May 2010

Carrot and Ginger Soup with Coconut Milk

From Chef Matt’s recipe book, enjoy!

1- Bunch celery
4- Carrots
2 tbsp. minced ginger
1- Yellow onion
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 shallots- rough chop
3 tbsp. sesame oil
¼ cup- rice wine
½ cup- sake
2- 8 oz. cans coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup- fresh cilantro
1 cup- green onion tops
1 gal- vegetable stock or water

1- Rough chop 1/2 celery and 2 carrots, and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast off the vegetables in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned.
2- Meanwhile take the rest of the celery, carrots, onion, and shallots, and process in a food processor until it is finely chopped. Sweat off the chopped vegetables in the olive oil and sesame oil until the onions turn translucent; add in the roasted vegetables and cook for another two minutes. Deglaze the mix with the rice wine and sake, and add in the ginger, and veg. stock.
3- Bring the mixture to a boil, adjusting the seasoning with salt and pepper. Simmer the mixture for about 30 minutes to an hour, and then puree it with an immersion blender. Strain the soup through a medium strainer, and return to the stove.
4- Bring the mix to a boil again, and thicken it with a cornstarch or arrowroot slurry if needed. Pour in the coconut milk, green onion, and cilantro, then adjust the seasoning and serve.

Familiar Faces, New Faces

With the arrival of the staff over the weekend culminating with our Welcome dinner Monday night, orientation has been going at high speed this week at Vista Verde. There are some very familiar faces from past seasons such as Mandy, Lindsey, Amanda, David, Nate and sisters Leslie and Grace. And then a great mix of new staff who are excited to learn the ropes and looking forward to our first guests on June 6. On today’s schedule, Sallie is giving her intro to the dining room policies, followed by Grahm’s Fly Fishing program overview, then all guides and wranglers have a guide training by Steve and Kelli while the others go to their appropriate departments for training. With the beautiful weather we’ve been having, I’m sure everyone will enjoy lunch out by the pond like they did yesterday.

Stay tuned in the next couple days as we start updating the Staff profiles on the website so you may learn more about all these great folks.

In other ranch news, we will be posting last minute specials on our Facebook page if we have cancellations or spaces still to fill, so join up if you want to have access to those specials!

Spotlight on the Queen of Clean

Denise Nickerson joined us this year in a full time capacity at the ranch, running our housekeeping department. We’ve worked with Denise on a part time level for the past couple years, but this spring she decided to take the jump and move to the ranch.

Denise grew up along the coast of Rhode Island, spending many summers on the beach. Her riding arena were the beaches and the many trails that ran through the wooded country sides. She studied art and business in college and still continues to work mostly in pencil but also colored pencil and watercolor. Denise loves hiking, horseback riding, and is always looking for wildlife and wildflowers. Gardening is also another favorite pastime. She spent close to twenty years as a landscape gardener back East before moving back to Colorado. Back to Colorado? After high school, Denise moved out West, but then found herself back on the East Coast until recently. Her 23 year old son Clint also lives out here in the Steamboat Springs area, so she enjoys being close to him.

Knowing Denise’s reputation as a cleaning machine, and her enthusiasm for the ranch and what we’re doing for guests made her a perfect fit to come on board. We’re enjoying having her around and look forward to introducing those of you coming this summer to our newest member of the management team!

From May 25, 2010

Thanks to Kyle Menssen and the for their nice review:

Review of Vista Verde Ranch and Resort in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Colorado has a lot of beautiful scenery and outdoor activities. One place that offers plenty of both along with a great place to stay is Vista Verde. This resort is located in Steamboat Streams, Colorado.

Vista Verde is a combination of a ranch and a resort. Guests have the choice of staying in their own cabin or in a room in the lodge. This is an all inclusive resort and the traditional rates are for a full weeklong stay, although they do offer shorter stays. The minimum is three days. All meals are included in their rates along with a variety of activities. They are open June through September for Summer and mid-December through early March for Winter. The rates and activities for the two seasons are very different, so it is best to discuss them separately.

Summer rates for a weeklong stay run between $2,900 to $3,600 for a cabin and $2,700 to $2,900 for a lodge room depending on when you stay. The rates are per person, although they deduct $700 for children. Shorter summer stays are offered September 12 through September 26. The rates for these are $399 per night for a cabin and $379 for a lodge room. These rates pay for a lot of activities.

Vista Verde offers various activities during the summer. Horseback riding is one of the main activities with each guest being paired with a horse that suits his personality and ability. Basic and advance trail rides, informative classes, individual lessons, and an offered all day ride with a picnic are all activities that you may do with your horse. Those that enjoy the water may participate in rafting and kayaking trips. There is also a photography tour and outdoor yoga classes offered. Those that are in the mood to stay indoors for awhile might enjoy the cooking class or wine tasting. Some of the other summer activities include mountain biking, hiking, fly fishing, and rock climbing. There are also some optional activities that are not included in the rates such as a hot air balloon ride, golf, and getting a massage.

If your visit will take place during the winter season the rates run from $325 to $525 for a cabin and $295 to $495 for a lodge room again depending on when you go. These rates are per person and per day and there is a three day minimum. If you have more than two guests, each additional guest can deduct $100 per night off of their price.

Horseback riding is still part of the Vista Verde experience in Winter, although the trails are not as long and are limited to a walk. Visitors may also enjoy a horse drawn sleigh ride. Skiing is also one of the activities offered whether one needs beginning lessons or is experienced. Snowshoeing is also a fun winter activity offered at Vista Verde. Some of the other activities offered are indoor yoga, a photography ski, cooking classes, wine tasting, sledding, and a night ski. There are also multiple optional activities, although these cost extra. Some of these are dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice climbing, and more.

Vista Verde offers activities that everyone can enjoy especially if they love the outdoors. Fun activities along with beautiful scenery make this a great place for couples, families, or individuals. Visitors that are interested in how the ranch works are even welcome to follow along or help with the daily chores such as collecting chicken eggs, feeding the animals, or herding cattle. I would highly recommend giving this unique resort a try.

Steve’s Mountain Biking Adventure

Steve packed up the truck with bikes, grabbed guides Cliff and Brandon and a bunch of 8th graders from the North Routt Charter School to head to Moab last week. The trip was a graduation trip for the 8th graders, and the guides led the adventure. Camping in the desert, biking each day, and learning what it’s like to hang out with a bunch of 14 year olds made for some pretty great stories and memories for the kids, but maybe more for Steve and the guys. And it gave Steve, Cliff and Brandon a chance to get their bike legs warmed up so they are ready to ride with you this summer!
Are you ready for your mountain biking vacation? Or, are you more interested in the horses? Then you’ll enjoy meeting our newest ranch foal, born to Chex over the weekend. He’s a cutie! With Oakley (Emmy’s filly born a few weeks ago) and Ace, pictured here, we are now halfway through our foaling cycle. Still to come are Teletubby and Rachel, and we’re thinking we may get one more from Mary Jane. The vet checked her and said she wasn’t in foal, but she sure if gaining weight just like a momma-to-be is supposed to gain!

Sherman’s Travel- April, 2010

Top 10 Family ResortsSherman’s Travel

By ShermansTravel Editorial Staff

Waterslides are great, sure, but today’s family resorts are going above and beyond when it comes to entertaining kids

* 1. Astronomy at Hyatt Regency Maui
* 2. Cook at The Essex Resort
* 3. Dolphin Encounter at Hawks Cay
* 4. Golf at Kiawah Island Golf Resort
* 5. Horseback Ride at Vista Verde Ranch
* 6. Nature Adventure at Enchantment Resort
* 7. Sail at Pink Shell Beach Resort & Spa
* 8. Surf at Hotel del Coronado
* 9. Tennis at Horseshoe Bay Resort
* 10. Water Sports at Madden’s on Gull Lake

Long gone are the days when a Griswold-esque family vacation was anyone’s idea of fun. Today, modern families require a particular set of leisurely pursuits – and family resorts across the country are pulling out all the stops to offer such fine recreation. On top of the typical smorgasbord of family amenities – day camps, cool pools, kids’ meals – our 10 favorite family resorts offer something different: pioneering learning programs. Yes, we’ve said it. Learning really is fun at these family resorts, where kids can hone in on their latest obsession be it tennis or sailing, learn a new craft like surfing or waterskiing, pick up a few pointers in the kitchen at a cooking school, or star gaze with skill after an intriguing 101 in astronomy. Formulated to engage and inspire, these innovative resort programs span the U.S., from Florida to Vermont, Texas to Minnesota, San Diego to Maui, and provide the winning formula (instruction, encouragement, and rewarding hands-on activities) for a satisfying summer vacation. Plus, the experience and knowhow will last long after your family heads home. Check out our Top 10 Family Resorts Slideshow for a sneak peak at these fun, kid-friendly resorts.

Horseback Ride at Vista Verde Ranch

Vista Verde’s dedicated kids and teens programs ensure guests of all ages get the most out of their dude ranch experience ( Upon arrival at the ranch-style resort – nestled amid green pastures, tall Pines, and duck ponds in Colorado’s lush Elk River Valley – each kid, teen, and adult is paired with a horse that is theirs for the week. Once in the saddle, kids spend the first day in the corral with the “kid wranglers” learning how to ride before heading out onto the trails, while teens have separate trail rides and a weekly campout. Half-day rides for all guests leave most mornings and afternoons with groups divided by age and ability. Back at the ranch, little cowboys and ‘gals enjoy boat races, treasure hunts, and hayrides. The key word at this family resort is flexibility and kids always have the option of doing their own thing (under ranch staff supervision) or joining their parents for family rides and other activities like guided hikes, mountain biking, river rafting, outdoor yoga, rock climbing, or shopping in nearby Steamboat Springs. Everything is included and nothing is mandatory; the staff comes around each evening to find out what guests want to do the following day. Rustic-luxe accommodations comprise rooms in the main lodge and 1- to 3-bedroom private cabins, all of which are furnished with western art and handmade furniture; cabins each have a patio with hot tub.
Summer all-inclusive weekly rates start at $2,700 for adults and $2,000 for kids (ages 6–11) for June 6–27 and August 15–September 12, and $3,400 for adults and $2,700 for kids June 27–August 15.

Chef Robert’s much loved 7 Layer Bars

(1 * 8”x12”x2” pan)


1. 1 cup unsalted butter, soft
2. 2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
3. 2 eggs
4. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
5. 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
6. 1 tsp. baking soda
7. 1 tsp. salt
8. 3 cups dry oatmeal
9. 12 ounces chocolate chips
10. 11 ounces sweetened condensed milk


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth.
3. Add the eggs and vanilla and combine.
4. Sift together the dry ingredients (except oatmeal) and add to egg and butter mixture, mix until just combined.
5. Add oatmeal and combine, do not over mix.
6. Line a 8”x12”x2” cake pan with foil and press approximately 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of pan.
7. Combine the chocolate chips and condensed milk and pour over crust.
8. Top with remaining crust mixture, press down and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
9. Remove from oven and cool on a rack until completely cool.

American Cowboy, May 2010

The Best Ranch Vacations of the West
American Cowboy Magazine– Mark Bedor

Not just for dudes any more, the modern-day guest ranch puts you to work. Stays are akin to wrangler apprenticeships. And though we all know that food tastes better after a day on the trail, what cowboy doesn’t appreciate a chef-prepared meal—or a hot tub, for that matter? Here are 23 of our favorite ranches from across the West and beyond.

Sunrise never looks so fine as from the back of a horse, whether I’m at a ranch in the Arizona desert or the Rocky Mountains or the wide open Plains. And there’s just something about the satisfaction of a hearty breakfast at a rustic lodge or around a blazing campfire that makes early morning light come alive across unspoiled country. When I swing into the saddle on a well-trained horse for a day of adventure and spectacular scenery, I forget that I ever had a desk job.

Originated by enterprising ranchers looking to make an extra buck off East Coast greenhorns, the dude ranch is a Western tradition that has continued evolving into a 21st-century mainstay. Horsemanship and great trail rides have always been a premium, yet service and amenities (or lack thereof) are much improved. Living like a cowboy for a spell—whether you choose a ranch with a Michelin-rated chef from New York or a rough, overnight cattle drive—will remind you of the finer things in life. The creak of the saddle, the cry of a hawk, and the clip clop of hooves cleanse the harried soul.

And a week spent with horses, and without TVs or cell phones, brings people together like nothing else—especially families. The simple pleasures of hours on the trail, cookouts under the stars, and two-stepping at a barn dance put the real focus on the family.

Vista Verde Ranch
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Why go: Whether it’s the five-star food (Sample dessert: Mexican molten cake topped with homemade dulce de leche ice cream and rum-caramel sauce), the brand-new lodge with its huge fireplace, timbers, and picture windows, or the 600-thread count sheets on custom log beds, the goal of co-manager Ben Martin is to instill “the wow factor.” This fall Vista Verde is launching an intensive weeklong cattle gather tailored for serious riders (and those who want to be). The new indoor riding arena has also been a huge hit.
The riding: The big buckskin I rode here was the fastest horse I’d ever been on. My wife loved her gentler mount, Sugar, and the ranch-riding clinic taught us to do “diagonals” for the first time. We learned to drive the wagon team as well, which was a kick. I really enjoyed the long hours in the saddle through the colors of the Routt National Forest.
Price: $3,400–$3,600, one-week minimum
Guest total: 40

A Little Off Season Fun…What We’ve Been Up To!

Even though we’ve been closed for two months now, there have been a lot of projects and excitement going on at the ranch. Having just got back from a month off I was surprised to see all the improvements…AND meet the newest ranch additions! Ben and Holly have a new and oh so cute golden retriever puppy, named Copper. He is playful and already getting into the groove of being a ranch dog, with a little help from his big brother Cody.
Down in our mare barn, Emmy delivered a precious new filly last Saturday. Many of you may be following our “mare news” on Vista Verde’s Facebook page. Trust me when I say, this may be the cutest horse you’ve ever seen. With the birth of Emmy’s baby, which is waiting to be named officially, we are expecting another foal any day now. We will be sure to keep you in the dude ranch family loop!

Springtime cleaning this off-season has been accompanied by lots of new construction projects. Grahm our part-time wood worker and expert fly fisher completed a new gate this April that opens to winter pasture. He did a wonderful job and from the looks of it I think the horses are enjoying it as well. Steve has shown us that his skills stretch far beyond the trails with the completion of the new “King Team” office. It extends from the Nordic/Adventure Center and was built using recycled materials. From their new office to the kitchen, our luxury Colorado ranch in the mountains really is going green. Chef Rob is excited to introduce organic meats and produce from local Northwestern Colorado farms. More information will be shared in future blogs and during your summer stay here with us.

By Our Front Desk Mgr and Guest Blogger Christi Cline

Introducing Poncho and Lefty

The past year has been a bit of a challenge for the ranch and our draft horse teams. Sadly, we lost Zig during the summer of 2009. Zig was part of our Percheron team, and his buddy Zag was left with an empty harness next to him after Zig passed. With draft horse teams, it can be hard to pair up horses who haven’t grown up together and learned to pull together. We gave it a shot with another draft horse named Whopper, but he and Zag weren’t a good match. So we bought a young team named Ben and Jerry, hoping they could work into being our rising stars. Well, the stars didn’t rise quite the way we wanted, and they didn’t have quite the right mindset for what we wanted in a team. We did successfully pair up young Ben with Zag this past winter, and it was a great learning experience for Ben to learn from an old-timer like Zag. But, as Zag is aging and having a harder time with the hard work of pulling the feed sleigh every day, we realized that we needed to find a pair that could step into the role right away and being in our starting line-up. So, with that, we introduce Poncho and Lefty. These guys come from a nearby rancher who didn’t need a team anymore, much like Zig and Zag when we first got them. They’ve done it all and we’re excited to start working with them to see how they do for Vista Verde. The team just got here last week, so they are still settling in and are a little nervous, as many horses tend to be when placed into a new setting. We’ll let them get comfortable with their setting and then hitch them up and see how it goes. Right now, they are living up at the barn with the ponies- Shamrock and Morris, who are not exactly intimidating pasture partners as you can see in this picture.
We are looking forward to introducing all the kids coming to our Colorado dude ranch this summer to Poncho and Lefty for the hay wagon ride we take out each Sunday evening. By the way, any guesses on who goes on the left side when hitched up?

Cattle Gather Week

I am excited. Ben, Dace and I just met with Christy and Matt Belton the other day to go over the schedule for our cattle gather weeks in September. And, hold onto your hats, it’s gonna be fun. This is a new relationship between Vista Verde and the Beltons, and the goal is to help each other manage a herd of 1,000 head of cattle on a National Forest land lease.

Here’s how it’s going to work. Throughout the summer, we will be helping check the herd, and keep them somewhat corralled into the parts of the forest where we want them. The lease is a total of 16,000 acres. Yes, you read that correctly. And it’s not all fenced, so there is the chance that the cows can just keep wandering all the way to Dome mountain if we don’t check them and move them to the right areas frequently. So, twist our arms, we’ll be taking all-day rides throughout the summer out to help make that happen.

The real excitement begins in mid-September with our cattle gather weeks. During both the week of September 12-19 and 19-26 we will be driving them all down to holding pens for them to be loaded and shipped. The first couple days of each week will be spent at the ranch taking part in clinics and in-depth instruction so everyone is on the same page with their horses and how we want to work the cows. Mid-week, we’ll head out for several very intensive days of riding in the forest, trying to find all the cows and driving them to the holding areas. These riding days are not for the faint of heart, it will be intensive days in the saddle, and you will love your hot tub when you get back to the ranch. I’m guessing our massage therapist will be in demand at the end of the week! We will be offering all our regular activities, so if you want to just come and experience the beauty of fall at the ranch, you can still do that. We hope to have some of you come ride with us! Give Stephanie a call at 800-526-7433 or if you want more information.

Easy Chocolate Truffles

One of the most requested recipes from our kitchen is for the Chocolate Truffles. Chef Matt makes these often times to use for pairing with some of the red wines during his weekly wine tasting.


* 2/3 cup heavy cream
* 2 Tbs. honey
* 9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
* 2 Tbs. liquor of your choice (optional)
* Cocoa powder or powdered sugar for dusting


1. In sauce pan over low heat bring cream and honey to boil.

2. Whilst cream is heating place the chocolate in a food processor. If you do not have one, simply add chocolate to boiling cream and stir until smooth.

3. Once the cream comes to a boil, turn on the food processor and add the cream in a steady stream until chocolate is smooth.

4. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until set.

5. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or foil and scoop mixture with a 1″ ice cream scoop or teaspoon. Form ball shapes and chill until firm. 1-2 hours.

6. Roll truffles in cocoa or powdered sugar until well coated, crushed pistachios, pecans or melted chocolate can also be used. Refrigerate for 2 weeks or freeze for 2 months.

Smarter Traveler- May 2010

Vista Verde Ranch was included in a list of Family Vacation ideas in celebration of Mother’s Day on the Smarter Traveler website. This article also appeared on

By Eileen Ogintz-Memorable Mother’s Day Vacation Ideas

We moms all know the dirty little secret of family vacations.

No, I’m not talking about the piles of laundry when we get home, though that’s certainly no fun. I’m talking about how moms whisper on the beach, around the pool, and on line at theme parks, that family vacations are really no vacations at all for them, especially when young kids are part of the equation.

“Many moms say they need a vacation after the vacation,” says Suzy Stauffer, founder of Beyond the Bus Stop, an online support network for moms. “Moms need a break for sure!”

“It’s a lovely vacation for everyone. But me,” Jenn Belden, a mom of a young son and daughter, wrote in an email about her family’s annual trip to the Outer Banks. “I still cook, wash up, do laundry, shop for groceries, often for extended family. There is no rest!”

And on vacation, just like at home, guess who is mediating squabbles, planning activities, navigating unfamiliar turf, keeping kids safe, searching for that missing bathing suit top, a washing machine, or new batteries, treating minor illnesses and injuries, and making sure there’s enough milk for breakfast?

Whenever possible, I go for a condo with a washer or a wash-and-fold place. I can tell you from personal experience, moms are concierge and activity planner whether the kids are three, 13, or 23.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not taking anything away from dads who do their share and then some on vacation—including my own husband who likes nothing more than whipping up a big breakfast for the gang at a vacation condo or cabin and then leading them all on some expedition. It’s just that moms typically are the planners, the packers—and the worriers. Still, a lot of moms will agree that those rare isn’t-life-with-these-kids-wonderful moments on vacation are worth the effort—as long as you’re not too tired to enjoy them.

“Enjoy seeing the trip through the kids eyes,” says Suzy Stuffer, “and then plan a Mom-only trip as a reward for all of your hard work!”

Certainly there are plenty of Mom trips to choose from. I’ve got one planned to Provincetown on Cape Cod with my three oldest friends. We’re staying at a B&B that doesn’t welcome young children.

You can opt for a pricier trip, such as the Sex and the Big Apple Core package that includes hotel, passes to a Sex and the City Tour, and a DVD of the first movie, starting at $215 for two. The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay just introduced a girlfriends’ getaway where you can borrow yoga mats for in-room yoga. The package comes complete with spa privileges and food credits. The Marquis los Cabos promises complimentary mani-pedis, an anti-aging breakfast, and a spa scrub during the month of May. Adventures in Good Company arranges women-only adventure trips.

That’s not to say a family vacation can’t be enjoyable for mom, too—at least part of the time. Ithaca, New York, dad Bruce Stoff emailed me that “a little break goes a long way on vacation,”—at least it did when he took his daughter to the Smithsonian for an hour while his wife “relaxed amid the Renoirs” at the National Gallery.

“Plan for a break for mom,” suggests Allison Valdes, Georgia resident and the mom of two boys, including one with special challenges. Valdes is such an expert on trips to Walt Disney World that she is a member of the Disney Moms Panel. “It is always understood that when we visit Orlando, I get at least half a day to go to Downtown Disney by myself and no one gets upset because they know in advance I’m doing it. I get my mommy break having a little less guilt.”

It can help — especially single moms– to invite grandparents or extended family along — assuming that won’t cause you more stress. Nancy Schretter, founder of Family Travel Network adds that you’re also guaranteed a break if you take a vacation with a family with kids close to the same age as yours—and agree ahead of time to share some babysitting. Share a condo and you’ll cut vacation costs significantly too. Check websites such as VRBO and ResortQuest.

Bring your favorite sitter — or niece or nephew and let them chase the toddlers down the beach and sit in the room while the baby naps, moms suggest. Hire a sitter for a few hours each day. At the very least, look for a place that has a terrace or balcony to hang out on while the children nap or are down for the night, adds Corinne McDermott, founder of Have Baby Will Travel, which includes an online store for baby travel gear.

Then there are the all-inclusives including cruise lines (some, such as Disney and Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas even have nurseries at sea) and resorts like Beaches, Club Med Club Med, and others, that schedule age-appropriate programming from morning until night. The Bahamas megaresort Atlantis is even offering special Lego Camps this summer and The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, California, offers a new Summer Culinary Academy for parents, while kids are entertained in Camp Pelican.

If your kids love horses or the outdoors, consider a dude ranch like Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where we spent a blissful few days. Or try out a family camp; search the American Camp Association website for ideas.

Be forewarned that you may get more of a break than you bargained for if your kids—especially tweens and teens—prefer the organized activities to hanging out with you. Or you may not get a break at all if the kids balk at participating—think the preschooler uncomfortable in unfamiliar turf, and the grade-schooler who thinks the activities, no matter how spectacular, are “lame.”

At the very least, let the kids (and dad) be in charge of a couple of meals—from shopping to cooking to cleaning up—and create an itinerary that includes some “mom” time. Can you think of a better Mother’s Day present?

Most important, let go of the guilt! It’s your vacation too.