The summer I worked at Deer Valley Ranch is hands down one of the best summers of my life. I came across Deer Valley Ranch as I was browsing the Internet, looking for fun summer jobs. Originally, I’d had my heart set on working at the YMCA of the Rockies (which, I did eventually), but when I stumbled across Deer Valley Ranch I just knew it was where I was meant to go. At the time, I was obsessed with all things “country” and I owned 9 pairs of cowboy boots. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that the cover photo of their website was a long line of boots, which I assumed belonged to some handsome cowboys.
After further research, I found that Deer Valley was situated in the small town of Nathrop, Colorado and was a family owned, Christian guest ranch and I was sold! I applied to be a “crewgirl”, or in other words, a housekeeper and waitress. It didn’t sound like the most exciting job, but the promise of square-dances and horseback rides was enough to outweigh the thought of scrubbing toilets for a living. On my application, I also mentioned that I’d had experience working with kids, so they hired me as an alternating “crewgirl” and kids program leader. For two weeks I’d lead the kid’s program and for one week I’d join the housekeepers or wait staff.
For months and months I’d awaited the day I’d arrive at Deer Valley Ranch. And I’ll be honest, when I got there I was a little thrown off. Their website had shown lush meadows, lakes, and mountains. However, when I arrived I found a dusty and hilly ranch. It took some adjusting, but I actually grew to love that dusty hill. And the photos I’d seen were taken within a short car ride of the ranch. As I got into the daily swing of things, Deer Valley began to feel more like home and the people became more like family.
Day-to-day life on the ranch was predictable, yet always different. Every week we’d begin a new cycle of the same things, but each week was unique because the guests were different. Each group brought a new atmosphere. On top of that, my role changed every other week, so things stayed interesting.
During my weeks as a kid’s program leader, I spent most of my time interacting with guests. I even ate my meals with the guests. I also got to participate in day-to-day activities like Wrangler’s breakfast, cookout, and the hayride. I also got to take the kids on fun excursions like to St. Elmo to feed the chipmunks, sledding at Cottonwood Pass, to the fish hatchery. My weeks as a crewgirl were not quite as fun. I still enjoyed them, but they felt more like real work. My days were spent cleaning cabins or waiting tables. But, the schedule was more predictable, so I’d have more time for fun activities outside of work.
A few nights a week, we had ranch wide activities that everyone participated in. One night was “Hymn Sing”, where some of the more musically gifted staff led the guests in worship. Square Dance was one of my favorite nights! We had a professional caller come out and lead the dances. We also performed several dances for the guests. Another night was the Western Show, where we performed comedy skits.
We had two consecutive days off every week, which left plenty of time for exploring all Colorado has to offer. I climbed 14ers (which is Coloradan for 14,000 ft. mountain), camped, went skydiving, and more. The only thing I’d change about my summer at Deer Valley Ranch is that I wish I’d taken my car. They tell you that you’re not required to have a car, and they even have airport transportation. BUT, only about half of the staff brought their cars so when it came to my day off, I’d have to pray that someone with a car would be off on the same day. Everyone was pretty good about making sure we had rides to the grocery and everything, but sometimes it’s nice to have the freedom to go where you want to on your own schedule. Deer Valley is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but there are a few neighboring towns (Salida and Buena Vista) that are fun to visit when you’re off work, so it’s nice to have a way to get there.
I could go on and on about daily life at the ranch, but the thing that makes Deer Valley Ranch one of the best places to work and visit is the people. As a staff we became such good friends that even after spending all day working with each other, we still wanted to hang out together after our shifts were over. The ranch owners treated us like family, which made working for them a joy.
Every experience has its ups and downs, but my summer at Deer Valley was one of the best experiences I’ve had. Whether you’re looking for an awesome job , or even just a cool place to visit, I would HIGHLY recommend it!
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*** I worked at DVR during the summer of 2014. Since then, it has come under new ownership, so a few of the details may have changed. However, I believe that they have maintained the same qualities that make it such a wonderful place.***