The outdoor playground at Three Forks Ranch, a luxury ranch resort on the border of Wyoming and Colorado, is more than 50,000 acres of mountains, meadows, aspen groves and pine forest set aside not only for downhill skiing via snowcat on 20 private trails (glorious!), but also cross-country-skiing skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, sledding and tubing, sleigh rides and even ice fishing. Outdoor winter activities aren’t scheduled at any specific time of day — basically, whenever guests would like to ski, snowshoe or fish (and the weather is cooperating), the stellar staff at Three Forks Ranch will make it happen.
Flexible and accommodating recreation director Levi Kempf checks in with guests of The Lodge and Spa at Three Forks Ranch each night during cocktail hour to schedule the next’s day’s activities. On day one, my family and I planned to ski in the morning, return to the lodge for a filling buffet lunch, then head out for some sledding around 1 p.m. We were having too much fun in the powder (and hunting for a lost ski), so we skied a bit longer than we’d thought. But going to the tubing hill at 2 p.m. wasn’t a problem at all — after all, our ski guide was also our tubing guide! He needed to eat a later lunch, too!
Our second night, my husband and daughter decided to hit the slopes again in the morning, while my son and I wanted to go tubing once more (yes, it’s that much fun); then we all agreed to meet for a snowmobiling tour in the afternoon. But the next day when Kaylin decided her legs were too tired to ski, and wanted to knock off the slopes early, Levi kindly ferried her via snowmobile from the ski hill to the tubing hill so she could join us. Again, no problem!
Snow tubing and sledding at Three Forks Ranch
The beauty of tubing and sledding down the steep hill at Three Forks Ranch is that you don’t have to schlep your tube or sled back up the hill. Instead, kind and patient outdoor-activity guides zoom down the hill on their snowmobile to pick you and your gear up! It’s awesome.
Equally awesome was the amount of powder we encountered on the sledding hill after our morning of skiing powder. It was absolutely hilarious to watch the kids launch themselves off at the top of the hill, and then disappear in a cloud of snow that followed them down the hill — sort of like that Peanuts character Pig-Pen who always had a big cloud of dust following him.
The next day the slopes had been fully groomed by snowcat, so there wasn’t as much fluffy snow lingering. Then by day three, the sun had come out, melting some of the snow overnight, which meant that the course was a bit more icy and slick — which the kids loved. We had so many races down the hill — who could go fastest or farthest? Then we’d ride double, or take two tubes out and hang on to one another in a chain. I think this was my kids’ overall favorite activity at Three Forks Ranch.
Snowmobiling at Three Forks Ranch
My kids (ages 10 and 12) are both familiar with snowmobiling; we’ve owned a small kid-sized Mini-Z for a while. But for the past two winters there hasn’t been enough snow in Colorado to be able to snowmobile from our house (like we’ve done in years past). Still, they both have ATVs and are familiar with driving those, so when they asked to actually drive the snowmobiles on our hour-and-a-half excursion, it was hard to say no! With my husband on the same snowmobile seated behind one of them, and a Three Forks Ranch guide behind the other, the kiddos looked as cool as cucumbers steering the Ski-Doos. In fact, I think they were more comfortable than I was solo on my Arctic Cat!
Going on a snowmobile tour is the best way to experience the vast and varied terrain — and gorgeous vistas — at Three Forks Ranch. We snowmobiled along roads that had been plowed by snowcat, but then as we got further and further into the “backcountry” (still, always within the Three Forks Ranch property) we had to blaze our own trail a bit more. We passed by old homesteads with deserted log cabins, as well as some houses that cowboys live in come summertime. Rolling snow-covered hills were always in sight; I marveled in just how huge and pristine this property is.
Once we reached a huge powder-filled meadow, my husband and our two friendly guides Jason and Kelly, took the snowmobiles out on their own and did donuts in the huge field. They were absolutely hysterical to watch — taking tight turns, standing up and leaning way left or way right, and falling off in the deep snow!
Thanks Three Forks Ranch for hosting my family on a fabulous long weekend filled with so many great outdoor activities.