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!

fall dude ranch vacations article

Newly added October ranch stay

Due to the popularity of our October short stay, we have added another option for guests looking to come out to the ranch without the full week commitment. The October 8-12 stay is already fully booked, but now we also have the option of another short stay October 15-19, 2017. The 4-night, 3-day stay will be an adult-only stay, and we will offer the same program as we do the previous week with horseback riding, horsemanship clinics, guided hiking, mountain biking and fly fishing as well as yoga, cooking class, wine tasting, and a photography workshop. That’s a lot of adventure to pack into a few days, so gear up and be ready for some fun! Activities are weather dependent, but there is always something to do indoors if the weather isn’t cooperating with us. Rates start at $1,795/person for the 4-night stay.

Learn more about our fall dude ranch stays or give Devyn or Melissa a call at 800-526-7433 to book your stay, and start packing your bags!

summer ranch recipe

Chef’s Corner: Chilled Corn Soup

Summer time is the perfect time of the year for chilled soups. This summer, Chef Chol shares his recipe for Chilled Corn Soup, just in time for the Olathe corn to be coming into season. Do you know the story about Olathe corn? Corn isn’t a major crop in most of Colorado, but there is a small area in the state where it has been produced with renowned success. Check out this article about Olathe corn from Food Republic, and then enjoy the recipe!

Chilled Corn Soup (8 servings)

• 6 ears corn, shucked
• 3 cups buttermilk
• ½ cup basil leaves, more for garnish
• 6 green onions, roughly chopped
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, more to taste
• 2 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
• Kosher salt, to taste
• Radish slices, for garnish
• Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
• Chives, thinly sliced, for garnish

PREPARATION
1. Slice kernels off corncobs (you should have 6 to 7 cups of kernels). Discard cobs and place kernels in a blender.
2. Add buttermilk, basil, scallions, lime juice, garlic, salt, and 1/2 cup ice cubes to the blender and purée until very smooth.
3. Strain mixture through a sieve, pressing down hard on the solids. Discard the leftover solids.
4. Chill the soup 2 hours until ready to serve.
5. Serve soup garnished with radish slices, chives, and a drizzle of olive oil.

dude ranch foal

News from the Nursery

The foals are growing and getting used to being handled and loved by our guests each week. As we watch them lounge in the sunshine, frolic in the green grass, and stretch their legs running around the pastures, we’re getting to know their personalities and helping them get used to dude ranch life. Here’s a quick update on the sweet things from wrangler Liz B.

dude ranch foalPaisley
Born: 4/24/17
Sire: Shaq “Gray Stik”
Dam: Teletubby “Reynyday Whoaman”

Paisley is Shaq’s first foal to be born here at VVR! Shaq is our current resident stud here at the ranch, and we have been anticipating watching this beautiful filly learn and grow to see if she will have the calm, sweet, curious disposition both of her parents have. Like most gray horses, Paisley was born a darker bay color, but is starting to slowly gray out, just like her father, and displays a star matching that of her mother Teletubby. Paisley is extremely friendly and has a big, sweet personality. She is naturally curious and brave with new interactions and absolutely loves her weekly foal watch visits, where she gets to interact with guests. She especially loves getting pets and scratches from the kids that are more her size! Teletubby is back in foal to Shaq, so we look forward to a full sibling to Paisley in May 2018.

colt at luxury guest ranchMemphis
Born: 5/8/17
Sire: Shaq : “Gray Stik”
Dam: June “Frostys Red Baron”

Memphis is Shaq’s first colt to be born here at VVR. Memphis was born with a lighter red sorrel coloring, but with time is also starting to show some of his Sire’s gray coloring. Memphis definitely has the energy and athleticism of his father. Three days after his birth, he was already zipping around the pasture with the cutest little lope. Memphis is a little bit more timid than Paisley when it comes to interacting with people, but he gets more and more comfortable with people each day. He is a very sweet colt, and we are very excited to see his potential. June will be having another Shaq baby May 2018, so we look forward to seeing what this two produce next year!

foals on summer vacationApache
Born: April 2017
Dam: Ginger

Apache and his mom Ginger came to us from our cattle partner Matt Belton. Apache came to us at about one month of age and is growing fast. Apache is a cute little black colt with two white socks and the sweetest little face. Apache is by far one of the most curious, kind foals within the group of four foals we have this year. He’s inquisitive and quite independent of his mom at a very young age. He loves people and getting scratches and rubs in all his itchy spots! This young colt is very brave and seems to be a fast learner. His relaxed, carefree personality helps settle his mom, who can sometimes be nervous and very protective of him.

colt at family guest ranchHoulihan
Born: March 2017
Dam: Big Momma “Zans Rainy Gal”

Houlihan and Big Momma came to us from a horse sale in CO this last spring, and we are lucky to have them. Houlihan is a gregarious, friendly colt who gets his calm disposition and size from his beautiful, big-boned gray momma. Houlihan has great conformation, and his dark coat is already starting to gray out, so we’ll have another gray colt. He is extremely friendly and loves people. Big Momma is also currently pregnant with Shaq’s baby, who is due around next May/June 2018. With her easy personality and great size, we think the combination of those two horses will produce an amazing guest ranch horse.

 

Guests get an up close and personal experience with horses at Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado!

Northern Colorado Speaks – July 2017

There are so many great reasons to come take a vacation in Colorado, and the folks at Northern Colorado Speaks point out that that history of Colorado is rooted in the Gold Rush and the cattle ranches that sprouted as a result. So, to go back to Colorado roots, they put together a list of some of the best dude ranches in the state. The article is titled 12 Dude Ranches in Colorado You’ll be Dreaming of this Summer. Read the article…..

summer family vacation

Forbes – July 2017

Forbes writer Sherrie Nachman spent some time at Vista Verde with her boys, and shares he experience with readers. The article is titled “Trying to Find the Perfect Way to Unplug? Colorado’s Vista Verde Ranch is the Vacation Answer.” Well said–unplugging while still enjoying an adventure vacation with great food too is what we’re all about! Read the article….

hiking vacation in Colorado

Dude Ranch Life: How do they all have so much energy?

Maybe it’s that I’m not 23 anymore, or maybe it’s just because our staff are just that adventurous. But, this morning it hit me that our staff are moonlighting (sometimes quite literally) in some pretty amazing athletic endeavors. Why did this hit me this morning? Well, Beka and I went for an early morning run, which was amazing and beautiful and fulfilling for this busy mom who is psyched when she fits in a 4 mile run. However, you must please note that Beka was merely warming up for a full day of guiding and anticipating that she would be leading a hike on the Zirkel Circle. You know, that silly little 11 mile hike into the Zirkel Wilderness. While we were out running, we saw footprints on the trail. Beka’s guess was that those footprints belonged to Shannon. She had invited Shannon to join us on our run but Shannon opted out. She was hoping to get a longer run in that morning…..before she also guided an all-day hiking trip. Ummmm…..ok.

This conversation led to further ones with other staff about their epic outings recently. The same energizer bunny Shannon joined Molly and Max H. earlier this week on a 21 mile/11 hour hike into the Zirkels. The highlight of the hike was getting up on top of Flattop Mountain.

Oh, and then there was the climb up Wapiti Mountain with Maggie A., Jonah S, Shannon (do you see a pattern her?) and Molly that started at sunset and got back well after the full moon was way up in the sky.

Well, I can’t forget to mention the gallant attempt to climb Farwell Mountain by Nolan and Max. Perhaps they didn’t make it all the way, but the scratches and bruises they brought back proved their pioneer spirit.

Of course, what better way to celebrate kid wrangler Max K.’s birthday than a sunrise hike up Hahn’s Peak with a whole crew of friends?

For creative adventures, the award goes to Jason and Sarah who are attempting to climb every mountain or visit every lake that one of our cabins are named after….each Sunday they tackle another one.

There was that night that Jonah J. hiked up to the top of Wapiti at 9pm, camped out, and was back at work by 7:30am.

Needless to say, our crew is making the most of their time off, and somehow they still have the energy to whip up amazing dishes, wash those dirty dishes, wrangle the horses and kids, and lead more wild adventures out into the mountains with our guests.

Anyone up for a walk around the block?

dude ranch owners at Vista Verde

Dude Ranch Life: Special Visitors

Recently we had some special visitors come up to the ranch. Does the name Tufly ring a bell for any of you? If not, here’s a clue: the Tufly family owned Vista Verde from the late 1920’s until the 1970’s. Their boys grew up on the ranch, so we were thrilled when Elvin and Roy came by to visit with their wives Carolyn and Delene. It was great timing, as they not only got to spend some time at the ranch and share stories of growing up at Vista Verde, but they also got to meet Chris and Laura who own the ranch now.

The guys had us totally entertained hearing about the trouble they got into as boys growing up on the ranch as well as what life was like at Vista Verde in those days. They used to close the ranch down in the winter, and ski in throughout the winter to shovel snow off the roofs of the buildings. Such a different lifestyle than what we have today!

It’s amazing how many people’s lives Vista Verde has touched in the past, and how many it continues to touch as a guest ranch today. We’re all pretty lucky to call it home for even a week at a time!

a romantic winter vacation

Salt Lake Bride and Groom – June 2017

While those of us with kids are in the midst of summer vacation and lots of kid time, this article reminds us that there can be a time when the kids aren’t a part of the picture and time with our partners is the priority. Tessa Woolf from Salt Lake Bride and Groom put together an article about 3 Romantic Outdoor Retreats to Get Away From It All, and we’re excited that Vista Verde was listed as one of those recommendations for romantic getaways. Read the article….. and start dreaming of that romantic vacation!!

summer vacation the entire family will love

MSN.com – June 2017

Writers Lauren Smith and Sarah Schreiber put together a list of “22 Vacation Destinations Your Entire Family Will Love” and this article was shared by MSN.com recently. What a great list of summer vacation ideas for families, just at the right time! We were thankful to see Vista Verde included in the list, and always appreciative of people recognizing all we do to make the VVR ranch vacation experience the best family vacation ever! Read the article….

animals and kids at a family dude ranch vacation

Dude Ranch Life: Angels among us

On the very first day of my kids’ summer vacation we discovered that my daughter’s old faithful horse has some really serious health issues. Given that having a horse is an integral part of my summer childcare plan, this put us in a bind. Yes, we have plenty of horses here at the ranch, but they all have a job to do during the summer! So I’ve been madly hunting for a great horse for my kid. In that search, I have been reminded that it is a special creature who weighs 1,000 pounds and gently takes care of our children. It’s never far from my thoughts or those of all our wranglers as they work with our herd, but this situation has put it really high on my radar right now. We truly live among angels with these horses, and even the dogs and cats, here at the ranch who so patiently care for our little people.

No horse is perfect, just like none of us are–ok, maybe some of you have achieved perfection, but I’m far from it! However, as I watch these animals who are so powerful stand patiently while little girls braid their manes, or small children pull on their mouths with no awareness of the discomfort they are causing the animal, or a group of kids lie down and surround a young colt, leaving it with no escape when he is wired to always have an out from prey, I see little angel wings sprouting. So, parents, please remember when your kid complains that her horse eats grass to much, or that when he wants to trot or lope the horse doesn’t do it without a lot of kicking, or whatever other imperfections arise, that these creatures are taking care of your babies and keeping them safe. I’ve been shopping for a replacement horse who is safe and kind, willing and sure-footed, calm and gentle, and they are not abundantly available. So, I am treasuring the ones we do have here at the ranch. Because we are surrounded by angels here, and luckily the kids who come here (and my kids are included in that thankfully) get to spend time riding around on winged horses without even knowing it! Bet you never imagined when you booked your family vacation here at the ranch that you were also booking time with an angel?

dude ranch staff on bikes

Dude Ranch Life: Orientation week

It’s been a whirlwind of excitement and learning this week at the ranch. You know that saying about drinking out of a firehose? That is pretty much how our staff feel at this point. They arrived Monday, and we kicked off our orientation time with a welcome dinner Monday night. First thing Tuesday morning there were introductions and then we jumped right into laying out the ranch mission, touring the new staff around the ranch, and getting paperwork filled out. Then if was off to their individual departments. We’ve been busy from sunrise to sunset and everyone is ready for a well-deserved day off tomorrow! Following a great suggestion by longtime guest Bruce G., I asked a couple of the new staff to share their experiences with our followers on social media. Here’s what they’ve been experiencing so far this week. First up, meet Catherine:

Day 1:
Hi, I’m Catherine,
I’m from Charlotte, North Carolina.
I am so excited to spend my first season at Vista Verde Ranch as a Horse Wrangler.
Follow me on my journey over the next few weeks as I learn all the ends and outs of this beautiful place.

Today, we were completely immersed in the vision and mission behind what we are doing here at the ranch. Whether learning about values like compassion and leadership, or meeting those that are the heartbeat of the ranch; This place has already stolen my heart.

However, the day wasn’t all meetings. The wranglers spent the day exploring the acres of the ranch on horseback and meeting a few of the horses. Here are a few pictures from today’s adventure!

Day 2

Hey Y’all it’s Catherine!
Today was such a blast. It was the most beautiful weather we’ve had all week. Summer is definitely here. We spent the morning practicing all different types of first aid emergency scenarios. From practicing what to do about back injuries, making slings, or walking through head to toe checks, all of our first aid training was reinforced with live scenarios.

This afternoon the wrangler department saddled up and had our first clinic with the head trainer KP. Y’all, KP knows his stuff. He is such a wealth of knowledge on all things horsemanship. I learned so much in one short hour, and I’ve been riding my whole life. Today was full of reminders of how much of a gift this summer will be.
Also, I’ve been taking some spins on the Cruiser Bikes. It’s definitely going to be a favorite aspect of after work activities! So. much. fun.

Day 3

Hey y’all,
Big things are happening here at the ranch. Today was spent with everyone really diving into getting the ranch prepped for guests. Wranglers were mending fences and placing gates, guides were building paddle board trailers, and kids supervisors went on an orientation
horseback ride. It was a busy day, and most people were outside working all around. The energy was high, and it really feels like we’ve gotten into a steady rhythm with our departments. I’ve found that my favorite parts of the day are meals when we all gather together in the staff room and share conversations across tables. I also love department time. We get to bond with our team and focus on what we really love to do at the ranch. For me, it’s horses.

Counting down the days until we get to meet you all!

Day 4
Hi friends,
Today was filled with a lot of “first times.” We de wormed the mares and the yearlings, had our first “run out” to the back pasture, and had our first barn dance! There’s nothing quiet as exciting as chasing a heard of galloping horses through a pasture and herding them in the right direction. Also, I learned that head wrangler Ben Yoder-Henley and head trainer KP have some serious dance moves. Everyday the ranch has more and more to offer!

And now it’s Day 5 and Catherine and the rest of the crew are working with the housekeepers to learn the ins and outs of Sunday turnovers. Because, here at the ranch, everyone jumps in on Sundays to help get the cabins cleaned for the next group of guests!

Next we introduce you to Mackenzie:
My name is Mackenzie and I am beyond stoked to be a server at VVR this season! I’m originally from a suburb close to Chicago, and can’t wait for this change of pace in the mountains! Follow my staff orientation over the next 2 weeks to see a glimpse of what goes into prepping to serve our amazing guests! Day 1 consisted of stellar talks about the ranch, it’s mission, and what it means to be a part of the family here. I’m feeling truly honored to have this opportunity. The entire staff has already learned so much, and of course we continued the fun after training with bike rides and staff yoga!

Day 2- The ranch staff spent the entire morning soaking up information about first aid. We then practiced mock first-aid scenarios around the ranch!
In the afternoon, the waitstaff toured and explored the in’s and out’s of the kitchen. We also began to learn a bit about breakfast service and practiced carrying plates (current drop count: 0)! As you can see from the picture, it was a tough view to commute to work today, and an even tougher view to study our server book in our cabins! What a great second day for the waitstaff.

Howdy from day 3! All of the waitstaff just happened to show up in matching outfits today- wow we must ALREADY be stellar as a team! (Ok..maybe we planned it…) Today we had a birthday in our department of one of our wonderful returning staff, Terrence! What better way to celebrate than singing happy birthday to him as he walks in the staff room rubbing his eyes at 7am?!
Today the servers gained a wealth of knowledge from our lead server, Lisa, as well as birthday boy Terrence. We ran through a fake breakfast service- between the four of us “newbies” we probably asked a grand total of 1 million questions to make sure we’re the best we can be! Next, we learned how to set the table for formal dinner service. Lisa surprised us at the end of the day by telling us we will be riding tomorrow as a department! We couldn’t be more excited, bring on day 4!

Stay tuned, as we’ll keep you updated on the adventures of Catherine and Mackenzie as they navigate their way to opening day. We’re in the final countdown!

meeting at a dude ranch

Dude Ranch Life: Gearing up for the summer season

Oh boy. Can I just tell you all how excited I am about this summer? I’ve been doing this a long time (this summer marks 20 years in dude ranching– who’d have ever thought I’d be saying that?!) and there are some years that I am more excited about the start of the season than others. It varies based on so many things, but this year it is definitely different. I am pumped like I haven’t been in a long time. Why? So many reasons!!!

Where to start……in no particular order

Kids, tweens and teens- We’ve always put a lot of energy into our programs for the younger guests, but this year it seems like the stars are aligning. With Addie and Mandy joining the ranch team, there is a level of professionalism, excitement, maturity, and fun that gets me giddy just thinking about it. Both educators, these two gals are pouring into the program to make it the best ever. And it wasn’t a shabby program to start with, so they really are reaching for the stars. The two of them compliment each other so well as far as personality and skill sets and they will be tag-teaming on making this summer the best ever. They have embraced and run with our new concept of not just splitting up the kids into kid and teen groups, but into kid, tween, and teen groups. In doing so, they have crafted a whole new program, and there are so many fun activities packed into one week. On top of that, they made all sorts of tweaks and improvements to the existing programs that are going to make them so much fun. Listen, my two girls join in on the program each summer, so I have an extra personal stake in the game, and I know they are going to love it. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, I could go on and on….but let’s move on.

Betterness- Former owner John Munn left a legacy with his term “betterness.” He always encouraged us to work toward that, and never settle for status quo. This spring the ideas have been flowing, following many of us taking trips of our own and experience great service and unique amenities (hint, hint Chris and Laura, maybe we should all get paid to travel in the off-season, haha). In little ways here and there, we are freshening up the special details that make a ranch vacation at VVR stand out to our guests. Sorry, I can’t reveal them all, but it’s exciting to see them coming together!

The leaders- No, not me, Ben and Charlie. We all just sit around and look pretty. I’m talking about the people who make it all happen. We have such a fabulous team this year, and they are so committed to excellence that I just get all mushy inside thinking about it. Monday we had our pre-season manager meeting. What I thought was going to be an hour or so meeting turned into an all-day affair. Yes, keeping a bunch of dude ranchers seated inside for that long is beyond painful, but the discussions and the ideas that came out of it were so incredibly productive, positive, and honest. It was incredible. I was cranky by 5pm after being cooped up all day, but also so full of thankfulness for the team who makes this place rock and roll. In addition to the old faithfuls, there are a number of new players involved in the ranch this past year, and everyone of them seems like they have been here forever. I already mentioned the gals in the kids hut, but there is also Chef Jason who joined us last winter, and one would think he and Chef Chol have been working together for years based on the ease with the dining program has moved forward. Then there is Zach who took over the HR and activity coordinating while Beka moved into the Adventure Center, and we all love having him in the office. Ben Yoder Henley has returned to take the head wrangler role and team up head trainer KP in the horse program. Melissa helped lead us in a new direction with housekeeping last winter, and she’s become a pivotal player in the office where she balances two very important roles. And how can we forget the ranch owners Laura and Chris and their amazing kids–talk about energy and excitement!

Adventures await- We have a new era starting in the Adventure Center, and that might be different for some. But the door is almost bursting off with enthusiasm from the talented and experienced team up there. Beka, Isaac, Brandon, Ben, and Nate are working diligently to be ready to roll on June 4. They have the newest and greatest gear, ideas for fun ways to experience the backcountry, and are so loaded up with wilderness safety training that you better not stub your toe on a hike or you might find yourself in triage. They are ready to shake things up and give our guests the best outdoor experiences they have ever had at the ranch before. That’s contagious, and I can’t wait to try the new bikes, hear about the fish tales, and watch the log of the many miles our guests and guides put on the trail grow over the summer.

Animals- The mare barn is going to be a little more noisy this summer with the addition of some chickens, chicks, goats and bunnies. Yes! The brainchild that started with some casual conversations between Charlie and Devyn has turned into some real live animals that Mandy rustled up for the ranch. Me thinks I might have to take a few walks down to the mare barn for “quality control.” I mean, it is really important for me to check out the foals and the animals, just to make sure the guests are getting the best experience possible, right?

Ok, I could go on and on, as in every corner of the ranch, in every department, and with everything we do there are amazing things happening this spring. So, with the pace kicking into full steam this week and the staff arriving next week the heat has been turned up. And it’s going to be a good one! If you haven’t already made plans to join us this summer, maybe it’s time to squeeze in a week to the ranch. Don’t miss this summer at VVR–I’m going to soak it all up and hope you can too!

foals at Colorado dude ranch

Dude Ranch Life: Springtime in the Rockies means babies!

The valley is just bursting with life. The grass is spreading out over the meadows and the glacier lilies are popping out all over the place. The rivers are rushing by with tremendous speed. The sand hill cranes are calling out from the ponds and the trees are filled with chirping birds in the morning. And, best of all, there are babies everywhere we turn!

Each day as we pass by our fellow rancher’s homes we see more calves dotting the pastures. Our partners Christy and Matt Belton just held their branding over the weekend and now those little black calves are snoozing out under the sunshine next to their mammas.

Teletubby and Jane have both delivered sweet little foals. Teletubby’s little filly is just as sweet and friendly as they get, and June’s colt is a little pistol full of energy and sass.

Oh, and to top all that, Monday morning we got the call from Chol and Alaya that they welcomed Saoirse into their family. Eamon has a little sister and everyone is doing really well! I asked Eamon if anything fun had happened today as we walked through the Lodge today with his papa, and his big news was that they saw some flowers and wanted to ask Charlie about them. Finally, after some prodding he did remember that they also have a new baby! Hey, we all have our priorities.

Here’s to the start of a season of abundance. Bring it on Spring!

 

Autumn adult only vacation

Colorado Moms – May 2017

Summer camps for adults really is a thing and you should go is the title of the article in Colorado Moms. We love it! Although this is a far cry from summer camp, we do have our adult-only weeks in the fall and they are a blast. Enjoy amazing meals, fine wines, hiking through the aspens, fly fishing on pristine rivers, and rounding up cows in the forest, among other adventures. Check out this fun article and start planning for your adult getaway! Read the article….

packing for your dude ranch vacation

7 tips for packing for your Summer dude ranch vacation

Packing for a dude ranch vacation can be tricky, especially when you’re heading to a ranch like Vista Verde that offers multi-sport opportunities. In preparation for the upcoming summer season, we put together some insider packing tips to complement the packing list we share with our guests.

1) If you’re planning on hiking it is handy to have hiking boots. They aren’t a must, as many of us hike in our running shoes. You just have to be prepared to get them wet (so wear your Darn Tough Socks or Smartwool socks). However, if you haven’t been out hiking in your boots ahead of time, make sure to get half a dozen hikes in them before you get out to the ranch. Nobody wants blisters on their vacation! Even if you can’t go for a hike on the dirt, just walk around your neighborhood for an hour once or twice a week for a few weeks. Go up and down stairs, climb whatever hill you can find. Your feet will thank you.

2) Don’t forget your bathing suit! Because although no one will know if you’re skinny dipping in the dark, those post-ride afternoon soaks in the hot tub might be a little awkward, even if the horses are trying to avoid eye contact.

3) Bring your social security number if you want to fish. Any US resident over the age of 15 will need an SSN in order to get a fishing license, which you’ll need if you want to go out on the river or to a high alpine lake.

4) Pack your longest jeans. Yes, the ones that kind of drag on the ground when you are wearing normal shoes. Jeans hike up when you get in the saddle, and if yours aren’t long, they’ll ride up over your boots, and that’s just annoying! Don’t have jeans you’re willing to get dirty? You can find jeans such as Wranglers at Rod’s Western Palace or Sheplers.

5) Add to your suitcase some hiking sandals or shoes that you’re ok getting wet so you can use them to cross streams. There are some amazing hikes as well as the option for hiking to fishing spots–but you will be crossing creeks along the way to get views like this. Our favorites are sandals like Teva or Chacos.

6) This one might be more for the ladies, but guys you can still take note. You don’t need to dress up for any of the evenings at the ranch. But, having said that, wouldn’t it be fun to pair a cute dress with your cowgirl boots for the barn dance? When at a ranch, why not cowgirl up and have a little fun?

7) Padded shorts! You might already know that this just makes the world a happier place when you go mountain biking, but did you also know it might help with horseback riding? Just think about it. And, know that we have some available in the Adventure center if you don’t have a chance to buy them ahead of time. Just slip them on under your jeans and you’re smile will be a bit brighter after several days of riding.

We know those suitcases can get a bit full with all these suggestions, so feel free to ship a box out to the ranch prior to your vacation. We’ll store it for you until you arrive, and then can help get it shipped back home after your week at the ranch. Or, we’ll even store it for you until your return for your next visit!

dude ranch discounted week

Discounted dude ranch week

The start of our summer dude ranch season is always an exciting time. The staff show up in the latter part of May for an intense, two week orientation. During that time we pour information into them so they will understand the culture of the ranch, wrap their heads around their roles for the summer, and prepare to give our guests an amazing vacation experience. By the end of the orientation time, they are bursting at the seams with knowledge and are ready for our guests. So ready that they are practically lining up to meet our first guests as they arrive at the ranch for opening week. The enthusiasm of opening week is contagious and is much of what makes that week such a special time for our staff and guests. What makes it even more special is that it is discounted! Did you know that you can save up to $600 per person if you come for our opening week? So, if your kids are out of school by then, or heck, if you don’t have kids and want to save on a summer dude ranch vacation, come visit us June 4-11, 2017!

If you are interested in learning more about our upoming opening week, please give us a call at 800-526-7433 or fill out a reservation request form. We look forward to seeing you when the valley is bursting with wildflowers, the foals still teeny tiny, the meadows dotted with calves, the Elk River roaring, and the mountains still capped with snow.

ranch bikes

Dude Ranch Life: Off-season at Vista Verde

Spring is a busy time for Art, our UPS driver. Each day a slew of boxes of new gear arrives, and lately those boxes have been really, really big as our new bikes arrive. Beka and the guides spent a week building bikes to update our Salsa fleet. This year they are playing around with the newest trend in cycling, which is a fatter tire bike that can function in both summer and winter conditions. These bikes will allow novice bikers to feel more comfortable riding over obstacles on the trail, so we’re excited to get you out on them this summer!

Mandy and Addie have been revamping the kids and teen programs to make room for the new tween program. They’ve come up with some fun new events in addition to the all-time favorites of our past guest kids. Ahhh, to be a kid at VVR is to live the good life.

KP traveled to several horse sales this spring and has a great batch of new riding horses to start working into our string. They are big, beautiful, kind, and willing, so we can’t wait to get some mileage on them so you all can try them out! In addition to that, we’ve tweaked the clinic schedule just a bit to accommodate some new options for our guests. It’s time to get in shape for riding!

A big load of fence rails arrived the other day, just in time for Javin to lead a crew to rebuild and repair fences all over the ranch. With 600+ acres to fence, this is a job that never is finished!

Chef Chol is picking out some new wines for the list while also working with Jason on the summer menus. Bill is busy with his list of cabin fixes and improvements. And that is just the start of it. If you haven’t planned your summer vacation yet, don’t fret. We have cabins here and there throughout the summer still available, so give us a call or fill out a reservation request form so we can find a spot for you to spend a week at the ranch with us!

Colorado dude ranch general manager

Dude Ranch Life: Exciting Changes for this Summer!

Every now and then someone at the ranch moves on and opens up the door for shifting around within our management structure. As Steve and Kelli moved on this spring to their grand adventure (more on this in the last blog post), we saw some opportunities to move people to areas of the ranch where they are better suited.

With that we are so excited to announce the new management structure of the ranch, which we believe will create the best dude ranch vacation experience possible for our guests. Ben (formerly the GM) has stepped into the Executive Chef role to sling burgers and cook up bacon. He is leaning towards a meat only menu, as that is his area of expertise. That shift has allowed Chef Chol to become a full-time hiking guide. With his sleep patterns affected by a newborn baby and years of early morning shifts in the kitchen, we will be offering a whole new option of 4am guided hikes in the Zirkel Wilderness area. Following that change, Charlie has taken over the yoga and Pilates classes, and is looking forward to finding his down dog with our guests out in the aspen trees. Now that Charlie isn’t managing the finances and all the back end logistics of the staff and guests, stepping into that role will be KP, who has been counting the days until he can finally claim an upstairs office and a desk job. Now, we did find it a little tricky to figure out the right replacement for overseeing the horse program, but it became an obvious fit with Devyn when she took a lesson from KP and realized that she, too, can be a horse whisperer. Brandon, who has been eye-balling the Director of Marketing role for years, has finally gotten his wish and will be relieving Steph of her marketing duties. Keep an eye on the social media accounts, as they are about to get exciting. Of course, with him picking up those duties, Steph suggested that it would just make sense that he take on all the rest of her role as we all agreed that she would be the perfect fit for the newly created guest advocate role. Actually, since this position logically would take two people to fill, Steph and Nate have agreed to carry the burden of trying out all the guest activities, staying in guest cabins, and essentially being un-secret shopper guests at the ranch. They have a vital role in making sure folks coming for a ranch vacation are getting the best experience possible. Oh, and we almost forgot to mention that Bill will be taking over the kids program! He has some great craft projects planned with power saws and other sharp tools. Whew, so many great people finally finding their perfect role at the ranch.

So, as you start to think about your summer vacation (if you haven’t already) keep in mind that the winds of change are blowing at the VVR. While we are gearing up to give folks the best family dude ranch vacation they have ever dreamed of, you can sit back and wonder if this is just a big, fat April Fool’s day joke.

 

colorado-vacation-activity-biking

Dude Ranch Life: The season ends and an era ends

This week marks the end of the reign of the Kings. Literally–Steve and Kelli King are moving on from the ranch after almost two decades of leading the Adventure Center at the ranch. Steve joined us back in 1999 as a ski guide, fresh into town and looking to start a new life with his wife Kelli and their infant daughter Madi. Over the years, Steve became the guardian of the ski program in the winter and the biking and hiking programs in the summer. What started out as a job sharing role between Steve and Kelli, so one of them could stay home with baby Madi, turned into both of them working at the ranch full-time. In Madi’s younger years, Kelli ran the kids program with Madi tagging along all summer long, and then guiding when there were not kids at the ranch. Once Madi hit her teen years, Kelli moved out of the kids program and into the guide world full-time. Steve and Kelli have been the momentum behind growing the mountain bike program to what it is today, bringing yoga to the ranch, adding paddle boarding and fat biking, and much more. Their emotional investment in the ranch has been their biggest contribution–from pouring into the guests to contributing to the big picture ideas, advocating for never letting go of the quest for excellence, and preaching the gospel of safety, self-care, work-life balance, and healthy living.

With Madi graduating from high school last year, and moving on in her life, the door opened for Steve and Kelli to move onto their next adventure. Vista Verde was never the destination, but rather a stop on an life long adventure. They are selling their house (anyone want a sweet vacation home in North Routt?), packing up their things, and heading out on the road for a while. None of us know for sure where exactly they will land, but they have their sights on some pretty great options after first taking the time to explore, spend time with family, and visit friends.

But who steps into those big boots? We have a whole team lined up and ready to go. Beka has been waiting to move into this role for a while now, and her time has arrived. She’s about the most fit person I know–come on, anyone who gets up and runs to Steamboat just for fun before work (that’s a marathon, you realize) has the stamina to keep our guests going day after day. Beka is a backcountry and fitness addict, and is so excited to be taking over for Steve and Kelli to head up the Adventure Center. And right in there supporting and teaming up with Beka will be Ben Simms, Isaac Ness and Nate Margason. Bikers, fishermen, skiers, avid outdoors men–these guys all know this area like the back of their hands, have extensive training and experience playing in the outdoors as well as serious emergency and safety training. The team is lined up and ready. What about yoga? Devyn, who currently teaches Pilates at the ranch, is ready to jump into the role of leading Wild Yoga and looks forward to introducing folks to yoga as well as practicing with those who are yogis already. In fact, much to my envy, Devyn is heading to Hawaii this off-season for some additional teacher training to prime the pump with new ideas and flows. And, our gift shops will still be stocked with great items in Kelli’s absence due to the hard work of Laura (she owns the place, if you haven’t met her yet) and Melissa (she adds inches to your waistline with pastries but has also embraced our retail operation in anticipation of Kelli’s departure). So, not to worry, although the Kings leave big boots to fill, we have a lot of people with big feet ready to step into them!

When you work with people for as long as many of us have worked with Steve and Kelli, you become like family. You love each other, drive each other nuts, know each other’s quirks and pet peeves, and share in life’s wins and losses. So, their departure is bittersweet. We all thank them for their years of service and dedication to the ranch, the mission, and our guests. We know their presence will be missed at the ranch, but we are also so excited for their upcoming journey. Please help us send off the Kings with fanfare worthy of, well, kings! If you would like us to share a note of thanks or bon voyage with them, please send it to us and we’ll pass it along.

As we never say goodbye here, we just assume we’ll see each other down the trail. Here’s to many happy trails for Steve, Kelli, and Madi!

springtime at Colorado Dude Ranch

Dude Ranch Life: Hunting for Easter Eggs

Just after the official closing day of our winter guest ranch season, we mark the coming of Spring with the annual Easter Egg Hunt Fundraiser at Vista Verde.

Local vendors have donated all the ingredients for a huge pancake breakfast that the ranch chefs prepare for upwards of 300 locals coming to support the North Routt Pre-School. Following a big breakfast, the kiddos will head outside to hunt for Easter Eggs, and, rumor has it, a helicopter might be flying in to add to the excitement.

It’s a fun day of camaraderie among the local community coming up to dine together, let the kids romp, ski and snowshoe all over the ranch, and just enjoy the beautiful setting while we raise money for the school. We hope you will come join us this year! Here are the details:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Breakfast- 9am to noon

Egg Hunt- 11am

Skiing and Snowshoeing all day on the ranch trails

Snowman building contest, raffle, and more!

Cost- $10/adult, $5/child or $35/family – no advance tickets, pay as you arrive