A Weekend at Antler Basin Ranch

I get to go to the Ranch this weekend!

What adventures await me…

Antler Basin Ranch Entrance

Friday morning I wake up early with the anticipation of heading up to Standing Bear Lodge at Antler Basin Ranch (ABR) this afternoon. Lots of thoughts go through my head. First, YAY I’m going! We get to stop in Winter Park for dinner. Where should we eat so with many choices? Deno’s Mountain Bistro, Casa Mexico, Fontenot’s Seafood & Grill, Randi’s Irish Pub, Hernando’s Pizza Pub, and don’t forget a few miles down the road Tabernash Tavern another goodie.

The drive up the mountains is so beautiful. I wonder what I might get to photograph on the way up and will we make it up before dark? It’s always nice to drive up at dusk. I know when I hit the mile long driveway I’m there! When I get there, I know I will need to turn on the heated walkway due to the snow and start a rip roaring fire in the beautiful stone fireplace so we can snuggle in.

rip roaring fire at antler basin ranch

It’s 3:00pm as we pull out of the driveway and head for the mountains over Berthoud Pass. It’s a specular day and the lenticular clouds give me something to photograph on the way up. They are making formations that are just amazing! As we enter Winter Park our first stop is Deno’s Mountain Bistro; a wonderful choice for dinner and the wine list is one of the best in Colorado! Now for the last part of the drive to ABR. By the time we make it to the gates it is dark but magical. Our headlights make the snow sparkle like thousands of tiny diamonds. Ahhhhh we are here and the fire makes for a toasty night.

Good morning Antler Basin Ranch. The beauty of the mountains greet me as I stand out on the porch in the cool crisp morning air, smelling bacon in the air as breakfast is coming. I wonder what adventures await us today? Shall we snuggle in and stay in our jammies and read a book, watch a movie or do we head out for an adventure? We can go snow shoeing, snow biking, cross country skiing or maybe take a snow mobile ride? How about some sledding, hiking or heading to town for a little shopping? If we make it to town, we will make a visit to Drive by Pies, a local culinary delight!! Bottom line there are so many wonderful choices to choose from. If you happen to come up in the Spring or Summer you can fly fish, mountain bike, hike, hunt or explore ABR on an ATV. Try boating on one of the three nearby lakes or tubing in the Fraser River. Check out some of the nearby breweries, wineries and great shopping in Grand Lake.

To be honest, you really don’t have to go anywhere to have a relaxing and wonderful best time. Today we choose to sit by the fire, watch a little football, cook, read and write with a nice glass of wine and a cigar in the ABR Cigar Room.Who knows what tomorrow shall bring…

Fresh footprints in the snow offer a reflection for the New Year

After a fresh snowfall, we travel up the mile long driveway and set our eyes on Standing Bear Lodge and the surrounding land and see no sign of activity other than the “footprints” in the snow. Pure, flawless, perfect, like a sparkly blanket. So many shapes and sizes going every direction. Who do they belong to?

With the cold, frost, and snow cover you wonder where the wildlife is but it is still around going about its daily business. With just a bit of education and a even a very basic understanding of certain creatures’ daily needs, such as food, water and shelter, you have a great opportunity to begin tracking them.

Animals move across the snow-covered ground, leaving footprints, known as tracks, behind. These tracks can tell us what creatures are living on the property and give an insight into what they have been doing.

Here at Antler Basin Ranch, wildlife shares the property with us! If you are lucky enough to see one of the beautiful creatures that live here it is exciting and pure joy to watch. 

During a recent stay I spotted several white bunnies running up the hill in the dark. As the bunny/rabbit travels, its powerful hind legs strike the ground first, followed by one and then the remaining front feet before the rear legs propel it forwards again.

Every animal has a different print and if you study them you can kind of learn what prints you can see at Antler Basin Ranch. Here is a little guide to get you started:

Animal tracks: snow print identification

  • Fox tracks are roughly diamond shaped

  • Badger tracks have five toes

  • Rabbit prints are set closely together

  • Deer prints normally have a pointed front

  • Bird tracks look a little like arrowheads

  • Elk tracks are longer and more robust than those of deer. Scat is similar to deer scat, but much larger. It can be ¾ inch long. Elk also leave distinctive wallows where they dig into the ground with their hooves and antlers and wallow in the dirt

  • Bears have a more rounded arc to their toes and their shorter claws rarely show in tracks, grizzlies demonstrate a straighter toe line and claws that are twice as long as their toes

  • Moose Prints Split hooves of roughly 5” long, depending on sex of the animal. Hooves come to a point at the top

Click each image below for a closer look

So, the next time it snows, why not venture into the woods or book a night or two at Standing Bear Lodge and see what you can learn about the animal inhabitants? Who knows what adventures are waiting for you out there: what encounters, what miracles, what wonders…

As the New Year approaches, put your own footprints in the snow, start to write a new chapter of life. You can carry all the wisdom and experience and insight you’ve gained so far on life’s journey out with you into this new year.

Create your fresh footprints in the snow, embrace life in all its fullness. Live life to the full in the year to come, whatever that may look like for you.

Discover all the footprints in the snow . . . at Antler Basin Ranch.