Back to the ranch

Discover Colorado's pioneer heritage along the Front Range
Lora J. Finnegan

COLORADO SPRINGS

Rock Ledge Ranch
Backed by soaring red rock formations in the Garden of the Gods Park, this historic ranch is a 270-acre preserve of American Indian and pioneer life in the Pikes Peak region. The complex will open June 4, and its living history programs and lively walking tours with docents and staff in period costume make a summer visit worth planning.

Rock Ledge Ranch has the region's only American Indian Living History Interpretive Area, where American Indians re-create the daily lives of Ute ancestors. Dressed in traditional clothing, they share stories of tribal origins and demonstrate food preparation, intricate beadwork, and shelter-making techniques; you might even get to try shinney, a Ute game similar to stickball.

There's also the elegant Orchard House, an estate built in 1907 with Arts and Crafts-style furnishings and ahead-of-its-time amenities such as steam heat and electricity. On this working ranch, June is sheep-shearing season, and the work is still done by hand; on June 7, you can help volunteers with felting, spinning, and weaving. Stop in at the Heritage Shop to purchase old-fashioned toys and other goods (719/578-6891).

Ranch open Jun 4-Labor Day, 10-5 Wed-Sun; $5. N. 30th St. at Gateway Rd. in Garden of the Gods Park; www.springsgov.com or (719) 578-6777.

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