Just south of the Wyoming/ Colorado border sits a ranch, nestled into the aspen groves which populate the Laramie River Valley. Ensconced between miles of meandering creeks, snow-capped mountains, and winding trails lined with blue spruce and sagebrush; there’s a place where time seems to move just a bit slower and the stars shine a bit brighter. Gently kissing the banks of the Laramie River and tucked away from troubles – one will find Rawah Ranch.
Rawah Guest Ranch is a wilderness ranch located in Northern Colorado within the Laramie River Valley. Since its founding in 1948, the Ranch has existed to provide the weary with a place to rest, relax, and take in a natural beauty that the region has to offer. Today, the ranch is recognized as a premier location for fly-fishing, Horseback Riding, Hiking, and many other pursuits of the outdoor enthusiast.
Last August, the Flylords team was lucky enough to visit the ranch to experience all that there was to offer. Over the course of 4 days and 3 nights, our team enjoyed first-rate hospitality as we fished, dined, rode, and explored some of the finest isolated beauty that the state has to offer. Here, we’ll be covering our experience there, as well as highlighting some of the amenities and activities the fine folks at Rawah Guest Ranch have to offer.
If you’re coming from the West or East, you’ll have the privilege of driving in through the Poudre Canyon, a breathtaking snapshot of what people dream of when they imagine the Western US. For the folks crossing Wyoming State lines, you’ll be entering down Co Road 103 down onto Laramie River road, which mirrors the snaking Laramie River all the way down to the porch steps of the Ranch, itself.
Once you pull in underneath the Rawah sign, you’ll have reached your destination, only to be met with the refreshing gust of the cool, crisp Colorado air and the faint sound of whinnying horses. The property boasts 9 wooden guest cabins, all of which vary in size and functionality. Along with these cabins, you’ll find a game room, a stable, a tack room, employee housing, the fishing cabin, and a few other structures that make up the campus of the Ranch. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll most likely make your way to the main lodge, where the aroma of whiskey, pastries, and finely prepared meals fill the air. Once checked in, the fun begins.
For most readers here, the main focus will be the fishing opportunity. The Ranch offers a plethora of different waters to fish, all unique in their own way. With a collection of extremely personable and knowledgable guides and any bit of gear you could possibly need, this is a fantastic fishery whether you’re a total novice or a tenured trout wrangler.
Brook Trout Fishing on Small Creeks:
Immediately upon arrival, we were eager to get out on the local streams which we had passed on the way in. Small creeks surrounded by freshly burnt forests encompassed the ranch, and as we paraded one by one down to the creekside, we immediately encountered a circus of small Brook Trout rising up and eagerly gorging themselves on a morning hatch.
Dividing into teams of two, we stretched across the creek to each explore a different section of this Brook Trout Meca. As we traversed through tall shoreside grasses and stealthily maneuvered over deadfalls, we relentlessly worked small pockets and riffles, with each cast almost surely met with an eager fish on the end of a small dry fly.
As any angler can concur, it’s this type of fishing where it’s about everything besides the fish. While beautiful to look at and fun to hold, with each fish landed, the activity lends itself to be less focused on the act of working for fish, and more towards appreciating the beauty of the world that surrounds the water – and it surely was beautiful.
Reservoir Fishing for Grayling:
Grayling, also known in Sweden as: “The Sun Fish”, is a species that make their way onto many anglers’ bucket lists, but can sometimes be difficult to cross off. In the US, we are most commonly familiar with the Arctic Grayling, a spunky member of the Salmonidae family that can be most often found in the rivers of Alaska.
However, as some anglers may know, within select seasons in the lower 48, Grayling can sometimes be found in states such as Michigan, Montana, and Colorado. At Rawah Ranch, we had the exciting opportunity to target these famous little fish, just a few miles from the Ranch itself.
An afternoon tossing little dry flies such as mayfly imitations, tricos, and emergers is an afternoon well spent. As we worked the perimeter of the reservoir, the name of which I’ll leave omitted, we picked off little grayling as they surfaced to bugs in the sun. For some of the anglers in our party, it was their first Grayling. This proved to be a formidable introduction to the species, especially considering the fish was landed in our own state of CO. If you or someone you know is looking for an entry-level intro to Grayling: talk to the folks at Rawah for sure.
Fishing the Laramie River for Rainbow and Brown trout:
Behind the main lodge itself, you can hear the gentle murmur of the Laramie River flowing through the property. Just a few feet from the cabins, you can fish for the Rainbow and Brown Trout that populate the waters of the Ranch.
After a fantastic steak dinner, we snuck out with ranch guide, Mason to do some fishing on the local waters. Close enough to carry some whiskey with us, walked the river’s edge, picking out pockets and seams under the vibrant glow of the setting Colorado sun. As we waded around the turns of the snaking river, we tossed stimulators, hoppers, small dries, and even some streamers such as sparkle minnows and small sculpin imitations at prospective banks. Crossing back and forth from side to side, we sight fished from atop bridges and bushes, coercing trout to snap at our flies into the last minutes of the evening.
This fishery is a fantastic place to go for someone who is new to the sport, or someone looking to not start too far from the cabins. With kids, it’s a fantastic opportunity to introduce them to the sport of fly-fishing, while perhaps learning a thing or two yourself from the resident guides.
High Alpine Fishing For Cutthroat Trout:
Unfortunately, this is not a guided fishing trip that Rawah can offer. However, for the semi-experienced angler and so on, a fantastic fishery that many Coloradans hold dearly isn’t far. Just ask the guides at the ranch, and they can surely point you in the right direction.
After an easy hike to the top of the mountain, coming out at less than a mile up, we came upon an incredible high alpine fishery, jam-packed with Cutthroat Trout. Throughout the day, we circumnavigated the lake, attempting to persuade a cruising fish to take a small foam caddis off the surface. Eventually, we located a “honey-hole”, and through the crystal clear water spotted a congregation of fish, all feeding rapaciously on any insect that dared move within their vicinity. Within an hour or two, we had all caught our share of beautiful, red-bellied Cutthroat, and decided to let the fishery rest and to descend and go fill our bellies back at the ranch.
High alpine lake fishing for Cutthroat Trout is one of the most coveted angling activities in the West. located less than an hour from the Ranch itself, is a fantastic example of such and requires very minimal effort to reach. Again, we won’t be mentioning the name of the lake or trail in here, so if you’re not familiar with it from the pictures, be sure to ask a Rawah Guide.
If you listen closely in the morning, you can hear the clomping of galloping horses as the resident Wranglers drive a stampede of hooves back into their corral. This is Rawah’s on-site collection of horses, all with as much personality as those who ride them.
It’s these horses, that if you’re lucky enough to meet, will bring you through breathtaking forestry, opening up to expanses of sage, aspen, and pine. Whether it’s your first time atop a saddle, or you grew up riding; Rawah Ranch is a horseback rider’s paradise.
On our last day at the Ranch, we had the privilege of saddling up and head out exploring the scenic wilderness on a train of horses. Accompanied by our head guide, Angelo, and led by one of the head ranchers and certified cowgirl, Erin; we were exposed to the true Western horseback experience.
After an hour of maneuvering trails and convincing ourselves that we deserved to be underneath a buckaroo hat (even though none of us could tell the difference between a pretty palomino from a mule), we pulled over and stopped to fish some of the local water.
From there, it was a collection of getting humbled by the wrangler talent present in our company and learning more in an hour than we had collected in 20 years of infrequent riding. When it comes to visiting the Ranch, horseback riding is a must. Young or old, timid or brave, with the help of the Rawah staff you’re sure to leave with an experience that just might change your life.
Being avid bird hunters ourselves, one of our favorite activities back at Flylords HQ is getting out on a Sunday and whacking some clays for target practice. At Rawah Ranch, we were delighted to learn that they have a shooting range tucked away on the far side of the property. There, we loaded up some shells, two .20 gauges, and hit the dirt path on the Ranch Gator.
After throwing on some ppe, we hit the range, all brushing up on our shooting and remembering what terrible shots we were. Mason, our former fishing guide, showed us all up with a self tossed two-clay barrage – and we spent the remainder of our time attempting to do the same.
A great way to relieve some stress, clay shooting is a really fun opportunity to introduce beginners to the sport of shooting, in a safe and judgment-free environment. When at Rawah, definitely ask if you can schedule a time on the range. Shell inventory permitting, it’s a fantastic way to kill an hour before dinner. Also, while we didn’t participate, the range is also open to sharpen your archery skills.
Dinner, Drinks, and Relaxing:
At Rawah Ranch, guests are treated to 3-meals a day and plenty of food in between. But it’s really dinner that we looked forward to every day. After a long day well spent engaging in whatever activity you choose, there’s nothing better than sitting down to a warm dinner and dessert, prepared by the lodge’s own professional chefs.
These meals offer a selection to choose from each night, meeting all dietary requirements, while always offering something new. On top of fantastic food, there is an open tended bar full of the finest whiskeys, tequila, beer, and whatever libations you could help yourself to.
Once everything’s winding down, there’s nothing quite like relaxing by the fire pit, enjoying a drink, and soaking in a pageant of glistening stars decorating the night’s sky. If you’re lucky, there may even be some live music…
To see Rawahs Full list of offered activities, CLICK HERE. Or, Check them out on Instagram, HERE.
To visit Rawah Guest Ranch:
We cannot thank Rawah enough for hosting us on their one-of-a-kind property. We will certainly be heading back as soon as we can.