Flatirons Equestrian Center. Courtesy photo

Plan a Western-Style Vaca in Boulder


Boulder isn’t all namaste. It also has a dash of yehaw, giddy-up and howdy.

With Western and agricultural roots, dipping your boots into the cowboy culture is an important part of experiencing Boulder.

If you have a hankering for some horseback action, here’s where to go and what to do to plan a Western-style vacation (or staycation) in and near Boulder.

Where to Shop

Boot Barn, Longmont

You can find this Western chain in Longmont, just east of Boulder. It carries all the cool cowboy and cowgirl attire: boots, hats, shirts, you name it. Find brand names at Boot Barn.

R&R Buckles. Courtesy photo

R&R Buckles, Longmont

R&R sells custom and trophy belt buckles, all hand-made and hand-engraved. Pick from all kinds of materials, from sterling silver to brass, and tons of styles and sizes for rodeos, fairs, fashion or fun. Everything is custom made in shop. In addition to buckles, the business makes saddle trim and conchos.

R&R has been around for more than 50 years and has made thousands of belt buckles and tens of thousands of conchos. It’s a family business. The name is for the founder, Ray C. Cornell, and his son Ray G. “Butch” Cornell.

Boots at El Corral. Courtesy photo

El Corral Vaquero Western Wear, Longmont

For an authentic Mexican-Western experience, there’s El Corral in Longmont. This store carries Western clothes, including great cowboy boots, as well as fancy dresses, tiaras, accessories, communion and prom attire, sombreros and much more.

Get Your Gear

Saddle Up, Longmont

Saddle Up is a family-owned and run shop that sells new and used saddles (more than 250 to choose from), plus all of the horse tack you could need. You’ll find brand names, trail saddles, roping saddles, racing saddles, the list goes on. The business has been around since 1997; it began as a “retirement hobby and grew the old-fashioned way, from referrals and good, solid business ethic,” according to the website.

Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply, Longmont

Murdoch’s has everything, from horse feed and gear to all kinds of ranch and farm goodies. You can even buy baby chicks here when in season. Find tools, clothes, shows, hardware, home goods, garden gear, fencing supplies and everything you could possibly need to live that cowboy life.

Ride Horses

Medicine Horse. Courtesy photo

Medicine Horse Program, Louisville

This is a unique approach to horseback riding. It’s about healing with horses. Medicine Horse believes horses can help people process and grow through various challenges in life. It offers a wide range of programs, such as a horse-riding group for teenagers struggling with self-esteem, emotional regulation or substance abuse. Medicine horse also offers programs on exploring gender identity for teens; for women impacted by breast cancer; and for active service members and veterans of the military.

Rocky Mountain Riding Therapy

Rocky Mountain Riding Therapy is a nonprofit therapeutic horseback-riding program in south Boulder. It offers all kinds of horse-assisted activities and therapies, for kids and adults with various emotional, physical and cognitive disabilities, or behavioral/sensory issues But these are not offered as sessions over a certain period of time. Instead, each rider goes at their own pace as frequently and long as needed.

The nonprofit also offers recreational opportunities where you can hang out with the horses and get to know them.

Flatirons Equestrian Center. Courtesy photo

Flatirons Equestrian Center, Lafayette

This center just outside of Boulder offers all things horse: riding lessons, day camps, longer camps, clinics, horsemanship lessons, field trips, horse boarding, schooling shoes and special events, like birthday parties. Flatirons Equestrian Center was founded more than 13 years ago. Today, is boasts more than a dozen horses and ponies of various sizes and breeds, even a few miniature horses.

The center shares space with the Medicine Horse Program.

Country Music

East Boulder Community Center

Seniors can learn line-dancing and country two-step at the East Senior Center. The instructor regularly teaches a variety of country dance styles, including the Cowboy Cha Cha, Cowboy Boogie, Electric Slide and basics of the Country Two-Step. The class is set to country music, of course. And it’s pretty popular.

A man on the mechanical bull at The Grizzly Rose. Courtesy photo

Grizzly Rose, Denver

While not in Boulder, the “Griz” is not a far drive outside of town (not quite in the downtown Denver area), and it’s the premier country club in the area. In fact, the Country Music Association once named it the Best Country Music Club. It boasts a huge dance floor, live music that spans local bands to famous acts (the likes of Garth Brooks and Willie Nelson) and other fun features, like pool, an arcade, a store, smoke shop, a mechanical bull, video game room and even a shoe shine shop to polish up your kickers. The Grizzly Rose even offers free dance lessons and some family-friendly events.

Vista Verde Ranch. Photo by Russell Hinkle

Want More?

Here are some more ways to immerse yourself in Western culture in or near Boulder:

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