like to check out is the Great Sand Dunes National Park which is about an hour and a half drive north of Cuchara. Most of all, I love being surrounded by the beauty of the mountains and the peaceful streams. The countryside surrounding the Bar N I Ranch is such a wonderful place where you can get a great workout yet still have time to relax and recharge.
If you would like more information about my time at the Bar N I Ranch, be sure to check out my post, Colorado: Bar N I Ranch. Thanks for reading!