What is the Heart-J Experience?

Here at Heart-J Center at Sylvan Dale Ranch, life-long learners will find quality instruction and experiences that are engaging, empowering, and meaningful. You can step outside your comfort zone in a safe environment where taking risks and trying new things are all part of the journey of discovery and connection to yourself and the world. ​Taking time for learning, exploring, and creating helps us unplug from our often stressful lives. It's a wonderful way to clear our minds and heal our bodies and hearts.

You'll work with accomplished artists, writers, wellness experts, naturalists, and experienced outdoor leadership instructors while you enjoy the deep satisfaction of learning something new. Grow your skills and grow your confidence. Learn by doing, at your own pace.

Sylvan Dale Ranch's beautiful setting is a peaceful retreat from the world. Although close to Loveland, Estes Park, and Fort Collins, the sense of seclusion is a welcome relief from the frantic pace of everyday life. The Ranch has a healing magic that visitors have marveled at for decades. You'll feel your shoulders relax and your heart and spirit come alive.

Create, learn, connect, relax, explore, and play on our working horse and cattle ranch

People participate in Heart-J programs to be immersed in learning in a beautiful, inspiring, and peaceful setting. The Ranch's 3,000 stunning acres encompass several Western ecozones, including riparian (the Big Thompson River runs through the Ranch), high prairie, foothills, and mountains. This wonderful "living laboratory" inspires our programs' focus on creative arts, outdoor education and adventure, wellness, and nature and science, all with an emphasis on place-based learning. We strive to create the optimal space for you to reconnect with your natural curiosity and creativity. We believe that we are all learners, and that we are all teachers.

Backpacking 301

Heart-J programs won't have you sitting quietly in your chair taking notes as an instructor lectures. We believe that active engagement through sharing, discussion, and conversation, as well as hands-on and body-on work, combine to create a learning environment that's unforgettable. Heart-J programs are also infused with

  • Curiosity. Take the time to slow down and open yourself to wonder. Become an explorer. Curiosity is a super power — it's an essential life skill that, when coupled with exploration, actually helps make us successful just as much as our intelligence does. Curious people are more tolerant of uncertainty, have a positive outlook, and are more playful and capable of divergent thinking.
  • Inquiry. Asking questions is curiosity in action! Unfortunately, as we journey through our formal education and become adults, our willingness to ask questions often falls off a cliff. Our programs are designed to provide a safe and supportive place to ask questions, to explore and investigate. Innovation, creativity, and great ideas all begin with inquiry.
  • Connection. Whether with your fellow learners, the beautiful landscape, yourself — Heart-J programs provide great opportunities to connect and build community.
  • Fun. It's pretty pointless if you're not having fun! Find your inner six year old who still remembers that learning and trying new things is fun. Here, you can let go of the fear of not doing something "right" and take some risks with something new. Let loose and have a good time!

Since 2014, Heart-J Center has offered learning adventures that make the most of the rich biodiversity, scenic beauty, and Western heritage of Sylvan Dale Ranch.