Your trip to Vista Verde is coming up soon!
In preparation for your arrival we are providing you some information to help you make the most of your time at the ranch. This information is intended to help you better anticipate and appreciate the events of your stay as they unfold. For those of you who are visiting Vista Verde for the first time, you may feel a bit lost with all that is going on at the ranch if you haven’t read through this information.
Even if it’s on the plane on the way out here, having looked through this information will “help us help you” to take advantage of all there is to do at Vista Verde.
Among other things in the below information, you will meet our talented staff. They have been carefully selected through an intensive interview process that verifies their work ethic, love of the outdoors and care for people.
We are confident that the team will serve you promptly, pleasantly, and professionally. We are often asked about the etiquette of tipping at the ranch. Our staff is compensated so they do not rely on tips for their pay, and there is no expectation of tips.
However, if you would like to leave a special thank you, we ask that you not tip individuals but recognize the overall contribution of the team by simply including it in your final payment. We will add your contribution to a tip pool to be distributed among the entire team. We look forward to sharing our home with you and providing you with an unforgettable vacation experience.
Schedule of Activities
There are so many choices for fun adventures at Vista Verde! Each evening we will come around and check in with you to plan the next day’s activities. To give you a feel for the flow of the week, and what is offered while you’re at the ranch click on the date range you will be joining us for your winter vacation, for a detailed schedule of activities.
In order to enjoy your stay at Vista Verde more fully, we would urge you to observe the following safety precautions:
Nordic Skiing and Backcountry Adventures
At Vista Verde, we use three types of skis for our various activities.
Backcountry skis are generally wider and flatter (single camber) than other cross-country skis for added “float” and stability in deeper snow. At VVR we use waxless skis with a “fish scale” pattern under the foot for their touring ability. The boots are heavy-duty like hiking boots and provide plenty of support and insulation. You should have a pair of gaiters (we have some available for purchase in the Nordic Center store) for this type of skiing as you could easily be knee deep in our famous champagne powder.
Classic skis have a double camber (curve in the base), which creates a kick zone under the foot. Our classic skis are also waxless like the backcountry skis. When gliding, the kick zone is off the snow; when kicking, the pocket is compressed, and the fish scales provide grip. The boots are lightweight and flexible.
Skate skis are shorter and narrower than classic track skis. They usually have a flatter tip and single camber. Skate skis are always glide waxed from tip to tail. At VVR, we use the same boots for classic and skate skiing.
If this is your first time cross-country skiing or you need to freshen up your skills, we would love to get you out and comfortable on the skis. We will start out on the machine groomed trails in our stable, wide backcountry skis in a controlled and safe environment. The lesson will teach you everything you need to know to have a great time on skis. Our guides demonstrate and teach you basic touring, uphill, and downhill techniques along with how to get back up if you happen to take a spill.
BREAKING AWAY – OUT INTO THE BACK COUNTRY:
Once you’ve experienced skiing on the groomed trail, it’s time to take your skis where no grooming machines go. Many of our guests enjoy back country skiing because of the solitude and natural beauty. And they seem to like making our guides earn their lunch while breaking trail!
Vista Verde is brimming with back country skiing opportunities. Our skilled guides are ready to take you on either a full-day or half-day adventure. We can stay near the ranch and ski on trails such as South Fork Figure 8, Elk River, Miller’s Maze, Hinman Lake, or Indian Hill. Or we can take you up to the Hahn’s Peak Basin and ski Pearl Lake, Trilby Flats, or Hahn’s Peak. Our guides love exploring new terrain, so even if you have skied with us before, don’t be surprised if you find yourself in new terrain!
GOING TO THE NEXT LEVEL IN THE BACK COUNTRY – TELEMARK:
So, you’ve skied on the rolling hills long enough and keep eyeing those steeper pitches. It’s time to learn the art of telemarking. The tele mark position with knees bent and feet separated front and back make it possible to turn on our backcountry skis. Although many people use heavier boots and skis for tele mark skiing, the boots that we use for our backcountry touring are good for learning, as they are more comfortable and lighter in weight. We will teach you the basics of tele mark turns out on your backcountry tour, so you may start experiencing the “tele turn” for yourself.
TRACK SKIING – CLASSIC:
We will start you out with a lesson on our groomed tracks, focusing on basic movements. Classic skiing is the most common type of cross-country skiing, a flowing technique based around the diagonal stride. The diagonal stride is preferably performed on machine groomed trails like those at Vista Verde but can be used on almost any moderate snowy terrain, groomed or not. Once you are comfortable with the “kick and glide” we will move on to basic climbing and speed control.
PICKING UP THE PACE ON THE GROOMED TRAILS – SKATING:
If you are looking for a challenging workout on skis, try a skate ski lesson with one of our guides! The graceful, gliding motion requires technical expertise and we love to take you out on the groomed trails and teach you the techniques involved. Once you get the hang of it, off we go for a cruise around the property. Skate skiing is definitely a great workout, but once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll never want to go to a gym again.
So, if all this technique and style has gotten to you, take a break and try snowshoeing. We’ll show you some simple pointers about going up and down hills and then off we go! Snowshoes allow you to access some places that you can’t get to on skis. Snowshoeing is a great way to get out and clear your mind without having to focus on how to move around.
Horses and Riding
Horseback riding is one of the key ingredients in our activities program here at Vista Verde, and we want to make it as enjoyable as possible. Our mission with our equine program is to provide our guests with a high quality program that caters to all abilities. We want to generate a sense of accomplishment for all of our guests by creating a positive experience and providing opportunities to learn new skills and techniques pertaining to horsemanship and animal husbandry.
TRAIL RIDES: The amazing amount of snow we receive in the winter months makes for a beautiful setting to take a tour on horseback around the ranch on a snow packed trail. Trail rides last about 1 hour to ensure riders don’t get too cold while sitting on horseback out in the snow. The winter trail rides are walk-only, as the horses can slip and fall at faster gaits on the snow.
HORSEMANSHIP CLINICS: Another exciting opportunity through our equine program is to further your understanding of these amazing creatures. One of the main themes of our clinics is to think about the horses’ perspective on life. Why do they act the way they do? Just how perceptive are they? Join us in one of our clinics and find out!
Our Horsemanship Clinics are a great way to learn more about communicating with your horse, proper riding techniques and new skills on horseback. There are a variety of options with the clinics, from a basic orientation to more advance riding theory and techniques.
The Horsemanship Duo offers a great opportunity to dive into time with the horses. For beginners and first-time guests, the Duo starts with a 1 hour orientation in the Indoor arena followed by a trail ride around the ranch. For more experienced riders, the Duo starts with a trail ride followed by a 1 hour horsemanship clinic that dives into deeper theory and more advance horse handling skills.
SLEIGH RIDES: Each day we feed the herd with the big sleigh pulled by our team. The wranglers load the sleigh full with hay bales, and then you are welcome to jump on and help us toss the hay out to the horses, or just enjoy the ride!
If you would like a sleigh ride with a little less effort, join us for a tour around the ranch in the one horse open sleigh. Cuddle up under a blanket, and enjoy a toasty beverage while you listen to jingle of the bells.
Just as you have expectations for us to provide you with a wonderful riding experience on your vacation, we have expectations for you that must be met in order for us to do that.
- Please be realistic about previous equine experiences.
- Respect and obey the wrangler’s suggestions and rules during any horse activity.
- Please note that our wranglers reserve the right to deem any rider unsafe to ride for various reasons. We want you to have a blast riding and learn a lot, but most importantly we want to keep you and your horse safe.
- Never approach a horse that is tied up without permission or assistance.
- Backpacks are discouraged while riding. However, if a rider has any kind of pack on they must dismount before removing or adjusting the pack in any way.
- Never use a camera around, or on horses without the wrangler’s knowledge and permission. While riding, cameras must be secure (not dangling from your neck). Also, if you must take your phone on the ride to use for a camera, please turn it on airplane mode so you don’t disrupt the experience receiving phone calls or texts.
- Always have the reins in hand while riding.
- Never change or adjust clothing while mounted without checking with your wrangler first.
- Regardless of experience, you must attend the Orientation and follow the safety rules.
- If there are any questions and/or concerns, please communicate them to us in a timely fashion in order for us to make any necessary changes as soon as possible.
- You need to acknowledge the inherent danger of equine activities and adhere to all safety rules and regulations while at the ranch.
- Please recognize your responsibility to fellow riders. What one rider does affects all other riders. Usually the “rule breaker” isn’t the one that gets hurt. Rather it is an innocent accompanying rider that pays for the momentary lapse of judgment or arrogance of someone overlooking simple safety precautions.
- You should realize that riding is a sport. You are a participant, not a passenger. You need to be aware of your horse and what you need to be doing at all times. Horses do have a mind, and they will use it. It is your responsibility to guide your horse.
- While there are many fitness levels and body types, if you have someone in your party over 250 lb, please contact us so we may assess rider safety and set realistic expectations for you.
- Lastly, in order to ride you must be able to mount and dismount independently. We do provide mounting blocks to help our guests and the horses for a more graceful and pleasant mounting experience!
UNDERSTANDING HORSES: For some of you, this trip may be one of your first experiences around these wonderful creatures. It may help you to understand a little more about why they act the way they do.
- Horses are highly social animals and want to remain with the herd. A horse that is separated or falls behind others on a ride may become nervous or anxious. A horse may express his anxiety by whinnying, tossing its head, prancing or running to catch up.
- Within the herd, horses have a distinct pecking order. Certain horses are dominant while others are submissive. The submissive ones may be nipped or kicked if they get too close to a more dominant horse. Be alert when the ears flatten back and the tail starts to switch, as that is a sign that the horse is unhappy and may be about to kick another!
- The instinctive response of a horse in danger is to flee. If something startles the horses in the corral or on the trail, a horse may “spook” or “shy” and try to run to safety.
- Lastly, horses are creatures of habit. Riders depend on this trait and train horses to respond to leg, hand, and voice signals. It can confuse them when they receive different signals from different riders, so please use the signals that we ask you to use.
Here are some more options for adventures during your winter vacation at Vista Verde that are available for an additional charge.
Note: Guests visiting during the Christmas and New Year’s weeks should call ahead to book any of these activities as they book up faster during the holiday season.
The cost of these trips will simply be added to your bill. The ranch provides transportation to and from the off ranch adventures. See one of us at the front desk to make arrangements or if you have any questions.
These outfitters require at least 48-hour notice for cancellations, longer for some. Otherwise, fees will apply unless they can rebook the spot.
Who is going to be taking care of you, serving you, and heading out on adventures with you? Click here to learn more about the great people who make Vista Verde such a special place to visit.