From Our Editors
Cody Walker muses that within the stillness of Rocky Mountain National Park, "You get a sense that it's the way it should be." His father, Rex, grew up on a steady diet of cowboy films, eventually following his dream to Colorado where he met his wife, Queeda. Queeda was born into a family of homesteaders who caught and broke wild steeds. In 1959, they channeled their passion for the old-west lifestyle into Sombrero Ranches, the parent company of Hi-Country Stables, in Rocky Mountain National Park. The stables eschew souvenir-shop gimmicks for horseback expeditions that, much like avalanches of super glue, bond visitors with their steeds and natural surroundings.
Today, Cody carries on his parents' legacy with a staff of ranch hands from nearby homesteads and college students participating in equine science programs all across the country. After training in a vigorous program that's evolved during more than 50 years, his employees launch short rides or lengthy adventures. Cody distinguishes the Continental Divide ride as one of the most awe-inspiring; it begins at Bear Lake at 6 a.m., wending across the Continental Divide and to Grand Lake during a nine-hour stretch.
In the off season, Hi-Country Stables lets its horses roam free in the wild to, as Cody puts it, "Get the horse back into them." When the time comes to round them back up, a select few make the 60-mile journey from the mountaintops down to the ranch. Those who endure the entire voyage earn a buckle, a rare trophy that engenders the utmost respect among fellow horsemen and professional collectors of belt buckles.