hero-jingle in front of the barn
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Raise the Barn

An initiative to restore the C Lazy U Ranch Barn

On October 21st and 22nd of 2020, the East Troublesome Fire made its way through the C Lazy U Ranch. Eight member homes, Evergreen guest cabin, two staff housing units and the iconic 98-year-old barn were all destroyed in the fire. Additionally, the ranch lost all of its hay for horse feed, including the new hay structure that housed it. All the horse corrals were damaged or burned, as well as several loafing sheds. A significant number of the ranch’s pastures and fence lines were impacted as well. 

This page is dedicated to the rebuilding of the barn. We will post photos here and keep you updated on the construction status as soon as it begins.

Barn History

The C Lazy U barn was built between 1920 and 1922 by Jack and Gertrude Smillie so they could begin operating the F Slash Ranch (now the C Lazy U Ranch) as a working guest ranch in the 1920’s. The barn was originally built as a dairy barn.

jack smillie prepares to lead guest on horse
Jack Smillie, third from right, prepares to lead guests on a horseback ride.
c lazy u ranch original picture
When the ranch was renamed to the C Lazy U Ranch, the barn was re-branded. But for a while, you could see both brands on the hayloft doors.

In 1947, Dick and Katie Schoenberger renamed the ranch, “C Lazy U Ranch” after the shape of Willow Creek, and the barn was re-branded. In this photo you can see the barn with one of the two tack rooms that Jack Smillie added later in his ownership of the ranch.

By the 1950’s the ranch had become a favorite equestrian destination that revolved around the barn, thanks in part to the children’s program established by Mare Palmer.

1950 postcard of the ranch
A 1950s postcard shows the ranch was beginning to buzz. The photo was taken from the loft of the barn, looking west.
barn ranch wedding

The barn has been featured in many magazine articles about the C Lazy U, and was a favorite photo op for weddings and other special events.

The East Troublesome Fire

On October 14th, a small brushfire started 13 miles from the ranch but within one day spread to over 4,000 acres. It was named the East Troublesome Fire due to its origination point in the East Troublesome basin west of the C Lazy U Ranch.

Due to its exceedingly rapid growth, the C Lazy Ranch guests, staff, horses and livestock were evacuated along with valuables, saddles, and historical documents. This extraordinary task was completed with the assistance of many local residents and caring individuals who came from as far away as Colorado Springs and Aspen. Horses were evacuated twice: once from C Lazy U Ranch and then again from a private ranch in Granby. Though the C Lazy U Ranch compound was spared early on, the erratic weather and fast-moving pace of the spread left no confidence that it was over.

In a joint effort between the ranch and firefighters, many precautions were taken to protect the ranch, such as starting controlled burns, removing flammable debris and digging firelines. The ranch compound remaining mostly intact is attributed to these amazing efforts.

On October 21st, the wind shifted and accelerated towards the ranch over Dexter Ridge. At 5:00pm that evening the emergency evacuation was ordered by the Fire Incident Command Center.

On October 22nd, the fire rapidly spread through the entire ranch property including the main compound, member communities and over extensive land and trails. Firefighters were called in after Sheriff Brett Schroetlin checked in on the ranch on his way home and discovered the barn on fire. Though it was too late for the barn, the fire at the Patio House was put out just in time. Their timely, valiant efforts saved a majority of the ranch property.

fire in the distance at ranch
Photo from October 21, 2020 as the East Troublesome Fire approached the ranch.

On October 22nd, the fire rapidly spread through the ranch property including the main compound, homesteads and extensive trails. Firefighters, led by Brandon Donner, were called in after Sheriff Brett Schroetlin checked in on the ranch on his way home and discovered the ranch on fire. Though it was too late for the barn, the fire at the Patio House was put out just in time. Their timely, valiant efforts saved a majority of the ranch property.

When the fire passed the ranch, in totality the ranch lost its beloved 99-year-old barn, Evergreen cabin, 700 tons of hay, hay storage structure, two employee homes, eight member homes and lots of densely wooded forests and sagebrush hillsides.. 


C Lazy U Ranch ownership and management have deemed the rebuilding process “Vision 2121.” There are many reasons to be optimistic and excited for the future, and though we are reopening in 2021, we look to restore and reimagine the next 100 years of C Lazy U Ranch; hence Vision 2121.

Vision of 2121 ranch

The ranch has created a committee that consists of the ownership group, management and members to manage the task of rebuilding of the barn.

The committee is in the process of enhancing and updating the barn while keeping its original charm. Updates may include things like: state of the art horse stalls, additional space for saddles and tack, more functionality, insulated and heated utilities, bathrooms for guests and staff, adding a second level common area for guests to enjoy which may include amenities such as a meeting room/living room complimented with food and beverage functionalities and viewing deck on the east side to take advantage of the spectacular vista of the Continental Divide and Indian Peaks.

C Lazy U Ranch has secured a temporary barn for saddle and tack storage, to use while the new barn is being constructed. The temporary structure will ensure a smooth operatio of C Lazy U’s world-renowned equestrian offerings during your stay.

As we begin the rebuilding process, we will post photos and updates as they happen!

Help Raise the Barn–Donate HereMany people have expressed an interest in helping to restore the barn. We are grateful for the outpouring of support. For those of you who have graciously reached out and want to donate we have established a PayPal account for this purpose. 100% of all proceeds raised will be used to rebuild the barn and each donor will be recognized for their thoughtful generosity.

We are extremely grateful to: Robert Windsor; Richard & Cynthia & Taylor Johnson; Ryder’s Fund YMCA of N. Colorado; Durham Family; Steinman Family; Bolton Family; Lanoha Family; Bailey Family; John Reese; James Knoll; Brian Bogert; Brett Bogert; Brandau Training.

Evacuation and Fire

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The room was even better than I had anticipated and we were able to check in before the time I had been told. Yay!

~ Laura H., 09-13-2021

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