May 2011

It’s a girl thing at Vista Verde

Our foal crop was not as large as expected, but we ended up with two fillies and are thrilled. Tele Tubby delivered this sweet and spunky filly over the holiday weekend. She’s still pretty shy, but full of energy and ready to get out and play. Over the weekend the weather was pretty cold and wet, so she had to stay inside. But the sun is shining beautifully today, so she gets to go out and explore the big world around the mare barn at our luxury dude ranch.

Opening day is Sunday, and we are just hoping for lots of warm weather and sunshine to dry out the mountains. It’s been a record setting spring with weather that none of us have ever seen this time of year. We’ll get out and have a great time with our guests at our Colorado guest ranch, but we may have a little mud on our boots at the end of the day for the first couple weeks.

Cue the sun and let the fillies play!

Rocking out in the Barn

Things were jamming in the barn this week. No, it wasn’t the staff orientation, or getting the new horses ready for our summer dude ranch season. It was a real life group of rock stars (although they may not like me referring to them that way!). Through a connection with one of the band members, we agreed to host the band Dispatch as they prepped for their upcoming tour, which begins at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver this Friday. The staff and horses have been able to enjoy listening to the group practice, and get to know the guys and their crew. As a thank you, and special treat for the staff, the band gave tickets to our crew so most of our crew will be able to attend one of the shows this weekend.
In addition, the band members made a trip to the North Routt Charter School to meet with the kids, talk a bit about music and play a few songs for them. Maybe a few of these kids will pick up an instrument as a result of this inspiration!

Are any of you diehard Dispatch fans? Check out their Facebook page for more info. And we’ll keep the rockin’ atmosphere going on at the barn long after they leave our luxury dude ranch.


Years ago we had the great folks from Ricola out at the ranch for a family vacation. After their visit, they kindly sent us some tubs of Ricola drops to share with our guests. Over the years, it has become a tradition to have a stash of Ricola in our amenity baskets for our guests. They are great in our dry climate!

We ran out at the end of the winter, and I just got an email from them that another case is on the way. So, I just wanted to send a shout out and a big Thank you to the folks at Ricola!

So, the question is…..where around the ranch would you wan to shout out, “Riiiii-col-la!”? I’m going to pick the hill right above Hinman Lake so water carries my call. How about you?

Denver Post- May 2011

Hands-on fun with some real cowpokes– by Kyle Wagner

Over the years, we’ve visited many dude ranches, one of the top reasons folks come to Colorado. If you’ve never been, this summer could be your chance to check out one. Here are a few of our top picks, and if one of these doesn’t catch your fancy, visit for more.

C Lazy U Ranch, 3640 Colorado 125, Granby, 970-887-3344, One of the more modern dude ranches, an upscale experience that pairs a superior horse program (on the trail or in an arena) with fly-fishing and other area outdoor pursuits.

Colorado Cattle Co. & Guest Ranch, 70008 County Road 132, New Raymer, 970-437-5345, Adults-only, the Cattle Co. takes you out on a true cattle drive, branding, fencing and roping with the staff.

Devil’s Thumb Ranch, 3 miles east of U.S. 40 on County Road 83, Tabernash, 800-933-4339, Luxurious cabins and a new lodge (with bowling alley!), and a horse program that truly encourages riders to spread out and achieve new skills, and a world-class spa.

The Home Ranch, 54880 Routt County Road 129, Clark, 970-879-1780, Amazing gourmet food is served at this 1,500-acre Relais & Châteaux property with the Elk River running through it and the Routt National Forest as a next-door neighbor.

North Fork Guest Ranch, 55395 U.S. 285, Shawnee, 303-838-9873, 800-843-7895, An Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing lodge, North Fork has the vigorous North Fork of the South Platte River zooming smack through it. Rafting and massage are among the amenities offered, along with horseback riding, hiking, swimming, target, trap and bow-and-arrow shooting, square dancing and day trips to Breckenridge.

Smith Fork Ranch, 8 miles west of Crawford on Needle Rock Road; 970-921-3454, Get a massage, try a wine from the well-stocked cellar, look at the stars through a high-powered telescope, learn how to rope a steer or shoot with a bow and arrow. The family-friendly spot caters to kids, and special weekends, such as the popular culinary and cowgirl ones, fill up fast.

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch, 17931 Red Feather Lakes Road, Red Feather Lakes, 800-357-4930 or 970-224-1222, Laid-back and nurturing, this well-situated ranch with spacious cabins is 140 acres of fun and casual comfort.

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, 2939 N. County Road 31D, Loveland, 877-667-3999, Guests can help move, pen and brand cattle at this working ranch, once they demonstrate adequate horsemanship skills. Fishing in the Big Thompson and tennis on the well-maintained courts are other popular pursuits.

Tarryall River Ranch, 27001.5 County Road 77, Lake George, 719-748-1214, 800-408-8407, Very family-oriented, with appealing kids programs, rodeos for the guests to strut their stuff and evening talent shows. Adjacent to the Lost Creek Wilderness Area with a clear view of Pikes Peak and the Tarryall River, activities include horseback riding, fly-fishing, river-rafting, hiking, swimming, square dancing and sand volleyball.

Vista Verde, 58000 Cowboy Way, Clark, 800-526-7433, The stand-alone cabins with private hot tubs and stoves have mountain views, and the swimming pool and endless trails in this alpine setting mean exercise and kid-friendly. An indoor arena offers one-on-one time with your horse, and you can fly-fish, mountain bike, rock-climb and raft on the property or nearby.

Penguin Plunge

In order to get the landscaping completed around our new pool, we had to get the snow blowers out and remove the snow this spring. That wasn’t quite in the plans, but with the record snowfall we received this winter and early spring, it was quite a task. Charlie and the ranch hands took it all in stride, and now we are putting the finishing touches on the beautiful new amenity.

Although we have added a pool for our guests enjoyment, we are not planning on making the pool a major part of our program. With so many amazing activities, and so many great experiences, we want to keep the focus of our programs on these Colorado experiences. But, for those of you who just want to relax a bit or take a quick dip with your kids, the pool will be ready and waiting come opening day. Until then, we’ll leave the swimming to the penguins.

The Daily Meal- May 2011

9 Wild West Dude Ranches – by Nicole Campoy-Leffler

Spurs and all, these are more than just your average horseback riding adventure

In this digital modern age, John Wayne’s dusty Wild West seems a novel, old fashioned place. And while the Gold Rush may be over, it’s comforting to note that this gun-slinging, iPhone-less cowboy lifestyle is still alive and well on dude ranches across the U.S.

More than just tumbleweeds and cowboy hats, these dude ranches have amenities that would spoil even the toughest ranch hand. Swimming pools, live country music, wine cellars, and river rafting trips are all becoming dude ranch standard with fine dining, lavish spa treatments, and tennis courts rounding out some of the more luxurious offerings. Central California’s Alisal Ranch, for example, asks guests to “dress” for dinner and boasts a wine club with three levels of membership.

Whether you’re a seasoned horseback rider or got inspired by watching Rio Grande, the activities and itineraries available at each dude ranch can be tailor-made to fit your every whim. Wyoming’s storied A Bar A Ranch offers everything from fly fishing to skeet shooting and from horseback riding to golfing, ensuring you’ll earn your stripes in no time. And nothing goes with saddling up better than a fresh, epicurean meal.

Montana’s Triple Creek Ranch offers mahi mahi ceviche and braised Guinea fowl and organic chicken with seasonal vegetables and rice in their main dining room while Colorado’s Vista Verde Ranch has scheduled seasonal wine tastings and cooking classes throughout the year.

Harking back to the old West, these ranches let you get a taste of ranch life without actually making you wake up to do farm work at 5 a.m. Here are nine great ranches worth visiting all across the U.S.; go for the horses, stay for the food.

Colorado’s Vista Verde Ranch seems like it was made for the food-loving rancher. With cooking classes and wine tasting events, the ranch’s other activities like mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and rock climbing are an added bonus. Changing based on the season, the ranch’s culinary adventures take place all throughout the property from hearty breakfasts (like honey wheat pancakes with caramelized apples on top) to outdoor grilling and from a quick lunch between activities to tasting the ranch’s inspiring wine collection.

Turning up the heat

With many of us squeezing in vacation time the past couple weeks (yes, you may have noticed an absence of blog posts…that would be me sneaking away for a bit), it’s been pretty quiet around the ranch. This week the long term crew begins to roll back in. Ben is the last one to arrive back, hot off the beaches of Mexico where he and Holly snuck away for a little R&R. Our pre-season kick-off meeting with all the managers will be this Thursday, and then we’ll all go running with our to-do lists. As we race around getting ready for the staff to arrive, and the ensuing orientation weeks, we’re anxiously watching the sun melt the snow. It turns out we have had a blockbuster, off the charts winter. The news is saying that the Steamboat area has set an all-time record for the state of Colorado. In April, we got 27 days of snow. Too bad the Steamboat Ski Area didn’t extend it’s winter vacation season! So, the hiking guides may be doing their training on snowshoes as we wait for the snow pack around our dude ranch to melt away prior to opening day. We’re going to have some fun adventures with snow still up in the high country. It will be like no summer I’ve ever seen. I bet we’ll be able to find snow up at the highest peaks in August…so get ready for snowball fights on your all-day hike!

With the sun shining and the birds singing, we are also enjoying other new life….BABIES! The Elk River Valley is dotted with baby cows, running and frolicking with their friends. And we have had our first foal of the year. Rachel gave us a Cinco de Mayo filly, a little bay with a white star. She is so adorable and so sweet. I believe Charlie won the bet on when that first foal would come. No surprise there.

For those of you coming this summer, we look forward to a full house of interesting and lively guests at our dude ranch. For those still thinking about coming, we are down to the wire with one cabin open in early June, and then a couple spots later in September during our adult only weeks.

Come on sunshine, melt it away!

Summer Crew 2011

Dace, our Jack of all trades with the title of ranch GM, resident cowboy, and artist/singer is also responsible for hiring our awesome staff each season. The process is intense, with multiple interviews, extensive reference checks, among other things. Each season we are amazed at how he is able to put together such a hard working, intelligent, energetic, travelled and personable group. He must have the touch. This magic not only comes from the new faces that arrive each season, anxious to experience life at a guest ranch and the grandeur of the Colorado mountains, but also the returners who add a mature and experienced component to the mix. We are thankful for the balance and have seen season after season how this combination makes for the perfect team. For those guests who are returning this summer you will be excited to see the familiar faces of: Chef Matt, Sous Chef Lewis, Chef Lisa, Chef Vinny, Johanna, Nicky, Kyle, Trey, Adam, Javin, Beka, Nathan, Reid, John I., Carson, John H., Camie, Chelsea, Steph S., and Ashley. A couple returners who are new to our management team are Steph Fredline, our new head housekeeper and Sarah Dreyer who is leading our server girls. What is remarkable about this summer’s team is the number of states which will be represented, atop the list is Indiana with 10 of our crew members! We will also have staff coming from PA, CA, AZ, OK, CO, NY, ME, WI, MI, MS, IL, WA, OH, FL, TN, MN, GA, NC, ID and TX. Whew! Be sure to stay tuned to our website for staff profiles that will give you a more detailed look at this season’s crew!

By Guest Blogger and Front Desk Mgr, representing the state of AZ: Christi Cline