November 2009

Heading Home for the Holidays

While some of our guests are starting to think about what to pack for their Christmas vacation at the ranch, those of us living here have our thoughts on Thanksgiving. With Thanksgiving being the one major holiday that we celebrate while the ranch is closed down, the place tends to turn into a bit of a ghost town. It’s the last getaway for most of us before we open for the winter ranch season. So, where is everyone going?

Ben, Holly and the kids will be packing up this weekend to head down towards Colorado Springs to spend the week with Holly’s family.

Dace is visiting some friends at another ranch and then jetting off to IL to see his folks at their farm.

Steph is leaving Todd behind and taking the girls to CA for some warm weather and time with her sister and family.

Steve and Kelli and taking Maddie to Denver for a weekend of museum and aquarium visits to celebrate her 11th birthday. Then they’ll head over to Kelli’s folks home in the middle part of the state for Thanksgiving. Happy Birthday Maddie!! Gosh, we remember when you were barely walking…..wasn’t that just last year?

Charlie is following Barb down to her mom’s in Frisco, CO for a quick one day visit for Thanksgiving, but he’ll spend the better part of the week working on their new house up by Hahn’s Peak. It’s beautiful by the way…who knew one could create such a masterpiece building a house just on weekends?

Jo and Javin left last week for a road trip. Javin dropped Jo off with her family in IN and then continued on to spend a couple weeks with his family in PA. Nicky is also taking the opportunity to catch up with her family in IN for the week. At the same time Bekah is taking a couple weeks to spend time in FL with her folks.

Terry might have the most exciting Thanksgiving plans as he’ll be sitting on the sidelines of the Bronco game. Did you know his wife is the Bronco girl? She’s the one who rides Thunder across the field every time they score a touchdown. Go Broncos!

So, who is going to stay behind and keep an eye on things? Well, Bill took some time off earlier in the fall but is going to stay put and finish working on his projects. And Rob was hoping to get away but has since complicated his life by getting a new baby. After Steve and Kelli showed up with their new black lab, Rob fell in love and ended up with a sibling of Rosie. So, he’ll be staying put at the ranch to take care of his new bundle of joy.

Upon return, the crew will be hitting the ground running as we have just one week to prepare for the new staff to arrive, training them and then getting ready to open for a white Christmas! We hope you all have a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends and laughter.

September Mountain Getaway

A few months ago, we added an extra week at the end of our season.  But, I haven’t been great about getting the word out there so there are still a few cabins open for that week.  If any of you are looking for great fall foliage, fun in the mountains and some great R&R there is still time to plan your ranch holiday!

The week we added is September 25-October 2, 2011.  As mentioned above, it is an adult only week.  These are great weeks for romantic mountain getaways, or trip with your girlfriends.  And, of course, the best dude ranches are great for a single traveler as there are so many wonderful people to spend time with, while also getting some quiet time for yourself.

September is my favorite month of the year, and the adult only times lend a different feel to the ranch experience.

This extra week will be the 4th of our series of cattle round up weeks.  As we will have been gathering cows for 3 weeks prior, this time will be spent searching for strays.  That means lots of bush whacking while riding the amazing country side near our Colorado lodge and resort all day long, looking for sneakiest of them all…the ones who have evaded us previously.  The aspens are usually beautiful at that time and the air crisp.

If the idea of sitting on a horse all day doesn’t appeal to you at all, keep in mind that the bikes are still tuned and ready to go, the fishing rods trembling at thrill of autumn fishing, and the hiking trails spectacular in their fall glory.  Great food awaits you at the Lodge each evening, and a hot tub bubbling on your deck.

If you are interested in joining us, give Stephanie a shout at 800-526-7433 or  And, although we are technically closing on October 2, we will be offering our Horsemanship clinic October 5-9 with ranch trainer Terry Wegener.

There’s still time to play at our Steamboat Springs resort!


The horses are moving in!

This fall the construction crew moved from the actual riding area in the indoor arena over to the part of the arena that will house the horses. As the weather got colder and the stalls weren’t quite ready, Terry, Jo and Nicky moved the horses that needed to be worked daily into temporary pens in the arena.

As you can see here, Gunslinger, one of our new weanling colts, had a hall pass from his pen while Jo was cleaning it. He was trying to visit with one of his future girlfriends, but she didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Ahh, rejection starts at a young age. Keeping the horses in the warmer environment and with blankets on helps keep them from growing the woolly mammoth coats that they grow when they live outside. This, in turn, makes it a bit easier for upkeep with them when they need to be worked daily because if they sweat during a “workout” they will cool down and dry off more quickly. With the 2 and 3 year olds we have added, it is important to work them year round so they have a proper base of training before we put them into the string for guests to ride.
Just this week, the crew did finish work on a couple of the stalls so a few of the mares were moved into their new digs and are keeping an eye on the guys working on the tack room and wash bays.
It’s starting to feel like a real live training barn down there! We hope you get a chance to visit it and smell the great smell of cedar shavings filling the barn area.

Vista Verde Guest Ranch on

Thanks to Kara Williams for the great write up on  Kara has written about some fo the best dude ranches in the country.  She knows what really makes a great all inclusive resort vacation as she has been to many in her travels.

Wide-open meadows, thick pine forest, pretty aspen groves, and looming mountains… welcome to nature on steroids at Vista Verde, a luxury, all-inclusive guest ranch near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Vista Verde may be a dude ranch, but this property offers so much more than just horseback riding. Think gourmet meals, whitewater-rafting and fly-fishing trips, mountain biking, a plethora of kids’ activities, and, yes, trail rides for every equestrian—whether you and your children have never been on a horse or you ride regularly.

Vista Verde is open year-round. Winter brings opportunities for cross-country or backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding. The ranch is adjacent to north Colorado’s Routt National Forest, so there are miles and miles for exploration—on horseback or on foot. The ranch’s proximity to Steamboat Springs means you can also easily downhill ski on world-class slopes or go on dogsledding or snowmobiling excursions. Transport to the ski town is included in the price of your vacation. A small property, Vista Verde only hosts up to 40 guests at one time, so it’s easy to get to know other visiting families over the course of a week—the standard length of stay. Similarly, some families form strong bonds with the on-site wranglers and the kitchen and childcare staff; even at the ranch’s busiest times, the staff-to-guest ratio is 1:1.

Vista Verde recommends that visiting children are ages six or older to make the most of the excellent outdoor offerings at the ranch; if you have younger ones, just chat with the friendly reservation staff to see if Vista Verde is a good match for you. The ranch can be flexible, for sure, due in part to its small size.

Note from Vista Verde- We hope you enjoyed this article.  We look forward to having you join us for a ranch holiday, or even for a romantic winter vacation sometime!

The moose on the loose yesterday!

For those of you who follow us on Facebook, this is old news. But for the rest of you, I have to share the coolest experience we had just yesterday. Ben had been working away at his desk all morning and just felt the urge to step outside for some fresh air. It might have something to do with the insanely beautiful weather we’ve had this week, but I also had the urge to get outside so I was taking a lap around the ranch at the same time. I stopped by the Nordic center where Steve and Kelli are getting all the ski gear ready for the winter ranch season when Ben came hollering over the radio to look toward the Sunday pasture. Ben’s great timing put him looking right at a mama moose and her calf as they came through the pasture. The horses got all riled up, so they started running around, which made the moose a little nervous. With that, they jumped over the fence and headed towards the pond, right in front of the Lodge! We all watched as they ran through the compound, up behind the Zirkel cabin and then started making their way down the fence line to Coulton Creek. What a great moment! We have been seeing moose here for the past couple years, but not front and center like that. I wish I had a picture to share with you, but it all happened too fast for that. Thank you Mama moose and mooselina for the show! And great timing Ben!

Planning a winter vacation

Are you trying to find winter vacation ideas?  It can be hard to figure out what you really want for your vacation.

Here at Vista Verde Ranch, we offer a unique winter ranch experience.  While the images of cookouts and horseback riding through green meadows are memories of the past summer, we still maintain the feel and atmosphere of a ranch.  But, with the blanket of snow, we add a whole new selection of activities that get you out in the snow for a Colorado ski lodge feel.

Are you looking to spend all your time downhill skiing?  Then maybe you should stay slopeside in a resort town.  The downside of that experience is you do have to work through the crowds and planning of each meal, lessons, ski rentals, etc..  But many people enjoy the excitement of being right there for all the action and getting as much time on the mountain as possible.

If you are looking for more of an overall winter vacation idea, then something like a guest ranch or Colorado ski lodge is a great idea.  Of course I’m biased, but I think an all inclusive resort is great as it makes the planning and budgeting easy.  At a place like Vista Verde, you can pick and choose from a plentiful menu of options for activities each day.  If some in the family fall in love with horses and want to ride while others want to get out and snowshoe each day then you can do it.  Kids love sledding on a family snow vacation, and event he adults seem to enjoy it a bit.

Think about gear when you research your winter vacation ideas.  If you live in Florida and dont have any snow gear, you probably will need a packing list and do a little shopping.  You definitely need to be prepared for the weather.  With the right gear, it is comfortable to get outside and play in the snow.  And then you can come in and warm up by a cozy fire or in your bubbling hot tub!

Please let us know if you have any questions about planning a winter vacation.  They make for a great family snow vacation option, or a romantic winter vacation!