Science Ranch 2016

Science Ranch 2016 has sold out. If you would like to be added to a waiting list, please email with your name, the number of people in your party, and whether there are any children in your group. If there is a cancellation and space becomes available, we will contact you via email.


Recreational Science is now legal in Colorado! 

At Science Getaways, our mission is to offer fun, relaxing vacations with the added bonus of science and learning. This July, we’ve got a Getaway for the whole family that’s all about the great outdoors: Science Ranch 2016 will be held Sunday, July 31 to Saturday, August 6, 2016 at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Loveland, Colorado. Their website is undergoing a redesign right now, so it only has basic info, but their Facebook page has a lot of great photos and comments from past guests. Sylvan Dale is located in a gorgeous valley where the Big Thompson River breaks free of the Rocky Mountains. The ranch is just a 75 minute drive from the Denver Airport and 45 minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park. In fact, a visit to the park is included in your ranch vacation! Visit the Registration Information page for complete details on how to join us on this sensational summer Science Getaway.


The lodge at Sylvan Dale Ranch

Our week at Sylvan Dale will include everything that makes a western dude ranch a incredible vacation, and we’ll throw in science and exploration too! We’ll have 3 special guest scientists along for Science Ranch 2016. Ecologist and ranch owner Dave Armstrong, PhD, will be our guide to exploring ecosystems around the ranch. Dave was our guest ecologist at the first Science Getaway at the C Lazy U Ranch and now he’s going to show us the impressive biodiversity of his own homestead. Perennial favorite geologist Dr. Holly Brunkal will be with us all week to teach us about the fascinating geologic history of the unique valley in which Sylvan Dale sits. We’ll hear a talk by special guest astronomer Dan Durda, a PhD astronomer specializing in asteroid impacts. And of course, astronomer (and co-host) Phil Plait will be with us all week to talk about and show us amazing things in the sky. Visit the Meet The Scientists page for more info about our scientists.


S’mores are a great treat after a busy day.

Science Activities

Anybody can go to a dude ranch, but for this week only, you’ll also be at a Science Ranch. That means that our resident scientists – Holly, Dave, and Phil – will be around all day teaching us about the amazing things to be discovered on the earth and in the sky. Phil Plait will bring along his 8″ Celestron telescope to show us the dazzling display of stars in the dark night skies and give presentations about exciting new astronomical discoveries. He’ll also bring along his solar telescope to show you the incredible things happening on the surface of the Sun. We’ll go on daily science hikes led by Holly or Dave. Both the geology and ecology of Sylvan Dale are extremely diverse and fascinating. In the surrounding ridges you’ll see Precambrian, Paleozoic, and Mesozoic Era formations. Some of the exposed rock is 1.75 billion years old! Over 70 types of mammals, including bighorn sheep, call Sylvan Dale home. Sylvan Dale sadly suffered extensive damage in the huge 2013 flood that swept through the area. They lost a couple of buildings and watched the river change course. Dave and Holly will teach us about the power of water to change the landscape and ecology.


Horses are bred and raised on the ranch.

This getaway will be fun and educational for all ages. Sylvan Dale is a family owned dude ranch in the Western tradition, with excellent home cooked meals served family style in the dining room and the finest hospitality you’ll ever experience. Three meals per day, horseback riding, and ranch activities are all built into the lodging rate. If you’re not into riding, that’s ok – there is a non-riding rate available for adults. Activities include daily horseback riding, trap shooting, cookouts, an overnight pack ride, bass fishing, campfires, a heated swimming pool and good old fashioned lawn games. There will also be an optional river rafting trip on the Cache la Poudre River.

If you want to read more about the excellent food and hospitality at Sylvan Dale, check out their outstanding Trip Advisor reviews.

Activities for Kids

Sylvan Dale Ranch is the perfect place for kids to have fun! The ranch offers a morning youth program for ages 3-12 that keeps them busy and entertained every day from 8:30 a.m. until noon. They’ll also be able to join in any ranch activities that are age appropriate. The minimum age for horseback riding is 6 and a couple of other activities, like rafting and trap shooting, may be restricted based on age or size.

Accommodations & Rates

Sylvan Dale provides lodging in cabins and guest houses. They lost a couple of cabins in the flood of 2013, so right now they are only able to sleep about 30 people. That means that we’ll have the whole ranch to ourselves and a smaller, more intimate group. All cabins have private baths, air conditioning and most have wifi. Our special weekly group ranch rates are as follows:

Adults $2066 (non-riding rate is $1796)
Youth 6-12  $1391
Kids 3-5  $860


Your cozy cottage awaits.

The rates listed above include 3 meals per day and all regularly scheduled ranch activities: daily riding, trap shooting, hay rides, cookouts, fishing, and an optional overnight campout. There is no extra resort fee, but tipping is greatly appreciated.

In addition to the ranch lodging rates above, there is a Science Getaways registration fee of $470 per person. Travel is not included in the lodging or registration rates and you’ll need to arrange your own air and ground transportation. See the Registration Information page for complete details.


Alcohol Policy

Alcohol is BYO in cabins. There is also beer and wine available for purchase in the lodge during the evenings.

If this sounds like a vacation you would enjoy, visit the Registration Information page for all the details. We hope to see you at Science Ranch 2016!

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