Smith Fork Ranch

Needle Rock in Crawford Colorado
Staff at our Cookout with the Horses
Wrangling Staff
Fall Valley
Friday Night Cookout with Staff and Guests
Breakfast Ride
Guide Staff
Night Sky from Smith Fork
Mounting Block at Sunset
Deer by the River Pond
Line Dancing
Fishing the Gunnison in the Black Canyon
Hiking the Black Canyon
Trail Riding
Archery Competition
Safari Club
The North Fork Valley
Buck on Smith Fork Ranch
Rainbow Near the Black Canyon
Horses in the Pasture at Fall
View of the Ranch from the Ditch at Fall
Finding Snow in June
View from Azura Cellars Patio
The Aspens up Virginia Creek
Local Rodeo

Come join us in our magnificent corner of the Rocky Mountains where our passion and mission is to preserve and nurture the authentic western lifestyle and experience.

Straddling the Smith Fork River valley, midway between Aspen and Telluride, Smith Fork Ranch is an outpost of luxury tucked away in the beautiful Colorado mountain wilderness. Come call Smith Fork Ranch home for the summer and leave with memories, experiences and friends for a lifetime.

We are located in the North Fork Valley of the Western Slope of Colorado. The 3 towns nearby are: Crawford with 2 restaurants a gas station and Crawford State Park with a Reservoir Hotchkiss which includes a grocery store, restaurants, gas stations and some local shops Paonia with a local brewery, restaurants, orchards and a health food store

About Smith Fork Ranch

Altitude 7100 ft ––– Latitude 38° 42' 90" ––– Longitude 107° 30' 45"

Smith Fork Ranch provides luxurious guest accommodations in the rustic tradition, breathtaking views in every direction, highly acclaimed cuisine using our own organically grown vegetables, fruits, poultry and regional game, an award-winning wine cellar, outstanding fly fishing on miles of private waters, a stable of well-trained riding horses, expert guides for fishing, riding, hiking, sporting clays, mountain biking and other outdoor activities including a very active children's program. Our passion and mission is to preserve and nurture the authentic western lifestyle and experience, and to share it with guests at Smith Fork Ranch here in our magnificent corner of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

With a capacity of 26 guests per week and a staff of approximately 28, SFR employs energetic, hardworking, flexible individuals who understand the main goal is to give guests a wonderful and memorable vacation. Versatility and flexibility are important qualities in all SFR staff. We are looking for happy, motivated, charismatic individuals that have a love for the outdoors.

The Employee Experience

Being a member of the Smith Fork Ranch team might be the most difficult job you have ever had.  It can also be the best job you have ever had! Employees of the Smith Fork Ranch family share our philosophy and values;  having an exceptional character, a commitment to classic hospitality and are eager in helping to create our little sanctuary with a profound sense of place.  Our employees are always of colorful personalities and come from a variety of different backgrounds but all share a common interest in serving those around them. We believe our staff is the single most important factor of our guest’s vacation experience.  Hard work while having a great time is our goal.

Ideal Candidate

Working at a guest ranch is fun and fulfilling, but it’s not a vacation. Staff members can expect long days, to work hard and expend lots of energy with enthusiasm. Smith Fork Ranch has a commitment to excellence throughout the ranch including high employee standards. Our goal is to provide our guests with an amazing and memorable ranch vacation and each department works together to do this. Each staff member can expect to help in different areas of ranch operations at some time or another such as housekeeping, waiting tables, dishwashing, clearing trails, and grounds keeping.


Smith Fork Ranch Staff:

  • Communicate effectively and sensitively
  • Are attentive to the needs of others
  • Enjoy working with people and genuinely care about their well-being 
  • Have high self-esteem and a positive outlook on life
  • Are honest, responsible, and conscientious with a desire to carry out work assignments to the best of their personal ability
  • Are flexible and easygoing – even when the unexpected occurs
  • Have a good sense of humor and the ability to have fun in many different settings
  • Have the ability to do the work to which they are assigned with efficiency, safety, and enthusiasm
  • Are positive role models for others and take their responsibilities seriously
  • Get along with, enjoy being with, and respect people of different ages and backgrounds
  • Are team players
  • Appreciate the outdoors

Room and Board

Since we are in a remote location, staff lives on the property in shared bunkhouse-style, two-story buildings. There are separate living quarters for male and female staff, adjoining the staff living quarters is a recreation room with a small kitchen, satellite T.V., limited wi-fi, foosball table, a Ping-Pong table, as well as a campfire available for staff.

All meals are provided for staff to enjoy both on their working days and days off!  We do our best to cater to food allergies and reasonable dietary preferences. 

Housing is provided at a nominal fee and we do provide basic furnishings, linens, towels, cleaning supplies and laundry detergent to our seasonal staff.

Due to our staff size and location we cannot allow seasonal staff to have pets on the SFR property.

We do not have co-ed housing for couples and we are not able to accommodate families in housing.

Employee Perks

We offer competitive compensation along with room and board, 3 prepared meals a day. All seasonal members of SFR staff are included within the shared ranch tip pool, which accumulates all tips left behind by our generous guests.

Staff get at least one day off a week. We encourage you to take advantage of all on-ranch activities and amenities on your days off. Please note that this is dependent on how many guests go on a ride, go shooting, go fishing, etc. and may not work out on your specific day off. There are lots of hiking and mountain biking trails as well as thousands of acres to explore within the Gunnison National Forest. There is a reservoir about 10 minutes away from the ranch that has a small beach and is great for swimming or BBQ’s. A lot of times we can help you arrange a float or rafting trip down the Gunnison River which is nearby.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is nearby and is great for camping, hiking, exploring, and fishing. 

Getting Here and Getting Around

Smith Fork Ranch is located in the West Elk Range of the Rocky Mountains, 11 miles east of the small town of Crawford. We are about 20 minutes from Hotchkiss and 30 minutes from Paonia, two other small towns that offer some restaurants, a local brewery, live music in the park, little shops, grocery stores, orchards & wineries, fruit stands in the summer and a lot of character.

The Western Slope area where we are located is an ideal place to spend the summer and explore a part of Colorado that is virtually undiscovered. With that said, the North Fork Valley (the valley we overlook) is not a place where you are going to find a big nightlife scene. If you are looking for an area of Colorado to fuel the inner party animal, the North Fork Valley may not be your place.

We are about 1 ¾ hours from Grand Junction, CO and 1 1/4 hours from Montrose, CO.  Both towns have commercial airports.  We’re 2 ¼ hours from Aspen and 2 ¾ hours from Telluride.

All employees are welcome to bring their own vehicles and we encourage it. If you do not have a personal vehicle SFR will arrange for staff members to be picked up at either Montrose or Grand Junction airports and transported to the ranch. Once you are here rides with other employees can be arranged and shared on your days off.

For Fun

A most spectacular natural backdrop, the Gunnison National Forest, surrounds us and it offers countless outdoor opportunities. On the ranch enjoy hiking, horseback riding, fly fishing, archery, sporting clays, mountain biking, swimming and frisbee golf, to name a few. Spend your time off the ranch exploring the areas around us with back country camping, visits to the Black Canyon National Park, rafting or kayaking, rock climbing, local Colorado wine tastings & tours, visit the galleries and workshops of exceptional local artists and craftsmen, learn to blow glass or make pottery. There is something for everyone!

Check us out on:

Our Jobs

Our 2018 Season is from May and runs through the end of October our Peak Summer Season ends in August. Applicants must be able to stay from mid-May through the end of August and preference will be given to those who can stay through the remainder of the season until October 31, 2018.

The following are our available summer opportunities at Smith Fork Ranch for the 2018 Season:

Culinary Team

Baker/Kitchen Assistant

The Baker/Kitchen Assistant position is one of the key positions at the ranch. We operate one of the very best, high-end ranches in the USA, which requires a creative, all around five-star dining experience. This individual will work with our executive chef and kitchen team to achieve this overall goal. The primary job responsibilities for the Baker/Kitchen Assistant will be the production of all sweet and savory baked goods to include: breakfast pastries, bagels, desserts, cookies, bread, rolls, pizza dough, etc. and assisting the Executive Chef/Sous Chef/Breakfast Cook with breakfast service including ala carte, buffet, boxed breakfasts, staff meal and outdoor breakfasts over the campfire. This individual will assist in all kitchen operations, from elegant plated dinners, to casual lunches, gourmet picnic baskets, off-ranch pack trips, streamside cookouts and employee meals. The summer season typical daily guest count is 20-26. Seasonal staff is 18-20.
Food And Beverage

Dining Staff

The Dining Staff is responsible for the enjoyment of each dining experience of our guests. SFR’s chefs prepare gourmet meals each day, from special local ingredients of Colorado’s North Fork Valley – Lamb, Beef, Game, Fish, and some of the countries best locally grown organic fruits and vegetables. A full ranch breakfast is served in the Dinner Bell Cookhouse, and for lunch, each family, group, or individual picks up a picnic basket with their pre-selected lunch items for a picnic streamside, on a cabin porch or next to one of our many private ponds. Dinner is a special event and is served on the pavilion of the old Elk Lodge in full view of the Mountains. Other specialty meals during summer season include breakfast cooked over a campfire during an early morning trail ride and a weekly cookout at a site near the stream. The service and execution of each meal is of utmost importance to the overall guest ranch vacation experience, so superior customer service skills, the ability to communicate effectively, and keen attention to detail are vital to the success of Dining Staff and our overall Culinary Experience.
Farm and Garden

Farmstead Gardener / Groundskeeper

The groundskeeper/gardener at Smith Fork Ranch will report directly to the General Manager and work closely with both the Ranch Foreman and Executive Chef. This position consists of two different but related aspects of the Smith Fork Ranch experience. The cultivated grounds within the ranch compound and the farmstead garden are of equal importance to the guest experience. This position will be responsible for assigning tasks (such as mowing, weed removal, etc.) to the outdoor guides during the guest season. The management of our 1/3 acre farmstead garden and greenhouse before and during season to ensure our kitchen team is supplied with a proper harvest of fruits and vegetables is of the utmost importance
Guest Services

Guest Experience and Reservations Assistant

You will assist the Reservations Manager in ensuring that each guests needs and wants are meet and exceeded. You will act as a concierge for our high end clientele while they are visiting the ranch. This includes ensuring that they are enjoying themselves as well as communicating the guest’s needs/wants to the guides, housekeepers, culinary team youth counselors and General Manager. You are a line of communication between guests and staff. The Guest Experience and Reservations Assistant will also be answering daily emails and phone calls so you must be computer savvy, have great phone etiquette, have previous hospitality experience, are organized and able to learn programs quickly. A jack of all trades is a good fit for this position as they are willing to step in wherever needed.
Food and Beverage and Supervisor

Head of Dining, Bar and Events

The Head of Dining (who is also the lead dinner server) has the potential to make a large impact on the guest experience at SFR. Front of the house service is a vital area of the operation and requires a high degree of guest interaction and superior people skills. The person who fills this role must be outgoing, motivated, organized and able to train and lead others. Additionally, this person must have a good working knowledge of hospitality/wait service in a fine dining setting that includes a strong knowledge in wine, liquor and beer. Please see the Dining Staff Job Description
Housekeeping and supervisor

Head of Housekeeping

Head of Housekeeping supervises and works with cabin hosts who are responsible for cleaning and servicing ranch accommodations and other ranch buildings on a daily basis. With a hands-on style of management and attention to detail, the Head of Housekeeping assures a comfortable, inviting and clean environment for guests – and maintains the special SFR ambience in all guest quarters with appropriate bedding, furniture, rugs and decorative items in place and in good order. Please see the Housekeeping / Cabin Host Job Description
Guides and supervisor

Head of Outdoor Activities

Train and manage team (3-4) of SFR seasonal outdoor guides for fly fishing, sporting clays, archery, mountain biking & hiking. You will work with the guest experience manager to schedule and organize guides and equipment for all activities for all guests (adults and children) during their stay. Please see Outdoor Activities Guide Job Description
Horse and Barn And Supervisor

Head Wrangler

Supervise a wrangler staff of 3-5 and and help maintain a herd of about 38-45 horses for the season. Trails range from rugged mountain terrain, flower filled high mountain pastures, aspen groves, trails across various mountain drainages and back country watersheds and our own Smith Fork River that runs through the ranch. We offer 1 ½ hour to day-long trail rides according to skill of varying length as well as an evening “cocktail ride” to our evening cookout site, breakfast ride and all day rides to back country fishing sites. You'll schedule and assist the wrangler staff in maintaining trails, prepping for trail rides and taking guests to the arena for lessons.

Housekeeper / Cabin Host

Clean and service ranch accommodations and other ranch buildings on a daily basis. With hands-on style of management and attention to detail, housekeeping assures a comfortable, inviting and clean environment for guests - and maintains the special SFR ambience in all guests quarters with appropriate bedding, furniture, rugs and decorative items in place and in good order.
Culinary Team

Kitchen Assistant / Dishwasher

Simple cooking, food preparation and assisting the culinary team in the making of staff meals. You'll maintain clean and functional dish area, working in conjunction with our executive chef and culinary team. Help with our compost for the Farmstead Garden and trash mitigation. No experience needed, however reliable, self-motivated individuals are preferred.

Outdoor Activities Guide

Outdoor Guides provide excellent instruction and general guiding skills to the high-end, active clientele at Smith Fork Ranch. Our Guides have a genuine interest in sharing his or her love and knowledge of the outdoors with guests. A high proficiency in Fly Fishing, Archery, Hiking, and Shooting as well as other outdoor interests are important. Guides man "The Round-Up", the on-site, full service fly shop that features merchandise that features the best fly rods, reels, flies, leaders, packs, vests and other general ranch clothing for guests use and purchase. Days are long, but fun and can be spent solely on one fishing trip or doing a myriad of things like hiking, weed-whacking, teaching archery, tying flies, and setting up a campfire. When outdoor guides are not taking guests on activities they are reporting to the Head Guide, Ranch Foreman and Farmstead Gardener/Groundskeeper for maintenance of the ranch facilities and grounds

Ranch Hand

This position encompasses a large variety of tasks from basic ranch duties such as fence building, irrigation, mowing and pasture work; as well as maintenance and upkeep of buildings. This person will be responsible for daily chores and troubleshooting as well as repair of basic electrical and plumbing systems
Culinary Team

Sous Chef

The Sous Chef position is one of the key positions at the ranch. We operate one of the very best, high-end guest ranches in the USA. This requires that we provide a creative, all around 5-star dining experience. SFR seeks a Sous Chef who will work hard to help our Executive Chef achieve this overall goal-someone with energy, organizational skills and dedication. The primary role of the sous chef is to provide critical support to the Executive Chef and the kitchen staff as a whole. The Sous Chef will have the opportunity to work in one of our country’s most bountiful food regions, and to help create cuisine based around wild game, fish, local lamb beef, poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables from our own farmstead garden, as it is an integral part of Smith Fork Ranch’s culture. Important factors in the sous chef’s success are: ability to manage staff and create daily/weekly work schedules; maintain weekly inventory of food; order all staple products; assist the Executive Chef in purchasing fresh produce from local farms; and help maintain consistent food and labor costs. The sous chef will need strong line cooking skills and help with prep, plating, and cooking of all meals as necessary. This individual will assist in all kitchen operations, from elegant plated dinners, to casual lunches, gourmet picnic baskets, off-ranch pack trips, streamside cookouts, employee meals as well as equipment maintenance, inventories, and budgeting. Dinner consists of four courses; hos d’oeuvres, first course, entrée and dessert and for each course guests will have the choice one of two options. Our guest capacity is between 26-30 guests each night. During the Summer Season guests will be booked for 6-nights stays Sunday-Saturday and the kitchen staff is responsible for all guest meals during those days. Three meals a day are prepared for our 20-25 employees as well.
Horses and Barn



Although this is a job about horses; it is also a job about people. First and foremost wranglers at SFR must be people persons who are outgoing, engaging, and who genuinely care about people and their western ranch experience. Secondly wranglers at SFR must be equestrians. Wrangler days are spent tacking, grooming, cleaning stalls, feeding, doctoring, pruning trails, guiding rides, assisting guests, aiding in overall communication between rider and their animal, and setting up and supervising arena activities. Days are long, physically and mentally taxing, and filled with interesting guest and animal experiences.

GUest SErvices and Kids Program

Youth Counselor

Our youth counselors and ranch crew experience a variety of jobs during their summer at Smith Fork Ranch. During our family weeks, our youth program focuses on children 6-12 years of age. During these periods our youth counselors/ranch crew plan and carryout a kids program, utilizing a tree house, two Ute Indian Tipis (often used for camp outs) and the Homestead Hangout, for games, arts and crafts. In addition, there are horse/tire swings and a swimming hole - our uppermost pond with floating dock - for cool dips on hot days, a stream for panning for gold and boat races. We have two small mules for riding, petting and grooming. Best of all, there are boundless acres of fields, ponds, and woodlands to explore, hike and play in! SFR youth counselors are people-persons who are eager to learn the overall ranch and hospitality experience. They are outgoing, engaging individuals who genuinely care about others, relate to children as well as adults and have a creative, fun-loving nature.

How to Apply

Visit our website to learn about us and download an application. You can email, mail or fax your completed application, resume and cover letter to us. So we can put a face to a name, please send us a photo if you'd like! Please know that we cannot consider you for employment until a complete application has been received. 

Smith Fork Ranch
Attn: General Manager
45362 Needle Rock Road
Crawford, CO 81415
Phone: (970)921-3454     Fax: 970-921-3475

Contact Info