Sombrero Ranch in Estes Park

This fall we did the breakfast ride at Sombrero Ranch in Estes Park Colorado. It involves about an hour of riding through the mountains to an outdoor dining area, breakfast, and about an hour ride back. The cost was $65 per person.

We arrived around 7 for the 7:30 ride. We filled out the releases and paperwork which included rating your riding ability as poor, fair, or good. I’m not sure if that determines what type of horse you get or whether it just lets the staff know who may be a bit overconfident in their riding skills. The two other members of our group decided that since they had never fallen off a horse, they should be rated fair. It wasn’t clear if they thought having taken a fall would push them up to a “good” or down to a “poor.”  Everyone was offered helmets, and kids under 12 were required to wear them. We were on the horses they had selected for us by 7:20.

Our guide Zora had finished her degree in animal science that spring and was spending her summer as a “wrangler” as a “bucket list” job. She led us up the mountain. Coming from Kansas, it was a bit different riding horses on slick rocks, but they did well and you could tell they had been on the path hundreds of times.  The kids were directly behind Zora with Haley and I behind them and the other two members of our group behind us.

We wound our way up the mountain on private land that offered an incredible view of Estes Park. The air was cool, but not uncomfortable as the horses plodded along following Zora and her horse Yellow. There was a bit of biting and kicking between Haley’s horse and my horse, Murphy, but not anything that made it feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Later when tied up together the two horses were acting like best friends.

At the breakfast area, a worker was making pancakes, eggs, and sausage. He took a coffee pot and swung it in a large circle three or four times to get the coffee grounds into the bottom of the pot. They also had orange juice available. I spotted the fattest chipmunk I’ve ever seen peeking out from behind the structure that sheltered the cooking area. The cook heard me comment on his size and said, “Oh that is Oscar. I’m extremely proud of how big he is. He should be good for 2 or 3 winters even if he never eats again.” The extremely overweight Oscar seemed like he thought he was in heaven as he watched us from behind one of the building supports.

The breakfast area had a large water tank with hand sanitizer and towels to wash your hands as well as a port-a-potty and an old outhouse. There were enough tables to hold quite a large group, but the only people there were our group and another group of 3 people and their guide that arrived a few minutes after we did.

After finishing breakfast, we mounted back up on the horses and began the trek back to where we had started. The ride back was a different path, and beautiful though sometimes we were riding fairly close to a housing development as we headed back toward the town. 

After arriving back at the base we dismounted, talked to Zora for a few minutes and then headed back to our truck. Everyone enjoyed the ride and I think everyone would have voted to do it again the next day.

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