Spring House on a sunny day

Secluded Colorado Ranch

Blue Lake Ranch, a romantic Durango bed and breakfast, is just 15 minutes from the bustling frontier town of Durango, Colorado. With breathtaking views of the La Plata Mountains, meandering meadows, lush gardens, and private spring-fed trout-filled lake, our lake ranch has grown from a handful of rooms in the Main Inn to 16 world class lodging options. We have been hosting guests for generations now and growing our business by word of mouth with a list of loyal and happy guests a mile long.

Counted among the top Inns by Country Inns, Condé Nast Traveler, NBC, National Geographic Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Sunset, USA Today and others, Blue Lake Ranch is a quiet getaway for sophisticated and casual travelers alike. This Southwest treasure provides guests with a beautiful vacation spot to experience the best life has to offer.

Wedding venue at Ridgewood Event Center

Private Event Venue

One mile from the Ranch is the Ridgewood Event Center, a spectacular two-story Barn built with all local pine lumber. Surrounded by acres of green lawns and towering Cottonwood trees, Ridgewood is a top choice for Colorado mountain weddings, Yoga retreats, corporate events, reunions and other special events.

Knowing the stress that can come from planning events, the Ridgewood sought to change that dynamic by having all the equipment needed for each event on site. From beautiful wooden chairs to round or farm tables, we also furnish the linens, high-quality tableware and glassware. Our professional staff even sets up this equipment and cleans up, letting the renter enjoy their event.

The Ridgewood has added a beautiful 2400 sq ft high peak white tent pavilion and other new amenities including popcorn and s’mores bars, lawn games, heaters, cocktail tables, and hundreds of table décor and signage items. The Ridgewood can also provide floral arrangements, many picked from the flower gardens surrounding the Center.

Ute petroglyphs in stone wall

History of the Region

The story of the Four Corners Region of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona begins more than ten thousand years ago with man’s first appearance on the landscape. The Native Americans, now known by their tribal names of Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Jicarilla Apache, Ute Mountain Ute, and Southern Ute, lived here for centuries before being joined by Spanish explorers, soldiers, missionaries, and fur trappers, who were soon followed by traders, miners, ranchers, farmers and town’s people who pushed in to the mountains and plains following the cry “Go West.”

Blue Lake Ranch is very much a part of this sweeping human drama. It has evolved from a simple 1910 Norwegian homestead on Southern Ute Trust Land that was opened up to homesteaders in 1894 by the Homestead Act, into a luxurious Southwest Country Inn. The historic Main Inn, built by a Norwegian Immigrant in 1910, has been added onto over the century and now serves as Ranch Headquarters and home to the Family Room, Kitchen, Dining Room, Gift Shop, Business Office, beautiful patios and four of the Ranch’s 16 stunning guest accommodations.

Deck on blue lake

The Inn enjoys much sought after privacy by being surrounded by Southern Ute Trust Land and the State of Colorado 6000 acre Old Fort Lewis…the site of the original American Fort that became an Indian Boarding School, then eventually turned into Fort Lewis College before being moved to Durango in the 1950s. The “Old Fort” as neighbors call it now provides land and water for small startup agricultural ventures. Knute Johnson, the original homesteader got it right. The view of the 13,000 foot La Plata Mountains from the private spring-fed valley is unsurpassed, and the perennial springs that have never failed even in the driest years, feed the freshest of spring water to Blue Lake.

David Alford purchased the Ranch in the 1970s and has been a planting fool for almost 45 years, turning the Ranch into a showcase of high-altitude gardens, many being deer resistant and drought tolerant. There are thousands of spring bulbs, hundreds of fruit trees, flowering ornamental trees and shrubs, and beautiful acres of unspoiled native vegetation.

A hummingbird in a nest

Natural History

The Ranch is home to more than 70 species of birds seen during the annual Audubon Bird counts carried out at the Ranch and Old Fort. The springs and lake also provide an important source of water to local wildlife including Deer, Elk, Bobcats, Fox, Coyote, Badger, Beaver, Muskrat, Ferrets, Skunks, and Raccoons. The Lake is home to the Western Painted Turtle, Rainbow and Brown Trout, many waterfowl including nesting Canada Geese, Great Blue Herons, and many varieties of Ducks.

In addition to the breathtaking natural environment of Blue Lake Ranch, the decades of careful expansion and growth have created large spacious accommodations reflecting their place in the Southwest. As featured in Linda Mason Hunter’s popular book, Southwest Style: A Home-lover’s Guide to Architecture and Design, the Ranch accommodations surround the guest with eye candy, like local hand-hewn and peeled logs used for ceiling beams, local bricks for floors, antique Trestle Wood flooring, locally handcrafted doors and furniture and unique crafts from the Four Corners, Mexico and Central America.

Woman with basket planting flowers in a field

Blue Lake Ranch has evolved into one of the Southwest’s best kept secret hideaways for those travelers willing to venture just minutes off the beaten path. Ideally located between Durango and Mesa Verde National Park and the La Plata Mountains, we invite you to experience the magic of Blue Lake Ranch in our magnificent private setting.

This was, and still is the perfect location to recover from the strains imposed by the demands of the modern world and to explore the history, traditions, artifacts, and cuisine of the many cultures of the Four Corners Region in the exciting American Southwest.

David with a wheelbarrow full of flowers

Ranch Expansion

In 1991, David married the girl next door, Shirley Isgar, daughter to one of the area’s ranching families. Shirley’s mom had been David’s gardening mentor and had shared many of her heirloom plants, seeds, and numerous gardening tips. Mom’s greatest contribution to David’s life came, however, when she played matchmaker during one of her daughter’s trips to visit the family. Shirley was a physician, practicing in Boulder, Colorado, but was easily lured back home and has been helping David at Blue Lake Ranch ever since. Their daughter, Joan, was born in 1993 and now assists them in their efforts overseeing events at the Ridgewood Event Center.

Together, the Alford’s have listened to their guests’ needs and desires and have expanded the Ranch accordingly. Couples often travel with their adult children or aging parents, or even another couple. We’ve created large accommodations with two master suites with en suite bathrooms that share large living rooms and gracious outdoor areas, providing privacy yet shared common areas. This describes Upper and Lower Spring House and the River House…a home on 90 acres, one mile from Blue Lake Ranch on the banks of the La Plata River. We’ve also added American Leather Sleeper sofas, with Tempur-Pedic mattresses to the living rooms of our suites and Casitas, creating a very comfortable queen or queen plus bed for additional guests. Our larger accommodations have walk-in showers in addition to whirlpool tubs. It’s the little things that count when it comes to comfort.

In 1997, the Alfords built the Ridgewood Event Center, the first Outdoor Event Venue in the Four Corners. Located just one mile from the Ranch and on the banks of the La Plata River, the Center is surrounded by acres of green lawns and towering Cottonwood trees. The spectacular two-story Barn built with all local pine lumber is a top choice for Colorado Mountain weddings, yoga retreats, corporate events, reunions and other special events. The Ridgewood can host events of 50 to 250 in style.