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Wit's End Guest Ranch Resort & Spa, Colorado - Hotel Review

Revitalize in the Colorado Rockies

by Sophie Gayot


Amidst the brilliant blue skies, sparkling rivers, wildlife and deep forests of the Southern Colorado Rockies, forget about time and technology and give yourself and your family over to the friendly hands of Wit's End Ranch Resort & Spa staff. It’s easy to let go here in the Vallecito Valley (45 minutes southeast of Durango), it is surrounded by snow-capped granite peaks (some as high as 14,000 feet), two million acres of wilderness and the unspoiled San Juan National Forest.


Built in 1859 and first opened to the public in 1893, Wit's End is not new to the area. The current owner, Jim Custer, acquired the property in 1986 and performed major renovations in 1988. But history still lingers in the cabins and The Lodge. The Lodge, which is the ranch centerpiece, was once an old barn used to store ice from the surrounding ponds, to be sold in Durango in the summer. It retains the feel and look of the 19th century with its log doors, hand-hewn beams, huge stone fireplaces, stuffed animals (literally) and decorative wall mirrors, which hail from the 1836 Crystal Palace in London. The cabins, which vary in size, also offer an old cowboy atmosphere. Your own private porch awaits you for breakfast, and the (real wood) fireplace will keep you warm at night, if necessary.

The only thing you will be asked to do during your weeklong stay (single nights are not an option) is to decide which of the numerous activities is right for you. Fishing—some of the best in the country—and horseback riding are the main focuses, but licensed hunting, guided wilderness trail hikes, mountain biking, trap shooting, whitewater rafting, tennis, sailing, water skiing, jet-skiing, hayrides, outdoor campfires, hot tubbing and pontoon boat rides are also available to fill up your days. Any of these activities can be customized to suit your mood. If you come with children, there is a great activities program designed just for little ones; or they can join in activities with you. Whatever you choose to do, because of the surroundings and the devoted staff, you can't help but relax—simply coming to Wit's End is a pilgrimage for your mind and soul. Ending the day at the spa will round out your week of rejuvenation. As with the activities, spa treatments can be personalized, and are performed by qualified staff.

In addition, there are many interesting day trips in the area, about an hour drive away: the charming city of Durango, with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (we recommend you take it one way and ride back by bus); the carvings around Vallecito Lake that honor the firemen who fought the Missionary Ridge Fire of 2002, which left some still visible scars; or the Mesa Verde Indian ruins.

Amid all of our praise, we should not forget to mention one very important staff member: chef Greg Straub. Straub, whose passion for cooking started with the influence of his grandmother, has found a perfect balance between fine dining and the local atmosphere. Light and fresh, his cuisine is a mix of French and Southwestern preparations, with sweet and sour dressings and sauces. The menu ranges from interesting salads and sandwiches at lunch, to elaborate rack of lamb, Dover sole, elk and trout for dinner. As for dessert, peach shortcake, cheesecake top the list. Located in The Lodge, the restaurant—as well as the billiard room and the library on the second floor—is not open to public, so Graub is all yours.

Feel like being spoiled? Wit's End is the perfect place.

Wit's End Ranch Resort & Spa is only open during the summer (June through August) and offers weekly stays starting and ending on Saturday. Prices are all-inclusive and start at $2,500 for adults and $1,800 for children 4-12 (per week).

 

Wit's End Guest Ranch Resort & Spa
254 CR 500
Bayfield, CO 81122
Phone: 970-884-4113, 800-236-9483
Fax: 970-884-3261
Website: www.witsendranch.com

 

(Updated: 11/30/10 CT)


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