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 vacation. 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. For those of you who are VVR veterans, keep in mind that we make tweaks each season, so please take a few minutes to refresh your memory on the ranch experience. Even if it’s on the plane on the way out here, having looked through this information will “help us help you” 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.
In order to enjoy your stay at Vista Verde more fully, we would urge you to observe the following safety precautions:
EMERGENCIES: IF YOU HAVE AN EMERGENCY AFTER HOURS, PLEASE USE THE PHONE AT THE FRONT DESK AND CONTACT THE EMERGENCY MANAGER ON DUTY.
In order to enjoy your stay at Vista Verde more fully, we would urge you to observe the following safety precautions:
Program of Activities
These are some of the special activities that are offered on specific days. Please refer to the Schedule of Activities for the days and times.
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: Get ready to have the “ride of your life” as you and your horse explore the untamed wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. Whether ambling through the peaceful forest or cantering by the wild flowers in the meadows, our well-mannered horses are ready to accompany you on special adventures throughout the week.
We offer small group trail rides that range from an hour to two-plus hours, as well as an all-day ride towards the end of the week. Rides are tailored to each rider’s ability. Whether you desire a serene, scenic ride or a more challenging fast ride, our wranglers will ensure you are safe and comfortable. We specialize in “adventure rides,” that is, experiencing more than you would normally encounter on a nose-to-tail trail ride.
HORSEMANSHIP CLINICS, LESSONS AND CATTLE WORK: 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 various 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 basic riding skills to cattle work and ground work.
If you want some more specific instruction, our wranglers are happy to offer instruction per your request on trail rides. Or, we also offer semi-private riding lessons several times during the week. These are 1 hour sessions limited to 3 riders per session. You tell us what you want to work on, and we’ll focus on that specific goal.
SPECIAL EVENTS: Every morning we run the horses in from their pasture and each afternoon we run them back out for the night. Even those of us who have seen it hundreds of times are still mesmerized by the beauty of a herd of horses thundering along. Grab your camera for an early morning delight or check with the wranglers in the afternoon to find out when they’ll be running them out and to which pasture so you can get set up for the photo of the week.
Happy Hour with the Horses is a very special opportunity to observe the horses in their natural setting while moseying through the lush pastures. Meet the wranglers at the Lodge for this event.
After getting acquainted with your horse, take a deep breath of crisp mountain air while greeting the warm rising sun on the Breakfast Ride. This ride will stop at the Homestead Cabin for a fresh hot breakfast and cowboy coffee. We do recommend that our riders under 8 years old take a shorter ride directly to breakfast or ride on the Haywagon instead as it’s still pretty early in the week and they may not have mastered their horse skills, yet. We don’t want them to be frustrated!
Thursday late-afternoon we’ll head out for our Steak Ride dinner with views of the Continental Divide. On this ride kids ride with their family, but if you’d rather not ride, we can get you out there in a ranch Suburban or you can enjoy a 20 minute walk out to the dinner site.
Getting Started: On Sunday evening, our wranglers will spend a little bit of time with each of you to get some more background on your riding experience and expectations for the week. Based on this, and your Advanced Guest Information (you filled yours in, right?), you will be assigned your very own horse for the week.
Monday morning, the riding program begins in earnest with the Orientation right after breakfast. This is a very important time, as we will go over how we do things on the trail and how our horses are trained. If you want to ride at all, you must attend the Orientation, and please pay attention because there are many important specifics that will be covered just this once. Safety is our main concern, so our first ride allows riders and horses to get to know each other through fun games on the trail and lots of personalized instruction. This also allows the wranglers to evaluate your experience and expectations so we can better tailor our trail rides. For more timid riders, we can stay closer to the barn and take it a bit slower.
Speaking of expectations, 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.
- Please note that we have a 250 lb maximum for riding in order to protect the health and well-being of our horses. 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.
Throughout the week, learn and enjoy. In doing so, you will have some great rides, good laughs and fun adventures on horseback with all of the wranglers at VVR!
Hiking, Biking and Fishing
At VVR we pride ourselves on providing a fantastic horse program. Our talented guides have that same pride in our hiking, mountain biking and fishing programs. They are hoping to entice you to join them for an adventure during your week at the ranch.
HIKING: Vista Verde sits at the doorstep of the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness area, one of the most spectacular and abundant watersheds in Colorado. Our hikes may follow spring fed creeks, climb up to panoramic views or just meander through a field of wildflowers.
Even for the very fit, it does take some time to get used to the altitude. Therefore, we plan all-day hikes for Thursday and Friday. This gives you a few days to acclimate so you can enjoy the long hike more.
Your guides will tailor each hike to your fitness level and desired scenic experience. We’ll take you on a short, casual wildflower stroll, an epic all-day summit attempt of one of the biggies, or a family afternoon exploring and playing in the Gilpin Waterfalls. Let us know what your desires are for the day and then enjoy our amazing backyard on your own two feet.
MOUNTAIN BIKING: Have you ever wondered what real mountain biking is all about? Well, here’s your chance to find out with our fleet of full suspension Salsa bikes and our skilled mountain biking guides teaching and spotting you. No need to be super-fit or even a biker, just bring your sense of adventure, and we will teach you the basics right here on the ranch.
Now for those of you that want more, we have miles and miles of non-technical forest service roads that offer spectacular scenery and exercise as well as some of the best cross-country single-track in Colorado. For those new to the sport, you can hone your skills with instruction and then head out on the trail with a guide for an amazing experience on the trail!
For those that just want to ride around without a guide, ranch bikes are available next to Coyote Corral. Ice Cream biking has also become a ranch favorite, just a ride to the Clark store for your favorite flavor.
FLY FISHING: There’s a reason fly fishing is so addicting—it’s peaceful and scenic, challenging and exciting all at the same time. Our guides look forward to helping you enjoy this experience, whether on one of our stocked ponds on the ranch, out on a small stream or bigger river, or up at a high alpine lake.
We provide top of the line rods, reels, waders and boots for those who want to try fly fishing for the first time, are avid anglers, or somewhere in between the two. And for those of you (including youngsters) who just want to drop a line in the water somewhere on the ranch, spinning equipment is available from the Kids’ Wranglers. For river trips we do prefer to have guests be 13 and older, but if you have a passionate fly fisher who is younger let us know, and we can explore the options.
The State of Colorado requires a license if you are to fish off ranch property. Please bring your driver’s license and social security number so we may get you a fishing license.
Perhaps you would like to fish on selected private waters. These are available through our membership in the Rocky Mountain Angling Club. Rod fees and reservations for these hot spots are required, so let our guides know early in the week if you are interested in fishing private waters.
RIVER READ: Does the idea of relaxing by the river sound more appealing than fishing? If someone in your party is heading out to the river with a guide, you can join them with a book or your camera. We’ll bring a comfortable chair for you to kick back and listen to the melody of the river.
Please note that all-day guided trips may be available on days other than Friday, but in order to accommodate the rest of our guests the half-day trips take precedence. If we are able to make it work to take an all-day trip earlier in the week, we are happy to accommodate your requests.
There are so many great things to do here at the ranch. But if you’re looking for something a little different, here are some additional options.
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.