What’s Happening on the Ranch?

There’s always something happening at Vista Verde Ranch. Foals are born, new recipes are created, or the wranglers are playing tricks on each other. Come here to read the latest news!

mom-and-daughter-ranch-vacation

10 reasons why it’s great to be a Vista Verde kid

By Steph

This week the kids program has taken over our social media accounts.  During this time we thought it might be fun to blog about out why it’s so great to be a VVR kid.  As my own kids have jumped head first into the kids program the past few years, I’ve been able to see the value of the kids program here from a mom’s point of view.  And, if I was a fan before having kids, as a mom I may now be the kids program’s #1 fan.

Here are our top 10 reasons why we all wish we could be a kid on a dude ranch vacation at Vista Verde:

1) Freedom- When else do kids get to run free without any worry or restraint?  Most parents don’t even know where their kids are when they are here, and they are perfectly comfortable with them out roaming the ranch!  This may sound crazy to you, but it happens, and it happens within the first few hours of arrival.  You see, here at the ranch it’s safe, fun, and that freedom fuels their independent spirits.

2) Role Models- This is coming first hand from a mom who is picky about who her kids look up to as role models.  The VVR staff are the kind of people I want my kids to look up to, emulate, and admire.  They are top notch people, with good values, and a true desire to care for others.  It’s pretty common that even the most clingy kid, or the one who never likes a kids program, will be begging to head off to go find the kid wranglers to join the program for the day.  We have had to tell kids that no, they can’t go wake up a kid wrangler early in the morning.  These super heroes need sleep to keep up with the kids all day!

3) Confidence- Want to see a shy kid come out of their shell, open up, and blossom?  Bring them to a dude ranch, put them on a kind horse, with caring and thoughtful instruction, send them out into the woods, and let them ride, ride, ride.  Then, fill their days with a loving group of people, lots of dirt, and outdoor activities.  It’s a good chance you won’t recognize the kid who leaves at the end of the week, even after you scrub off the dirt.  They’ll be covered in a layer of self-confidence, pride, and accomplishment.

4) Compassion- Whether it’s the tough kid who knows it all or the shy kid who doesn’t believe in themselves.  Learning to handle a 1,000 animal, with it’s own thoughts and opinions teaches a kid compassion.  They learn they can’t jerk on the reins when they get frustrated.  They can’t yell at the horse when it won’t do what they want.  They have to stay calm, be consistent, assertive, and kind to get results on a horse.   Kids learn it’s not all about themselves, and sometimes one has to put another’s needs ahead of their own.  And when they do that, amazing things happen in their relationship with their horse, which carries on into their relationships with others.

5) Dirt & Fresh air- Kids need dirt.  Dirt likes kids.  We have a lot of dirt here.  That’s a good thing.  We also have a lot of fresh air.  The kids are out in it all day long, and much of the evening.  Oh, and did we mention there are no TV’s in the cabins and rooms, and also you can’t stream videos or games?  Crazy thing is, the kids don’t seem to even miss it during their ranch vacation!

6) Fish- Think your kid doesn’t have much patience?  Just wait until you see them out on the pond with their little fishing rods for hours on end, just waiting for that first bite.  It’s always amazing to me how long the kids will stand there, willing those fish to bite.  The fishing rods and the stocked pond are a kid magnet.  We go through them like they are water, as the kids break them daily.  But, it’s a worthwhile investment in the kids.  What a great lesson for them to wait, keep casting, wait, keep casting, and then BAM!  They catch their first fish!

7) Mom gets a vacation- Ok, so this one isn’t as much about the kids as it is about moms (and dads too).  With such an engaging kids program and knowing that the kids are safe as they roam around, moms get a vacation while they are here.  No worrying about what to do to keep everyone entertained.  No worrying about what to feed everyone, or organizing the day.  Chances are your kids will up before you, get dressed by themselves, and head out the door before you’ve even had your first cup of coffee.  You do need to make sure they have sunscreen on, but other than that, relax and enjoy a breath of that fresh mountain air.  We’ve got the rest covered for you.

8) Experiences- During a week at Vista Verde, your kids will get the chance to ride horses, play with foals, ride on an antique fire truck, “gold” pan, learn about bugs, ride mountain bikes, catch a fish, rock climb, square dance, find wildflowers on a hike, and all that without us even mentioning the pool where you expected you’d find your kids most of the time.  They may have a few minutes at some point to jump in, but they are going to be busy with all these other amazing experiences!

9) Connection- So, does it sound like with all that running around freely, and an engaging kids program, that you’ll never see your kids?  For some, this can be true, if that is what they choose.  But for families who want to spend time with their kids, you get them without all the distractions of the real world.  You get to walk through the woods with your kid, talking or just soaking up the silence.  You get to share new experiences together, laugh a lot, and enjoy the little person they are becoming.  Those are priceless moments and lifetime memories.

10) Tears- My kids cry a lot.  Too much.  It makes me crazy.  But, the tears that kids express on Sunday as they leave the ranch fill my heart.  I’ll take those tears any day.  Kids cry a lot on Sunday.  They don’t want to leave their horse.  They don’t want to leave their friends.  They don’t want to leave the staff.  They don’t want to leave the ranch.  Did we mention our Rebooking Special?  Another time…..

campfire fish

Chef’s Corner: Creek Side Trout

Cooking trout stream side (or lakeside) is easy to do if you plan ahead and bring the right equipment and ingredients.

Although our fishing program is catch and release only, if you find yourself with some fresh trout here is a great recipe!

To cook the trout you will need fire, either from a camp stove or campfire. You will also need a pan to fry the trout in. (Foil would work in a pinch, but tends to steam the fish rather than put a crisp skin on it.)
Ingredients:

1 stick of butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup fine cornmeal

1 closeable plastic bag for flours

1 lemon

Salt and black pepper

Equipment:

Camp stove or campfire
1 light weight (titanium) camping fry pan
Matches or lighter
Utensils for turning and eating the trout

Procedure:

1. Catch delicious trout and clean the fish by slicing open the belly and removing the entrails. Rinse with stream water.
2. Heat the fry pan over the fire/stove, melt the half the butter until bubbling (save half butter for next batch).
3. Season the trout with salt and pepper and dredge trout in the flour/cornmeal mixture in the bag (like shake-n-bake).
4. Fry the trout in the butter. The butter will brown a bit, but this is what you want! Fry on one side about 5 minutes, then turn the trout and fry another 5 minutes and check for doneness.
5. Slice the lemon in half and squeeze a little juice onto the finished trout, and season again with salt and pepper. Yum!

The time you’ll want to fry the trout will vary depending on the size of the fish. Personally, I like to keep small brook trout, they taste best, cook up quickly, and you only need a few to make a good meal. If you’re working with a14 inch rainbow, you may need to be cut into smaller pieces or cook it longer.

Fresh, wild Rocky Mountain trout is a rare treat that is best enjoyed out of doors and with just enough seasoning to highlight the fish’s delicate flavor. What better way to enjoy it than near the sounds of water, taking in the crisp mountain air?

romantic-cabin-winter-getaway

California Wedding Day – June 2015

Honeymoon Getaway at Vista Verde Ranch

By Erin Moriarty

Only the most adventurous (or wannabe adventurous) couples will enjoy Vista Verde Ranch’s fresh take on honeymooning. No, you won’t be lounging on a beach with the salty sea air, but after a day of horseback riding and snowshoeing in the tucked-away Colorado wilderness, you’ll be happy to lounge in your private cabin or personal hot tub with a beer in hand, looking out over the snow-capped mountain.  Read more…..

fly fishing vacation bugs

Getting Buggy

By Goose

Bugs, bugs, bugs, we love scotch, wait I mean bugs.  The opening of the ranch, or as I call it the fly fishing ranch went pretty much as usual. Junior and I spent our best pre-season hours pulling last fall’s leafs out of the pond.  Now this may sound like a boring task, but to Isaac and me this is almost as much fun as fishing.  At any given time during that time you would have seen one of us digging though a pile of half decomposed leafs, with a big smile.  While new staff members looked at us like we had some serious issues, in our defense we are not crazy.  Ok that part is still open to debate. Whatever–bugs rule our world.  Why?  No bugs = no trout.  The amount of aquatic life in our little pond was overwhelmingly exciting.  Note to self; not everyone is excited to see a leach, and I next year I probably shouldn’t take them into the Great Room.

We found leaches by the pound, enough scuds to feed a small army, damsels, dragon flies, and several bugs yet to be identified. We did accomplish our ultimate goal.  Yes we have goals other than hooking bucket-loads of fish on the line (although that one is at the top of the list).  I had heard about a specific bug–a bug I had never seen.  And we found one, actually we found two.  So at this time I would like to announce the fly shops pet and new mascot King George.  George is a mammoth diving beetle, and he is cooler than a polar bear’s toe nails.  They are considered to have one of the most painful insect bites, and have been known to chew through aluminum cans.  They feed on snakes, frogs, fish, well anything that gets too close.  As mentioned earlier we had two, but King George got hungry.  Finding George went something like this, “We #%!@#&! found one!”  A nanosecond of a fishing guide victory dance, and then we began the domestication process.  We built him a habitat and started to work on basic commands like sit and stay, but he seems rather independent.  So, at this point, he just spends his idle time floating around in a jar, watching our anglers come and go throughout the day.  Because every fly shop needs a pet mammoth diving beetle, and now we have King George.

Well the sun is out, the birds are chirping, who am I trying to fool–we all know that I have other priorities than writing a blog for Steph.  The fish are eating I gotta go. Peace, love and bent rods.

Goose Out

luxury-dude-ranch-for-families

Equitrekking – June 2015

3 Great Dude Ranches for American Quarter Horses

By Darley Newman

Strong, fast and versatile, American Quarter Horses are a favorite breed both in the USA and increasingly by horse lovers around the world. It’s not surprising that travelers seeking time with these loveable, loyal horses seek out ranches that both breed, train and let you ride them. Below are three top dude ranches that also breed Quarter horses, giving guests the chance to see adorable foals, but also ride the trails on a Quarter horse. Read more….

a dude ranch that celebrates romance

Dude ranch romance

By Steph

Ok, so it’s not quite like Dirty Dancing, but there is something about getting a bunch of single 20-somethings together in a tight-knit community, surrounded by nature’s beauty, and wrapped up in outdoor adventure.  Romance happens.  We (the old married types) guide our staff through this potential every season– warning them of the risks of a ranch relationship, helping them think realistically about the potential outcomes, and demanding that if it happens it is done respectfully and carefully, with the larger ranch community taking precedence over a summer fling.  With all those warnings, love is still in the air.  And, there are some pretty wonderful couples who have come out of Vista Verde.  I’ve lost track over the years of marriages that stemmed from the ranch, but I can say that this year seems to be a gang buster year for dude ranch romances.

The year began with the January nuptials of Jamie and Rob (Gov).  Then, the summer kicked off with Cori and Dan tying the knot in early June.  And, later on in the fall, Sally and Rob (Stewy) will be going to the chapel.  Kerri and Phil are settling into life as an engaged couple, and they have plans for their wedding next spring.  Over the winter Jason proposed to Lauren on a surprise visit back at the ranch, and they’ll be heading down the aisle sometime in the autumn of 2016.  Not bad for a little ranch out in Steamboat Springs?!

What a treat to watch these couples fall in love and begin their new lives together.  We wish them all the best, and hope that when times get tough (reality check provided by the old married folks) these wonderful people can think back to their carefree and adventure-filled days at the ranch, and pull each other through with some amazing memories.

Kerri and Phil

Kerri and Phil

Jamie and Rob

Jamie and Rob

Sally and Rob

Sally and Rob’

Cori and Dan

Cori and Dan

Lauren and Jason

Lauren and Jason

 

summer dude ranch

What is a dude ranch?

By Steph

Say you’re from a big city, and have never been to a dude ranch or don’t even really grasp what it means to take a dude ranch vacation?  Every once in a while, I find myself trying to explain to someone what it means to visit a dude ranch.  Typically, they are surprised by what they hear.

You think it’s just about riding horses and living like a cowboy in the American West for a week?  Oh boy, you have no idea.

A dude ranch vacation is about horses, soaking up a piece of the American West, and enjoying outdoor adventures in a beautiful setting.  But, it’s really about a lot more than that.

It’s about people becoming better people.  You read that right.  Because people learn a lot about themselves through their experiences on horses.  They see their patterns, their habits, their “stories”, their insecurities, and their strengths all come out in the interactions with these kind-hearted four-legged creatures.  Through horses, people learn more about themselves, find confidence they didn’t know was there and resolve to make changes that are a long time coming.  They often face what they don’t want to face, and come out on the other side better people.  Doesn’t sound fun?  Just talk to someone who has had a life-changing experience because of one afternoon in a horsemanship clinic.  It’s pretty darn good.  ( Warning: The same thing can happen on skis, on a bike, or in the river with a fishing pole in hand)

It’s about people connecting.  Sure, vacations are a great chance to relax.  But, dude ranch vacations do much more than that.  You do relax.  You also connect.  You connect with your family or traveling partners.  You connect with the staff.  You connect with the other guests.  Often times, guests find themselves finding a renewed sense of faith in the human experience.  They are reminded that a deep conversation can do wonders for the heart.  They are reminded that laughter is truly the best medicine.  They are reminded that there are amazing 20-something people out there in the world who are going to be our future leaders.  They are reminded that you can treat people well just because you care, and for no other ulterior motive.  They are reminded that relationships matter.

It’s about getting dirty.  I’ve blogged about this before, but I’m always amazed by how many guests ask why we’re all so happy here.  There are lots of reasons, but I firmly believe that getting dirty, getting out in the woods, and getting a little sweaty while you’re at it promotes happiness.  It doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by amazing people who share a similar passion and care about their community.  But, it has a lot to do with dirt.  So, a dude ranch vacation is about getting dirty, sweaty, into the woods, and in touch with the earth.  We need to do that more as humans.  Kids need to do it more.  And here, you get to do just that.  ALL.DAY.LONG.

It’s about values.  The cowboy code of ethics is as follows:

1. Live each day with courage

2. Take pride in your work

3. Always finish what you start

4. Do what has to be done

5. Be tough, but fair

6. When you make a promise, keep it

7. Ride for the brand

8. Talk less and say more

9. Remember that some things aren’t for sale

10. Know where to draw the line.

When people go to a dude ranch, they see this played out right in front of them.  That doesn’t happen out there in the real world all the time, so it’s a great reminder of living an honest life, and doing the right thing.  No religion needed for this, just ethics.

But, you know what?  It’s also about amazing adventures, loads of fun, being pampered lavishly (ok, maybe not at all ranches), eating fresh and amazing food, and being authentically cared for by others so you can let go of your stress, your worries, and your busy life at home.  Doesn’t sound good to you?  Maybe it’s not the right kind of vacation for you then.  That’s ok, we know it’s not for everyone.  But, you might just surprise yourself, and find out it’s what you’re really looking for with your time away from home.

Happy trails, until we meet at check-in.

luxury dude ranch for adults

Fifty is the new Fifty – June 2015

Summer Camps for Adults

By Kitt Walsh

Situated in the middle of a national forest in Northwest Colorado the ranch offers lodging in authentic log cabins and serves gourmet food—and it has horses…and cattle. Originally built as a private ranch in the 1920s, Vista Verde became a dude ranch for guests (from June-September only) in the 1970s. The rest of the year it is a real working ranch.  Read more….

Romance at Vista Verde Ranch

Carolina Bride – March 2015

 

At luxury ranch Vista Verde in Steamboat Springs, you and your new spouse can steal away to your personal cabin, enjoy your private hot tub and the glorious mountain views, request private meals, and stay cozied up inside for an entire week. But once you see the schedule of activities and amenities—and get to know your fellow guests—you just might not want to. Read more….

luxury dude ranch cabins

Ranchseeker – May 2015

Nestled in the Elk River Valley is Vista Verde, a luxury dude ranch just north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Come enjoy the splendor of the Rocky Mountains with your family, friends, in a group, alone or on a romantic getaway with that special someone. Dude ranch season runs from June through late-October and it operates as a winter ranch from mid-December to early-March.   Read more…..

family-fishing-vacation-Colorado-guest-ranch

BigJohnsAdventuresInTravel.com – February 2015

Fantastic Family Getaways For All Fifty States

By John Cutler

Are you considering an All-American family vacation this year, weary of Disney, but not yet certain where you really want to go? If this sounds like you, Big John has compiled a star-spangled list of fun-filled family getaways for all fifty states.
For an all-inclusive resort experience in the Centennial State, Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs is second to none. This Luxury Dude Ranch boasts a small guest count keeping your stay intimate, friendly, and fun.  Read more…..

Inspired Food + Luxury dude ranch = Luxury Food Ranch?

By Steph

Chefs.  If you think you love food, you should spend some time with a chef.  They LOVE food.  And, for me it’s fun to watch that passion unfold as we near opening day.  The past couple weeks Chol (Executive Chef) and JT (Chef de Cuisine) have been tinkering with their menus in preparation for the summer season.  Each day, JT stops by the office with a spoonful of this, a plateful of that, or a small sample for me to try.  He and Chol are so dedicated to coming up with fresh and inspired new menu options, while also maintaining some of the old favorites in there.  It’s not an easy task to appeal to the variety of eaters we get at the ranch.  Some people like gourmet.  Some like simple.  Some like veggies.  Some only like meat.  Some like creative.  Some like all-American.  Some are picky.  And there are just a few who like it all.  With each meal, they are trying to appeal to every kind of eater, which is quite a feat.  I’m not sure how they are able to pull it off, but they have once again put together a selection of menus that fit a little of all of it into the week.

So, you’ve got Inspired Food.

Now, mix that in with a luxury dude ranch experience.  Upscale accommodations, high-level service, and quality programs.

I believe we have ourselves a Luxury Food Ranch.  Eat your hearts out.

all inclusive luxury dude ranches

all-inclusive Colorado dining

luxury dude ranch salads

luxury dude ranches

Denver Life Magazine – May 2015

Sometimes, all it takes is a trip to meet up with a real-life wrangler— a guy or gal in sturdy jeans, a 10-gallon hat and a flannel shirt who tends horses for a living—to help us gain a new perspective. Yes, the perfect antidote to your daily version of stress may very well be found surprisingly close to home at one of Colorado’s Western- themed luxury guest ranches.

Read more…..

ista Verde Dude Ranch Colorado Great room Lodge

101 USA Holidays – May 2015

A ranch holiday in Colorado is all about the great outdoors from vast open plains to majestic mountain ranges – and you don’t have to be an experienced horse rider to saddle up and hit the range.

Broadly speaking, ranch holidays are split into three main categories.

You can stay on a working ranch where you head out on horseback with the cowboys and take part in ranch activities such as cattle and horse drives – this style of holiday is generally better suited to experienced riders (of all ages but sometimes there’s a minimum age

Read more…..

kp1

We can hear the train a’coming

By Steph

First of all, welcome to our new website!  It just went live on May 15, and we’re excited to share it with all of you.  This new site brings us several new features.  Most notably, you can remove your high powered magnifying glasses while you view it on a mobile device, as it is a mobile friendly site.  Second, it allows us to showcase the beauty of the ranch with big, amazing photos.  We’re learning that those big, amazing photos aren’t helping our load time…..so a little work still to be done.  Lastly, it has some fun features that are just plain cool.  Have you checked out the ranch tour?  I love the fun sort, and the expanded views of each cabin, room, or building.  Or the Summer dude ranch activities?  There’s a lot of info on the site, but hopefully it helps potential guests get a good feel for who we are, as well as makes it fun for all you returners to keep tabs on the crew at the ranch.  Please feel free to send any feedback my way.  The joy of websites is that they can be tweak and tinkered with even once live.

Springtime at the ranch is part excitement and part frantic.  The whole valley is coming alive.  Bright green leaves are popping out on the aspens.  Wildflowers are peeking through.  The grass it growing at a mad pace.   Tiny calves dot the pastures along the Elk River Valley.  And little foals are showing up down at the mare barn.  There is just so much life.  On top of that, we are anticipating the arrival of our staff for orientation next week, projects are coming to completion as we near opening day, and everyone here is gearing up to be ready for May 31, when our first guests arrive.  Which leads me to the frantic part of it.  There is never enough time to get it all done!  It’s a little like knowing the freight train is coming at you, and at some point you just have to jump on and blow the whistle.

Before starting orientation next Tuesday, there was some pre-orientation happening.  Talitha has come in to learn the ins and outs of the dining room from Bubba, as he hands off the Head Server role to her in order to focus more on wine service and formal dinner service.  Don’t worry, you’ll still see plenty of Bubba, but he’ll have a more focused role this summer, and Talitha will be the ringleader of the servers.  Then, as Nate has shifted over to help Bill out with the maintenance projects and overseeing our safety programs (can you say OSHA?), KP has stepped into the barn to head up the wrangler crew.  That crew came in a few days early for a wrangler clinic with KP and Mandy.  For the Nate fan club, never fear.  You’ll still get a chance to ride or hike with him as he jumps in to guide here and there.  And, there’s no way we’ll get him off of cows come the cattle round-up in September.

One of the projects I am so excited about is our outdoor dining.  Long story, but we spent much of the winter brainstorming and mapping out new ideas to improve the layout, design, and feel of our outdoor dining area.  Today, we unloaded three of the new pieces of “furniture” that we’ll be using on the patio.   When I say “furniture”, I’m talking about pieces the required 4 strong guys to unload off the trailer.  They are absolutely fantastic, and we are so excited to get it all set up!  I know, where are the photos you say?  I was too busy unloading and directing traffic to remember to get some.  So, guess you just have to come out here to see them for yourself!

If you don’t already have plans to join us for a ranch vacation this summer, it’s not too late.  There are a few cabins that are left to be filled, and we’ve had some cancellations here and there that open up other spots.  Give Meagan a call or send her an email to grab your spot.  It’s going to be such a fun summer!

luxury-guest-ranch-spring-time

A spring weekend at the ranch

By Steph

What’s happening at the ranch right now, you ask? Not much.  Or a lot.  It depends on who you ask. This past weekend, it felt like not much.  My girls were itching to ride, so we lured our horses in from the winter pasture with treats, and saddled up to meander around the ranch and check out the progress of the snow melt.  It’s happened pretty fast this year, as we’ve had a warm spring.  The meadows are almost fully exposed, the dormant grass is considering it’s return, and the mud isn’t too thick anymore.  There is still plenty of snow up on the mountain tops, which makes for a beautiful stark white contrast to the brown meadows and bare trees.  Down by the creeks, the willow sap is starting to flow, so they are changing colors next to the rushing waters.

dude ranch maresAfter our ride, we visited the “maternity ward” to see the pregnant mares and our new foal.  He is so darling, and his momma, June, is settling in perfectly.  June is new to us, and she came from a horse sale that Ben, KP, Sam, Mandy, and Matthew attended a few weeks ago.  They picked up some great riding horses and came back with this stunning, but very pregnant mare.  We didn’t know her due date at the time, but let’s just say it’s a good thing they came straight back to the ranch as she foaled within days of her arrival.  Apparently she has claimed the title of Alpha mare, so she will be the one ruling the roost over the other broodmares.  Her little guy is a doll, and so friendly.  We’re still waiting to pick a name for him as so many of our Facebook followers submitted fabulous ideas.  But, with the off-season, everyone is coming and going and we haven’t been able to get together and pick the winner.

work at a guest ranchIt was pretty quiet around the ranch on Saturday, and the only person we saw was Troy.  He was busy feeding the horses, dragging the pasture, and power washing the Indoor arena.  There is still plenty to do, even when we’re closed.

As I was running some errands, we stopped by the staff laundry room.  Every year staff leave items behind that someone else might be able to use.  Western shirts, camping gear, jeans, etc…. and every year although we love the culture of sharing and passing along stuff you won’t use back in your real life to someone coming to the ranch, it becomes a mess.  ranch kidSo, my girls and I began an impromptu purge and clean.  After going through all the clothes, hanging up the ones that would be useful for ranch staff, and bagging up the other stuff to take to donate, the room was tidy and organized.  Somehow we ended up coming home with a sombrero, among other things.  Many thanks to that staff member who left that one….it was JUST what we need in our house.  Note motherly sarcasm.

With that, we wrapped up our playtime and headed home for chores.  This weekend marked the 50 days until opening day mark, so the countdown clock keeps ticking.  We hope to see you this summer when the meadows are green, the aspens leaves fluttering in the wind, the horses all shedded out, and the summer staff in place and ready to play with you!

luxury dude ranch vacation

Equitrekking – April 2015

We love traveling to ranches across the USA! Enjoy these interactive videos from Vista Verde Guest Ranch, a luxury guest ranch located just north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. In the winter, guests can enjoy back country skiing, snow shoeing, sleigh rides, horseback rides, yoga, cooking class and wine tasting. In the summer, horse riding, mountain biking, fly fishing, hiking, rafting, kayaking and rock climbing are just some of the adventures. Read more…

5 ways to make your Colorado ranch vacation just a little more epic

By Steph

So you’ve got your vacation at a Colorado ranch all planned out, and the anticipation for your week-long adventure is building.  But, wait a sec.  If you’re making the trip to Colorado, why don’t you extend it a bit and explore the state a bit more?  I know, not everyone has the time to do this, but if you can squeeze in at least 3 more days, there is just so much to see!

Here are some ideas:

1) Get  High: No, don’t panic on this one.  We are clean cut people here at Vista Verde, but we do like to get up to the highest peaks!  If you are flying in and out of Denver, why don’t you take a detour on your way to the ranch and go through Rocky Mountain National Park? There you can drive up and over the Continental Divide and see amazing Rocky Mountain panoramas. On either side of the park are two cute towns: Estes Park and Grand Lake, so there are lodging options if you want to make an overnight of the tour.

2) Visit the Dinosaurs- or at least where they used to live. Dinosaur National Monument lies just on the border of Colorado and Utah, and is a fun place to explore for the day.  Young kids can enjoy the tour of the fossils, and you can even go for a little hike, or cool off in the river on a rafting trip.  2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the monument, so there are some special events happening between May and October to celebrate.

3) Soak in the ‘Boat: Steamboat is such a cute little town, but it’s hard to take a day away from your ranch vacation to explore the town.  How about coming in a couple days early, going to soak in the Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs, throwing on your boots and jeans for the Steamboat Springs Pro-Rodeo one night, take the kids down the Alpine Slide, ride the Gondola up to the Thunderhead Lodge at the Steamboat Ski Resort, and then spend the day river rafting to wrap it all up.

4) Hit the Beach: If you thought playing in the sand meant going to a coast, you’re wrong!  Colorado boasts some amazing National Parks, and the Great Sand Dunes is one of them.  This one is high on my bucket list, so maybe I’ll see you there!

5) City Life, Colorado Style: Many of you come from amazing cities, so the idea of coming to Colorado to spend time in a city seems unappealing.  However, Colorado Springs is a city worth visiting.  Tour the charming Old Town, walk through the red rocks at Garden of the Gods, take a train up to the top of Pikes Peak, and then visit museums and sites that aren’t exactly what you’d find at home, such as the Pro-Rodeo Hall of Fame or even the US Olympic Training Center.

Hopefully you’ll find some time to explore a few of these suggestions, whether it’s before or after your Vista Verde ranch vacation.

The VVR Canine Personality Assessment/Test (VVR-CPA/T)

By Meagan

The other day, we played a fun game at lunch time.  It was “Are you a Finn or a Jackson?”  For those of you who know our lovable ranch dogs, these two have very different personalities.  You might already know which one you are, but for those of you who haven’t met these guys, here’s a little breakdown of their character traits.
finn-dude-ranch-dogYou’re a FINN if:

  • You find the fun in everything, kindling isn’t just a fire starter, but treasure to be buried.
  • You’re easily excited, but those feet are always getting in the way.
  • You test the boundaries of where you are and are not allowed.
  • You have an adventurous palate, frozen manure, yes please!
  • You’re social, that pack of dogs over there, looks like your new bffs.
  • Being by yourself never stopped you from playing a thrilling game of tether ball.
  • You’re always sad to leave the ranch at the end of the day.
  • Stealing trail markers from the ski trails?  It’s just borrowing in your mind, but you might forget to return them.

jackson-dude-ranch-dogYou’re a JACKSON if:

  • You’re athletic, you can jump 5 feet into the air to catch a snowball.
  • You are focused, always ready to get that stray cow back in line.
  • You’re attentive, when you’re called, you’re ready.
  • You aim to please, ‘oh I dropped the ball too far away? Let me bring it closer.’
  • Dedication is the name of the game, the kids don’t stop throwing the ball, you don’t stop fetching.
  • You love the woods and are ready to go all day, bring it on!
  • You are adventurous, spinning down the sledding hill in a tube sounds like a wild time.

 

 

So, what are you?  A Finn or a Jackson?

A Romantic Family Vacation?

By Steph

There was a great article in Pure Wander Magazine recently called Keeping the Romance Alive While Traveling With Kids.  I saw that and it just hit the spot for me, as I feel like that is something we help facilitate here at Vista Verde.  If you’re reading this thinking, “What?”, then read on.  Here are some of the tips from the article:

Consider the amenities

Lodging is a pivotal part of any trip, but it is even more important when trying to find time for romance. One option is to rent a small cabin or an apartment. Giving your children their own space and setting a bedtime will not only allow you some alone time, but it will also keep the kids from tossing and turning in your bed throughout the trip. On chilly nights in snow-covered cabins, grab a bottle of wine and cuddle up in front of the fire.

Yep, we have spacious cabins at Vista Verde, and the kids typically have their own bedrooms separate from the master suite.

Research special activities when traveling with kids

Many hotels provide guests with day camps or supervised activities. Kids will experience a different side of the resort and make some new friends while you sneak away for the afternoon.

Can you say kids program?  Like, a kids program that the kids won’t want to leave?  As in, you’re going to have to force them to go do something with you when you’re ready for family time?

Incorporate the element of surprise

If you manage to get some alone time, surprise your partner. If you won’t have the opportunity to spend a night out, leave little surprises around your room or in your significant other’s suitcase to remind them that you’re thinking of them even while your children are around.

This is sweet.  We can help you if you need assistance from the Love Experts.

Start before you leave

Before leaving on your trip, think about ways to get the romance started at home. Find classes you can take together—learn the native language of where you’re heading or take dance classes to experience the culture before your plane even touches down. Look up authentic dishes online and try to recreate them together at home. The romance doesn’t have to be exclusive to the trip!

Ahhh…..come on Romeo, you can do it!

We think they hit the nail on the head with these suggestions.  So, if you’re wondering about whether you can spark some romance on your family dude ranch vacation, we’re here to assure you it’s possible.  Come join us this summer for a Romantic Family Vacation!  Who’d of thunk?

john_lyons

John Lyons Horsemanship Clinic at Vista Verde Ranch

By Steph

We are excited to announce a partnership between the renowned John Lyons and Vista Verde Ranch to offer a one-of-a-kind horsemanship clinic.

October 11-15, 2015

Join a small group of riders to ride and learn under the renowned John Lyons.

John Lyons is one of the internationally known horse trainers in the field of natural horsemanship. Lyons has been presenting training clinics and horsemanship symposiums since 1980, has written many books on horses and horse training, and is the founder of John Lyons’ Perfect Horse magazine. He lives and works out of Parachute, Colorado.

Lyons’ approach to establishing a partnership between horse and handler is based in part on the principles of operant conditioning.  He encourages owners to notice what is going on with their horses and to use consistent cues and reinforcement to encourage positive behavior.  He places a strong emphasis on safety of handler and horse, using gentle techniques, and eschewing dramatic results in favor of setting specific goals, then teaching them by use of clear signals, responsible methods, and consistency.

During the course of the clinic, riders and horses will learn the foundation exercises, lessons, and principles of the Lyons Method. Riders will, first and foremost, learn to effectively control their horse. Whether a pleasure and trail rider, or an experienced competitor, all riders have the same common goal: to improve the level of control they have over their horses. The clinic will help you reach that goal and take your horsemanship to the next level.

Participation in this 4-night, 3-day clinic will be limited to a small group of riders and auditors.  Riders may bring a non-rider companion to take advantage of other ranch activities during the clinic dates.

Rates include lodging in one of our luxury cabins or lodge rooms, meals, beer and wine, clinic on our horse or yours, and airport transfers to and from the Steamboat/Hayden airport.

$2,700/rider

$1,900/non-rider: Guided trail rides, hiking, mountain biking, and fly fishing available for non-riders

$100/auditor/day: For non-guests who just want to come up to the ranch for the day to audit the clinic and enjoy lunch with our guests.

Please note: If you are bringing your own horse, a current health certificate will be required.  Board is $100 for the 4 nights.

Please contact us at 800-526-7433 for more information or to reserve your spot.

 

 

Nearing the finish line

By Steph

The winter season is coming to an end, and just in time as the snow is rapidly melting away.  Tomorrow we officially close the winter resort season, but then Sunday the guests for our Horsemanship Retreat check-in.  We’ll have a group of about 10 ladies here riding with Jason Patrick until Thursday, and then we shut the doors until summertime.  There is a mix of excitement, sadness, anticipation, and celebration going on for many of us right now.  Excitement as it’s always fun to have a change of pace, and many staff are heading off on amazing off-season adventures.  Sadness as some of our great people are moving on to their next venture in life and we’re sad to see them go.  Anticipation as those who are leaving wonder where their next move will take them, and will they miss the ranch or not?  Celebration as we have worked our tails off since December serving others, and now it’s time to take a deep breath and enjoy the quiet of the off-season.

Although there are many staff moving on to new and different adventures in life, I need to recognize one in particular today.  Malori has led the office team this past year and has been the main voice of Vista Verde.  She’s handled the bulk of the reservations and been the point person for all our guests prior to their stay at the ranch.  It’s been such a pleasure having her in the office and watching her grow over the past couple years.  We will miss her tremendously, but are excited for her to go find her “thing” out there in the big world.  I know she’ll do wonderful things and contribute in great ways.  At the same time, Malori’s partner in crime and roommate Kerri will be heading out too.  She’s the other voice of VVR who steps in on Malori’s days off to cover the reservations.  The amazing person has proven that farm girls can be smart and beautiful, and we’ve loved having her as part of our team. With every sad good bye there is always also a warm welcome.

With Malori stepping out, Meagan will be stepping into her role.  Many of you who have been here know Meagan as the lively server or the bubbly kid wrangler.  Now she is stepping inside the office and will be taking over the phones, emails, and all that goes on in the front office.  So, expect to hear a new voice when you call in to book your reservation (have you booked for the summer yet?  If not, get on it so Meagan can get to work!).  We’re all looking forward to having her join the fun in the office.

There are many more to say goodbye to, and many more to welcome come summer, but that will be another blog.  I’m hoping that sometime in the coming month I’ll have the new website launched, and then we’ll start updating the staff bios so you can check out who will be working here this summer. Lots to do with the closing of the season, and lots of great news to share in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned!

Colorado luxury dude ranch vacation

Why should you choose a dude ranch for your next vacation

By Steph

How to choose the right dude ranch

So, you’re trying to decide if a dude ranch vacation is right for your family? But if you haven’t been to one before, how do you know if you’ll like it, and how do you know which dude ranch is the right one?

Dude Ranch People

Unfortunately dude ranches are not a great money making business prospect, so most people who get into the business do it out of a labor of love. Therefore, at most dude ranches, you will find hosts who are friendly and engaging and who really do want to share their backyard with you. And, because things trickle down, the staff are usually the same. In fact, one of the things that surprise most first time guests is the staff. Most of them are working at a dude ranch for a season or two during college or just after graduation. They have chosen to come to that dude ranch for the job, and they not just looking for a way to make money but looking for a unique experience, much like you! And most ranches incorporate their staff in a way that makes them less like the “help” and more like friends taking care of friends. Now, we happen to think our staff are particularly special, and spend a lot of time each year picking out the best of the best to join our crew.

The Dude Ranch Experience

In addition to the unique relationships formed with staff at a dude ranch, most guests are surprised to find that they become fast friends with the other guests. Many dude ranch guests keep in touch in ensuing years, and even plan to return to the same dude ranch or a different one next year.

You may be picking up on a theme….relationships. That’s really what a dude ranch is all about. The beautiful backdrop, great activities, and service are all wonderful. But the relationships formed at a dude ranch are what make it really special.

Having said that, you do want to know that the backbone of a great dude ranch vacation is there. Some dude ranches offer just riding, some have various other activities. Some are a great place for families with little kids, and some are better for when the kids are older. Some have specialty times like adult only weeks or women only weeks. Most dude ranch stays are week-long stays during the main season, but some offer shorter stays during other times of the year.

Picking the Right Dude Ranch

It can be a bit overwhelming, trying to find the right dude ranch for your vacation. First, you need to identify what level of quality you desire. Some are very rustic, some more luxurious. And what kind of activities are important to you? Is location important, and how easy is it to get to the ranch? Because the relationships are such an integral part of the experience, we do recommend you get on the phone with the ranches you are considering. You will either feel really good about the person you spoke with, or you will know it’s not for you. That gut feeling is important, as the person answering your questions is usually a good representation of the kind of people you’ll find at that dude ranch. Lastly, look for reviews on places like Tripadvisor as those can be very telling.

Questions to ask

Here are some questions that might help you plan your dude ranch vacation:

1) What is included in the rate? What is extra? Taxes, gratuities? Beverages? Extra charges for optional activities?

2) How are activities organized? Can families participate in activities and meals together?

3) What’s the best way to get to the dude ranch?

4) What is the staff to guest ratio?

5) What are the accommodations like? Do they have pictures?

6) What is the riding program like? How many people per ride? How are rides split up? What is the terrain like?

7) If someone doesn’t want to ride, what else is there to do?

8) Describe a typical breakfast, lunch and dinner.

9) Describe the setting of the dude ranch.

10) What makes that dude ranch special?

Hopefully this helps you pick the right dude ranch. Just as much as you want to make sure we’re the right dude ranch for you, we want to make sure you are going to be happy here. You can read more about Why Vista Verde to get a quick hitter on our dude ranch. The right match is paramount to creating those memories and relationships that will lead to making it the best vacation ever!

Local’s Ski Day- March 1, 2015

We’re excited to open up the ranch to Steamboat locals for a day of skiing and great food on Sunday, March 1, 2015.  The new snow has freshened everything up and it’s gorgeous right now!

Come enjoy the ranch’s groomed ski trails and treat yourself to an bountiful spread at lunchtime.

Ski all day on our classic and skate trails.  Between 12:30-1:30 come on into the Lodge for a scrumptious lunch.

Ski & Lunch- Includes a glass of wine or beer with lunch.  $45/person, 1/2 price for children 12 & under.

Trail pass only – Come and enjoy the trails and peaceful scenery for a couple hours.  $15/person

Cross country ski or snowshoe rentals- $15/person

Please call or email ahead of time to reserve your spot.  879-3858 reservations@vistaverde.com

What’s up at Vista Verde?

By Steph

So, I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been a little slack on blogging this winter.  I could give all sorts of excuses from lacking good ideas to being distracted by having fun outside to being bogged down with other items on my to-do list–you name it.  Nonetheless, I just decided this morning to sit down and write about whatever came to mind.

We’re more than half-way through the winter season at this point, and are in our last week of adult-only vacations.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve all stated, “We love these guests!” and then turn around 2 days later and say the same thing, and then again 3 days later…..point being we have been so lucky to have some amazingly wonderful people choose Vista Verde for their winter vacation this year.  From the young honeymooners to the group of gals here for a girls getaway to celebrate their 50th birthday to the returning guests who call this their second home…they’ve all been a blast.  It’s fun to come in each day and see what everyone has chosen to do for the day.  It’s been a pretty even spread, except for this afternoon when all but 4 guests are going to doing the wine tasting!  Cholly will have his hands full, and a lot of fun, I suspect.

A week or so ago, we got a call from our friends at the Belton Ranch.  We co-op with them on our cattle round-up in the fall months.  There were some cows that we couldn’t get in last fall, and they were finally spotted out in the snow recently.  So, a few of the wranglers loaded up the trailer with our most hearty horses and plenty of warm clothes and went out to find those strays.   Mission accomplished with only a couple hours of riding.  It was a bit of a challenge, but some good cattle dogs helped, along with roping one of the cows to lead the rest in towards the trailer.

While last winter was the winter of overwhelming snow, this winter has been one of hit or miss snow.  We’ll have a huge dump of snow, and then nothing for a couple weeks, then another huge dump, etc… right now we’re in a weird “spring break” pattern of sunny days and slushy snow.  Go figure, as that is not something we typically see in February!  The word around town is that March and April will be huge snow months.  Regardless of the conditions, we’re finding good stashes of snow for the backcountry ski tours, and the skating and classic track has been amazing for people who are going out to cross country ski around the ranch.  I’ve skated more this year than ever before, and it’s been a blast.  It’s also great conditions for snow biking, and of course horse back riding in the snow or a sleigh ride with the sun shining down on you isn’t a bad way to spend the day.

As we get closer to Valentine’s Day, the chefs are preparing for our annual Aphrodisiac Dinner.  This year will be interesting as Valentine’s Day falls on the same weekend as President’s Day, so we’ll have families here as well as couples enjoying the romantic weekend in the snow.  That kicks off our family times again, and we’ll fire up the kid’s program from now until we finish with our spring break weeks in late-March.

I’ll wrap up with an office update.  Beka and Ben have been pouring over the applicants for the summer and interviewing, interviewing, interviewing.  They are pretty excited about who they have on board, and have some other great prospects to check out still.  We’re also busy working on an updated website.  Trying to keep the aspects of our current site that we love, but also make the site more accessible for mobile users.  Stay tuned for the launch of the site this spring.  In the meantime, keep in touch with us on Facebook, among our other social platforms.  We’ll keep posting photos and videos of what’s going on here at the ranch.  And, I’ll try to stay up on the blogging a bit more!