On October 21st and 22nd of 2020, the East Troublesome Fire made its way through the C Lazy U Ranch property, impacting significant portions of the land including some ranch buildings. 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 our hay for the horses, including the new hay structure that housed it. All the horse corrals were damaged and burned, as well as several loafing sheds. A significant number of the ranch’s pastures and fence lines were impacted too. 

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, third from right, prepares to lead guests on a horseback ride.
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 to the 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 on 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.

A 1950s postcard shows the ranch was beginning to buzz.
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 as well.

2020 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rapid growth, the C Lazy Ranch guests, staff, horses and livestock were evacuated along with valuables, saddles, and historical documents.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 places as far away as Colorado Springs and Aspen to assist in evacuating horses twice: once from the ranch and once from Granby. Though the 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 Grand County Fire Department.

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.. 

Vision 2121: Rebuilding C Lazy U Ranch

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

  • C Lazy U Ranch has created a committee that consists of the ownership group, management and members to manage the task of rebuilding of the barn.
  • Axial Arts out of Steamboat Springs, CO has been commissioned to design the new barn.
  • Committee members are working to identify the builder but have a great list of local contractors that are very familiar with the ranch.
  • 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 year-round use, bathrooms for guests and staff to use, adding second level common area space for guests to enjoy which may include things like a small 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 transition and not interrupt the ongoing operations 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 HereWe have received many unsolicited contributions to help rebuild the barn. We are grateful for the outpouring of your support. For those of you who have reached out and asked how you can contribute, we’ve arranged for you to donate through our PayPal account.

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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From the Horse's Mouth

“Guest ranch above and beyond outstanding”

What more would you want - incredible beauty all around you, 140 staff to 80 guests, very spacious rooms, attentive and friendly staff, horse riding twice a day, fishing, hiking, mountain biking! Food was fabulous. Cowboy coffee at 7:00 in the morning was a must... The kids program was amazing.

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