September 2010 – September 2010

Yet another top ten, this time the Top XC Ski Resorts for Families. Thanks to for including Vista Verde Ranch in their picks.

Top XC Ski Resorts for Families

Plan to gather up the kids and head to the hills during the school breaks next winter. No need to head to warmer climes – winter can be snowy, yet mild, and perfect for a family vacation with plenty of activities such as cross-country (xc) skiing and snowshoeing.

According to our experts at, the nation’s top xc ski resorts are exceedingly family-friendly with lots to enjoy together both on the snow and off. What families want and need is exactly what an cross-country ski vacation delivers: multi-generational participation, quality time, and shared memories.

Cross Country skiing for families. There are special touches such as talent shows, treasure hunts, child-friendly classes, and family style meals to help your xc ski vacation become the perfect memorable getaway with your loved ones. Families can find resorts that offer the perfect combination of carefree atmosphere and picture-perfect views together with beautiful lodging, family dining, and expertly groomed trails and learn how they can enjoy the winter outdoors together. Perhaps a family staying at the alpine slopes might want to spend part of a day of their vacation on the xc ski trails for a change of pace.

Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado – Here’s the best of both worlds with backcountry guided xc skiing in addition to groomed trails. They have programs to engage kids and teens, sleigh rides, cooking classes and evening entertainment. The indoor riding arena offers horseback riding and lessons as another option for something different at Steamboat. September 2010

I got an email the other day congratulating us for once again earning the designation of Gayot’s Top Ten Ranches for the year. I’m not sure what we did to earn this designation, but appreciate them including our dude ranch in the list! For the most part their list includes only one ranch per Western State, so Vista Verde was the only Colorado dude ranch on the list. Many thanks to the Gayot staff for including Vista Verde!

Here’s the excerpt:
At the Vista Verde Ranch, a working hay and cattle property that encompasses more than 500 acres of forest, meadow and pasture in Rocky Mountain high country, there is an opportunity to go beyond the basics of horseback riding. Specialized clinics focus on balance and rhythm, driving and the art of horse whispering. Of particular note are the cattle drive weeks offered throughout the year: After getting comfortable with your horse through trail rides, arena sessions and a special horsemanship clinic, you will have the chance to herd cows down the Elk River Valley. Although the log cabins look rough and tumble from the outside, they are subtly sophisticated where it counts, with lodgepole pine beds, antiques and western art. Each also has its own hot tub on the deck.

Fall around the Ranch

The aspens are changing, the sky is blue, the scrub oak red, and it’s just breathtaking here at Vista Verde right now. That comes from someone who looks at this view every day, and right now I’m nearly driving off the road at times because I’m too busy rubbernecking a stand of glowing aspens. Something about the sunlight this time of year only amplifies the beauty of the whole valley, the mountains, and the trees.

Last week was our first cattle gather week, and we had some really successful days and some more challenging days. Those little cows are good at hiding, and who wouldn’t be on 16,000 acres? But with persistent guests and hard riding, we did find a good number of them and brought them back to the ranch. This week we have a big group of guests gathering, so we’re hoping that by splitting up and being a little more savvy on the timing of our searches, we’ll get the rest before Sunday. Otherwise, it’s going to be up to us to get the rest as we close this weekend. Yowzer, I can’t believe it’s the end of the dude ranch season already here at Vista Verde!!

Sallie took some great photos when she went running the other day. Yep, for those of you who recognize the area, she was actually running up and around Hinman lake. Go Sallie, Go!

Well, the sun is beginning to rise on another gorgeous day. We’re looking forward to celebrating two birthdays today at the ranch (what are the odds of that? Happy Birthday Jinnie and Anne Marie) and this whole week we are enjoying having Bruce and Sandy here for their 10th stay. For those not in the know, that means their dude ranch stay is FREE!

Spotlight on Sallie Hallmark

It’s been a while since we’ve done a staff spotlight but when I sat down to do one today, I knew exactly who I wanted to put in the spotlight this time. Sallie Hallmark joined us almost a year ago to oversee the front of the house in the dining room. Having grown up in Birmingham, AL, it was fun for us to watch Sallie’s amazement at the winter season at Vista Verde. She embraced the season fully and was skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and riding horses in the snow from the very beginning.

Before coming to Vista Verde, Sallie worked in her family’s general construction company after finishing school at Florida State with a degree in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management. She was ready for an adventure, so she packed up her home and said goodbye to her family to come out and explore the West. Sallie’s great smile and spunk have been a fun part of the ranch experience this past year. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind and keep things lively in our weekly manager meetings. Most of all, Sallie says she enjoys meeting new people and hearing their stories. She is committed to making their dude ranch vacation their best vacation experience.

After experiencing both winter and summer at Vista Verde, we’re excited for her to be able to see the beauty of fall at the ranch. Thanks for all you do Sallie!

Christmas in September?

No, we’re not decorating the place for the Christmas vacation time right now. We’re actually enjoying some fabulous fall weather, our first of four adult-only weeks, and looking forward to the fall cattle gather weeks coming soon.

But our thoughts are starting to turn towards Christmas and New Years vacation experience. It’s this time of year that we start lining up the details of the holidays, including the trees in the picture. Charlie ordered the live trees this week so we’ll have one for each family to decorate in the Main Lodge. And the phone has been ringing off the hook with potential guests looking into planning their family Christmas vacation. It seems odd to be thinking about the ranch covered in snow when there is still so much grass out there, but ’tis the season!

If you’ve ever considered trying a Vista Verde winter ranch stay, we do still have space during the holidays. The snow is sparkly, the jingle bells ringing on the sleigh and Mom can actually relax for once with the cooking, cleaning and entertaining taken care of for her!