Experiencing Sombrilla Ranch, Pagosa Springs, Colorado, USA.
By Jessica Shouse
I was thrilled when I first received the email from Nicole of campingforwomen.com with the opportunity to go to Pagosa Springs, Colorado and review a new Glamping getaway spot. The Pagosa area had been on my Colorado travel bucket list for quite some time. After a few email exchanges, the opportunity evolved into a giveaway for the first-ever, Women’s Glamping Retreat at The Barn on Sombrilla Ranch.
The Barn on Sombrilla Ranch sits on a sprawling 500 acre, fully operating, cattle ranch just outside of Pagosa Springs, Colorado; about 5 hours southwest of Denver. Sandlin Reed Niccum is the 100% all American, powerhouse woman owner/operator of the ranch. Sandlin comes to Pagosa from the Austin, Texas area. Sandlin’s family has a strong history in the ranching business. Sandlin’s Mother passed away a couple of years ago and had always dreamed of having Glamping tents on the ranch. It is in her honor that Sandlin went to work and opened The Barn and the glamping resort. And let me tell you, she has done her mother proud. What a spectacular place!
The drive down to the ranch was breathtaking. The last stretch back to the ranch takes you about 10 miles down a very remote, dirt county road. You lose all cell phone service just upon turning onto this road. The tradeoff is the incredible views of the San Jan Mountains that surround. I arrived late on a Tuesday afternoon in September after a long day of travel. Laura, Business Manager & Sandlin, Owner/Operator, welcomed me onto the ranch with open arms and a hot, delicious home-cooked dinner. After dinner and some nice conversation, I made my way from the lodge back over to the Glamping area to get settled in for the evening.
The Glamping area is made up of four large canvas tents, a group fire pit area, and a bathroom/shower area. Now, these are not your typical tent setups ladies. Each tent is outfitted with real, comfy beds with cozy, plush linens and room for 5. Each luxurious tent has its own color scheme and unique homey, décor & touches to match; including propane space heaters to keep you nice and toasty warm. My tent, the green tent, had two rustic rocking chairs on the front porch area where I sat and watched the sunset. No detail was left untouched in these tents. In the middle of the tent area sits a bathroom area, complete with flush toilet, sink with running water and an outdoor shower with plenty of hot water. The shower area even had its own private fire pit.
Perhaps the highlight of the property is the old historic barn that Sandlin has completely renovated into an amazing, welcoming entertaining centerpiece. It certainly was the hangout hub during our retreat. The barn is fully equipped with power, WiFi, a kitchen area, two bathrooms and a shower room. The lower level has a pool table and a cozy sitting area. The upper level boasts a large dining area, a movie room and a spectacular balcony with breathtaking views overlooking the pristine pastures of the ranch. Just outside the barn you will find a gorgeous, rustic wedding altar, made out of old aspen trees and a large fire pit area. Again, no detail left untouched. The Barn on Sombrilla is the perfect space for a wedding, family reunion or your next girl’s trip.
Wednesday morning, I woke up early and spent a few hours exploring the grounds around the ranch before the giveaway winners arrived for our wellness retreat days. The 500-acre Sombrilla Ranch sits at the base of the San Juan National Forest and Wilderness. Standing on the front porch area of my tent, the Continental Divide was easily in view. Deer, cow, horses, elk and even bear freely roam the ranch. After a quick morning hike, it was time for the other guests to arrive.
Once our 14 guests arrived and after a quick round of introductions, everyone was sent to settle in their tents and then return to the barn area for some relaxing afternoon yoga. More to come on the barn area, truly the highlight of the property. Our amazing yoga session took place on the upper level of the barn, on the old, rickety, wood plank floors. With the large sliding barn doors left wide open, the warm, glowing afternoon sun bouncing off the mountains surrounding us, sneaking in to warm our faces. A nice, slow, flow is just what the ladies needed after a long day of travel.
After a lovely welcoming champagne toast, we headed out for a hors d’oeuvres and wine tasting campfire tour of the ranch. The ranch’s in-house chef prepared some lovely pairings that were enjoyed amongst the setting sun. At one stop, we were even joined by some of the resident cattle! It was a spectacular evening enjoyed by all. After the tour we went back to the barn to enjoy more wine and each other’s company. Sandlin entertained us all late into the evening with her incredible, vibrant storytelling about life on the ranch.
Sunrise was spectacular Thursday morning. The Alpen glow lit up the mountains in soft hues of pinks and purples, as the rising sun warmed the cool early morning air. We were welcomed to early morning yoga in the barn with the soft sounds of some beautiful singing bowls. The mornings meditation, “How does nature heal you?” The morning yoga session was followed by a beautiful breakfast and a couple of hours of free time where guests enjoyed reading on the barn balcony, relaxing in hammocks and even some archery.
Around lunchtime, we headed off the ranch to hike to nearby Opal Lake in The San Jan National Forest.
This is a moderate, 2.5 mile out and back trail with about 500 feet of elevation gain, that features a beautiful, pristine, alpine lake.
You pass through the most magical Aspen grove and hike alongside a stream with the most beautiful blue-green water.
Once at the lake, we all enjoyed a boxed picnic lunch before heading back down.
After our hike, guests were given the opportunity to venture into town for the evening. About half of the group enjoyed the time by soaking in The Pagosa Hot Springs; 24 mineral water pools that overlook the San Juan River. We had great conversation while enjoying a little relaxation & rejuvenation. After our soak, we headed out on the town for a round of margaritas and some dinner at a local Mexican eatery. Friday morning, we enjoyed another beautiful breakfast in the barn and some of us enjoyed wonderful massages as we enjoyed a few last peaceful moments on the ranch. As we said our goodbyes, guests were gifted a small parting gift that included an adorable group photo.
The first-ever Women’s Retreat at The Barn on Sombrilla Ranch was a huge success. The hospitality and customer service was unmatched. I’d like to send a huge “Thank You!” to both Sandlin and Laura for creating an experience that will never be forgotten. One guest wrote, “the experience was absolutely wonderful. The ranch was absolutely stunning, you all did such a great job, we had a wonderful trip.”