colorado guest ranch Tag

It’s a girl thing at Vista Verde

Our foal crop was not as large as expected, but we ended up with two fillies and are thrilled. Tele Tubby delivered this sweet and spunky filly over the holiday weekend. She’s still pretty shy, but full of energy and ready to get out and play. Over the weekend the weather was pretty cold and wet, so she had to stay inside. But the sun is shining beautifully today, so she gets to go out and explore the big world around the mare barn at our luxury dude ranch.

Opening day is Sunday, and we are just hoping for lots of warm weather and sunshine to dry out the mountains. It’s been a record setting spring with weather that none of us have ever seen this time of year. We’ll get out and have a great time with our guests at our Colorado guest ranch, but we may have a little mud on our boots at the end of the day for the first couple weeks.

Cue the sun and let the fillies play!

Touring Colorado

I have had the pleasure of serving on the board of the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association for the past 7 years. One of the parts of that job that is really fun is inspecting other ranches. Each member ranch is inspected every 3 years and then any ranches that want to join get a fairly in-depth inspection.

I’ve done one member ranch inspection already this summer and took Bill along with me as he had never been to any other ranches. It was fun to have him along for that visit and we enjoyed sharing our thoughts on that Colorado ranch on our drive home. This week I had to go visit two ranches who are applying for membership in the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association. It was a whirlwind tour through several counties to get to these two ranches and spend some time getting to know them. The biggest treat for me was I got to spend the night at one of them and enjoyed a nice dinner with their guests and manager. It reminded me how fun it is to be a guest! I love the Steamboat area and our landscape here, but it is refreshing to be reminded of the diversity in Colorado. I went from the most extreme mountain passes with craggy rocks and snowcapped peaks to the farmland of Colorado, home of fresh peaches and cherries, then back over another pass with a lush forest and multiple lakes off of every turn in the road, then into the rocky, dry high desert with sagebrush and amazing rock formations, and finally back home to beautiful Steamboat Springs and my favorite ranch, Vista Verde. Hey, there’s a reason I’m still here after all these years. It was great to catch up with our guests again this morning and find out what adventures they’ve had the past couple days. There’s never a dull moment and it sounds like there have been memories made for everyone, and still more to come!

This week at the Ranch

By Front Desk Manager Christi Cline-
The countdown to opening day is on and finishing touches are being made at our Colorado guest ranch. Here’s a recap on the past twenty four hours here at Vista Verde. Yesterday morning our staff saddled up for a mock breakfast ride. This was partly to give practice to the servers, chefs and wranglers, but it was definitely time for staff bonding, laughs and a chance to snap some gorgeous morning pictures atop Indian Hill. Nothing is more spectacular than a Colorado mountain sunrise. The storm clouds started to build a bit, but the morning sprinkles didn’t scare off our riders. We made it back in time for more staff meetings and department time. Terry Wegener, our horse trainer thought the storm might initiate a delivery down in our mare barn in the evening…and his predictions were right! While our staff was having game night at The Steaming Bean coffee house in Steamboat Springs, Nicky, our assistant horse trainer and wrangler, delivered a colt at approximately 7:30 p.m.. She went to check on Rachel (the mare) and had a feeling that things were about to get exciting. The delivery was a quick one, between quiet peeks into her stall and excited calls to Terry, who is in Scottsdale Arizona judging a horse show, Nicky was coached through her first delivery! Sallie was videoing and helping relay messages from Terry the whole time. The baby colt and mare are healthy, happy and doing well. At first we thought we was sorrel in color, but in daylight now we see that he is a red roan and has a unique blaze in the shape of a bird. Names are in the mix as of yet, but Gus is high on the list, coming from Lonesome Dove.


Guaranteed there will be more exciting news in the next few days as we get ready to open our doors Sunday to our first summer guests. Today, staff are working on trails for biking, hiking and riding. Tonight we’re having a barn dance to learn the Salty Dog Rag, our staff dance and my personal favorite! Tomorrow, they’ll be busy with more meetings and working with their managers. We will keep you in the loop through our Ranch Facebook page. For our summer guests we are ready and excited, so hurry up and get here! For those of you who haven’t booked your summer family vacation yet, check back soon as Stephanie will be putting up some special offerings to fill the last cabins.

Spotlight on Dace Starkweather

Many of you have gotten to know Dace in your time at the Ranch. Officially, he’s the General Manager who focuses on the staffing side of the business. Unofficially, he’s the do it all guy. Both at the ranch and on his off time, Dace is a guy with surprising skills and interests.

Raised on a farm in rural Illinois, but just an hour or so from Chicago, Dace had an innate love for nature and solitude, but a taste for culture and the arts. He grew up with 2 younger sisters and 2 older brothers, and stays close to all of them to this day. In fact, Dace is the proud and fun-loving uncle of 8 nieces and nephews with another arriving soon.

After leaving Illinois to attend college at CU Boulder, Dace essentially never looked back. He discovered guest ranches in Colorado as a wrangler during his summer breaks and that relationship extended well past graduation as he helped manage and run a well established Colorado guest ranch for years.

Next up, Dace attended Biola University in California for his Masters in Organizational Leadership while also working at the Disney Grand California, for a different angle into the world of hospitality. It was shortly after that Dace ended up learning about the opportunity to come be General Manager at Vista Verde Ranch. He and Ben both interviewed for the job and agreed that it would best be approached by them sharing the role and each having their own focus.

Where things get interesting about Dace is to understand the various layers of his passions. An avid sports fan, Dace is currently rooting for the Chicago Black hawks to make their first run at the Stanley Cup. But, taking a break from that, he moves into his studio upstairs (pictured) to work on some of his paintings that he is considering submitting for an art show this Spring. You’ll not only find a guitar in Dace’s office for singing around the campfire, but he plays often at home. Time away from the ranch has taken Dace to China to be a speaker on hospitality, to visit family and explore places like Mackinaw Island, Puerto Rico and the southern states.

Right now Dace is finishing up the hiring for the summer season. He has all positions filled except for the last fishing guide. I’m sure he’ll be celebrating when he fills that last spot! We hope you get to meet Dace if you haven’t already. And if you have, know that he’ll be waiting by the campfire with his guitar for you next time you’re out this way.

Your first winter snow vacation

So, you’re a bona fide beach lover. But, there is this lingering curiosity about what it would be like to take a vacation in the snow. Whether it’s a family snow vacation you’re considering or a romantic winter getaway, it can be a little daunting to figure out how to tackle that kind of trip for the first time. How about a little help?

First off, you need to decide how you want to experience the snow. If the idea of shooshing down the slopes and enjoy apres ski drinks at the bar sounds appealing, you definitely need to consider a ski resort vacation. Of course we’re biased, but the Steamboat Ski Resort would be our pick, among all the great ski resorts in the country. I have always been biased to finding a hotel or condo right on the slopes, so you can walk out your condo door and put your skis on right away. But, there are plenty of places that offer shuttle services too, so don’t be put off by a little distance from the ticket office. If you are downhill skiing for the first time, I have one and only one suggestion. Get lessons. Pay the extra to have an instructor show you the ropes. It is too frustrating, and you are spending too much money on this vacation already, not to go the extra mile to do it right.

If the crowds and social scene of a big ski resort aren’t up your alley, what are your options? You could just rent a small cabin in the woods somewhere with snow and have a DIY snow vacation. Buy a cheap sled for the kids, bring along some hot chocolate, and enjoy. Or, you can visit a cross country ski lodge. There is some great cross country skiing in Colorado, but there are also nice ski lodges in the other Western states as well as the East Coast. Some are more geared toward family snow vacation, and some just for hard cord cross country skiers.

Of course, I left my personal favorite option for the finale. A winter guest ranch! It is the best of both worlds for a winter vacation idea. You get the snow, the beautiful Lodge, the great meals, the beautiful vistas, the warm Western hospitality, all wrapped up in an all inclusive package. All you need to do is get to the airport, and we take it from there. No rental car, shuttle services, or bellhops to tip. At Vista Verde, we will pick you up from the Steamboat airport and whisk you off to the ranch with a friendly driver. Once at the ranch, you can choose daily from a diverse offering of activities. No planning ahead of time, calling around for the best options, or finding the lines too long. Snowshoe, sled, horseback ride, sleigh ride, you name it….we’ll provide you a personalized and unique experience. Meals are all included, as is beer and wine. So, once again, no reservations, long waits or planning needed. Just show up at mealtime, and we’ll take it from there. If you have kids, it’s a great option for introducing them to the snow as your cabin is right there to go back to for dry clothes or to take a break. Honeymooners find it a unique option as the planning is easy, the setting romantic, and the service top notch.

Whatever path you choose, we hope you’ll give it a try. Winter is fun, especially when you dont have to worry about shovelling your driveway! Come see why we love winter vacations at Vista Verde Ranch!