May 2014

Go Time! Dude Ranch style

By Steph

The staff are all here now. The guests have booked their stays. The snow has melted (well, except for some up on the top of the Zirkels). The grass and wildflowers have re-appeared. The bikes have been tuned up. In fact, so have the horses….teeth floated, feet trimmed, vaccinated, and first rides out of the way. The chefs have practiced their meals. The staff have walked through mock rides, mock meals, mock dances, mock everythings. It’s time to open!

Sunday afternoon marks the first time we’ll have guests coming up the drive for the summer dude ranch season. We’re ready to kick off the season with a great group of guests, an excited staff and lots of fresh air and sunshine.

So, what have we been doing to prepare for these folks to come in and enjoy a great family vacation?

We devote two full weeks to training our staff and preparing for the summer season. The first week is spent focusing on the nuts and bolts of each department and establishing the culture of the ranch. The second week is the practice week, when we reinforce what they’ve learned and put it into play. Mixed in with all of this is some serious prep work. After a huge winter, there are a ton of fences to fix. The tack needs to be cleaned and oiled. The cabins need to be deep cleaned and polished up so they are ready for Sunday. The constructions projects need to be finished up (we upgraded the Hinman cabin flooring this spring and Bill did a remodel on the bunkhouse). Every spring we have to clear the down trees, so the wrangler and guide crew were out clearing trails on Wednesday. Staff photos are taken and new bios are written. The list goes on and on.

I did a “walk-about” this morning to check in on everyone. I kept hearing, “We’re ready, we just need to open now.” So, how about this? Let’s do it! Bring on Summer, as Olaf would say.

In search of inspiring photos from summer vacations at Vista Verde

By Steph

After pouring through all our photos in search of one to use for our new note cards, we realized we needed something fresh and inspiring.

Do you have an amazing photo from your summer vacation at Vista Verde Ranch? Are you willing to share it? If so, we’d love to consider it! We will have a box of note cards customized and printed for you if we select your photo for our cards.

Here are the many ways you can submit a photo:

1) Post it on our Facebook page.

2) Tweet it to us @vistaverderanch

3) Create a Pinterest board with you photos you want considered and email the url to

4) @mention us on Instagram @vistaverderanch

5) Email the photo to

Submit your photo by the end of Memorial Day weekend (close of day, May 26, 2014) and then we’ll pick the finalists and post them on Facebook for some voting action.

Keep in mind that we will need a high resolution image for the final product, so if yours is selected we will reach out to you to get that version.

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing your photos!

Day Dreaming of your Vista Verde vacation?

By Kelli

Make it productive by doing these simple exercises to get your body ready too!

While at your desk…

Sit Tall

One of the best things you can do for your body is to sit properly throughout your day. Sit at the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lengthen your spine, gently pulling in your lower abs to support the low back so that your spine is in a neutral position (keeping the natural curve to your spine). Pull your shoulders back gently with shoulder blades down the back. Try to maintain this position for several minutes or until your muscles start to fatigue. Picture yourself in the saddle; building postural strength will help prevent back fatigue/pain while riding, using the natural curve of the spine as a shock absorber.

Calf Raise/Hip Stretch

You get two for the price of one with this exercise! Once again, sit at the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Cross your right leg on top of the left so that your right ankle is resting on your left thigh, just above the knee. Ahh, a great stretch for your right hip! Maintaining that position, push your left toes down into the floor so that your left heel lifts up off the floor, engaging your left calf muscle. Raise and lower several times until you feel slight fatigue in the left calf muscle. Repeat on the other side. Building calf strength will help you hike up those mountains and hip flexibility will be a bonus in all your activities at the ranch, even barn dance!

Chair Slides

This exercise only works if you have an office chair with wheels. Sit on the end of your chair with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Sit up tall and hold on to each side of your chair with your hands. Push the chair backwards so that your legs start to straighten out in front of you but your feet remain on the floor. Next pull the chair forward so that you are back where you began. When pushing and pulling back and forth, keep your core engaged yet stay tall in your seat. A great glute and hamstring workout to prepare for that push/pull on those bike pedals.


Ball Squeeze

Do you have an extra ball lying around the house? Take it to work with you and get those adductors (inner thigh muscles) ready for riding! A 4” ball is ideal but anything close to that will work. Place the ball between the knees and keep the feet flat on the floor. You can squeeze the ball and release several times or squeeze and hold the squeeze for several seconds, then release. As always, sit with great posture and keep your core slightly engaged while squeezing. Believe it or not, this exercise will make you a better communicator with your horse (not sure how it works with spouses!) Slight leg movements and pressure applied with the thighs tell your horse what you want them to do!

Chair Twists

Twisting is a great way to loosen up the torso and squeeze out tension in the body. Plus, it just feels great after sitting at your desk for long periods. It is very important to always lengthen the spine before twisting it, so start off by sitting tall. Keep your feet flat on the floor and start the twist from your belly. As you start to twist to the right, place your left hand on the outside of your right knee and allow your torso and shoulders to follow the twist. If your right hand reaches the back seat of your chair, you can grab a hold, but don’t force the twist by pulling yourself further with your right hand. Just let the twist happen naturally. Make sure to keep yourself tall throughout the whole twist, not collapsing as you twist. Hold the twist for a few breathes, then slowly unwind from the twist. Repeat on the other side. Practicing the twist will help you be more flexible in the saddle, allowing you to chat with the “Dude” behind you on the trail, not to mention enjoying the beautiful 360 view!

Camel Pose

No camels on the ranch, just horses. We are borrowing this pose from yoga class, as it is a great chest opener, something everyone who sits at a desk can benefit from. Once again, sit near the edge of your chair, with feet flat, and posture tall. Place your fists behind each glute and draw your elbows towards each other, shoulder blades coming together too. Lift your chest up towards the ceiling, lengthening the spine, keeping the neck in line with the spine. Breathe into the stretch, holding it for a few seconds, then releasing. Repeat several times during the day, each time imagining all those stars you will be able to see from your hot tub at night.


So enjoy your productive day dreaming and before you know it, you will be here, fit and ready to take on all the exciting activities at VVR. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Turning up the heat- 17 days until the dude ranch season starts

By Steph

The hush that settled in over the ranch back at the end of March is about to be blown up with the energy, excitement and enthusiasm of an incoming crew of new staff, as well as some great returners. During the off-season, the seasonal staff headed out for their down-time, and those of us who stick around year round got out our oh-too-long to-do lists and started plugging away at them in the quiet of an empty dude ranch. For some of us it was a peaceful time of knocking out one project after another. For some (ok, mainly Bill) it is a frantic scramble of trying to get all the projects done that can only be done when we are closed. But, all that is wrapping up as we prepare for the start of our orientation weeks.

You see, we take training our staff very seriously. We invest two solid weeks into infusing the culture of the ranch into them, teaching them the ins and outs of their jobs, building a sense of community between all of them, and helping them wrap their heads around why we take all the little details so seriously. It’s a fun 2 weeks, but an intense 2 weeks.

Beka and Ben have spent the past couple weeks finalizing the housing list, pouring over the timing of the orientation schedule, and then panicking and finding new staff members when they get that dreaded call, “I’m not going to be able to make it out there to work after all.” Now, the arrivals are plugged into our calendars, Devyn is getting all the staff housing tidied up and ready (some spaces a bit more frantically as she waits for Bill to put the finishing touches on his bunkhouse remodel), and we’re all realizing that we have only about 3 more days to finish crossing projects off our to-do lists before they get put away for the summer.

If you are coming out to visit this summer, our promise to you is that we will pour everything we can into these amazing young people coming to work at our ranch, so that they can do their best guiding, helping, caring for and serving you on your vacation. We’ll leave it to them to share their talent, humor, intellect and varied backgrounds with you around the dinner table and on the trail. In the next week we’ll be updating the staff bios on the website so you can learn more about all these great people.

If you don’t have plans to visit this summer, keep in mind we’ve had a couple cancellations in June. So, it may not be too late to schedule an amazing dude ranch vacation. Just 17 days and we’ll be ready to share our beautiful backyard with you! Give Malori or Steph a call at 800-526-7433 for more information on openings. – May 2014

America’s Best All-Inclusive Resorts for Families


Dude ranches virtually always offer all-inclusive pricing, and Vista Verde Guest Ranchin Steamboat Springs is one of the most family-friendly around. Rates include accommodations in private cabins or lodge rooms, all meals and beverages, and activities that range from horseback riding and mountain biking to fly-fishing and river rafting. In the evenings, there are just-for-fun rodeos that kids will love. Read on

Colorado Spring fever

By Steph

It’s a well documented medical condition that occurs in Steamboat once or twice a year. Doctors are stumped as to how to vaccinate for this problem, yet they find that the symptoms come on strong and fast. It’s called Coloritis Springius Feverium, casually known to physicians as CSF or Colorado Spring Fever. A huge case has hit the ranch this past week. It’s still spring break time at the ranch, as we wait for the snow to melt and the trails to dry out. We had a bout of the fever about a month ago, when the sun came out, the snow started to melt quickly, and the birds began singing. But it cleared out when the snow and cold weather returned, only to come back even stronger this past weekend.

Symptoms are quite similar among patients and range from inability to sit at a desk for an extended period of time, extreme giddiness, waking up early, and sore facial muscles from excessive smiling. We had the vet up the other day for some horses, and she did a quick examination on our many patients (come on, she’s medically trained one way or another) and she prescribed a simple treatment plan. Get outside and play!

So, we did. Brandon went fishing, while Beka and I were on a road bike ride yesterday, Steve and Kelli passed us with their mountain bikes loaded on the 4-runner. Maybe they were headed to lower elevation and dry trails? Cori and Mandy rode Scotch and Whiskey Girl up the nature trail, Charlie seems to keep finding “projects” he needs to go check on all over the ranch, and Alaya and Cholly have little Eamon snugged up in the front pack for miles and miles of walking. And Ben and Holly have been keeping busy cleaning out their garage. What? I know, to each their own.

Although we are following the Dr.’s orders quite vigilantly, we are not seeing a drop in our symptoms. In fact, it seems that the elation levels are only rising. But, you know what? That’s just fine with us!!

Word has it that cruddy weather is sneaking back in later this week. After the high (ok, we don’t need any wise jokes about Colorado’s new laws) of the past 6 days, there may actually need to be some interventions going on for those of us crashing down off that high. It will just give us some time to dream of the coming months and miles and miles of trails waiting for us to take you out and play. 26 days until we open!