Plenty of action at Piney River Ranch |

Plenty of action at Piney River Ranch

Laura Bell
Special to the Daily Horseback tours are one of many activities offered at the Piney River Ranch north of Vail.

Gun shots ring out. Dirty Dawg and the Sheriff are at it again and no one it seems is safe, including the unsuspecting audience that has come to watch the wild west show. This may not be the accurate story of the how the west was won, but it certainly is part of how the west can be fun. Each Tuesday and Wednesday evening following a sumptuous western cookout, a wild west show hits the stage right around sunset at the Piney River Ranch, north of Vail. JC Jackman, who plays Dirty Dawg, and his brother, Bryce, the sheriff, of Jackman Brothers Productions Inc. of Denver, perform for the young and the young at heart. Locals and visitors are encouraged to participate. Set against the dramatic backdrop of Piney Lake, the show’s not a bad way to end a rowdy day on the ranch.”This is what we wanted our children to see,” said the Mastern family, visiting from Miami. “The scenery here is incredible, the food is great and the people at the ranch are so friendly it is a real western experience.”That’s what makes Dana and Linda Hansen happy.

Dana first visited Piney River Ranch when he was 5 years old. His family made an annual pilgrimage to the ranch and the good times were so ingrained in his memory that 40 years later, he and his wife, Linda, now own the ranch. The Hansens acquired a 10 year lease on the property from the Denver Water Board in the spring of 2002. Since then they have made numerous improvements to the ranch and the road to Piney, which is graded throughout the summer.The remodeled lodge is the center point of the ranch, where visitors check in for activities or the evening dinner show. The lodge also has a gift shop, a restaurant where lunch is served daily, and a bar, where patrons sit on saddle stools while the bartender rustles up the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. There are many activities to participate in during the daytime, including horseback riding, canoeing, archery with 3-D animals, fishing and jeep tours. Daytime packages include four activities. The all-day adventure includes the activities as well as the barbecue dinner and Tuesday-Wednesday wild west show or, on Monday and Thursday, a chuckwagon steak dinner and Western entertainment.

The barbecue has all the Western fixings, including baby back ribs, chicken, potato salad, cornbread, beans, coleslaw and dessert prepared by local chefs Rutherford Maul and Chris Deighan. This duo also handles catering for weddings and groups that visit the ranch. Following the Monday and Thursday chuckwagon steak dinner, music is performed by the Hughes Family, led by patriarch Archie Hughes. Archie, his wife Leslee and their four children, ranging in age from 12 to 19, play every imaginable string instrument from banjo to bass. Although it is not discernible in her playing, Leslee admits to being a bit “off” these days as she is recovering from injuries sustained after being dragged by a bull she had roped. The family lives and works on the ranch year-round.The five Hansen children, ranging in age from eight to 19, live and work on the ranch in the summer months. Linda fittingly describes the ranch as “all Colorado in one place.” And its slogan, “come play in paradise,” could include the words, “come marry and stay in paradise,” which is what many wedding parties do.

Another improvement the Hansens made was the addition of two log cabins that can easily sleep eight and heated teepees which can accommodate up to 10 people. The cabins, with hot tubs on the deck and kitchens, have views of the lake, while the teepees are nestled amongst the pines.During the winter months, Piney River Ranch offers snowmobile tours and lunches. A new twist for the winter will be evening Hummer Tours followed by fondue dinners, with the option to spend the night in one of the cabins. Piney River RanchFor more information on Piney River Ranch, call 477-1171 or visit its Web site:

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