Policies and Procedures

This Isn’t An Average Job – It’s A Very Unique Workplace

Colorado Trails Ranch is our home and while you are working with us this summer it will be your home too. The whole concept of dude ranching is based on not only sharing our home, but also our way of life with our guests. As a member of our staff, we want you to feel like an extension of our ranch family. We encourage you to interact with our guests and treat them as guests in your home.

Our Mission Statement
Colorado Trails Ranch is committed to providing our guests a quality Western Dude Ranch vacation and our employees a rewarding work environment. More than any other aspect of this ranch, the guests comment on the wonderful, caring staff. At Colorado Trails Ranch, guests truly think they are visiting all of us in our home.

We also want the ranch to be a rewarding work environment for our staff. In order to accomplish that we have drafted policies and procedures which hopefully make our communal living an enjoyable situation for all.


The purpose of this Policies and Procedures manual is to establish guidelines for all staff members of Colorado Trails Ranch (CTR). The manual is not intended to be a contract. However, because of the changing nature of personnel relations and the need for possible exceptions, the manual does not and cannot set down each and every policy applicable to CTR staff. Furthermore, the Ranch Manager reserves the right to make changes in, or exceptions to, the personnel policies set forth in these Policies and Procedures. As Colorado is an “At-Will” employment state, all of CTR’s employees are employed “At-Will.” This means either an employee or CTR may terminate the employee’s employment with or without cause at any time, and without advance notice, procedure or formality.

Seasonal (Temporary) Employee:

Seasonal (or Temporary) employees are full-time or part-time employees whom CTR employs for a limited period of time. Seasonal employees are not regular employees and are not eligible for benefits except those required by law. Seasonal employees whose employment continues past any initially stated time period do not in any way become regular employees unless and until they receive written notice of a change.

Code of Conduct:

Our job is to make sure our guests have a fantastic vacation with positive, lasting memories. The ranch strives to portray a comfortable environment, and we expect staff members to conduct themselves in a professional manner. Staff members must be polite and courteous to guests at all times, and should not discuss issues regarding ranch business, management or other staff members with the guests. We expect our staff members to be courteous and friendly towards guests, but please do not fraternize with guests outside of ranch activiies. Guests are not permitted in staff housing or staff members’ personal vehicles.

All staff members represent CTR when interacting with guests and the general public and should conduct themselves with the ranch’s best interests in mind. Your actions while working at CTR, both personal and professional, may enhance, maintain or damage the high standards that CTR has developed. This includes any postings on social media outlets, during and after your employment with the ranch.

Job Performance:
We have a very strong work ethic at the ranch and expect the same from our staff. When your job assignment is completed, we expect you to seek out your supervisor for further direction; there is always plenty of work to be done around the ranch. We depend on you to be at work on time. If you are late, it becomes a hardship on your coworkers and can compromise service to our guests. Because we feel you need your time off to recharge and rest, we do not allow part time jobs in addition to your ranch job.

We carry Workman’s Compensation Insurance if you are injured on the job. It is important to us that you carry your own major medical insurance, but it is not required.

Horseback Riding and Other Activities

Staff members are welcome to go horseback riding and participate in other activities (rafting, shooting sports, lake trips, fishing) with our guests during your time off. Participation in these activities is on a space available basis, and must be scheduled at least a day in advance. Staff members interested in riding must complete our riding orientation, follow the guidelines of our riding program and help in the barn with grooming, saddling and mucking stalls.

Staff Guests:
We offer a 10% discount for immediate family members if they wish to stay at the ranch during the summer and an additional 5% to our regular discount in September. This is based on a weekly stay and availability. If they are not staying on the ranch, your guests need to make arrangements to stay in town when they come to visit you and you should plan to spend time with them on your days off or break time. If you would like to bring guests to a meal, please get permission from the Ranch Manager. If a friend or family member is providing you with transportation to your summer job we will offer them a one night free stay at Colorado Trails Ranch.

Staff Lounge:
One of the privileges we offer our staff is the use of the Staff Lounge. This is available to all staff, and guests are not permitted in the Staff Lounge. We expect you to respect this building and keep it clean. There is a TV monitor (but no television reception), VCR and DVD player available in the Staff Lounge along with two telephone lines, a computer and printer. The computer has wireless internet that you can access from your laptop computer.

Staff Telephone and Mail:
There are two telephone lines in the Staff Lounge that are reserved for use by all of our staff. Be sure to provide your friends and relatives with these numbers (970-247-9810 and 970-247-9818) should they wish to contact you or leave a message on the answering machines. They will be unable to contact you through either of the main phone numbers of the ranch (970-247-5055 and 800-323-3833 are reserved for ranch business use only). Also, please be considerate of fellow staff members by limiting your phone usage to no more than 10 minutes at a time. The staff telephone lines have unlimited domestic long distance. Cell service is very spotty and you should not count on using your cell phone on the ranch. We have a network extender for Verizon around the office and lodge area for cell phone usage after working hours.

For mail, you may use the ranch address: (your name) c/o Colorado Trails Ranch,12161 CR 240, Durango, CO 81301 or get your own post office box. If you want your mail forwarded after you leave the ranch, a box of your own allows forwarding.

CTR provides housing at no cost to its seasonal employees. Out of consideration to our property and to your roommates, no males are allowed in the female staff housing and no femailes are allowed in male staff housing.

We do not allow PETS or FIREARMS on the ranch.

Most staff members are living in new housing, and we expect you to take care of it. The outside spaces around your housing (porches and lawns) are all in view of guests, and must always be presentable and free of trash and non-decorative items (coolers, interior furniture, clothing, etc.).

It is the employee’s responsibility to maintain their living quarters in good and healthy order and to model a standard of care appropriate for the business and co-workers. As a condition of our providing housing we require each staff member to pay an initial $50.00 damage/cleaning deposit. Prior to your leaving the ranch, we will inspect your quarters, and your deposit will be returned to you in full as long as your quarters have been cleaned and are in good repair. You are financially responsible for any damages to your quarters.

No Alterations, additions or permanent installations may be made by the employee without approval in writing by the CTR management prior to the time the alterations, additions, or installations are made.

Entry to Premises:

CTR managements may enter the premises at reasonable times for purposes of repairs or inspections. CTR will attempt to notify the employee prior to entering the housing whenever possible.

Insurance of Personal Property:

Personal property should be insured by the employee through an insurance company of his/her choice. CTR does not provide renters’ insurance nor does it cover an employee’s personal property in its insurance policies. Employees who have valuable items such as jewelry or cameras may want to purchase their own additional coverage for such items.

CTR provides washers and dryers in each dormitory, at no additional cost to employees.

CTR provides meals at no cost to our staff. Such meals are eaten with our guests unless your job requires that ou work during normal meal times. We encourage you to interact with our guests during mealtimes, and allow no more than two staff members per table. We are counting on you to uphold the ranch’s image so please be very conscious of your manners, arriving at meals on time, maintaining appropriate conversation and presenting a clean and neat appearance. Also be considerate of the staff members waiting on you, and if you see they need help at your table please pitch in.

It has been a ranch tradition that when it is time to serve dessert, a staff person from each table will ask the others at the table if they may serve them coffee, just as you would at your own home. Our staff is served the same meals that our guests are served, and may not make special requests of our kitchen staff or prepare their own food. If you do not plan on being at dinner (and are not required to be there) you must advise the ranch manager or chef that morning at breakfast.

In our communal setting, it is important to be considerate of not just each other but also of our guests and their privacy. Radios, MP3 Players and Walkmans are not allowed on the job. If you have ear buds on and music blaring, you cannot be aware of what is going on around you, and cannot hear if someone is calling you. Sound carries in our mountain setting, so be very conscientious about noise including loud voices and laughter, especially at night.

Appearance and Attire
As CTR staff, you are in constant contact with our guests. You share your meals with our guests and we encourage you to interact with them as part of our ranch family. Good social skills, table manners and a neat and clean appearance are necessary.

Keep in mind we are a WESTERN dude ranch. Attire in keeping with our western atmosphere is important. This means jeans (without holes), western shirts or shirts provided by the ranch, belt, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. Clothes must be clean and free of wrinkles, and shirts must be tucked in at all times. (Shirts must have long enough tails to be tucked in and stay tucked in.) We ask that you save baseball caps, open toed shoes, tennis shoes, shirts with inappropriate or distasteful designs or words, sleeveless shirts and tank tops for your time away from our guests. If you choose to eat in the dining room or participate in activities with guests during your time off, please wear appropriate western attire.

Hairstyles for men and women must be kept neat, clean and well groomed at all times. Makeup, jewelry and perfume worn on duty must be conservative and in keeping with work attire. Jewelry should be in keeping with safety considerations of your job position. No body piercings, except for ears are allowed, and even earrings need to be kept to a minimum size and number. All tattoos must be covered.

Male employees must be clean-shaven when reporting for work; however, beards and mujstaches approved by CTR management may be allowed, if short and neatly trimmed. If you do not arrive with a mustache, please do not plan on growing one while working at the ranch.

These are very simple and reasonable requirements, and do not require you to purchase expensive or special clothing. We want our staff presenting the best possible image to our guests. We reserve the right to excuse anyone from the dining room or other public area should your appearance not meet these guidelines.

Colorado Trails Ranch shirts will be provided to you at no charge. However, if you leave the employment of CTR prior to the end of your contract period you will be charged retail price for such items of clothing. Each position on the ranch has different uniform requirements; we will provide you with these details prior to your arrival.

In keeping with our ranch atmosphere, we keep vehicles out of sight. We also keep traffic on the ranch to a minimum and the speed limit is 10 mph. For those staff members who have vehicles, there is a designated staff parking lot and we will provide specific information upon your arrival. Ranch vehicles will only be used by designated staff. We are in a beautiful outdoor environment, and it is much nicer to walk than to always hop in a vehicle.

Radios in ranch vehicles are not to be used while driving or working on the ranch or while transporting guests. Do not leave a radio on in a parked vehicle. Radios in personal cars are to remain off until you have left ranch property.

If you are not driving to the ranch we will be happy to pick you up from the Durango, Colorado bus station or airport. Please advise us as to your arrival information.

You will receive an Employment Agreement that will more fully describe your compensation. You will be paid every two weeks, within three days following the end of the pay period. You will be paid an hourly wage plus time and a half for hours worked over forty in a week. Before payday, you must complete and submit a time card showing all hours worked during the pay period so that the wages can be computed. You will also receive an end of season bonus, if and only if you work the dates outlined in your employment agreement. If you leave the employment of Colorado Trails Ranch for ANY REASON (you quit or are fired) you will not receive the end of season bonus.


(A) Tobacco. CTR is a non-smoking ranch. Smoking is not permitted in any of our buildings, vehicles or on the job. It is also not permitted anywhere around the barn area or maintenance shed. We have designated the porch of the Dance Hall (Staff Lounge) as the only place for staff smoking. Smokers are required to keep this area clean and free of cigarette butts. Ninety-five percent of our guests are non-smokers so please be conscientious about extinguishing and disposal of your cigarettes. Neither cigarettes (including electronic cigarettes) nor smokeless tobacco will be used in front of the guests.

(B) Alcohol. Staff members, who are 21 or older, may have alcohol in their quarters for consumption after all work is completed. There will be no consumption of alcohol around the guests. Drinking prior to work will not be tolerated, nor will showing up to work drunk or hung-over. No drinking when you could be in the presence of guests at any time whether your are off or working. Staff members over the age of 21 are not to purchase or provide alcohol to underage staff members. Those staff under the age of 21 will not drink at all, ever. We have zero tolerance for abusing our policy.

(C) Drugs. CTR requires a drug-free, healthy and safe workplace. Therefore controlled substances and illegal drugs of any kind, including marijuana, will not be used ever, on or off the ranch. We do reserve the right to conduct drug testing.

(D) No Drugs or Alcohol On the Job or Use of Controlled Substances or Ilegal Drugs Off the job. “Controlled substances” can include prescription drugs. Employees may use prescription drugs so long as that use is consistent with a prescription and approved under working conditions by the employees’ doctor. Employees must report promptly to their supervisors their use of any prescription or non-prescription medication that may impair their judgment, alertness, performance or behavior.

Marijuana is a “controlled substance” under federal law. CTR prohibits the use of marijuana and other controlled substances and illegal drugs while on duty or away from work, and this prohibition applies to employees who have registered to use marijuana under Colorado law.

CTR may also require employees to consent to personal property or facility searches when it has reason to suspect the presence of drugs.

(E) Random or For Cause and Post-Accident Drug and Alcohol Screen Tests: CTR may require all current employees to submit to random, for cause and post-accident drug and alcohol screen tests. Random testing will be administered by the company performing the testing. For cause testing may be ordered for any employee who CTR has reasons to believe has violated the CTR policies against drugs and alcohol at work requiring employees to be sober and drug-free on the job. CTR may also order any employees involved in an accident on the job to be tested, whether or not they caused the accident and/or were injured.


Colorado Trails Ranch prohibits harassment against anyone (including any applicant, employee, vendor or guest) based on the individual’s race, color, gender, national origin, religion, disability, age, marital status, sexual orientation, military service or veteran status, or based on those aspects in an individual’s relatives, friends or associates. Harassment means verbal or physical conduct that insults or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual. Harassment may include:

  • Epithets or slurs.
  • Negative sterotyping.
  • Threats, intimidation or hostile acts, or bullying.
  • Suggestive, offensive, demeaning or hostile jokes or pranks.

Harassment will lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

All employees of CTR have a responsibility to report any incident of harassment they experience or observe, and all employees are strongly encouraged to make any such report, as explained further below.


CTR has zero tolerance for violence. Any employee who is violent or who threatens to be violent in the workplace or on the job, whether toward any guest, coworker, supervisor, CTR official or member of the public, will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination.

If any employee is attacked or threatened with violence, or if you see an employee or guest being attacked or threatened, take appropriate steps to protect yourself and others, to avoid causing more violence and to notify ranch management personnel and/or an immediate supervisor. CTR management personnel or a supervisor will notify 911 if necessary.

If any employee has reason to believe there is a risk of violence from another employee, guest, any family member, friend or former spouse, or anyone else, they should promptly report those concerns to CTR’s Ranch Manager.

Sexual Harassment:

CTR prohibits sexual harassment. No one at CTR, including managers, supervisors, employees, guests, or vendors, may make unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or engage in any other unwelcome verbal, written or electronic, or physical conduct of a sexual or gender-based nature where (1) such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment; or (2) it is obvious or implied that tolerating or submitting to such conduct is a condition of employment or will be used for the basis of any employment decision, including, but not limited to, hiring, firing, performance appraisals, salary, benefits, position, job transfers or any other decision affecting any terms or condition of employment with CTR (all such conduct is described in this policy as “Sexual Harassments”).

CTR does not tolerate Sexual Harassment in any form. No employee or applicant should be subjected to unwelcome sexual requests or insulting behavior. No employee or applicant should be led to believe that any employment opportunity or benefit will in any way depend on his or her cooperation with sexual demands or that he or she must tolerate an offensive sexual environment.

All employees of CTR have a responsibility to report any incident of Sexual Harassment they experience or observe, and all employees are strongly encouraged to make any such report, as explained further below.

Any employee who commits Sexual Harassment will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination.

Reporting Harassment, Sexual Harassments or Violence:

Employees have an important responsibility in the effective implementation of CTR policies against harassment, sexual harassment and violence. Any employee who believes they have been the subject of harassment or sexual harassment, who has been harmed by violence or threatened with violence, or who has witnessed anyone else connected with CTR experience or commit such conduct, should promptly notify their supervisor, or any representative of the management, orally or in writing. If orally reported, a written statement may be requested.

CTR will promptly investigate any harassment, sexual harassment complaint or violence report, and CTR will take corrective action where appropriate. CTR will make reasonable efforts to preserve the confidentiality of everyone involved with any harassment, sexual harassment, or violence complaint and investigation. Employees have a right to make good faith complaints about harassment, sexual harassment or violence and to act as witnesses in investigations of those complaints. CTR will protect complaining employees and witnesses against retaliation for making a harassment, sexual harassment or violence complaint or report.

Any employee or supervisor found to have committed harassment or sexual harassment, or who was violent or threatened violence, will be subject to discipline, up to and including discharge.

False Reporting: False reporting will not be tolerated. Any employee or supervisor found to have committed false reporting of harassment, sexual harassment, violence, or threatened violence will be subject to discipline, up to and including discharge.

Problem Solving Procedure:

The goal at CTR is to foster an “open door” policy regarding work-related questions and problems. Please first bring your problem to the attention of your supervisor, who will investigate the problem and offer a recommendation or explanation to you. If the problem has to do with your supervisor OR the problem has not been addressed within one week OR you are not satisfied with the remedy offered by your supervisor, you may refer the problem to another supervisor on the property, the Ranch Manager and/or her designee (it is best to ask, in advance, if there is a convenient time to meet with this supervisor or the Ranch Manager). You may also submit your problem in wirting and/or request a written recommendation or explanation. Problems will be brought to the attention of the Ranch Manager. You are welcome, at any time, to ask a fellow employee to accompany you. Staff members are not penalized for invoking the problem solving procedure.

Animal Welfare:

Animal abuse is defined as any socially unacceptable behavior that intentionally causes unnecessary pain, distress or death to an animal. The animals at CTR are part of the ranch family, and no abusive treatment or handling will be tolerated buy any staff member or guest. Mistreatment of animals extends to the wildlife that also calls the ranch home. We ask that staff members please report any mistreatment of animals on the ranch to a supervisor or Ranch Manager.


Upon your arrival at the ranch you will receive job specific handbooks and detailed orientation and training. Be sure to ask questions and rely upon your supervisors for training and support.