August 2011

Barn Dance Ben

Last night was the last night of barn dances before we head into our adult only weeks. All summer long, kids have stomped it up on the dance floor with Barn Dance Ben calling the dances. Whether it was the younger ones laughing and dancing with their mom or dad, or a terrified teen being lured out on the dance floor by one of the staff members, we enjoyed having families together for some old fashion fun.

Those of you here in past years may have remembered Barn Dance Bob. Well, with a little teasing, prodding and encouraging, Ben decided to take on the barn dance calling this year so we could keep it a little more, ummmm, updated and personal. Thus the new moniker of Barn Dance Ben. Dace stepped in a bit too….shall we can him Dancing Dace?

With this last week of kids at the barn dance, we move into a new stage of the summer. Come Sunday, there might not be quite as much giggling, but we will have a houseful of folks here to explore the ranch without children. Next Tuesday night we’ll be kicking up our heels without little ones underfoot. That may make the dance a bit more lively, but we challenge to adults to laugh as much, dance as much and live as large as the kids have done this summer. Barn Dance Ben, it’s up to you to get those folks dancing! Can he do it?

More Adult Weeks in September!

A while back, we added an extra adult only 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 trip!

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 getaways, or a girlfriend getaway. And, of course, a dude ranch is always a great spot for a single traveler as there are so many great people to spend time with, while also getting some quiet time for yourself.

The September 25 week will be the 4th of our series of cattle round up weeks. As we will have been gathering cows up for 3 weeks prior, this will be a week of searching for strays. That means lots of bush whacking while riding the amazing country side 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, bear in mind that the bikes are still tuned and ready to go, the fishing rods trembling at thrill of fall fishing, and the hiking trails spectacular in the 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 for our final week of the season, 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! – August 9, 2011

Vista Verde Guest Ranch – by Kara Williams for

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.

How time flies when you are on a dude ranch!

Every summer, every winter, it seems like we live in a vortex of time. The pre-season preparations are frantic and exciting. Then we get going with the guests and the days just zoom by. Here we are in the second week of August already. The grass is just starting to turn a bit more golden than green. The kids head back to school in just a couple weeks, and thus we’re looking at preparing for our adult only weeks. Where does it all go? A good friend in the luxury dude ranch business said something the other day that really rang true for me. He said, “I got a letter from a guest who was here in June. It seemed like a year ago that they were here. But, here it is Thursday and it feels like the guests who came in on Sunday have only been here for a day.” How does time work that way? In the moment, it flies. But then looking back it feels like forever ago.

At our staff meeting on Sunday, Dace was having the staff think back to our orientation weeks. How long ago that seems that we were shoveling snow off the patio in preparation of our first cookouts of the summer. Getting to know each other and getting geared up and ready for the guests to arrive is a distant memory. Now, some of our staff are starting to head back to school while the second round of summer staff rolls in to fill their spots. The memories we’ve shared with all of you who have been here this summer are priceless. You have helped shape the lives of our crew and given each person a better understanding of human nature and how to serve others with all their heart.

And, as fast as the days fly by for all of us, we still have more to look forward to. Personally, I’m getting so excited for the fall. September is my favorite time of year. We’ll have some great friends from Michigan coming out in a couple weeks, then the adults come in with the freedom that goes along with traveling without children. We’ll kick up our heels with them, chase some cows, sing around the fire and continue to create memories…all the while trying to hold onto each day as it flies by.

Enjoy the last little bit of summer. Hug your kids a bit tighter as they get ready to go back to school. And give yourself some time to enjoy an evening on a deck, soaking up those longer daylight hours while they last!

Love and Vista Verde

Something was a little more sparkly in the barn this week. What was it you ask? New saddles? Polished spurs? Someone cleaned the water trough? No, no, no. It was a shiny new diamond ring. Yes folks, Javin did it. He asked Jo to marry him. The fact that we’ve all kind of been waiting for this to happen doesn’t in one bit take away from the excitement and joy for the two of them. Thrilled would be an understatement. Jo had two new horses to try out last week, and so she and Javin took an evening ride up past Hinman Lake to test them out. No one really knows if the horses passed the test, as we were all a bit too excited congratulating them and admiring the new ring. So, if you’re wondering why Javin has a spring in his step and Jo can’t wipe that gorgeous smile off her face, now you know. Congratulations to Jo and Javin! We were rooting for you, and will continue to root for you!