A dirt road winds through a mountain pass to a sign reading "Aspen Canyon Ranch." Horses graze on the land leading up to the main lodge; dogs run free throughout the property.
Welcome to Camp Bud+Breakfast, a partnership between Bud+Breakfast and Aspen Canyon Ranch, which opened last weekend
near Parshall in Grand County, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Denver. Guests are welcome to explore the ranch grounds, enjoy such activities as yoga, hiking, fishing and swimming, and also partake in another pastime: smoking marijuana.
According to Ryan Collins, owner of Aspen Canyon Ranch, his place is different from other resorts because it does not impose harsh restrictions on guests. "Our biggest thing is, you can do whatever the hell you want here," Collins says. "We don't impose any time constraints; there are no curfews."
The decision to partner with Bud+Breakfast was an easy one, he adds. Aspen Canyon has had visitors partaking in cannabis-related activities for years, but Bud+Breakfast helped lend a structure to the marijuana experience at the ranch. "We smoke weed, we hang out, then we go to bed. It's easy," Collins says. "We supply the venue, and then [Bud+Breakfast] gets to do all the things they do."
Bud+Breakfast's largest location to date offers guests fourteen cabins
to choose from when booking their stay. Aspen Canyon can host up to fifty guests at a time; for Bud+Breakfast's opening weekend, about twenty people booked a stay at the ranch.
"We offer the intimacy of a bed-and-breakfast with the hospitality of a high-end hotel," says Lisa Schneider, co-owner of Bud+Breakfast with her husband, Joel.
The cabins have porches with views of the mountains and the Williams Fork River that borders the ranch; there are hot tubs nearby. The cabins are a quick walk from the main lodge, where meals are served; that lodge is the only place on the property where guests can get cell-phone reception or wifi.
At breakfast each morning, guests are welcome to enjoy a complimentary "Wake and Bake" along with their meal. After that, they can engage in more traditional resort activities before reconvening for a happy hour at 4:20 p.m.
On opening weekend, the Bud+Breakfast staff started getting the lodge ready for happy hour around 4 p.m. The Beatles' rendition of Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" played as guests gathered to sit on large black leather couches in the living room. Three weed varieties in open jars sat on a table in front of dab rigs, pipes and grinders.
"We don't have anything like this," said Cathy Gothie, a guest from Pittsburgh. "I'm too old to be caught behind a dumpster smoking a joint, so it's relaxing being in an environment where this is encouraged."
Finger food was offered at the bar, where the staff serves drinks. Some of the hors d'oeuvres were marked as "marijuana-infused."
Gothie and her husband, brother and sister-in-law were the first guests at the ranch. She was up every morning to do yoga and learned to fly-fish on her second day. She and her sister-in-law also elected to enjoy massages with marijuana-infused oils down by the river.
After their stay in Grand County, Gothie's group headed to Bud+Breakfast's Colorado Springs location so that they could see more of this cannabis-friendly state before heading home.
Dinner is served at 6 p.m., after happy hour. A chef remains on the premises at all times, along with at least one Bud+Breakfast staffer to oversee the guests; the staff is all trained in CPR and other first-aid techniques.
When one guest overdid it on opening weekend, Lisa Schneider helped the gentleman to the floor and held his head in her lap as she calmly instructed the staff to get a cold compress, water and orange juice from the kitchen. "Listen, I'm a mother. You can't freak me out like this, okay?" she joked, as the man started to come to.
Since he had no medical history of passing out or seizures, the staff quickly diagnosed the guest as needing food and suffering from a bout of altitude sickness. He'd been one of the last guests to arrive and hadn't eaten since breakfast, so the mixture of weed, alcohol and altitude likely pushed his system over the edge.
An older man visiting one of their other Bud+Breakfast locations hadn't smoked weed in over thirty years, and just the smell of the smoke made him dizzy, Schneider recalls. Altitude can exacerbate that situation.
The ranch sits at 9,300 feet above sea level. "It's like Disney World. Guests come, and it's like, 'I want to eat this, I want to take that,' and then you're sick to your stomach," Schneider says. "When you check in, we say drink water. At all our locations, the first thing we say is drink water, drink water, drink water.
"We're the Bud+Breakfast, but the only thing we push is water," she adds, laughing.
Schneider says she only smokes pot once or twice a year, which allows her to play host and make sure the guests are taken care of and are enjoying themselves.
Guests at the four Bud+Breakfast locations range in age from 22 to people in their late sixties; Schneider's eighty-year-old parents even paid a visit once. Gothie said her group's members were obviously the oldest people at the ranch, but that didn't stop them from having fun talking with the other guests.
"When I was in college, we all smoked together," co-owner Joel Schneider says. "Then you move on in your life and you end up smoking by yourself. What we're trying to bring back is smoking together and creating relationships around cannabis."
It's important to create a relaxed environment where people feel comfortable hanging out with other cannabis enthusiasts, he adds, and part of that relaxed environment includes pets. The staff at Aspen Canyon Ranch own dogs, and the Schneiders bring their dogs up with them each weekend.
Guests who bring pets are asked to pay an extra damage deposit. "We are dog fanatics. We love having them, but everyone says their dog is housebroken, and we've had trouble with that in the past," Lisa explains. "They're more than welcome, though! We love having dogs. This is fantasy land for them."
Joel says the pet policy is simple: "It really comes down to this: Good dogs are allowed. If your dog's a dick, leave him home."
The Schneiders believe it's important for Colorado to have places where tourists can smoke cannabis freely when they visit the state, and the ranch is an ideal setting. "I don't like the smell of it when I'm walking down on 16th Street," Joel says. "I find it offensive. And I love cannabis, don't get me wrong. But this is a city and a tourist area, and it should be a safe and secure location for families to be able to wander and go to stores and restaurants. That's why we exist. I think we serve a function. We are keeping people safe and secure in private locations doing what they came here to do.
"A lot of the baby boomers smoked in college, they really enjoyed it, and then they moved on with their lives. They forgot how much fun it is to be back and be able to smoke socially again," Joel concludes.
Cabins rent for $399 a night. Click the Camp Bud and Breakfast at the Aspen Canyon Ranch
website to find out more.