summer guest ranch Tag

Randomness from a busy week at the Ranch

It’s amazing how quickly time flies once we get into our summer season at Vista Verde. There is just so much going on each day and people going in so many different directions. This is so much more than a guest ranch…we toy with calling it an Adventure Ranch with the hiking, biking, rock climbing and all the other activities in addition to great riding. The energy is contagious! I just realized how long it’s been since I’ve blogged. I have a spotlight on Terry in the works, but it isn’t ready. So, until I can slow him down from spending all day in clinics and lessons, you’ll have to settle for a little monologue on my view of the ranch lately.

We are into our third week of the summer guest ranch season, and so far they have been full of wonderful people and some great memories. I had a really fun day last Thursday as I rounded up a crew to help me get the Wild Yoga location all set up for our first class. The crew ended up being an all girl team of Kid Supervisors. Despite the heavy lifting, the crazy Gator ride up the hill, and the trudge through grass, bogs and across streams to the Wild Yoga location, the girls did great and were laughing the whole time. And that afternoon Kelli and I got to lead our first Wild Yoga practice of the season with a full class of fun guests. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!
Another highlight for me last week was watching Nicky and Reid halter breaking the 4 foals. Those little babies are smart and strong, and aren’t all that sure that they want to be trained yet! But they are so cute and kissable. I keep threatening that if Little Joe (my favorite) is missing one day, there’s a good chance he’s hidden in my house somewhere.

We’re getting more and more calls about our Cattle Gather weeks in September. Charlie led the inaugural all-day ride up in that section of the forest last week and everyone had a ball. It’s a huge area, some with trails, but mostly a lot of exploring and finding gorgeous views. We’ll head up there with some of our all-day rides all summer to check on the cows and make sure they are staying in the right area. That will help us keep tabs on them so when we lead the gather in the fall, we’ll have an idea of where to find them in order to push them to lower pastures for the winter.

As I headed to the Post Office this morning to get the mail, I spotted a Moots Cycles (really amazing high end Steamboat bike company) van following some guy through town. I crossed paths with them as I came out from getting the mail and asked what was going on. They were following Erik Lobeck as he made his way out of Steamboat Springs on the Tour Divide Race, riding a Moots bike. This guy is amazing…read his story and that of the Tour Divide on the Moots blog. Steamboat Springs is such a diverse town in the sense that it has such strong ranching and rodeo ties but also is home to outdoor adventurers and several well-renowned outdoor outfitters (Smartwool, Big Agnes, Moots, Kent Erickson).

So there is the randomness from the Ranch. We’re loving our guests so far this summer and look forward to seeing those of you coming out soon. Hopefully we can meet some of those who haven’t made it yet. There’s still space in early July!!!! Call me, let’s get you out to Colorado this summer.

Article from about Luxury Guest Ranch



Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado

By , Guide

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

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

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

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

Seasonal Activities

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

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

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

Kids and Teen Programs

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

Coffee and Cards

To lighten the intensity of all the training and orientating the staff has been going through this past week, Dace brought them all into “the big city” last night for a little party at the Steaming Bean, a local coffee shop. We sipped lattes, shared stories, got crafty and competitive over card games and coloring books (hey, there’s a little kid in all of us) and had some great laughs. It was fun to see everyone away from the ranch letting loose a bit. Now back to the important things like how to properly polish the chrome on the sink, memorizing the names of the new horses, learning the best place to park at trailheads and of course, how to do dishes at a level that will keep even Rob happy!

The crew is coming together great and everyone is getting excited for our first guests to arrive. We are all hoping that the rain stops before they get here Sunday. It’s been great to get all this moisture, but enough is enough. As soon as the sun comes out for more than an hour at a time, the grass will grow faster than the horses can eat it down!

Wish us luck on opening day. We’re excited. We’re ready to roll.

Dude Ranch Vacations

Dude Ranch Vacations- Jamie Pearson wrote this great article on horse riding vacations after visiting Vista Verde Ranch in the summer.  Here, she gives some advice on dude ranches for families.

Five things to know before you go

I brought a lot of things with me to my Colorado dude ranch vacation last summer, such as jeans, boots, a brand new cowboy hat, and really, really high expectations.  With all that beautiful scenery and horsey fun, I just knew it was going to be the trip of a lifetime.  Luckily, I was right.

If you’re considering heading out west with your family this summer (and you totally should), here are a few things to know before you go.

1. Find the right ranch

I know you wish the ranch fairy would fly down and just tell you which ranch is perfect for your family.  I wished that too, but it didn’t happen.  So I made a list of all the things we wanted (not too many guests at a time, a high staff to guest ratio, riding clinics at no extra cost, luxury accommodations, and river rafting), and then researched until I was cross eyed.

After talking to some horsey friends and Googling myself silly, I chose Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.   If you don’t know a working ranch from a guest ranch and have no idea what you’re looking for in terms of amenities, I highly recommend you start with The Dude Rancher’s Association website.

Knowing your family helps.  If you have shy kids, don’t choose a ranch with mandatory separate kid and adult activities every day.  If you don’t care about anything but riding, don’t pay extra for activities you won’t try.

2.  Book the right week

Once you’ve decided on a ranch, the next step is choosing a week to book.  Weather is obviously a consideration and holiday weeks (such as July 4th) may cost more.  We went the third week in July and were lucky to be able to participate in a cattle drive.  Had we gone in June, it would have been too wet and boggy.

Also, call the ranch and ask who has already booked the week you’re considering.  Ideally you want there to be kids your kids’ ages.  I’d also recommend avoiding weeks with big family reunions—these groups tend to be very self contained, which limits socializing opportunities.

3.  Bring a sports bra

I won’t go into too much detail on this one, but suffice it to say there’s a lot of trotting and galloping at dude ranches.  Hours and hours of trotting and galloping, in fact.  And running around with your kids.  And mountain biking.  And rock climbing.  You get the point.

4.  Pack more clothes than you think you’ll need

I travel extensively, often, and all over the place with my kids and I flatter myself that I know how to pack.  I could have done a lot better on our dude ranch vacation, however.  Every time we stepped outside the door of our cabin, we got really, really dirty.  My husband and I could have used another two or three outfits each.  The kids were so perpetually filthy (and happy) that I’m not sure that would have helped.

Dinners were casual, but I wished I had cuter clothes.  Not to mention clothes that weren’t covered in dust and horse slobber.  Laundry service was convenient and inexpensive, but I wasn’t willing to part with my favorite jeans to have them washed.

If you choose a ranch in Colorado, throw in a rain jacket for everyone too.  It rained briefly (or threatened to) nearly every afternoon of our trip.

5. Don’t expect to relax too much

There are so many exciting things to do at dude ranches that it can be hard to relax.  I wasn’t able to just sit down with a book and read because I felt like I’d be missing something fun.  Worse, I felt like I’d be paying to miss something fun.

If you’re the kind of person who prefers to lounge around a pool or on a beach doing nothing for seven consecutive days, this might not be the right vacation for you.  There are evening activities too, like campfires, rodeos, and barn dances, so you won’t go to bed early very often.  Even the kids got a little worn out by the end of the week.