A Bucolic Fall Paradise at Smith Fork Ranch
by Amiee White Beazley
Fall is the perfect season to explore Aspen’s neighboring towns while seeking out the brilliant fall colors. And if one needs an excuse to head even further west, Smith Fork Ranch in nearby Crawford, Colorado is all too perfect. This fall, the public has the special opportunity to dine at the Smith Fork Ranch restaurant for Saturday dinners and Sunday brunch.
Located near the Needle Rock formation, surrounded by Gunnison National Forest, the vintage property was abandoned decades ago before being resurrected by current owners Marley and Linda Hodgson and their family.
The property was reborn as an all-inclusive luxury getaway. Everything for guests is at the ready, and the amicable staff provides boundless energy so you can experience it all—fly-fishing, horseback riding, archery, hiking, wine tasting at nearby vineyards, and more.
The service and lodgings are impeccable, and the activities are abundant, but what truly separates Smith Fork Ranch from other guest ranches is the food. Every meal is improvised from that day’s garden harvest, making each meal’s menu dynamic and fresh. Chef Seth Bateman cures his own meats, making sausages and cheese in the winter, and preparing three meals a day in summer and fall for guests.
During my stay, lunch was a decadent smoked brisket sandwich of goat cheese, balsamic onions, and arugula on house-made bread. Dinner, paired with wine from the Hodgson’s private cellar, began with an exciting handmade cavatelli with a phenomenally textured almond pesto, rapini, golden raisins, and aged cheddar; seared scallops in garlic cream with radishes, snow peas, and house-cured bacon followed a warm spinach salad; and a delicious final course consisted of ricotta fritters with olive oil sabayon and cherry-lemon marmalade.
Every meal was noteworthy, even Sunday brunch, which is always open to the public. Roasted pork loin, lamb tartine, and extra thick French toast served with walnut-rosemary maple syrup and house-made chorizo were among the winners on the menu.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF SMITH FORK RANCH