November 2011

New budget rooms at Vista Verde

We’ve added some new accommodations to the ranch.  No, we haven’t expanded our capacity for people.  We’ve expanded it for horses!  After several years learning how the beautiful indoor arena fits into our program, we are finding that we need the ability to house more horses indoors.  So, this fall, we took on a project inside the indoor arena, adding 9 more stalls.  This will allow us to keep more training horses in the arena, so we can be working on improving our herd more consistently.

While the stalls have been built, we also re-did the insulation in the arena.  Lesson learned the hard way, traditional insulation does not work in a humid environment like an indoor arena.  So, that insulation was pulled out and we applied spray insulation.  This should help reduce the energy required to heat the arena in the future, and takes away any potential mold issues.

Terry and the wranglers are anxiously waiting for the project to be finished so they may start riding the horses inside again.  The snow covered outdoor arena doesn’t quite do the trick this time of year!

Empanada Filling

Chef Matt also updated his Empanada filling recipe to make it more user friendly.

Makes: 25


6- 6 oz. chicken breasts

½ – cup dry rib rub

1-Large yellow onion medium diced

1-Cup of toasted and rough chopped pistachios

Salt and pepper to taste

3- oz- olive oil

2- oz- butter


  1. Melt the butter in a sauté pan and slowly caramelize the onions on very low heat for about 2 hours.
  2. Rub down all the chicken breast with the olive oil and rib rub then grill of the chicken breasts to medium well.
  3. Once chicken has cooled cut it to medium dice and mix in the caramelized onions and pistachios. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and begin filling your empanadas.


Depending on how much filling you use in each one you may have less or more so play with your amounts to get the right amount of filling for the amount of dough.

Sweet empanadas are great also that you can make with some diced apples caramelized with butter, vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon. When you make sweeter ones you can add baking spices to the dough as well and a little brown sugar.

These can be really good served warm with vanilla ice cream.


Empanada Dough

Chef Matt has updated his Empanda Dough recipe to make it more usable.  Enjoy!

Makes: around 50(varies on the thickness of the dough and size of cutter)


4 ½ cups – All purpose flour

3 cups – Masa harina

1 tbsp. – baking powder

1 tbsp. – Salt

12 oz. – melted butter

½ to 2 cups – water

1-Egg blended with 2 ounces of milk

  1. Mix together the flour, masa, baking powder and salt in a kitchen aid mixer
  2. Slowly add in the melted butter on medium speed and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add in the water until the dough pulls together but is not sticky.
  4. Divide the dough into 3rds and let rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before shaping.
  5. On a floured surfaced roll out the dough to 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch in thickness.
  6. Cut out the dough with a 4 to 5 inch pastry cutter, brush ½ of the dough with the egg milk mixture add in your filling ( about 1 ½ tbsp.) then fold over the dough and seal up the empanada.
  7. Once all of the empanadas are done egg wash the top side and bake at 400 degrees F until golden brown.

This recipe can be easily cut in half or quartered to make the amount you need.

Bid on a 3 night stay this winter!

Vista Verde has donated a stay at the ranch to help raise funds for a local Steamboat couple.  Gary Crawford is a coach who works with Steph’s husband Todd at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.  A former Olympian, now training young athletes to follow in his footsteps, Gary has helped so many young athletes from the likes of four time silver medalist Johnny Spillane to the littlest kids on their way to Olympic dreams.  Gary’s wife, Kim, has suffered from major medical issues the past several years.  In this struggle, they have racked up an overwhelming amount of medical bills.  To help get them back on their feet, the local community is sponsoring an event November 18.  One of the items to be auctioned off is a 3 night winter stay at Vista Verde for 2 people.

To help increase the amount of bidding, we are opening up the auction via our Facebook page, for any of you to bid on that stay.  You can just post your bid on our wall.   If you are not on Facebook, or don’t want to have your name published with your bid amount, you may email Steph your highest bid and she will bid for you.  Email Steph at  The bidding will close at 8:45pm Mtn time on Friday, November 18.

The 3 night stay for 2 people is offered anytime during the winter (December 16, 2011-March 18, 2012, based on availability.  The stay may not be used for an existing reservation.  The value of the 3 night stay is $2,200.  Included in the stay is airport transfers from the Steamboat airport, meals, beer and wine, activities, guides, equipment and instruction.

To increase the value of the package, Olympic medalist Johnny Spillane and Todd Lodwick have offered to include a ski lesson with one of them, again dependent on their availability due to their winter competition schedule.  A lesson from an Olympic medalist?  That makes the package priceless.

Let the bidding begin!

The Vista Verde Royal Wedding

Over the weekend, we all were wrapped up in the excitement of Johanna and Javin’s wedding.  It was an amazing day!  I know many of you have been waiting for the details, so here they are:

In the days leading up to the wedding, the sun was shining and it was just beautiful around the ranch.  We started getting ready a few days before as the Lodge needed a pretty deep clean after being closed for a month.  We had moved all the furniture into the basement a few weeks earlier, so we had a clean slate for the wedding. Thursday Sarah and Lewis did a major shopping run, to get all the groceries for the brunch.  Thursday night the girls put on a little shin-dig for Jo, showering her with fun little goodies and whooping it up late into the night.  Friday the rental tables, chairs, etc.. showed up, and that is when the Lodge started to transform.  The Great room was set up for the ceremony, the Dining room for a post ceremony gathering, and in the wing we had everything staged for a great turnaround after the ceremony.  Jo and Jav were calm and cool during the rehearsal.  I had to laugh, looking at Jo’s bridesmaids.  Anita and Steph were two of them, and then she had two friends from growing up in Indiana.  The ranch friends were in skirts and cowgirl boots, while the “city friends” did their part to bring real world fashion to the ranch.

Early Saturday morning, we all started getting ready.  We knew it was coming, but were still somewhat surprised to wake up to lightly falling snow.  Lewis was madly cooking in the kitchen, Ben and I were doing a final clean on the Lodge, and Jo and her bridesmaids were up bright and early for hair and make up.  The cowgirls clean up well!  After some photos in the Great room, everyone was ready for the main event.  At 10am, Javin escorted the mothers down the aisle, while Jo waited behind closed doors in the dining room.  Nathan was playing DJ with the ceremony music, while many of us rushed from our roles in the set up in time to grab a seat and watch the ceremony.  It was beautiful, casual, and touching.  And, to no one’s surprise, they both said “I do” and then sealed it with a kiss.

After the ceremony, we moved the guests into the Dining room to enjoy some coffee, sign the guest book pages and watch a slideshow of the couple.  During that time, the newlyweds took the more traditional family photos.  The photographers even got them to step outside into the falling snow.  Cody even jumped in on a few photos with his favorite gal.   During that hour, there was a mad rush in the Great room as we took away the chairs, rolled in 9 tables, set them and got ready for the brunch.  It was amazing to see so many people pitch in to help.  There were the current staff who were on the schedule to help.  But, then all the former staff (think Kyle, AJ, Lee, Teresa, Josh, Jess, Rachel, Jenn, and more) hopped in and were willingly put to work.  Much to Sarah’s surprise, we turned the entire room around in about 15 minutes.  I am always amazed at how quickly a job like that can be completed when so many people help.  That gave everyone a little more time to visit, sip coffee and enjoy the beautiful view outside.

As the guest sat at their tables, we brought in the bridal party and then the newlyweds.  While folks dined, they visited and hugged, took more photos, and then finally got a bite to eat themselves.  Lewis did an outstanding job of preparing an amazing brunch spread as the solo chef of the event.  He told me he decided to come in earlier to just do it himself when he heard his kitchen assistant was going to be Terry.  He may be great on a horse, but with sharp knives?  It really was fun to watch the core management staff jump in and pull off this wedding with just a few of us.  Dace manned the waffle station, Bill carved the ham, Kelli assisted Sarah with the buffet, Steve manned the juice bar and Charlie was Mr. Coffee.

After a wonderful meal, we toasted with mimosas, enjoyed cupcakes for the wedding cake, and sent them on their way to Colorado Springs for their honeymoon.  After they left, the Great room took another transformation.  The tables and chairs went away, and all the regular furniture came back up.  We had planned to do that while there were so many of us around to get it done quickly.  Once again, all sorts of folks jumped in to help and the job was done in less than an hour.  The TV was switched to a football game, and the crew all enjoyed relaxing and visiting for a while.

From all of us at the ranch, we wish Jo and Jav the very best.  We love you like family, and will miss you as you move onto your next venture in life!

Shuffling Horses

By guest blogger- Reid Morgan

November at Vista Verde means many different things, but in the horse department, it means preparing our herd for the rigors of a Steamboat Springs Winter. We’ve been moving horses around from pasture to pasture, building new stalls in the indoor arena for some “5 star” horse living quarters, and also buying, selling, and donating horses. We have been on a mission to send some of our older horses to good homes this fall as it can be a challenge for the older guys to stay fat and happy through the cold winter. Many of our older horses (Red and Casey) have been going to therapeutic riding centers, where they’ll live happily in a warm stall and continue to give joy to the children who ride and learn from them. Some of our horses (Gaeton, Wyatt, and Sugar) are finding homes with kind individuals who are looking for a friend. One of our ponies (Arapaho) even traveled all the way to North Carolina for retirement! We get very excited to pass these horses, who have given us so much, on to new owners who will enjoy them in their later years.

Do not think, friends, that we are only giving away horses though! Indeed, we are adding to the herd as well. Just this past weekend a few of us headed down the road to an estate auction to check out a herd in Steamboat Springs.  The owner of this ranch passed away almost 4 years ago, leaving 26 horses to pasture for almost 4 years! These horses had been used for sleigh rides, hunting and camping trips, and even some trail rides and cattle work. It was very exciting to see the community rally around this family to help them find good homes for these horses. Though there are good arguments for and against the horse-meat market, no one wanted to see these horses have to suffer a trip all the way down to Mexico, so we all showed up to see what we could do! Vista Verde was able to provide a home for 3 of these horses, 2 beautiful white Percherons (full brothers) and one sweet black half-draft named “Stormy.” We are so excited to see how these big white boys do pulling our feed sleigh and we just now are getting the snow to make that possible! Also, we’re looking for good names for these two, any suggestions?

It’s always great to be amongst people who care as much for these beautiful animals as we at Vista Verde do, and the community of Steamboat Springs in one such group of people. Our horses give us such joy and companionship over the years, and teach us so much about ourselves! It’s all we can do to give back to them for their kindness and loyalty. – November 2011

Cattle drive at Vista Verde Guest Ranch in ColoradoHerding cattle back to Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado

© 2011 Dick Friedland

When I tell my friends I just came back from a roundup and cattle drive the inevitable response includes jokes about playing Billy Crystal in the movie City Slickers. In actuality the similarity ends with horses and cows.

I was at Vista Verde Guest Ranch, northwest of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the last week in September for the final week of a month-long cattle drive. I live in Colorado and chose this particular week for three reasons. First, the weather is usually good, with colder nights that quickly turn into warm days. Second, the aspen tree leaves have turned golden and it’s just beautiful. Third, the majority of the 1,000-head herd has been brought in, so we were heading up into the high country to help roundup strays, that didn’t want to be found. We needed to bring cows down from the open range before the deep snow falls and they eventually starve.

While all levels of riders can participate in the drive, my group’s experience made City Slickers seem like a walk in the park.

Link to full article – November 2011

The Mountain Bike Park at Colorado’s Vista Verde Dude Ranch – by Lois Friedland on Adventure Travel
Bike Terrain Park at Vista Verde Ranch near Steamboat, ColoradoBike Terrain Park at Vista Verde Ranch near Steamboat, Colorado

© 2011 Lois Friedland

A tricky bike terrain park is set up a short bicycle ride from Vista Verde Guest Ranch’s main lodge. In the park, there are obstacles, rails and mini-courses where new mountain bike riders can learn skills, and skilled bicyclists can have a lot of fun.

The terrain park has been set up by Steven King, the biking guide whose skills let him easily balance his bike on a teeter-totter, and weave his way through a narrow rock-lined course then ride a rail at the end. He works with the groups of bicyclists who come to the park to improve their skills.

The course was designed, in part, to occupy the teenagers and other children who visit the ranch and aren’t interested in spending all week on a horse. (The day I was there, a duo of laughing, determined adults were learning to navigate challenges in the park.)


The bike terrain park is also a place to start and learn the skills needed to go on the single-track trails in the surround mountains. Some guests prefer easier routes, like the road that leads to a store where they can get ice-cream cones before riding back to the ranch. – November 2011 Adventure Travel

Happy Hour with the Horses at Vista Verde dude ranch- by Lois Friedland

Wine glass in hand, we strolled around the pasture rubbing the silky hair on the flanks of horses that walked up and nuzzled us gently. Welcome to “Happy Hour With the Horses” at Vista Verde Guest Ranch. In addition to horseback riding, it was just one of the special experiences we enjoyed at this luxury guest ranch near Steamboat, Colorado.

During the time we were at Vista Verde, my husband, Dick, trained for a cattle drive then spent a day on the range bringing an octet of maverick cows back to the pasture for the winter. (As he indicates in his article about the cattle drive, the reality doesn’t resemble scenes from the City Slickers movie.)

I went riding but preferred to spend much of my energy hiking to see Colorado’s fall foliage, biking to watch others practice their skills in a mountain bike terrain park, and sampling rock climbing for the first time.

After a day of “roughing it” in the outdoors, we’d retire to our cabin (where I finally found the honest definition of “rustic luxury”) to clean up. Evenings included leisurely gourmet dinners, chatting with the eclectic mix of guests attracted to the ranch’s smorgasbord of outdoor activities. We’re still in touch with some of the people we met.

On the following photo pages, you’ll learn and see more about the special style of horseback riding at Vista Verde, training for cattle drives, where to go hiking, rock climbing and play in the dude ranch’s bike terrain park.

Link to full article