December 2013

You’re in good hands at Vista Verde

By Malori 

I may be boasting a little, but I work with some pretty incredible people at Vista Verde. This season particularly, the staff stands out in reference to their first aid and emergency response qualifications. During winter orientation, we created a list for everyone to add their first aid training and certifications – that list is pretty impressive! Two of our staff members are Wilderness First Aid (WFA) Certified, eight are Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Certified, three are Wilderness First Responders (WFR), and we have one certified EMT. Not to mention the 16 others who are CPR/First Aid Certified. That’s a lot of people with a lot of knowledge!

A WFR goes through 80 hours of intensive classroom and outdoor training to prepare them for emergency situations where 911 is not an option. WAFA requires 40 hours and WFA requires 16-20. That means collectively we have over 800 hours of training! As you can see from the list, almost every department has one person with advanced training. Although no one wants to be in an emergency situation, it’s encouraging to know you would be in the right hands if the circumstance did occur!

Ben Martin Wilderness First Responder (WFR) General Manager
Steve King Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Nordic/Adventure Center Manager
Dan Ford EMT , NREMT Culinary Clean-up
Shannon Balzer Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Guide
Heidi Waldbart Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Server
Kelli King Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Nordic/Adventure Center Manager
Brandon Martin Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Fly Fishing Manager, Guide
Steven “Bubba” Veteto Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Server, Fly Fishing Guide
Cholly McGlynn Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Executive Chef
John Thompson Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Chef de Cuisine
John Isder Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Head Wrangler
Annie Bolonigo Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Assistant Horse Trainer
Nathan Margason Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA) Guide
Beka Adam Wilderness First Aid (WFA) Human Resources & Activities Coordinator
Carson Reese Wilderness First Aid (WFA) Head Ranch Hand


Winter Specials

By Steph

The holiday whirlwind is coming to an end, and we are starting to peek into the New Year with anticipation of all that is ahead of us in 2014. We kick off the year with the transition to adult-only times at the ranch. Starting January 4 and continuing until just after Valentine’s Day, the ranch switches over to a playground for just adults. This time is historically a mix of couples seeking romantic getaways, friends gathering up for an adventurous winter vacation and singles coming to enjoy the camaraderie of others and the comfort of a small and intimate setting.

During our adult-only vacation period, the annual Winter Carnival comes to Steamboat Springs. To celebrate this event we are offering a special for Vista Verde guests to experience the long-standing Steamboat tradition of the Winter Carnival. Join us at the ranch from Feb 5-8, 2014 and you can extend your stay a day. We will set you up with a discounted hotel room for Saturday night right in Steamboat Springs. This allows you to watch the famous street events on Saturday, the night show that evening and then more festivities on Sunday morning in charming Steamboat Springs. Included in your stay is a Winter Carnival admission button.

Shortly after the Winter Carnival will be Valentine’s Day. This is a great time to whisk away your sweetheart to celebrate in a romantic winter wonderland. If you’d like to really woo your love we’ll start your Valentine’s Day off with breakfast in bed, followed by a day of as much outside activity as you desire. In the afternoon we’ll treat you to a private sleigh ride complete with hot toddies to keep you toasty warm. On Valentine’s Day evening the chefs will delight your taste buds with their popular aphrodisiac dinner. The rest is up to you to enjoy the serene setting, the cozy cabin and the bubbling hot tub with views of snow covered meadows and mountains.

Right after Valentine’s Day we switch back to family times at the ranch. Whether it’s winter vacation veterans or those trying out snow for the first time, we specialize in fun in the snow! And kids specialize in having more fun in snow than a puppy. So, this year break away from the beach and hit the snow at Vista Verde. For those booking a 7-night family vacation between February 22-March 8, mom and dad will get a complementary massage. An engaging kids program and a massage for mom and dad……it doesn’t get much more relaxing to be a parent on vacation than that!

Come experience Colorado in the winter at Vista Verde Ranch! The setting is magical, the adventures await and the staff is ready to serve you with genuine Western hospitality. Call us at 800-526-7433 to check availability.

Hey, that’s a lot of hay!

By Steph

One of the best gifts of ranching in the Steamboat Springs area is the abundant and rich grass that fills our valley floors each summer. Because of this amazing feature of the area, most ranchers do not need to feed their cattle or horses during the summer as they get more than enough nutrition from the grass. As the snow covers the valley and the mountains around the ranch, the horses start to wonder where did all that lush grass go? And, where is my dinner?

Around the middle of August we start seeing the hay truck rolling up the driveway several times a day. One of our local friends has fields and fields of grass that he watches and cares for until it’s just the right time to cut it each year. As he cuts those hundreds of acres of grass hay, he starts delivering them to us one load at a time. With a mix of big round bales, large square bales and smaller bales that can be tossed by a strong wrangler, we slowly accumulate all the hay that we’ll need for the winter months.

During the snowy winter months, we’ll feed the horses with the feed sleigh, just like the old timer ranchers did back when Vista Verde was homesteaded as a hay and cattle operation. Each day the wranglers load up the sleigh with hay, hitch up the team and head out right around lunch time to spread cheer and joy throughout the winter pasture. The horses know exactly what time feed-time is and start lining up at the gate about 11am.

As the snow starts to get melty in the late-spring, we switch over to feeding the large round bales with the tractor. The amount we feed gets lower and lower as fresh, spring grass starts peeking through. And, then it’s back to fields of green, lush grass and horses grazing each day in the pastures. There’s a reason it’s called Vista Verde!

So, the question is, can you guess how many tons of hay we have to buy each year to sustain our herd of roughly 100 horses through the winter? Submit your guess between now and Christmas. The closest guess will get a little prize sent their way!

The Countdown

By Steph

The Christmas carols are playing, the servers and housekeepers are transforming the Great room for the holidays, the sleigh has been taken for a test ride, and Elizabeth has finished her amazing gingerbread village. The new staff are busy learning the ins and outs of their jobs while the returning staff are tidying up the place, getting the ski trails ready, the horses prepped and the tubes blown up for some serious sledding. With 4 days left until we open for the winter season, we are excited and ready to greet guests on Saturday afternoon!

In the midst of all this hubbub, we welcomed into the ranch family Eamon McGlynn this past weekend. Alaya and Cholly are doing well and keeping all of us away from their new little boy. We’re all trying to be respectful of their space right now, but are all itching to meet little Eamon. The good thing about having a dude ranch baby is there is never a shortage of babysitters and baby holders.

In the coming days, we’ll be putting the final touches on the ranch and getting all our logistics in place to open up on Saturday. Then, we’re off to the races for the holiday season. We’ll be singing carols around the fireplace in the Great room, taking sleigh rides in fresh snow, skiing to forests of little Christmas trees, dancing our way into the New Year, and just enjoying the holiday season with laughter, cheer and grand adventures. After the holidays, we’ll switch over to adult only stays, so things will quiet down a bit. From early January until mid-February we’ll have guests coming to enjoy a winter vacation with the company of other adults. Some make it a romantic getaway, some come for a quiet time by themselves, some grab the girlfriends for a girls getaway, and the reasons keep coming for why people come to Vista Verde for a winter getaway in the mountains. We love to play in the snow, so we are looking forward to making some great memories with our guests this winter!

Equitrekking- December 2013

Four Great Vacations for Winter Horseback Riding in the Snow

December 6, 2013

It’s a dream for many… bounding through the snow on a horseback. While some ranches close during the winter, others are open for winter activities and guests can enjoy horseback riding through the snow. We’ve picked out four ranches in Montana and Colorado where you can horseback ride this winter.

Many dude ranches and guest ranches that offer horseback riding also offer other winter snow activities, including cross country skiing, ice skating, horse drawn sleigh rides and have downhill skiing nearby. Check out the below photos and get inspired to get outdoors in the crisp winter air for a horse ride.

#1 The Resort at Paws Up in Montana

The Resort at Paws Up is located just east of Missoula, Montana on a sprawling 37,000-acre working cattle ranch. This is a great destination for horseback riding in the snow for travelers who want to combine the great outdoors with gourmet food and luxury. This luxury guest ranch resort is complete with two restaurants, one of which was recently named “one of the 100 best wine restaurants” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Other winter fun activities include dog sledding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and nearby downhill skiing and snowboarding.
#2 Bar W Guest Ranch in Montana

Bar W Guest Ranch is a year-round ranch located in the resort area of Whitefish, home to the Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort. Guests can saddle up to ride horses in the snow and also enjoy sleigh ride dinners, snow shoeing, ice skating, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, dog sledding and ice fishing. The ranch also square dances for those still looking to move after being outside all day and a hot tub for those who would rather soak after a day on the trails.

#3 The Home Ranch in Colorado

The Home Ranch in Clark, Colorado is a good fit for riders looking to combine winter riding with a luxury ranch vacation. This Relais & Chateaux dude ranch offers fine cuisine by executive chef Clyde Nelson and individual cabins decorated with antiques, plush down comforters, and wood-burning stoves. The ranch also runs daily shuttles to the slopes at Steamboat Ski Area for ski enthusiasts– packed lunch included– and offers backcountry skiing in the nearby Medicine Bow – Routt National Forest.
#4 Vista Verde Ranch in Colorado

Another Colorado option for those who want to be pampered, as well as play in the great outdoors is Vista Verde Ranch. This luxury ranch vacation destination in Steamboat Springs offers horseback riding for the whole family. Other winter activities include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, wine tasting and cooking classes, yoga, snow biking and sledding. For those who want to focus on horseback riding, but also want time indoors, Vista Verde Ranch has a full-size heated Indoor riding arena.
Learn more about more great ranches for winter vacations in the Equitrekking Vacation Guide, an online guidebook focused on dude ranches, guest ranches and horseback riding vacations.