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  • Vacation on the Range

    Colorado's newest tourism trend: Overnighting on the farm.

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    In Colorado, getting “R & R” means something more—rest, relaxation…and ranches. In 2012, the most recent year for which figures were available, Colorado was fourth in the country for agritourism revenue (from corn mazes to vineyard tours) with $28 million. Expect that to climb as more operations target the latest trend: farm stays, where guests pay to overnight and help out around the homestead in exchange for good grub, reconnecting with the land, and stellar scenery. Here, three places to catch up on your “R & R & R.”

    GETTING YOUR GOAT

    Avalanche Farm and Dairy | Paonia

    Set among the pasturelands of the North Fork Valley, Avalanche Cheese Company’s 130-acre dairy farm is home to close to 600 goats, three llamas, and 200 chickens. That presents plenty of chances to get your hands dirty, whether milking the herd (Avalanche sells artisanal goat cheese to some of Aspen’s toniest spots, such as the St. Regis Aspen Resort) or harvesting eggs. If you prefer a hands-off experience, enjoy the view of 11,402-foot Mt. Lamborn—which goes great with Avalanche’s specialty sausage (free samples are in your welcome basket)—from the porch of the rustic shotgun cabin. $200; avalanchecheese.com

    CAMPING WITH CRITTERS

    Sustainable Settings | Carbondale

    Sustainable Settings opens the old Thompson Creek Ranch to guests eager to pitch tents
    in a cozy pasture. The nonprofit’s main gig is operating a learning center devoted to sustainable agriculture and green development on its 244-acre spread. But these “ranch stay” weekends (available by request) re-engage people with the land by having campers care for the animals and harvest herbs and veggies. In exchange, overnighters get three ranch meals. Sustainable Settings also provides grub to about 40 local families who have CSA (community supported agriculture) shares. $200; sustainablesettings.org

    ANIMAL FARM

    Horse & Hen Inn | Hayden

    In April, the Wattles family, which has owned a 110-acre ranch along the Yampa River since 1934, debuted this charming, four-room bed-and-breakfast. Consider this Farm Stay 101, since guests aren’t expected to help with the chores. But you’re more than welcome to introduce yourself to Norma, the dairy cow, and Teacup, the rooster, as well as the six horses and 22 egg-laying hens. Depending on the season, a litter of piglets may be on-site. Let the owners know if you don’t want to eat anything you’ve met. Rooms from $109; horseandheninn.com

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