Happy Trails

Doug Van Berkum ’60, ’62 was Northwestern’s alumni director from 1984 to 1995 before trading fundraising for trailblazing. In the mid ’90s, he and his wife, Linda, began operating Rainbow Trout Ranch, a dude ranch located in the Rockies near Antonito, Colo. Now almost 25 years later, the couple have been inducted into the Dude Ranchers’ Association Hall of Fame.

Late spring through early fall, the 77-year-old can be found taking the cowpokes and buckaroos on a hayride, cooking flank steak over the fire, fixing one of the 48 toilets in the nearly century-old cabins, or shooting the breeze with some of the 60 guests at the ranch. 

Family is what first drew Van Berkum to ranch life, and it’s what keeps him there. The Van Berkums operate Rainbow Trout with their son, Dave ’92 and his wife, Jane. Their two daughters, both Colorado residents, love to be involved in interior decorating and landscaping projects. Last summer five of their six grandchildren also worked as ranch hands, which was deeply satisfying for the family’s patriarch. 

Van Berkum admits the sun may be setting on his days as ranch boss. But he and Linda plan to continue to spend their summers with family and friends at 9,000 feet and 15 percent humidity, enjoying the peace of the Western life.  “It’s pretty darn neat,” he says.