Enjoy helping and playing on a small horse ranch in the mountains of South West Colorado. USA


United States

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 Min stay requested: at least a week

  • Description


    To our workaways from last year:
    As we get ready to begin a new season, we're remembering all of you so fondly: Tom and Teri (the TNT duo!), Magnus, Kerstin, & Tilde, Sara and Mel, Brent and April - you guys were all so great and made our first year of hosting workaways such a fun time. And all the things we accomplished!! It's great to get to remember each of you when we pass by something that you worked on. I wish you were all coming back again this year (and every year!). But I guess that we all have to move on to new adventures: I hope that yours are as wonderful as our memories of our time with you!

    Set in the San Juan mountains between Durango and Pagosa Springs, our historic ranch offers space for you to work on your art or write your novel while surrounded by miles of national forest land where you can also hike, camp, fish or just enjoy the beauty of the wilderness – all in exchange for just 20 hours of your time a week.

    We (Jan, former university professor, and Chris, former architect and builder) have 27 beautiful acres located in the mountains of southwest Colorado. We share the property with five horses, two ponies, three dogs, a cat, and three roosters. We are also currently home to 40 Malamute sled dogs as well as a sampling of local wildlife (deer, elk, turkeys, Marie (the barn skunk) and an occasional passing bear – oh, and LOTS of hummingbirds!).

    We enjoy sharing this wonderful space with friends and family from all over the United States and are excited about the opportunity to extend that welcome to workaways from all over the world. We have choices of accommodations for workaways ranging from suites in the main ranch house to a rustic log cabin to several RVs.

    In exchange, workaways would help with anything from general housekeeping and house maintenance tasks to gardening/yardwork to construction projects to training and exercising horses, depending on skills and interests. Our hope is that workaways will become part of our ever-growing extended family. Welcome!

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    DIY and building projects
    General Maintenance
    Help around the house
    Animal Care
    Art Projects

  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    On a personal level, we enjoy cooking and have big, family-style meals for most dinners. We would hope to have you join us. If you're interested in sharing your favorite recipes, we'd love to expand our culinary horizons! Breakfast and lunch are more casual and usually we each put together our own meal, so you would have full access to a very well-stocked kitchen for those meals.

    On a broader scale, southwest Colorado offers glimpses into a variety of ancient and modern cultures:

    Mesa Verde National Park: A little over an hour's drive away, Mesa Verde was once home to the Ancestral Pueblo peoples. It offers some of the best preserved examples of the cliff-dwelling cities in the country, if not the world.

    The Gold Rush: Southwest Colorado was part of the Colorado gold and silver mining rush of the late 1800's. Silverton, Ourey, and Telluride are very old mountain mining towns that provide opportunities to explore that history. And, if you're interested in doing a little exploration on your own, Chris is always ready to head up into the mountains to do a little prospecting or panning for gold!

    Cattle Ranching: Cattle ranching is an important part of the economy here and the area is home to a number of large cattle ranches. We don't fit into that category but we do have 8-10 head of cattle that we run with a friend's herd of 200+ cows. Two or three times a year we have an old-fashioned cattle drive (moving cattle on horseback) to move the cattle from valley pastures to the open grazing areas of the national forests. If you're here for one of those times and you are an experienced rider, you might be able to join us. And if you don't have riding experience, it's fun to just watch!

    Art and music festivals: Southwest Colorado is home to a number of widely-known art and music festivals. If you have interests in these areas, check online to see when festivals are scheduled. If we're going to a festival, you're welcome to come with us.

  • Help


    We enjoy a fairly laid-back lifestyle (as in we spend a good bit of time enjoying coffee and meals, making art, camping and hiking in the local national forest, and just hanging out with friends) but we usually have at least a couple of projects under way. In exchange for meals and whichever type of accommodation best suits you (see below), we’d appreciate help with any of the projects listed below or simply help with the daily work involved with maintaining the ranch house and outbuildings and feeding and caring for the animals.

    We would expect 20 hours a week but, especially with project tasks, it could be flexibly arranged so that you could have larger chunks of time to go out and explore the area.

    >>>>>If you happen to have experience with horses, Jan could definitely use some help in training and exercising the horses and the ponies.<<<<<

    Recent examples of projects include building a chicken coop, re-fencing pastures to make them secure for dogs and kids, creating art work for the house, building an irrigation system, cleaning and refinishing a beautiful wood table, gathering and reorganizing all the tools in the new toolshed, building a retaining wall in the back yard, and re-building all of the stalls in the barn.

    Still on the would-like-to-do list are painting the new (BIG!) machine shed, clearing out dead pines and scrub brush and cutting them up for firewood, building a retractable shade system over the back deck, creating smaller paddocks in the pasture by installing electric fence, and I STILL have hopes of replacing the (crumbling) stone courtyard with a wooden deck.

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent

  • Accommodation


    Depending on their personal preferences and who else is visiting during their stay, workaways can choose from several types of accommodations on the ranch. We have:

    - a sprawling ranch house with multiple bedroom/bathroom suites,
    - a VERY rustic one-room log cabin (though it may be under renovation this summer - we'll see!),
    - two RVs with full kitchens and baths.

    If you are traveling with your own RV, we can probably accommodate it.

    There is also a separate cabin where Peter and Morgan, who belong to the Malamute sled dogs, live.

    Because of the distance to town – and the complete lack of public transportation in the area – it’s probably best if you have your own transportation. We typically go into town a couple of times a week - and you would be welcome to come with us – but there wouldn’t be a lot of opportunity to just explore the town.

    If you’re contemplating a longer stay, both Pagosa Springs and Durango are busy tourist towns with many summer employment opportunities. If you were interested in finding part-time work in town, we might be able to create a schedule that would work well for everyone.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    The Area: We are basically surrounded by the San Juan National Forest and so have easy access to multiple camping areas, hiking trails, and lakes. The Piedre River - a high mountain river with great fishing - is a couple of miles down the road from us. The San Juan River in Pagosa Springs and the Animas River in Durango are favorites for white water rafting. The area also has vast tracts of true wilderness areas with magnificent mountains.

    We are located halfway between Durango and Pagosa Springs (about 25 miles west and east of us, respectively) - two lively tourist towns that offer lots of interesting shopping, outdoor activities, and periodic music and art festivals.

    Purgatory and Wolf Creek ski areas are about another half-hour drive beyond the towns and provide great hiking and mountain biking trails during the summer months. Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride – old Colorado gold rush mining towns turned tourist destinations - are just an hour or two beyond the ski area.

    If you’re feeling more adventurous, Santa Fe - one of my very favorite places to visit - and Utah’s truly amazing Canyonlands and Arches National Parks are only a little over 3 hours away.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    20 hours a week

Looking across the north pasture to the ranch house in fall.
Horses grazing on the lawn during the summer.
Dinner with friends and family is a favorite time around the ranch.
Grandkids playing on the swings.
A couple of the horses drinking from the creek (which we're going to try to stock with trout this summer!).
Wiley, Molly, and Boo-Boo - our ranch ambassadors!
Aspen in fall.
A particularly nice sunset at the ranch,
View of the ranch from the peak on the other side of the valley. Chimney Rock National Monument just visible in the distance.
Riding the trails in the national forest (Chimney Rock in the background).
Silverton - old mountain mining town and popular tourist destination - is only two hours away!

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Host ref number: 276544866627