This week at the Ranch

funny visitors for a ranch vacation

Dude Ranch Life: A different kind of guest

We normally roll out the red carpet for our guests, and look forward to introducing new folks to the ranch.  This week, there was a surprising new group who showed up unexpectedly for a little ranch vacation.  Sheep!

The sheep were spotted off and on for a couple days earlier in the week just down the road.  Then, mid-week, they decided to make their presence official as they headed up the driveway.  Troy saddled up Caddy and rounded them up the other morning.  We’ve had to do some searching to try to figure out who they belong to: lots of phone calls, asking around at the Clark Store, and networking with other ranchers.  Finally, the owner was located and he’s coming to pick them up in the next couple days.  In the meantime, they are fun little pets to have hanging around and are providing a real shock for our horses.  They can’t quite figure out what these weird smelling animals are doing in their round pen!

It just goes to show that every day is a new adventure here at Vista Verde, and we love a good adventure.

barn loft for winter resort

Dude Ranch Life: Off-season projects

‘Tis the season.  For us, that means it’s time to get busy working on projects around the ranch.  It’s hard to tear the place up too much when there are guests here, so when the ranch is closed down, our work ramps up.  And there is always a lot to do!

Right now Bill is busy in the cabins, fixing all the little bumps and bruises that occur over the course of the season.  Banged up baseboard heaters, holes poked in screens, dings on the walls, and nicks on the furniture.  Later today I’ll do a walk-through to make a list of all the window coverings that need to be replaced or fixed.  The non-washable items are all at the dry cleaners, and new towels have been ordered.

Moving down to the Lodge, we tore out all the dining room carpet in anticipation of the arrival of our new carpet.  It was just time, as the old carpet wasn’t going to make it another season.  And, when I say “we” tore out the carpet, I should clarify.  Meagan and Devyn took office breaks last week and got their hands dirty ripping up the old carpet and pad.  Those two can do a lot more than just have a nice voice on the phones, you know!

Up in the barn, Nate has been working hard on the improved barn loft.  He has had help from “little” Ben, Tim, and Troy, as he encloses, insulates, and winterizes the barn loft this fall.  We’re excited to finally have a space to hold barn dances in the winter, as well as be able to spread out a bit for yoga classes in the colder months and when the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor yoga.  An official name for the new and improved Barn Loft is still undecided, but we can work on that as the snow piles up.

When Nate isn’t up in the loft, he’s multi-tasking by working on our new fitness room.  Now, we know that most of our guests never even touch the fitness center, and why would they when there are miles of trails to explore with amazing scenery and natural intervals?  But, for those who want to hit the elliptical or treadmill, we are moving the equipment to an air-conditioned spot near the Machine Shed.  This will allow us to move forward with adding a new unit for our guests.  Named North Fork and South Fork, these two duplex units will be ready for Summer 2016, and will be ready to accommodate smaller families by Summer 2016.

Lastly, Charlie and Ben took on the project of getting the ranch hands an official headquarters, where they can check in on any office work as well as hang their wet and dirty gear to dry in between shifts.  It’s not glamorous, but it gives them a home base to meet up and plan out their days.

So many projects, and so little time.  The beautiful weather made it a lot easier to work on these projects, but the snow rolling in now will scoot us along a little quicker to get them finished!  Because ’tis the season for snow to start piling up too.

dude ranch dining room remodel dude ranch staff off season project fitness room remodel at Colorado resort remodel at luxury resort

dude ranch chefs

Dude Ranch life: Off-season shenanigans

Chefs John (JT) and Cholly came back all excited from a “field trip” to Yampa Valley Farms.  Armed with photos and talking my ear off about the experience, he agreed to share their story with all of you.

As chefs, today was a very special day. We were able to find a totally unique product that is not only amazingly delicious and beautiful, but also local! Minimizing our carbon footprint is something we continuously strive to do by sourcing as local as possible from producers who share similar values.

We had the good fortune to meet with Josh Kilbane of Yampa Valley Farms. Josh is raising the most beautiful pork product we have ever seen. It was a breath of fresh air to see a farm of free-ranged pigs not confined to a concrete slab. The pigs are fed fresh prep scrap from local restaurants, as well as beets and turnips grown on the farm to encourage routing and self-feeding. Also, with two ponds on the lot we had a chance to see the pigs swim and wallow. Josh has made a special cross breed of Berkshire pig and Mangilitaz “Wooly Pig” to create what he calls the Colorado Mountain Pig. This cross allows the pig to be durable enough for the harsh environment of Northern Colorado. All the pork from Yampa Valley Farms is hormone and antibiotic free, as well as sustainably farmed and produced. The Berkshire pork, prized for juiciness, flavor and tenderness, is pink-hued and heavily marbled. Its high fat content makes it suitable for long cooking and high-temperature cooking. The Mangalitsa pork is exceptionally juicy, tender, and marbled, but with a darker red meat and larger more even fat cap making it perfect for charcuterie. Be on the lookout for the “Waygu of Pork” featured on our menus in the seasons to come.

Another exciting off-season project we started today is to “research” some beers for the new Colorado beer tasting being offered once a week this winter for a low impact, high flavor afternoon activity. It’s a tough job to go and explore breweries, sample beers, and come up with the perfect selections, but we’re willing to put in the hard work!  Just another day in the off-season shenanigans of a dude ranch chef.

yampa valley farms yampa valley farmsdude ranch animalsbaby dude ranch pigs

dude ranch staff

Dude Ranch Life: Happy trails, but not goodbye

The end of the season is always a bit bittersweet for most of us.  We’ve been working hard for a long period of time, and the break is exciting.  But, for some of the staff, it also means goodbye.  Since most of us (ok, so that’s me) don’t like goodbyes, we tend to subscribe to the happy trails, until we meet again theory.

There are some amazing staff members who were with us this summer (and some longer than that) who are moving onto their next step in life.  Katie and Michelle in the barn, Sarah, Shawnta, Trevor (Trev-bot!), and Kami in housekeeping, Chelsea, Olya, Kaitlyn and Mary Frances in the dining room, Ranch hands Gabe, Ted, both Dans, and the always laughing Matthew, Aaron who quietly washed dishes all summer, and Canipe and Rachel who have prepared countless meals in the kitchen.  All of these folks are the sugar and spice that made this summer so special.  Notably to me, my dear Talitha who came in with a smile and the willingness to run the dining room for the summer, and did her job with grace, confidence, and ease.  And then our sweet, sweet Melanie (photo above) who’s “I’m on it, and I’ll make it happen” attitude made us all happy to arrive in the office each day.  Her cautious enthusiasm to take on the day to day management of our social media platforms for the season was a gift to me, and a fun exercise in collaboration.  And lively Miss Mandy who’s love for the horses is as infectious as her laughter, which could be heard across the ranch.

As those of us who are here for the long run recharge our batteries and gear up for the winter season, we thank all the staff who threw themselves into helping us connect heart with home.  For the ones who are coming back for the winter, we look forward to seeing you after your break.  And for the ones moving on, we thank you for your hard work, dedication, and commitment to this funny and wonderful community we all love so much.  It’s been a pleasure having you all as part of the Vista Verde family, and I speak for all of us when I say thank you, and we can’t wait to see what your futures hold!

dude ranch fall ride

Dude ranch life: One last ride

Sunday, October 18 marked closing day for the season, and it was a flurry of activity.  Our last guests checked out after breakfast, and then we had a chore list a mile long.  From deep cleaning the kitchen to moving all the picnic tables into storage to taking screens off all the windows, there wasn’t a lack of jobs for anyone!

As those chores were wrapped up, the staff moved on to cleaning up and moving out of their homes.  Some of them will stick around for much of the off-season as there are projects to finish before winter, horses to feed and train, and the office doesn’t shut down when we’re closed.  But some are moving onto the next step in their life, and some are just heading off for a break before the winter season.  The office crew had struggled to find a time to do any sort of get together over the course of the summer, so we took advantage of this quiet afternoon to grab some horses and head out for one last ride.

Mother Nature did a grand job of providing us with spectacular weather right up to closing day.  Although it was much appreciated, we never expect that.  October can be the most beautiful month, but we can also get plenty of weather.  Well, she timed it well as around mid-day the first rain started to roll in, and it was off an on all afternoon.  That didn’t stop us on our ride.  We just put on the big, yellow slickers and kept going!  The company was wonderful and the scenery was gorgeous.

Now it’s time to start gearing up for winter.  Nate and a small crew are working on the barn loft to winterize it so we can have barn dances in the winter.  Yes, you heard that right Wanda!  Kelli will also be able to accommodate larger yoga classes with the loft being enclosed and heated.  And there are plenty of other uses for that area that we’ll work in over time.  KP, Sam, and the wranglers are preparing some horses for a sale we’re having this weekend.  We’re hoping to find forever homes for some of our four-legged staff members who aren’t a great fit for dude ranch life.  Beka is busying wrapping up all the hiring for the winter season.  And Meagan and Devyn are rounding up the reservations for the Christmas break as well as other winter stays.  Ben, Charlie and myself?  Oh, we’re just kicking back eating bon bons by the pool.  Or, put otherwise dealing with the exciting back end parts of the business like insurance, credit card fees, website maintenance, and financial statements.  Yee haw!

Rumor has it we have an El Nino headed out way, which means lots of snow!  So, we’ll hopefully open up in mid-December to a gorgeous white blanket of snow and a lot of excited guests.  We hope you can be one of them.

horses for sale

Herd Dispersal Sale

Toward the end of each season we go through our horse roster and identify horses that aren’t the best fit for our herd.  There are various reasons a horse doesn’t work out for our herd.  Some horses need a one person home, rather than having different riders each week.  Some aren’t physically built to hold up to the hard riding we do here, and we don’t want to hurt them by trying to make it work.  Some need a more experienced rider consistently, which is tough as not all of our guests have much riding experience.  Some just need to have a retirement home as they’ve worked hard for us, but now need a more quiet life.  With that, we have 8 horses we are trying to find homes for this fall.

On Friday and Saturday, October 23 and 24 we will have the horses available to view and try out for any potential buyers.  The Brand Inspector will not be available on the day of the sale, so horses may be picked up after they are inspected with purchaser’s information Tuesday, October 27.

Here is the rundown of who is being offered in the sale.

Cisco Cisco– 9 yo Dun Gelding, 16h. He is big and well built but needs a job.  Cisco is not the best to shoe.  Experienced rider. $1,100




JohnnyJohnny– 17 yo Sorrel Gelding, 15h. He is a nice friendly gelding, any level rider can ride him, but he’s best suited for intermediate to advanced riders. Slight stifle issue, but he’s ok to use for light work. $900




GusGus– 9 yo Red Dun Gelding, 15h. Gus is a smart and athletic gelding who needs a job.  He’s suited for an intermediate to advanced rider only, and he is great on trails. $900




Kapua– 7 yo Red Roan Mare, 15h. She is a very beautiful and athletic mare, and needs to be put to work.  Kapua is good on trails, and she is smart but not always willing so she needs an experienced rider. $1,200

Cali GirlCali Girl– 5 yo Chestnut Mare, 14h.  She is a smart and athletic small mare. Cali will watch a cow and would make a great cow horse or reining prospect. She is great in the arena. Intermediate to advanced rider. $2,200




RienaRiena– 4 yo Bay Mare, 14.2h. Riena would make a nice reining or western pleasure prospect. She has a slight hock issues so she’s not suited for heavy duty use. $2,200




sparkySparky– 19 Grey Gelding, 14.2h.  Sparky is cute and stocky with a lot of go so he needs a strong rider who can contain him.  He’s ok on trails but will jump things instead of step over. He’s great in the arena and can go English or western. $800




Arrow_H (400x300)Arrow– 25 yo Grey Gelding, 16h.  Arrow has been one of our great kid horses, but he has asthma and needs a retirement home.  He would be great for a little girl that would just want to love on a horse or a pasture buddy. Free to good home.

If you have questions about any of these horses, please fill out the Contact Us form and KP will follow up with you.

cattle round up at a luxury dude ranch

An autumn adventure and a office pass for the day

As if following the cues of the calendar, on the day that was marked as the first day of fall Mother Nature graced us with the bluest sky dotted with white, fluffy clouds, and the sun shone through the golden aspens leaves so they almost glowed.  On that same day the board that declares the state of the union at the ranch each day was tipping off on one side, the column marked “All-Day Cows” was filled with names, while the rest of the columns sat sadly vacant.

an autumn vacation at a Colorado dude ranch “Oh no!” said the wranglers.  “What shall we do with so many riders wanting to go out and find cows?” they asked.  Goose and Isaac looked blankly at them, trapped in their fishing waders and unable to trade them for jeans and boots.  Kelli moved from downward dog into warrior pose as if to fend off the suggesting looks that she might turn into a wrangler for the day.  And the housekeeping fairies (and ninja) stealthily slipped by the corral with their cleaning supplies in hand, avoiding eye contact with the desperate wranglers.

From the back office nook, a figure slowly emerged.  Who?  What?  Is that Steph reaching her hand out for the office pass?  With a quick change into one of Devyn’s plaid shirts, she throws on her hat, dusts off her chinks, and fills up her water bottles.  And that, folks, is how I got to go ride for cows on this most brilliant first day of fall.

My riding companions were cheerful, not realizing the relic of a wrangler they were heading out with for this ride.  But the day unfolded into an epic adventure riding through the hills, jumping over streams, navigating downed trees, and scaling the sides of mountains while rocks tumbled down into the ravine below.  It was epic.  Epic-ally void of any cows.  Not one.  Not even a sign of fresh cow poop.  Nada.  Zip. Zilch.

It turns out that our ride wasn’t the only one to have a gorgeous ride through the mountains only to strike out on rounding up cows.  One group did bring home 4 reluctant bovines.  Another saw plenty of cows, but couldn’t get a lick of them to cooperate, as they squirted off into the trees at the first sight of humanoids.  And one more saw nothing but tall grass, golden aspens, and gorgeous mountains.  Nonetheless the smiles were wide as the dinner bell rang tonight.  Because there is always tomorrow.  And, if you end up riding over hundreds and thousands of acres of mountains, rivers, and forests for the day without spotting a cow, it is still something to smile about.  Watch out cows…..we know you’re out there.  And, we know where you’re not now too!  We’re going to hunt you down, round you up, and bring you home.  But, that story will be someone else’s tomorrow as this rusty wrangler hangs up her office pass and goes back into the corner nook.

Happy trails to you, until I ride again.

adventure vacation gear

A few of our favorite things

Kelli and Steve are not only our ace guides and outdoor enthusiasts, but they are also our resident gear-heads.  Kelli recently put together a list of some gear that they are loving these days or is on their most wanted list.

The Salomon Quest Origins GTX hiking boot is a great Gore-Tex boot that gives support of a full hiking boot but feels as light weight as a running shoe.  Even though it only comes in Men’s sizes, both myself (Kelli) and Bridgette (Chef) have purchased them (as well as Steve) and love them. Just follow their size guide and the fit should be right on.

Rail Riders is a great company who boasts having the “Toughest Clothes on the Planet”! Although inspired from the sea, this clothing is great for all adventurous pursuits.  Steve and I are pretty keen on the Adventure Tops, so lightweight and breathable but great SPF protection for our aging skin J.  Steve also loves his Bushwacker Weather Pants.  Super tough, reinforced knees, butt, and back of ankles yet fashionable enough to host dinner at VVR!

As the mornings and evenings turn a bit cooler, Steve is turning to his Breakaway II Hoody from Ibex.  It’s a lightweight climawool™ softshell hybrid jacket ideal for aerobic pursuits in cooler weather.  A great transitional piece and I do believe it is on sale right now!

I have been hiking in Sierra Design’s Stretch Trail Pant on cooler days.  They are designed to wear with a pack, sporting a stretch knit waistband that feels like a pair of tights so there is no bulk under the waist strap.  I also like the water resistance patches on the knees and bottom.  Plus they are stretchy, so super comfy, and have a feminine fit.

The Salsa Bucksaw is redefining boundaries with its Fat Bike design and go anywhere attitude. Steve is loving its ability to be an all season bike.  Great for the shoulder seasons, riding in variable mud/snow mix without damaging trails. And its ability to float over obstacles and grip the trail with incredible traction in summer time fun.  It is on our wish/drool list!  For all our fellow bike geeks, you gotta check this one out!


Simple yoga poses to help you transition from “carefree summer days” to “school day routines”

By Kelli

Transitioning from impromptu BBQ’s with the neighbors, pool parties with the kids, and summer vacations to VVR, to homework, after school activities and the early morning hustle and bustle can be exhausting and give you a sense of chaos!  Change can be bumpy, so here are a few yoga poses to keep you grounded and help smooth out the transition to Fall.

“Easy” Pose

I put parenthesis around the word easy, because for some of us, sitting crossed legged is anything but easy.  If you happen to be one of these people, sitting on a blanket or cushion will help.

Begin by crossing the legs and feeling both “sit” bones connected to the ground, sit up tall so that you are not rounded through the low back, bring a gentle awareness to the core, and keep your shoulder blades down the back, chest open.

Hold the pose for several minutes, feeling grounded, following the breath. Better yet, take this pose to the yard and enjoy watching the leaves fall.  I love this pose! You can do it anywhere, like watching soccer practice, and no one even has to know you are “doing” yoga.

Warrior II

Practicing Warrior II pose not only stretches and strengthens the legs and shoulders but also increases stamina. And who couldn’t use more stamina!

  •  Place your feet three to four feet apart and raise your arms parallel to the floor with palms down.
  • Turn your right foot slightly in and your left foot out 90 degrees to the left so the toes are pointing away from your body. Align your left heel with the right.
  • Bend your left knee over the left ankle, causing the shin to be perpendicular to the floor. Bring your left thigh parallel to the floor, creating a 90- degree angle in your knee. Straighten your right leg and press your right heel out and down into the floor.
  • Stretch your arms out, keeping them parallel to the floor. Imagine you are increasing the space between your shoulder blades as you spread your arms. Turn your head to the left as you look out over the fingers of your left hand. Keep your spine straight and perpendicular to the floor.
  • Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute. When you are ready, come out of Warrior II Pose. Reverse your feet and repeat with the right side.

After practicing your Warrior II pose, you will have the courage to face the challenges of the day, knowing you have grounded yourself in strength, flexibility, and stamina!

Mountain Pose

A truly easy pose to practice anywhere, and at any time.  Who hasn’t picked the “wrong” line at the grocery store, always when you are in a hurry to get somewhere else?  Instead of feeling anxious and impatient, surrender to the moment and use the time to bring a calm, unshakable steadiness to the moment.  Allowing you to let go of the anxiety and to respond with the fortitude of a mountain!

Stand with your feet at hip-width apart with equal weight on balls and heels.  Draw energy up the quads and bring awareness to the core. Draw shoulder blades down the back, feeling an open chest.  Practice a few deep breaths, especially if the shopper in front of you has just sent her kid to aisle 85 for a new carton of eggs!

Corpse Pose

Viewed as one of the most important poses in yoga, corpse pose rejuvenates and clears the mind providing you with the tools to deal with stress and emotions in your life. Practiced on a regular basis, its benefits are…

*Lowered blood pressure

*A decreased heart rate

*Slowed rate of respiration

*Decreased muscle tension


So the next time you need a “pick me up”, skip the cup of coffee and go lay in the backyard! Enjoy the cool grass, watch the clouds go by, and treat yourself to 10 minutes of relaxation.  You are worth it!

Enjoy the last few months of Fall before Mother Nature closes up shop and covers the ground with a blanket of snow!







fall adult only vacations dude ranch

Changing seasons at the ranch

Lately, the mornings have been just a tad bit cooler, and the grass touched with gold instead of green.  Fall is coming, and we can feel it in the air.  Last week marked the final week of family vacation times for the summer.  The kids are heading back to school, and the ranch has made the transition now to adult-only vacation weeks.  It’s always a bittersweet time of year.  A group of our key players from the summer season have headed back to college, and that always makes for a lot of teary goodbyes.  The ranch is not only more quiet with their departure, but also the sound of giggling children has gone away.  What a classic sound of summer, and one we love to hear.  But, with those shifts, we also welcome the start of our fall season.  The adult-only weeks are a blast.  Monday night was evidence of the fun to come with a rowdy (the good kind of rowdy) group of guests laughing and joking over dinner before moving into the Great room to play guitar, sing, and hang out with each other.  With these weeks, we also welcome cool weather, changing aspens, and the coming days of rounding of cows.  Those are some fun times– riding through the mountains as the leaves change from green to yellow to gold, red, and orange.  The air is crisp and more colorful than any time of the year.  For most of us here, this is our favorite time of the year.

Many of you are transitioning with children heading back to school, and we wish you all the best as you shift over from lazy summer days to organized sports, homework, tests, and early mornings.  Those of you without kids, we hope you’re finding a way to soak up the change of the seasons.  And, for those of you who live where the shift isn’t noticeable, come see us!  We’ll gladly share this amazing transition with you!

Teen fun at Vista Verde Gust ranch located North of Steamboat Springs Colorado

If you ever wondered why dude ranches are different….

Often times we find ourselves trying to explain what makes a dude ranch vacation different than a resort or other destination.  It’s hard to explain how it is that we form relationships here, not just provide a great vacation experience.  Especially since we are offering a luxury ranch vacation it makes it even more weird to try to tell someone who is used to the Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons that yes, they are paying for very nice accommodations, deliciously prepared meals, and top-notch service.  But, what they’ll probably remember after returning home is the relationships.  It just starts sounding a little too much like Kumbaya.  Call it what you want, what makes a dude ranch vacation at Vista Verde different than a resort or luxury boutique property is the people.  We’re going to laugh a lot.  We’re probably going to tease you a bit.  You’ll probably tease us back.  You’re going to have fun with our people, and we’re going to have fun with you.  You’re going to learn about these amazing people we call staff, and want to keep in touch with them and follow where they go in their lives.  It’s not just that you’ll have amazing experiences with your own family or friends, but you’ll make new ones within the other guests and the staff.  Sound creepy?  Well, it’s not for everyone, but for those who try it out, it’s pretty amazing.

This past week, hiking & biking guide Chris upped the anty with his video antics.  After a beautiful hike up into the Zirkels, he and Lisa busted out this rap on camera.  To me, this video defines what makes a dude ranch vacation different.  You’ve got this classy lady who is lively and fun, but also always well put together and on top of her game jamming and rapping with Chris while her husband is completely immersed in his fishing experience on the lake.  They all got to know each other on the hike.  They shared some amazing experiences.  They took in some beautiful scenery.  But, more than anything, they just had fun together.  And that’s what we do.  You expect the luxurious cabins, the gourmet food, and the quality service.  What you don’t expect is rapping out in the wilderness with your guide.  For those of you coming later this summer, watch out for hikes with Chris.  You never know what will happen.

Housekeeping fun at Vista Verde Guest Ranch

The wacky world of housekeeping

By Steph

Each area of the ranch has it’s own quirks, but we recently decided that housekeeping is the most quirky of them all.  Maybe it’s the fact that if you’re doing a dirty job, you have to make it fun?  Or, maybe it’s that it’s a more behind the scenes job, so there isn’t as much interaction, and the housekeepers need to come up with something to spice things up?  Is that why every time Meesh calls up to the office to ask a question, she always uses a different accent?  Ok, in full disclosure, some of the office gals (ahem, that’s me) may reciprocate when they call down there too….just saying.  Regardless of the reason, there are some distinct housekeeping “isms” that make it a special part of the ranch.

So, let’s test out your best guesses at a little matching game about some of these “isms”.


1. Whiteya. Knocking on Heaven's Door
2. Top to Bottomb. One of the 12 washers and dryers
3. HSKPHQc. Tidying up the cabin or room during a guest's stay
4. Gandalf the Greyd. The beat up old white truck housekeepers use to get around the ranch
5. Tuesday's theme song (MAY include interpretive dancing) e. The order in how we clean the accommodations
6. Dailiesf. The iron press
7. Matildag. An acronym for Housekeeping Headquarters, which actually takes longer to say than the name itself.

How did you do?  Post your answers on our Facebook page, and the housekeepers will do an interpretive dance in your honor next Tuesday to the song of your choice!

And, we want to give a huge shout out to our amazing “housekeeping fairies”, and Trevor too!  Without the hard work of Meesh, Grace, Kami, Shawnta, Gracie, Trevor, and Anna, we would have a mess on our hands.  Sure, the wranglers and guides get all the credit for fun adventures, and the chefs get all the credit for great food, and Ben gets credit for playing his banjo.  But it’s the housekeepers that create the first impression for our guests as they walk into their rooms, and keep everything looking good throughout their stay.  Hats off to this silly and humble group of people who take every spec of dust and stray water spot seriously!

PS- Can you find Willie the Moose in the photo?

Fun with foals at Vista Verde Guest Ranch

Catching up with the foals

By Steph

The little ones are growing up so fast!  And that means it’s time for an update on our 2015 foals.

reddRedd – He was our first foal to arrive out of a new mare named June.  Although Redd isn’t a ranch-bred colt, he’s quickly made himself a part of the family.  His newborn chestnut coat is shedding out to reveal a gorgeous red roan color, just like his mama.  June is a tall mare, and Redd looks like he will carry on that trait with substantial stature and a lot of height.  He was the resident punk in his first month, but has settled down and become a chill dude, bordering on lazy.  We’re ok with that, as punks don’t fit in well in our herd, but relaxed and sturdy horses are what we’re looking for in our riding horses.

wessonWesson- Our of Reyn (aka “Tubby”), this cute little bay colt loves to be scratched and petted, as you can see by this photo of him and George.  He’s got quite the build with a JLo style caboose that will serve him well as he grows up and climbs the surrounding mountains.  Wesson started out as a scared little guy– in fact he double barrel kicked Mandy when he was 2 days old as he was so afraid of people.  Now he is turning out to be laid back and super friendly, and gets plenty of attention as a result of that new and improved attitude.


RemyRemy “Remington”- This spunky and fun little girl is out of one of our favorite broodmares, MJ.  MJ consistently produces great foals, and Remy is no exception.  Remy is a people loving filly who is sweet and friendly to all.  She is very feminine, but seems to have no troubles keeping up with the boys.  She has big, kind, and calm eyes that are a telling sign that she’ll make a great ranch horse as she grows up.  Remy was the star of one of the videos we posted this spring, bravely crossing the creek for the first time.  If you haven’t watched it, you’ve got to check it out.



wranglerWrangler- His beautiful coloring makes this colt stand out from a distance.  Another one of Sassy’s dun colts, Wrangler is a full brother to Levi, one of the guest favorites from last year.  He’s a shy and sensitive little guy, but is coming around as he gets older and gets handled by all our guests more and more.  Wrangler and his mama Sassy were purchased by one of our guests this past winter, along with big brother Levi, and will be heading to Texas in the fall to their new home.  We’ll miss these beautifully colored foals, but have some great up and coming broodmares we’re excited to have in the herd in foal for next year.

Mountain Biking through the Aspens at Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado.

The top 3 list of bikes and hikes around Vista Verde Ranch

By Steph

Dude ranches and horses go hand in hand, but at Vista Verde we also have another side to the ranch.  We call it the New West.  Horses are the Old West, and we put a lot of effort into making that an amazing program for our guests.  But, we also put a lot of thought and effort into crafting our New West programs to have an equal impact on our guest experience.  This week, we have been shining the social media spotlight on two of our New West programs–the hiking and mountain biking programs, so no better time to share some of our favorite hikes and mountain bike rides.

Our top 3 hikes at Vista Verde

1) Zirkel Circle- This is the coup de gras hike in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area.  It’s a long one, and requires a higher level of fitness, a backpack filled with water, and a packed lunch.  This hike takes you along a roaring creek with log crossings, past two serene alpine lakes (Gilpin and Gold), and up into the rocky peaks of the Zirkel Wilderness Area.

2) Hahn’s Peak- Another one of our epics, this hike takes you climbing up through the wildflowers to the rocky peak of this perfectly peaked mountain.  Upon arriving at the top, the 360 panorama that goes from Steamboat Springs to the Wyoming border is breathtaking, as is the climb to the top!

3) Gilpin Falls- For those not up for the above two epic hikes, Gilpin falls is a perfect way to go.  Meandering through lush wildflowers and along a roaring creek, you end up at a beautiful spot with a private waterfall all to yourself.  This is a favorite for families wanting to hike together, or those looking for a more mellow stroll through the Rocky Mountains.

Our top 3 mountain bike rides at Vista Verde

1) Burn Ridge- This is the perfect ride for guests who want the thrill of single track riding, but don’t have the fitness to climb, climb, climb.  The trail is somewhat technical in places, but also offers rolling cross country terrain in other spots.  A river crossing towards the latter part of the ride makes for a refreshing way to reward yourself for the pedaling!

2) Steamboat Lake- For those who want to give single track riding a try, but are new to the sport, the trail around Steamboat Lake is a perfect way to start out.  Amazing panoramas will force you to stop and take in the view, and the coolness of the lake is tempting on a hot day.  The trail is mild enough that you don’t have to have a high fitness level, but you can get your heart beating a bit, and the wildflowers in the early summer are delightful.

3) Skills Park- Now, this isn’t really a trail, but an afternoon in the skills park is a must do if you want to explore the sport of mountain biking during your vacation.  Take a short ride with one of our talented guides over to the skills park, and spend a couple hours playing around on the obstacles.  Our guides will teach you how to approach and ride obstacles, while they spot you and help you try out your new skills.

We hope you’ll come hike or bike with us at some point!  Our backyard is so beautiful, and we love to share it with others.

This week the kids program has taken over our social media accounts

10 reasons why it’s great to be a Vista Verde kid

By Steph

This week the kids program has taken over our social media accounts.  During this time we thought it might be fun to blog about out why it’s so great to be a VVR kid.  As my own kids have jumped head first into the kids program the past few years, I’ve been able to see the value of the kids program here from a mom’s point of view.  And, if I was a fan before having kids, as a mom I may now be the kids program’s #1 fan.

Here are our top 10 reasons why we all wish we could be a kid on a dude ranch vacation at Vista Verde:

1) Freedom- When else do kids get to run free without any worry or restraint?  Most parents don’t even know where their kids are when they are here, and they are perfectly comfortable with them out roaming the ranch!  This may sound crazy to you, but it happens, and it happens within the first few hours of arrival.  You see, here at the ranch it’s safe, fun, and that freedom fuels their independent spirits.

2) Role Models- This is coming first hand from a mom who is picky about who her kids look up to as role models.  The VVR staff are the kind of people I want my kids to look up to, emulate, and admire.  They are top notch people, with good values, and a true desire to care for others.  It’s pretty common that even the most clingy kid, or the one who never likes a kids program, will be begging to head off to go find the kid wranglers to join the program for the day.  We have had to tell kids that no, they can’t go wake up a kid wrangler early in the morning.  These super heroes need sleep to keep up with the kids all day!

3) Confidence- Want to see a shy kid come out of their shell, open up, and blossom?  Bring them to a dude ranch, put them on a kind horse, with caring and thoughtful instruction, send them out into the woods, and let them ride, ride, ride.  Then, fill their days with a loving group of people, lots of dirt, and outdoor activities.  It’s a good chance you won’t recognize the kid who leaves at the end of the week, even after you scrub off the dirt.  They’ll be covered in a layer of self-confidence, pride, and accomplishment.

4) Compassion- Whether it’s the tough kid who knows it all or the shy kid who doesn’t believe in themselves.  Learning to handle a 1,000 animal, with it’s own thoughts and opinions teaches a kid compassion.  They learn they can’t jerk on the reins when they get frustrated.  They can’t yell at the horse when it won’t do what they want.  They have to stay calm, be consistent, assertive, and kind to get results on a horse.   Kids learn it’s not all about themselves, and sometimes one has to put another’s needs ahead of their own.  And when they do that, amazing things happen in their relationship with their horse, which carries on into their relationships with others.

5) Dirt & Fresh air- Kids need dirt.  Dirt likes kids.  We have a lot of dirt here.  That’s a good thing.  We also have a lot of fresh air.  The kids are out in it all day long, and much of the evening.  Oh, and did we mention there are no TV’s in the cabins and rooms, and also you can’t stream videos or games?  Crazy thing is, the kids don’t seem to even miss it during their ranch vacation!

6) Fish- Think your kid doesn’t have much patience?  Just wait until you see them out on the pond with their little fishing rods for hours on end, just waiting for that first bite.  It’s always amazing to me how long the kids will stand there, willing those fish to bite.  The fishing rods and the stocked pond are a kid magnet.  We go through them like they are water, as the kids break them daily.  But, it’s a worthwhile investment in the kids.  What a great lesson for them to wait, keep casting, wait, keep casting, and then BAM!  They catch their first fish!

7) Mom gets a vacation- Ok, so this one isn’t as much about the kids as it is about moms (and dads too).  With such an engaging kids program and knowing that the kids are safe as they roam around, moms get a vacation while they are here.  No worrying about what to do to keep everyone entertained.  No worrying about what to feed everyone, or organizing the day.  Chances are your kids will up before you, get dressed by themselves, and head out the door before you’ve even had your first cup of coffee.  You do need to make sure they have sunscreen on, but other than that, relax and enjoy a breath of that fresh mountain air.  We’ve got the rest covered for you.

8) Experiences- During a week at Vista Verde, your kids will get the chance to ride horses, play with foals, ride on an antique fire truck, “gold” pan, learn about bugs, ride mountain bikes, catch a fish, rock climb, square dance, find wildflowers on a hike, and all that without us even mentioning the pool where you expected you’d find your kids most of the time.  They may have a few minutes at some point to jump in, but they are going to be busy with all these other amazing experiences!

9) Connection- So, does it sound like with all that running around freely, and an engaging kids program, that you’ll never see your kids?  For some, this can be true, if that is what they choose.  But for families who want to spend time with their kids, you get them without all the distractions of the real world.  You get to walk through the woods with your kid, talking or just soaking up the silence.  You get to share new experiences together, laugh a lot, and enjoy the little person they are becoming.  Those are priceless moments and lifetime memories.

10) Tears- My kids cry a lot.  Too much.  It makes me crazy.  But, the tears that kids express on Sunday as they leave the ranch fill my heart.  I’ll take those tears any day.  Kids cry a lot on Sunday.  They don’t want to leave their horse.  They don’t want to leave their friends.  They don’t want to leave the staff.  They don’t want to leave the ranch.  Did we mention our Rebooking Special?  Another time…..

a dude ranch that celebrates romance

Dude ranch romance

By Steph

Ok, so it’s not quite like Dirty Dancing, but there is something about getting a bunch of single 20-somethings together in a tight-knit community, surrounded by nature’s beauty, and wrapped up in outdoor adventure.  Romance happens.  We (the old married types) guide our staff through this potential every season– warning them of the risks of a ranch relationship, helping them think realistically about the potential outcomes, and demanding that if it happens it is done respectfully and carefully, with the larger ranch community taking precedence over a summer fling.  With all those warnings, love is still in the air.  And, there are some pretty wonderful couples who have come out of Vista Verde.  I’ve lost track over the years of marriages that stemmed from the ranch, but I can say that this year seems to be a gang buster year for dude ranch romances.

The year began with the January nuptials of Jamie and Rob (Gov).  Then, the summer kicked off with Cori and Dan tying the knot in early June.  And, later on in the fall, Sally and Rob (Stewy) will be going to the chapel.  Kerri and Phil are settling into life as an engaged couple, and they have plans for their wedding next spring.  Over the winter Jason proposed to Lauren on a surprise visit back at the ranch, and they’ll be heading down the aisle sometime in the autumn of 2016.  Not bad for a little ranch out in Steamboat Springs?!

What a treat to watch these couples fall in love and begin their new lives together.  We wish them all the best, and hope that when times get tough (reality check provided by the old married folks) these wonderful people can think back to their carefree and adventure-filled days at the ranch, and pull each other through with some amazing memories.

Kerri and Phil

Kerri and Phil

Jamie and Rob

Jamie and Rob

Sally and Rob

Sally and Rob’

Cori and Dan

Cori and Dan

Lauren and Jason

Lauren and Jason


summer dude ranch

What is a dude ranch?

By Steph

Say you’re from a big city, and have never been to a dude ranch or don’t even really grasp what it means to take a dude ranch vacation?  Every once in a while, I find myself trying to explain to someone what it means to visit a dude ranch.  Typically, they are surprised by what they hear.

You think it’s just about riding horses and living like a cowboy in the American West for a week?  Oh boy, you have no idea.

A dude ranch vacation is about horses, soaking up a piece of the American West, and enjoying outdoor adventures in a beautiful setting.  But, it’s really about a lot more than that.

It’s about people becoming better people.  You read that right.  Because people learn a lot about themselves through their experiences on horses.  They see their patterns, their habits, their “stories”, their insecurities, and their strengths all come out in the interactions with these kind-hearted four-legged creatures.  Through horses, people learn more about themselves, find confidence they didn’t know was there and resolve to make changes that are a long time coming.  They often face what they don’t want to face, and come out on the other side better people.  Doesn’t sound fun?  Just talk to someone who has had a life-changing experience because of one afternoon in a horsemanship clinic.  It’s pretty darn good.  ( Warning: The same thing can happen on skis, on a bike, or in the river with a fishing pole in hand)

It’s about people connecting.  Sure, vacations are a great chance to relax.  But, dude ranch vacations do much more than that.  You do relax.  You also connect.  You connect with your family or traveling partners.  You connect with the staff.  You connect with the other guests.  Often times, guests find themselves finding a renewed sense of faith in the human experience.  They are reminded that a deep conversation can do wonders for the heart.  They are reminded that laughter is truly the best medicine.  They are reminded that there are amazing 20-something people out there in the world who are going to be our future leaders.  They are reminded that you can treat people well just because you care, and for no other ulterior motive.  They are reminded that relationships matter.

It’s about getting dirty.  I’ve blogged about this before, but I’m always amazed by how many guests ask why we’re all so happy here.  There are lots of reasons, but I firmly believe that getting dirty, getting out in the woods, and getting a little sweaty while you’re at it promotes happiness.  It doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by amazing people who share a similar passion and care about their community.  But, it has a lot to do with dirt.  So, a dude ranch vacation is about getting dirty, sweaty, into the woods, and in touch with the earth.  We need to do that more as humans.  Kids need to do it more.  And here, you get to do just that.  ALL.DAY.LONG.

It’s about values.  The cowboy code of ethics is as follows:

1. Live each day with courage

2. Take pride in your work

3. Always finish what you start

4. Do what has to be done

5. Be tough, but fair

6. When you make a promise, keep it

7. Ride for the brand

8. Talk less and say more

9. Remember that some things aren’t for sale

10. Know where to draw the line.

When people go to a dude ranch, they see this played out right in front of them.  That doesn’t happen out there in the real world all the time, so it’s a great reminder of living an honest life, and doing the right thing.  No religion needed for this, just ethics.

But, you know what?  It’s also about amazing adventures, loads of fun, being pampered lavishly (ok, maybe not at all ranches), eating fresh and amazing food, and being authentically cared for by others so you can let go of your stress, your worries, and your busy life at home.  Doesn’t sound good to you?  Maybe it’s not the right kind of vacation for you then.  That’s ok, we know it’s not for everyone.  But, you might just surprise yourself, and find out it’s what you’re really looking for with your time away from home.

Happy trails, until we meet at check-in.

Inspired Food + Luxury dude ranch = Luxury Food Ranch?

By Steph

Chefs.  If you think you love food, you should spend some time with a chef.  They LOVE food.  And, for me it’s fun to watch that passion unfold as we near opening day.  The past couple weeks Chol (Executive Chef) and JT (Chef de Cuisine) have been tinkering with their menus in preparation for the summer season.  Each day, JT stops by the office with a spoonful of this, a plateful of that, or a small sample for me to try.  He and Chol are so dedicated to coming up with fresh and inspired new menu options, while also maintaining some of the old favorites in there.  It’s not an easy task to appeal to the variety of eaters we get at the ranch.  Some people like gourmet.  Some like simple.  Some like veggies.  Some only like meat.  Some like creative.  Some like all-American.  Some are picky.  And there are just a few who like it all.  With each meal, they are trying to appeal to every kind of eater, which is quite a feat.  I’m not sure how they are able to pull it off, but they have once again put together a selection of menus that fit a little of all of it into the week.

So, you’ve got Inspired Food.

Now, mix that in with a luxury dude ranch experience.  Upscale accommodations, high-level service, and quality programs.

I believe we have ourselves a Luxury Food Ranch.  Eat your hearts out.

all inclusive luxury dude ranches

all-inclusive Colorado dining

luxury dude ranch salads

Living the dream, being a wrangler at Vista Verde Guest Ranch near Steamboat Springs Colorado.

We can hear the train a’coming

By Steph

First of all, welcome to our new website!  It just went live on May 15, and we’re excited to share it with all of you.  This new site brings us several new features.  Most notably, you can remove your high powered magnifying glasses while you view it on a mobile device, as it is a mobile friendly site.  Second, it allows us to showcase the beauty of the ranch with big, amazing photos.  We’re learning that those big, amazing photos aren’t helping our load time… a little work still to be done.  Lastly, it has some fun features that are just plain cool.  Have you checked out the ranch tour?  I love the fun sort, and the expanded views of each cabin, room, or building.  Or the Summer dude ranch activities?  There’s a lot of info on the site, but hopefully it helps potential guests get a good feel for who we are, as well as makes it fun for all you returners to keep tabs on the crew at the ranch.  Please feel free to send any feedback my way.  The joy of websites is that they can be tweak and tinkered with even once live.

Springtime at the ranch is part excitement and part frantic.  The whole valley is coming alive.  Bright green leaves are popping out on the aspens.  Wildflowers are peeking through.  The grass it growing at a mad pace.   Tiny calves dot the pastures along the Elk River Valley.  And little foals are showing up down at the mare barn.  There is just so much life.  On top of that, we are anticipating the arrival of our staff for orientation next week, projects are coming to completion as we near opening day, and everyone here is gearing up to be ready for May 31, when our first guests arrive.  Which leads me to the frantic part of it.  There is never enough time to get it all done!  It’s a little like knowing the freight train is coming at you, and at some point you just have to jump on and blow the whistle.

Before starting orientation next Tuesday, there was some pre-orientation happening.  Talitha has come in to learn the ins and outs of the dining room from Bubba, as he hands off the Head Server role to her in order to focus more on wine service and formal dinner service.  Don’t worry, you’ll still see plenty of Bubba, but he’ll have a more focused role this summer, and Talitha will be the ringleader of the servers.  Then, as Nate has shifted over to help Bill out with the maintenance projects and overseeing our safety programs (can you say OSHA?), KP has stepped into the barn to head up the wrangler crew.  That crew came in a few days early for a wrangler clinic with KP and Mandy.  For the Nate fan club, never fear.  You’ll still get a chance to ride or hike with him as he jumps in to guide here and there.  And, there’s no way we’ll get him off of cows come the cattle round-up in September.

One of the projects I am so excited about is our outdoor dining.  Long story, but we spent much of the winter brainstorming and mapping out new ideas to improve the layout, design, and feel of our outdoor dining area.  Today, we unloaded three of the new pieces of “furniture” that we’ll be using on the patio.   When I say “furniture”, I’m talking about pieces the required 4 strong guys to unload off the trailer.  They are absolutely fantastic, and we are so excited to get it all set up!  I know, where are the photos you say?  I was too busy unloading and directing traffic to remember to get some.  So, guess you just have to come out here to see them for yourself!

If you don’t already have plans to join us for a ranch vacation this summer, it’s not too late.  There are a few cabins that are left to be filled, and we’ve had some cancellations here and there that open up other spots.  Give Meagan a call or send her an email to grab your spot.  It’s going to be such a fun summer!

Springtime in Colorado means trail rides amidst melting snow at Vista Verde Guest Ranch

A spring weekend at the ranch

By Steph

What’s happening at the ranch right now, you ask? Not much.  Or a lot.  It depends on who you ask. This past weekend, it felt like not much.  My girls were itching to ride, so we lured our horses in from the winter pasture with treats, and saddled up to meander around the ranch and check out the progress of the snow melt.  It’s happened pretty fast this year, as we’ve had a warm spring.  The meadows are almost fully exposed, the dormant grass is considering it’s return, and the mud isn’t too thick anymore.  There is still plenty of snow up on the mountain tops, which makes for a beautiful stark white contrast to the brown meadows and bare trees.  Down by the creeks, the willow sap is starting to flow, so they are changing colors next to the rushing waters.

After our ride, we visited the “maternity ward” to see the pregnant mares and our new foal.  He is so darling, and his momma, June, is settling in perfectly.  June is new to us, and she came from a horse sale that Ben, KP, Sam, Mandy, and Matthew attended a few weeks ago.  They picked up some great riding horses and came back with this stunning, but very pregnant mare.  We didn’t know her due date at the time, but let’s just say it’s a good thing they came straight back to the ranch as she foaled within days of her arrival.  Apparently she has claimed the title of Alpha mare, so she will be the one ruling the roost over the other broodmares.  Her little guy is a doll, and so friendly.  We’re still waiting to pick a name for him as so many of our Facebook followers submitted fabulous ideas.  But, with the off-season, everyone is coming and going and we haven’t been able to get together and pick the winner.

It was pretty quiet around the ranch on Saturday, and the only person we saw was Troy.  He was busy feeding the horses, dragging the pasture, and power washing the Indoor arena.  There is still plenty to do, even when we’re closed.

As I was running some errands, we stopped by the staff laundry room.  Every year staff leave items behind that someone else might be able to use.  Western shirts, camping gear, jeans, etc…. and every year although we love the culture of sharing and passing along stuff you won’t use back in your real life to someone coming to the ranch, it becomes a mess.  So, my girls and I began an impromptu purge and clean.  After going through all the clothes, hanging up the ones that would be useful for ranch staff, and bagging up the other stuff to take to donate, the room was tidy and organized.  Somehow we ended up coming home with a sombrero, among other things.  Many thanks to that staff member who left that one….it was JUST what we need in our house.  Note motherly sarcasm.

With that, we wrapped up our playtime and headed home for chores.  This weekend marked the 50 days until opening day mark, so the countdown clock keeps ticking.  We hope to see you this summer when the meadows are green, the aspens leaves fluttering in the wind, the horses all shedded out, and the summer staff in place and ready to play with you!

5 ways to make your Colorado ranch vacation just a little more epic

By Steph

So you’ve got your vacation at a Colorado ranch all planned out, and the anticipation for your week-long adventure is building.  But, wait a sec.  If you’re making the trip to Colorado, why don’t you extend it a bit and explore the state a bit more?  I know, not everyone has the time to do this, but if you can squeeze in at least 3 more days, there is just so much to see!

Here are some ideas:

1) Get  High: No, don’t panic on this one.  We are clean cut people here at Vista Verde, but we do like to get up to the highest peaks!  If you are flying in and out of Denver, why don’t you take a detour on your way to the ranch and go through Rocky Mountain National Park? There you can drive up and over the Continental Divide and see amazing Rocky Mountain panoramas. On either side of the park are two cute towns: Estes Park and Grand Lake, so there are lodging options if you want to make an overnight of the tour.

2) Visit the Dinosaurs- or at least where they used to live. Dinosaur National Monument lies just on the border of Colorado and Utah, and is a fun place to explore for the day.  Young kids can enjoy the tour of the fossils, and you can even go for a little hike, or cool off in the river on a rafting trip.  2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the monument, so there are some special events happening between May and October to celebrate.

3) Soak in the ‘Boat: Steamboat is such a cute little town, but it’s hard to take a day away from your ranch vacation to explore the town.  How about coming in a couple days early, going to soak in the Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs, throwing on your boots and jeans for the Steamboat Springs Pro-Rodeo one night, take the kids down the Alpine Slide, ride the Gondola up to the Thunderhead Lodge at the Steamboat Ski Resort, and then spend the day river rafting to wrap it all up.

4) Hit the Beach: If you thought playing in the sand meant going to a coast, you’re wrong!  Colorado boasts some amazing National Parks, and the Great Sand Dunes is one of them.  This one is high on my bucket list, so maybe I’ll see you there!

5) City Life, Colorado Style: Many of you come from amazing cities, so the idea of coming to Colorado to spend time in a city seems unappealing.  However, Colorado Springs is a city worth visiting.  Tour the charming Old Town, walk through the red rocks at Garden of the Gods, take a train up to the top of Pikes Peak, and then visit museums and sites that aren’t exactly what you’d find at home, such as the Pro-Rodeo Hall of Fame or even the US Olympic Training Center.

Hopefully you’ll find some time to explore a few of these suggestions, whether it’s before or after your Vista Verde ranch vacation.

The VVR Canine Personality Assessment/Test (VVR-CPA/T)

By Meagan

The other day, we played a fun game at lunch time.  It was “Are you a Finn or a Jackson?”  For those of you who know our lovable ranch dogs, these two have very different personalities.  You might already know which one you are, but for those of you who haven’t met these guys, here’s a little breakdown of their character traits.
finn-dude-ranch-dogYou’re a FINN if:

  • You find the fun in everything, kindling isn’t just a fire starter, but treasure to be buried.
  • You’re easily excited, but those feet are always getting in the way.
  • You test the boundaries of where you are and are not allowed.
  • You have an adventurous palate, frozen manure, yes please!
  • You’re social, that pack of dogs over there, looks like your new bffs.
  • Being by yourself never stopped you from playing a thrilling game of tether ball.
  • You’re always sad to leave the ranch at the end of the day.
  • Stealing trail markers from the ski trails?  It’s just borrowing in your mind, but you might forget to return them.

jackson-dude-ranch-dogYou’re a JACKSON if:

  • You’re athletic, you can jump 5 feet into the air to catch a snowball.
  • You are focused, always ready to get that stray cow back in line.
  • You’re attentive, when you’re called, you’re ready.
  • You aim to please, ‘oh I dropped the ball too far away? Let me bring it closer.’
  • Dedication is the name of the game, the kids don’t stop throwing the ball, you don’t stop fetching.
  • You love the woods and are ready to go all day, bring it on!
  • You are adventurous, spinning down the sledding hill in a tube sounds like a wild time.



So, what are you?  A Finn or a Jackson?

A Romantic Family Vacation?

By Steph

There was a great article in Pure Wander Magazine recently called Keeping the Romance Alive While Traveling With Kids.  I saw that and it just hit the spot for me, as I feel like that is something we help facilitate here at Vista Verde.  If you’re reading this thinking, “What?”, then read on.  Here are some of the tips from the article:

Consider the amenities

Lodging is a pivotal part of any trip, but it is even more important when trying to find time for romance. One option is to rent a small cabin or an apartment. Giving your children their own space and setting a bedtime will not only allow you some alone time, but it will also keep the kids from tossing and turning in your bed throughout the trip. On chilly nights in snow-covered cabins, grab a bottle of wine and cuddle up in front of the fire.

Yep, we have spacious cabins at Vista Verde, and the kids typically have their own bedrooms separate from the master suite.

Research special activities when traveling with kids

Many hotels provide guests with day camps or supervised activities. Kids will experience a different side of the resort and make some new friends while you sneak away for the afternoon.

Can you say kids program?  Like, a kids program that the kids won’t want to leave?  As in, you’re going to have to force them to go do something with you when you’re ready for family time?

Incorporate the element of surprise

If you manage to get some alone time, surprise your partner. If you won’t have the opportunity to spend a night out, leave little surprises around your room or in your significant other’s suitcase to remind them that you’re thinking of them even while your children are around.

This is sweet.  We can help you if you need assistance from the Love Experts.

Start before you leave

Before leaving on your trip, think about ways to get the romance started at home. Find classes you can take together—learn the native language of where you’re heading or take dance classes to experience the culture before your plane even touches down. Look up authentic dishes online and try to recreate them together at home. The romance doesn’t have to be exclusive to the trip!

Ahhh…..come on Romeo, you can do it!

We think they hit the nail on the head with these suggestions.  So, if you’re wondering about whether you can spark some romance on your family dude ranch vacation, we’re here to assure you it’s possible.  Come join us this summer for a Romantic Family Vacation!  Who’d of thunk?

John Lyons, a renowned horse trainer who will be teaching a clinic at Vista Verde Guest Ranch October 11-15 2015.

John Lyons Horsemanship Clinic at Vista Verde Ranch

By Steph

We are excited to announce a partnership between the renowned John Lyons and Vista Verde Ranch to offer a one-of-a-kind horsemanship clinic.

October 11-15, 2015

Join a small group of riders to ride and learn under the renowned John Lyons.

John Lyons is one of the most internationally known horse trainers in the field of natural horsemanship. Lyons has been presenting training clinics and horsemanship symposiums since 1980, has written many books on horses and horse training, and is the founder of John Lyons’ Perfect Horse magazine. He lives and works out of Parachute, Colorado.

Lyons’ approach to establishing a partnership between horse and handler is based in part on the principles of operant conditioning.  He encourages owners to notice what is going on with their horses and to use consistent cues and reinforcement to encourage positive behavior.  He places a strong emphasis on safety of handler and horse, using gentle techniques, and eschewing dramatic results in favor of setting specific goals, then teaching them by use of clear signals, responsible methods, and consistency.

During the course of the clinic, riders and horses will learn the foundation exercises, lessons, and principles of the Lyons Method. Riders will, first and foremost, learn to effectively control their horse. Whether pleasure rider, trail rider, or experienced competitor, all riders have the same common goal: to improve the level of control they have over their horses. The clinic will help you reach that goal and take your horsemanship to the next level.

Participation in this 4-night, 3-day clinic will be limited to a small group of riders and auditors.  Riders may bring a non-rider companion to take advantage of other ranch activities during the clinic dates.  And guests just looking for a shorter version of our week-long stays can enjoy the ranch activities and visit with clinic attendees over meals.

Rates include lodging in one of our luxury cabins or lodge rooms, meals, beer and wine, clinic on our horse or yours, and airport transfers to and from the Steamboat/Hayden airport.


$1,900/non-rider: Guided trail rides, hiking, mountain biking, and fly fishing available for non-riders

$100/auditor/day: For non-guests who just want to come up to the ranch for the day to audit the clinic and enjoy lunch with our guests.

Please note: If you are bringing your own horse, a current health certificate will be required.  Board is $100 for the 4 nights.

Please contact us at 800-526-7433 for more information or to reserve your spot.



Nearing the finish line

By Steph

The winter season is coming to an end, and just in time as the snow is rapidly melting away.  Tomorrow we officially close the winter resort season, but then Sunday the guests for our Horsemanship Retreat check-in.  We’ll have a group of about 10 ladies here riding with Jason Patrick until Thursday, and then we shut the doors until summertime.  There is a mix of excitement, sadness, anticipation, and celebration going on for many of us right now.  Excitement as it’s always fun to have a change of pace, and many staff are heading off on amazing off-season adventures.  Sadness as some of our great people are moving on to their next venture in life and we’re sad to see them go.  Anticipation as those who are leaving wonder where their next move will take them, and will they miss the ranch or not?  Celebration as we have worked our tails off since December serving others, and now it’s time to take a deep breath and enjoy the quiet of the off-season.

Although there are many staff moving on to new and different adventures in life, I need to recognize one in particular today.  Malori has led the office team this past year and has been the main voice of Vista Verde.  She’s handled the bulk of the reservations and been the point person for all our guests prior to their stay at the ranch.  It’s been such a pleasure having her in the office and watching her grow over the past couple years.  We will miss her tremendously, but are excited for her to go find her “thing” out there in the big world.  I know she’ll do wonderful things and contribute in great ways.  At the same time, Malori’s partner in crime and roommate Kerri will be heading out too.  She’s the other voice of VVR who steps in on Malori’s days off to cover the reservations.  The amazing person has proven that farm girls can be smart and beautiful, and we’ve loved having her as part of our team. With every sad good bye there is always also a warm welcome.

With Malori stepping out, Meagan will be stepping into her role.  Many of you who have been here know Meagan as the lively server or the bubbly kid wrangler.  Now she is stepping inside the office and will be taking over the phones, emails, and all that goes on in the front office.  So, expect to hear a new voice when you call in to book your reservation (have you booked for the summer yet?  If not, get on it so Meagan can get to work!).  We’re all looking forward to having her join the fun in the office.

There are many more to say goodbye to, and many more to welcome come summer, but that will be another blog.  I’m hoping that sometime in the coming month I’ll have the new website launched, and then we’ll start updating the staff bios so you can check out who will be working here this summer. Lots to do with the closing of the season, and lots of great news to share in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned!