August 2012

Horse Whispers

While I love all animals, I was never really a horse person — meaning one who rides or owns a horse. Actually they kind of scare me because of their size and that’s why it is so odd that I feel God used horses to save my life. For 25 years I had lived in very lonely and emotionally abusive marriage. Many friends and family had tried to get me to leave but because of my religious up bringing I felt leaving was wrong. But I had gotten to the point where I was no longer living, I was only existing.

About two years ago a friend of mine who is very a much a horse person wanted to do some healing with me…. using horses. That was a little out of the box for me. I nicely explained that if God felt I needed healed, He would heal me on His own.

Then, a strange thing happened. I was called to go check out a horse rescue ranch. I really didn’t know anything about horses so I called my friend Kim. She very willing agreed to go with me.

As we entered the horse rescue we found the owner working hard at cleaning the stables. She took us out to one of the fields where their were about 30 horses roaming around. As she explained her circumstances, I listened while patting a pretty brown horse’s head.
Then out of the blue, this big black mare came out from what seemed to be nowhere. The black mare took his head and hit me hard as though he was trying to knock me over. I grabbed the brown horse’s neck to help me not to fall over.

The black mare turned its head and looked at me as he walked away. I looked at my friend Kim and the ranch owner and asked them, “What was that about?”

Both seemed just as surprised and said they had no idea. Shula, the owner, then continued talking. While she was explaining her situation, I noticed a donkey way out in the field heading right towards me.

I interrupted Shula just for a minute to ask her if she had a donkey. She said, “yes.”

As Shula talked, I watched the donkey get closer. Something told me that this donkey was coming towards me and after what just happened with the big black mare I was getting a little nervous.

“Don’t donkeys kick and bite?” I asked a little nervously interrupting Shula again.

Shula gave me a quirky smile and answered yes and then continued talking.

Once again I interrupted her as my mind was going through all the data memory I had in my brain on donkeys. “Wait don’t donkeys sometimes protect horses from coyotes?” I asked remembering reading something on this at one time.

“Yes,” she said looking at me a little odd not knowing why I was asking all these questions since she was facing me and did not see the donkey coming towards us. Then her eyes lit up as she remembered a story on how her donkey recently had saved a horse from a coyote attack. It was about the time she ended the story that the donkey had its head right next to my arm wanting me to pet him. As we walked around the field looking at all the horses the donkey stayed right by me.

At one point I even whispered to my friend Kim, “why does this donkey keep following me? He is making me nervous.”

Kim smiled and said, “Just go with it. He seems to like you!”

As we were getting ready to leave and the donkey was still standing next to me as I patted the last horse, Shula smiled and said, “Wow I can’t believe how much Jerusalem likes you!”

I was in shock. “Your donkeys name is Jerusalem?” I asked.

When Kim and I got into the car to leave the rescue ranch she looked at me and asked, “Did you feel God talking to you?”

The crazy thing was I did. For 25 years the man I was married to had always tried to knock me down. He actually told me that he felt when we got married that I was better than him and his goal was to tear me down… to take me below his level. The sad thing is that is not love for love builds your partner up. Love does not tear your partner down.

I really feel that God used the horses and Jerusalem the donkey to let me know, He is with me and it was okay to leave this abusive marriage.

And while starting life over is somewhat scary at the age of 50, it’s also been very amazing. I have found myself with others in my same situation. And instead of living in the negative, we are helping to re-build each other. And many of us are smiling and laughing again.

To win a trip to Vista Verde for me in the winter with snow on the ground would be an amazing miracle for me for two reasons. One to be in God’s country with God’s beautiful horses that gave me strength to move forward. And two, bring my friend Cheryl with me who is going through a lot of the same stuff and give her a chance to see her daughter.

Name: Beth Callahan
Company: WC Group LLC
City: Franklin
State: Ohio

Hard work has its rewards

Ben and Holly’s son Jack, learned about the rewards of hard work this summer. In the spring, he had asked if he could help out at the ranch a bit, and earn some money. Of course, being the loving father, Ben told him he could help with washing dishes. As it turns out, Jack was a lifesaver for our staff as he would jump in and help during the day with dishes, and make all of their lives much easier, and a bit more fun. In between dish duty, he would learn from the chefs, and has gained an appreciation for the culinary arts.

But, the big payoff for Jack was when he cashed in his paychecks and bought himself an Ipad. He bought it all by himself, with the money he earned helping out around the ranch this summer.

It’s fun to watch staff grow and develop, but I have to say we all took some serious pleasure in watching Jack enjoy the materialistic benefits of hard work on the day his Ipad arrived. Now, it’s time to get ready to go back to school. We hope Jack returns to school with some new life skills, pride in himself, and an understanding of what it means to help others. But, if nothing else, he’ll have a rocking new Ipad to enjoy!

Let it snow!

Vista Verde is fun all year round.

Springtime flowers full of color welcoming new life.

Colorado’s summer sun is so much fun. Fishing, climbing seeing it all. Pine smells all around.

Fall brings leaves in full color with crisp Mt. air.

Winter is here at Vista Verde again, the best season of all. Skiing, sleigh rides and snowshowing galore. Snuggled in our cozy cabin with a fire and hot cholocate in hand.

Come Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter what better spot for vacation than Vista Verde?

Name: Rob Akert
City: Peoria
State: AZ

Happy Trails, and come back home real soon

For those of you who have been at the ranch over the years, you may remember Dace standing in front of the campfire saying, “Around here, we don’t say goodbye. We say come back home real soon.” That is his hallmark statement for anyone leaving the ranch. At this time, it becomes our turn to say that to Dace.

Much to the loss of all of us, it became Dace’s time to move on to a new venture. After over 6 years at the ranch, and being an integral part of what Vista Verde is today, Dace has hung up his cowboy hat and loaded up his truck to head down the driveway.

Although Dace has been a hugely influential part of molding the ranch into today’s Vista Verde, his biggest contribution has been visioning and piecing together the amazing staff that we have had the joy of working with each season. This is no small feat to find the talented and service minded folks who he has found over the years, place them in the right spot on the ranch, and build the community that defines the ranch experience. We have a great template in place now, so moving forward will be easy with what Dace has put in place for all of us to enjoy.

Dace’s impact on the ranch came through in so many different ways as well. The music, the special events, the daily operations all are what they are because of his love of the guest ranch experience, his care for making each moment just right for all of you, and his joy in celebrating the ways in which we can impact people at the ranch.

In saying goodbye to Dace, we all lose a great friend, a mentor and a partner in our mission at Vista Verde. But, we rejoice with him as he moves on in life. Next up? First, a little time focusing on his family and helping with some big events going on in their lives. After that, he’s heading back to school to pursue another Masters Degree. It’s time for Dace to start checking off some items on his bucket list that were hard to do when he had so much energy going toward the ranch.

So, at this time, please join us in saying Happy Trails to Dace. But, it’s not goodbye. It’s come back home real soon. Thanks for being part of this great adventure that is Vista Verde.

Skiing is a rich man’s sport

“Skiing is a rich man’s sport,” is what my boyfriend heard growing up. He has lived in Colorado, the Western Slope to be exact. Seeing how his parents were always low on money, he has been unable to take part in much of what this great state has to offer. I personally come from a family where my parents wanted us to experience everything this great state has to offer. I would love to be able to show him an amazing getaway. The first day we would take on a day of skiing, something he has wanted to do for 27 years, but been unable to indulge in, due to lack of funds. Since he has never experienced being on skis before I would have him take a morning lesson and then we would tackle greens, maybe if feeling adventurous we would take on a blue or two. That night we would unwind in front of the fire. The second day we would take on a day of horseback riding. Seeing how I have always been interested in horses, holding a horsemanship certification, yet my boyfriend has never been on a horse, I would love for him to experience the world from atop a horse. We would also take on a cooking clinic, since his brother makes fun of him, since supposedly he doesn’t even know how to cook hotdogs. The last day we would take on some time to unwind before reuniting with the stresses of every day by having a massage. Then it would be back to the real world feeling a bit better from releasing the stress and having a bit of fun.

Name: Briana Sinn
City: Aurora
State: Colorado – August 2012

Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado

By , Guide

This luxury guest ranch near Steamboat Springs ski resort welcomes families year-round. Price includes gourmet meals, snacks, beverages (including beer and wine), evening entertainment, airport transfers, gratuities for staff, horseriding and many other outdoors activities. Accommodation-only rates are also available, whereby guests can pay for activities a la carte.

Families can stay in a lodge room or a luxury log cabin; the cabins are standalone units and have up to three bedrooms, with a woodstove and a private hot tub on the deck; fridges are stocked with complimentary beverages. Be prepared to relax and disconnect: there are no phones or tvs in the rooms. (Complimentary wireless is available, though.)

For evening meals, parents can opt for family-style dining, or indulge in a candlelight dinner while the young’uns have their own kid-friendly meal.

The ranch also has a kid’s hut play zone, a Great Room (photo above) with a nightly fire in winter months, and an indoor riding arena. Vista Verde has received a AAA Four Diamond Award.

Seasonal Activities

The all-inclusive rates at Vista Verde offer lots of outdoors fun that families can sample as much or as little as they like. In summer this include horseback riding, clinics with horse trainers and wranglers, guided hikes, guided mountain biking on trails or in a terrain park, use of bikes, guided fly fishing with gear, rock-climbing, river rafting and kayaking, a photography workshop, cooking classes, kids and teens programs, transport to Steamboat, and evening entertainment such as barn dances.* Guests can also enjoy the ranch’s swimming pool.

In winter, rates include guided backcountry skiing, snowshoe tours and cross-country trails, as well as the gear you’ll need for these activities. Winter also offers sledding, horseback rides, sleigh rides, a photography workshop, cooking classes, teen programs during holidays, and evening entertainment. Transportation is provided to and from Steamboat for ski days. Guests can also pay extra for dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice climbing, and massage treatments.

The holiday season is a top time to visit. Before Christmas, each family has its own tree in the lodge to decorate. Families can also try seasonal activities such as making decorations, and take a horse drawn sleigh ride to go caroling.

Kids and Teen Programs

Naturally, horse-riding is a primary focus for all ages, and kids are matched to an appropriate horse for the week. For other fun, “kid wranglers” take kids age 6 to 11 to treasure hunts, powwows in the tepee, boat races in the creek, gold-panning in the river, fishing, campfires… Meanwhile, teens age 12 and up have a separate program, with movie night, adventure rides, and other activities. – August 2012

Top 10 family resorts in the US

Geographically diverse, the U.S. offers an overwhelming range of destinations when it comes to planning family getaways. From Wild West ranches to laidback beaches to urban escapes, this list will help you hone in on a place for every interest. It also takes the adult factor into account. You may be a parent, but this is your vacation too, which means you want more than just water slides and bingo nights. What’s wrong with a great wine list, spa treatments and golf for mom and dad, along with circus activities, scavenger hunts and fire truck rides for the kids? Understanding the needs of adults and children, these properties are not only for staying together, but for playing together — and apart — while on holiday.

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa 
Popular as a weekend spa and golf escape for Angelenos, the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa offers an ideal retreat for both adults and kids. Dating back to the 1920s, this sumptuous property features kid-oriented adult activities such as biking and fishing, as well as Camp Ojai (ages five to twelve), where offerings include animal yoga, Chumash rock painting (based on local Native American traditions) and history hikes. Teens also enjoy dedicated programs, ranging from Friday night “dive-in” movies at the kid’s pool and Latin groove dance classes to tennis clinics, golf clinics and special spa treatments. Accommodations are residential in style, with comfy, contemporary ranch décor, and dining celebrates California produce and products. In short, this is the place to go when you want to combine luxury with an enriching experience for all ages. For more information, read a complete hotel review of Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

Steamboat Springs
Vista Verde 
You gotta love a place that boasts its own Kids Wranglers. No, these babysitters in boots don’t round ’em up and rope ’em in. Instead, they teach horseback riding basics, host powwows in teepees and fill tiny bellies with nutritious food while you enjoy a wine tasting class or dinner by candlelight. From the welcoming day hayride to the marshmallow roast on the last night, Vista Verde’s all-inclusive getaways are filled with traditional ranch activities and a few unusual extras, such as gold panning, hunting for animal tracks and fire truck rides — complete with sirens blaring — into town for hand-cranked ice cream. The ranch has separate programs for younger children and teens, so the older kids can play it cool while taking an adventure ride or embarking on an overnight campout. And if you’d like to come in the winter, kids will find just as much to do, with skiing, snowshoe outings and igloo building. Just outside Steamboat Springs, this working ranch offers lodge accommodation and private cabins with up to three bedrooms. For more information, visit VistaVerde.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge 
Antelopes, gazelles and giraffes, oh my! Leave it to Disney — creators of “The Lion King” — to bring the savannas of Africa to Orlando. Four tropical savannas, to be precise, separated by guest room wings. Make sure to ask for a room with a balcony overlooking the wildlife … and don’t be surprised when a zebra or wildebeest strolls by (at a safe distance). African style pervades this resort and 43-acre wildlife preserve, from the thatched roofs to handcrafted artifacts to regional cuisines. Kids are invited to participate in cultural safaris, night vision animal viewing and junior research projects; as well, they can hit the waterslide at Uzima pool or check out the flamingos while they play at Hakuna Matata Playground. Adults who want a night out on their own can entrust kids aged three to twelve to Simba’s Cubhouse, featuring supervised activities, Disney movies (big surprise) and dinner. Read a complete hotel review of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa 
Kids’ clubs are an art form at luxury resorts in Hawaii, but the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa offers more than just a few youth-oriented activities. Everything about the property feels as if it was made to accommodate parents traveling with their offspring, from Atlantis submarine tours (check out the sunken coastal freighter and old passenger plane) to the Friday night fireworks show with hula dancing. This 22-acre beachfront “village” in Waikiki also offers more than a dozen restaurant options, daily wildlife feedings on the grounds and Camp Penguin for ages five to twelve. The half- and full-day programs (for a fee) include diversions such as supervised Hawaiian crafts, lei-making, Hawaiian storytelling and outside visits to places like the Waikiki Museum.

New York City
Four Seasons Hotel New York 
We have always loved the Four Seasons hotel group for its efforts to pamper little ones. Call before you arrive, give the names and ages of your kids, and they will be welcomed with special amenities, appropriately sized robes, board games, coloring books, children’s DVDs and complimentary toiletries (for babies). Kids’ dishes are offered in the restaurant and on the room service menu, and the range of freebies is seemingly endless: childproofing, cribs and rollaways, Diaper Genies, bottle warmers and even strollers for perambulating Park and Madison Avenues. Take advantage of babysitting services while you hit the spa, and ask the concierge to help arrange carriage rides, museum tours and helicopter excursions. Best of all, there’s no extra charge for kids seventeen and under to share a room with their folks. Read a complete hotel review of Four Seasons Hotel New York

Lake Toxaway 
Earthshine Mountain Lodge 
All-inclusive, Earthshine Mountain Lodge introduces kids and parents to an eclectic range of experiences. On Pioneer Mornings, you can apprentice in a blacksmith shop, press apple cider and make candles. And on Cherokee Mornings, you can learn the traditional ways of the Cherokee tribe, with activities that include making pottery and throwing tomahawks. Educational opportunities include the Destination 1840 immersion in living history, and Earth Explorers, where folktales become reality as kids discover their natural surroundings. Because the resort believes that family vacations are about more than just dropping your children off at the “kids’ club” and then heading to the spa and golf course, activities here are made for the entire family — creek hikes, turtle tracking and zip-lining are just the beginning. There are even Hunger Games weekends for fans of the popular book. Storybook rooms are available in the hand-built cedar lodge, while the Sunrise Cottage offers a selection of larger family suites. For more information, visit

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch 
With its scenic championship golf and pampering Spa Avania, this 27-acre Hyatt Regency knows how to meet adult needs. And if those adults happen to be traveling with their youngsters, they can rest assured that they can actually get some R&R while their offspring are entertained at Camp Hyatt Kachina (with two programs for ages three to five and six to twelve). Heavily influenced by Native American culture, the camp offers a wealth of activities, including arrowhead arts and crafts and Apache relay races, as well as desert scavenger hunts, mining at the Lost Dutchman’s mine, cactus garden tours, Western sand art and Mexican bark painting. Enhancing the resort’s draw for families even further is a 2.5-acre water playground with ten pools and a sand beach. For more information, visit

The Hotel Hershey 
When it comes to product placement, it doesn’t get more scrumptious than this. Willy Wonka, eat your heart out. Just one aspect of the Hershey, Pennsylvania experience, The Hotel Hershey pairs adult pastimes such as golf and spa treatments (chocolate-themed, of course) with the Cocoa Kids Club, a daily supervised program (for a fee) featuring tennis, basketball, swimming and arts and crafts. For guests thirteen to seventeen years of age, Club Adventure sessions include hiking and woodland exploration, team-building activities, skating and scavenger hunts. Nearby Hershey Park boasts eleven different roller coasters. And the hands-on, interactive Hershey’s Chocolate World will tempt sweet tooths of all ages with an inside look at chocolate making: take a simulated ride through the Hershey’s factory, create your own candy bar (including packaging) and save your appetite for a chocolate tasting adventure. Surprisingly — and pleasantly — the hotel itself avoids kitsch; Spanish in style, it was built in the 1930s (though it has been renovated and expanded) and is a member of Historic Hotels of America. For more information, visit

Barton Creek Resort & Spa 
From the Kids Club (six months to eight years) to Camp Barton (with no more than five kids per counselor), Barton Creek Resort & Spa will keep your offspring entertained. Swimming, nature trail hikes and scavenger hunts are just a few of the standard activities on offer, while fishing excursions and Friday Field Trips offer new experiences for young guests. During the summer, weeks at the camp are themed — for example, Buckaroo Blow-Out Week focuses on cowboy activities, while Party with the Planets Week gives kids the chance to discover the mysteries of outer space. Although this property has all of the expected kid-centric amenities, they have a hard time competing with the outdoor allure of this 4,000-acre Texas Hill Country resort. As for mom and dad, relaxation comes in many forms: unwind in the spa, play a round on the golf course or curl up with the kiddies for family movie night on weekend evenings. For more information, visit

Highgate Springs 
The Tyler Place Family Resort 
Since 1933, Tyler Place Family Resort has been specializing in family vacations. Unlike many resorts that focus on the kindergarten and grade school crowds, this one caters to all ages, from newborns (musical games, bikes with baby seats, a fleet of strollers) to teens (water skiing, ropes courses, campouts). Those who came as kids when Tyler Place first opened now bring their great-grandchildren. It’s hard to name an experience you won’t find at this 165-acre lakefront property: it offers lake trampolines, circus activities, family field days and pontoon boat rides. There are special weekend and weeklong family retreats, and plenty of adult pursuits, like meditative yoga, pottery classes and Champagne cruises. With a picturesque setting on Lake Champlain, the resort features a selection of cottages and suites, all with separate parents’ bedrooms. Though they’re rustic rather than swanky, the accommodations are just right for a casual family escape. For more information, visit


The Unexpected Guest

The unexpected guest, caught on camera.

Every once in awhile we have a guest show up without a reservation – it’s okay though, because they’re not really looking for a place to stay. Just something to nibble on before they get back on the trail.

I’m talking about our wildlife visitors! Chipmunks and songbirds are ubiquitous. Deer are also common. They sometimes sidle up to the salt lick while the horses are distracted. I remember a dramatic sight during staff orientation when a moose raced in front of the Great Room windows. We regularly hear the call of the sandhill crane, or the yapping of coyotes. On a walk the other day, I surprised a badger on the trail.

Our unexpected visitor rests in the bushes.

Recently we’ve had an extra exciting visitor come down from the hills: a female black bear!
It’s been so dry up in the hills that the (not so) little one has found her way down to the ranch. In looking for food, she found the motherload – a bunch of spilled bird seed underneath the bird feeders. Footprints and droppings were the first sign of her. Since then we’ve set up a trail camera and have been watching her every move (literally) for the past few days. She comes, eats, rests, and then goes.

It’s pretty clear that she’s timid. She comes only at night. Other than what is captured on the trail camera, no one has actually seen her in the flesh. We have been extra diligent about keeping our trash locked up!

In native Ute mythology, the bear represents strength, wisdom and survival skills. Each spring they come together for the annual Bear Dance – speculated to perhaps be the original line dance. They celebrate the end of the winter and the emergence of the bear out of hibernation. Traditionally, it was a time when the people, too, would come out of hibernation. They would come together once again after a long cold winter to celebrate, play and tell stories.

Another unexpected guest: Mr. Fox.

It may be late summer, but we continue to carry a bit of that spirit in what we do here. All summer long, Vista Verde is a place to come together to adventure, to play, to celebrate and to enjoy one another’s company!

We’ll continue to watch the bear by way of the trail camera. Her stays are already getting shorter as the spilled seed runs out. We are grateful for the excitement and story-telling value of her visit – but for the time being, we’ll continue to keep our trash locked up tight!

Vista Verde take me away!

I’m now an empty nester and my husband works out of town a lot! Here it goes. So…one evening I came home from work, it was dark but yet I was able to catch a glimpse of the lil varmint…the huge porcupine that scurried off into the woods! Later on a phone call with my husband he asked if I shot it? Really? Like I’m going to run out into the woods at night with a rifle to chase a porcupine!
Ok, night #2. Came home to find my miniature horse with a muzzle full if quills! Suddenly the thought of chasing porky thru the woods seemed like a great idea! As I held poor Tony in a headlock, I started the painful process of removing quills. I would gather a handful, let go of poor Tony, and put the quills on the ledge. After awhile this became laborious. I had an idea! Hold the pulled quills between your lips! You will save time! I did. Yes, I actually did. Here is your free public service announcement: porcupine quills will reattach themselves! They are barbed like a fish hook! Oh, by the way, they don’t just slide back out either. As I went to take the quills from my mouth, I found that several had hooked inside my lips! When I pulled the quill, my lip was going with it! I had to yank them out! Yee ouch! Oh, did I mention they have venom? They do. I had huge, numb lips. Fortunately for the porcupine…he left dodge! I hope you agree…I need to recover from this porcupine tragedy. What better way?

Name: Kristen Florez
Company: Painted Passion Miniatures
City: Chattaroy
State: WA

Bread making success

I received this wonderful email the other day, and it was a great reminder of the little ways people take home pieces of Vista Verde in their hearts, and in their kitchens in this case.


It’s a miracle! Thanks to Cholly and his wonderful cooking class on Bread-making. I finally know how to make Sourdough bread.

I tried all of 2011 and gave up finally after trying many recipes.

Well, I began the starter after we returned from the ranch and today made the bread. It is wonderful!

Tell Cholly he made my YEAR!

Love to you all.


I love him, now he needs to love horses

I have recently fallen for a wonderful guy. We met early in the fall, an introduction by mutual friends and hit it off immediately. Truly, the only hitch in moving our relationship forward is that horses have been a lifelong passion for me and he knows nothing about them. A weekend at Vista Verde would be the perfect solution to our problem. He could learn from Terry Wegener, as would I. We could enjoy the beautiful setting, wonderful food, and other amenities of Vista Verde. He could be brought into my world of horses while having the opportunity to introduce me to his love of back-county skiing. Not only would this be the perfect way to turn him into a rider, but also we could have a romantic get-away that most couples only dream of. Who knows, if the intro to riding goes really well maybe we could plan a wedding at Vista Verde next year…

Name: Julie
City: Boulder
State: Colorado

Kids, families and dude ranches

Kids and dude ranch vacations go hand in hand. Whether it’s the freedom of being able to roam out of mom and dad’s sight without worry, or the genuine love that a horse gives a child, it’s just a great match. They can get dirty, and nobody minds. They can spend all day in the fresh air, and sleep hard at night. And, kids just seem to love horses. I believe horses love kids too. And, this is a big reason family dude ranch vacations continue to be a tradition for many folks.

I have had this sweet note sitting on my desk for weeks, and it makes me smile every time I see it. So, why not share it with all of you? If nothing else, it will make you smile. Or, it might remind you of more innocent times or a childhood memory, or a family vacation that made an impact on you.

In case you are wondering, Strawberry did write back. Our horses do have excellent personal assistants.

submitted via email

Hi, i kept getting an error message so I submitted my poem and picture to steph on her reservations email.the picture is an attachment to the email….please.check there, let me know if you need.anything ….hope you are all doing well…dawn

Name: dawn waterman
City: la mesa
State: ca

New Adventures in the Old West

New West: Mountain Biking

When most of us think of a western dude ranch, we think of horses, cowboys, and possibly the cattle. Our minds conjure up images of open vistas, traversing the open-range on horseback.

But what does the west have to offer someone who – gasp – isn’t into horses?

Believe it or not, we do have guests that aren’t interested in riding a horse at all during the week. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s okay. Because the west (and this ranch) have a surprising amount to offer in the non-equine department.

Most of these activities fall into the category that our lead guide Steve enthusiastically refers to as “new west.” This includes adventure activities such as hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, yoga, rock-climbing, kayaking and rafting.

New West: Rock Climbing

Each provides an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors – the fresh air, beautiful vistas and impressive landscapes – while engaged in unique and challenging physical activity.

Just like horseback riding at the ranch, these activities can be tailored for any level of experience or fitness acuity. Which means it’s a great place to start a new hobby – or, if you’re already an experienced athelete in the chosen activity, to take yourself to the next level.

New west provides adventure, athleticism, and appreciation for the natural environment.

The beauty of Vista Verde is that we offer this menu of “new west” activities in harmony with our “traditional” trail-riding and horse training and breeding programs.

With a menu of so many options to choose from, there really is something for everyone.

So, the next time you’re here and need a break from the saddle, trade in your cowboy boots and hop on the back of a mountain bike instead and see what “new west” has to offer.

Dancing with Horses

I want to see the horse as a part of me.
I will bond with it’s soul and run like a horse.
Making a friend total synchronicity.

Name: Regina Frost
City: Budd Lake
State: NJ

The power of a photo

Often times, guests get better photos than any professional photographer can capture at the ranch. That is the advantage of staying at a place for an extended period of time- you have more chances of being at the right place at the right time. We always appreciate it when our guests share a great photo, or several great photos, they took during their stay.

Earlier this summer, we shared on our Facebook page, some great shots taken by John on the 4th of July, that blew me away. This one of Nicky coming home from our Star Spangled Stampede, was powerful.

Last week, Tammy shared an amazing photo she took during her stay. It was a very special photo, and I put it up on our Facebook page Sunday morning. Well, the photo went completely viral, and took off on Facebook. The marketing geek in me found it fascinating to watch the stats grow through that day, and the following days. As of this morning, the photo had been seen by almost 15,000 people. 61 people shared that photo on their wall, about 750 people “liked” the photo, and we have had 82 people make comments to us about the photo. For a little dude ranch in Northwest Colorado, those are significant numbers!

I love the light in this photo, and it is real, for those of you who asked. We do truly get sunsets like this at Vista Verde!

Another great photo from the summer is this shot taken by Debbie, who shared a group of her photos with us this past week as well. I think it really captures the magic of the morning round up at Vista Verde. It’s always a peaceful time, with amazing morning light, until the horses come charging into the corral. They kick up dust, raise the energy level and stir up the calm that is sitting over the ranch.

Thanks to all our wonderful guests who share photos of their stays with the ranch. We greatly appreciate having the shots, and love sharing them with all of you too! Even if you don’t get a chance to visit the ranch, you can enjoy a bit of an armchair voyage through photos.