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, and it will be added 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:
Fire Safety: Although there’s nothing like sitting by a nice warm and cozy fire on a cool night or crisp morning, out of control fires can occur. We ask that you please read all the instructions located by your wood-burning stove before operating it. If you are unsure or have problems with any part of your stove, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance.
No Smoking: All the ranch buildings and cabins are smoke-free, and the use of marijuana or illegal substances is strictly prohibited. A cleaning charge will be added to your final bill if the smoking policy is not respected.
Keys: It’s a pretty safe place here, and we don’t typically use the locks on our cabin doors, but if you would feel more comfortable having a key please just ask at the Front Desk upon arrival.
Horses: Please stay outside of the corral and pastures unless otherwise directed by the wranglers. In a herd setting, horses can get possessive and even aggressive.
Booster Seats: Colorado Department of Transportation requires children under 4’9″ to be in a booster seat. If you are interested in a booster seat for your child, please indicate so on your Advanced Guest Information Form or let us know at least 24 hours before arrival.
Footwear: Shoes with a sharp-angled heel (preferably cowboy boots) are a must for riding! Hiking shoes can stick in the stirrups and are prohibited. We do have an eclectic supply of boots you can borrow for the week. They are located on the front porch of the barn.
Hats: A brimmed hat with no strap or stampede string can blow off your head, possibly spooking the horse behind you and causing an accident. Stampede strings are required and available for free at Fancy’s Mercantile and the Barn. We will be happy to help secure them to your hat.
Helmets: If you prefer, we have a supply of riding helmets for your use. Parents are responsible for fitting helmets for their children. Helmets are also required on any mountain bike trips with our guides, and we recommend wearing a helmet when biking on your own as well.
Eye wear: Protective eye wear must be worn on any fishing trips, and it is recommended for mountain bike trips as well. In fact, it’s a good idea to wear sunglasses whenever outside because at this altitude, the sun is very intense.
Dogs & Cats: While the ranch dogs love to be petted, they don’t have the same liking for being teased or “ridden” by kids. Cats are important workers around the ranch and provide our first line of defense against critters. Please do not invite them into your cabin for a nap or snack. Despite what they may tell you, they are indeed fed well and often have their own homes. Likewise, we train our dogs to stay away from the eating areas during mealtimes. Please don’t entice them to come visit you. They all know better, but it’s hard to resist bacon!
Critters & Pests: Although we pride ourselves in offering upscale accommodations, we also face the reality of living right in the middle of wilderness and wildlife. We do our best to avoid unwanted critters and pests in your ranch home, but they are a bit inevitable. Please let us know if you do have unwanted house guests and we will do all we can to remove them. You can also help us help you by keeping doors shut and not leaving out opened food.
Getting Lost: Please let somebody know if you are going to go off on a trail by yourself. Let them know where you are going and when you expect to come back. Then, stick to your plan so if you don’t show back up, we know where to look for you.
Sun: Even when the air is cold, the sun can be very harmful to bare, untreated skin. Please wear a hat or sunscreen or both.
Speed Limit: Please keep your speed below 15 m.p.h. when driving on the ranch road. It can be quite dusty, and there is always the possibility of injuring a child, animal, or hiker.
LEAVE NO TRACE: As members of the Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association and in partnership with Leave No Trace, here is a fun info sheet about visiting Colorado and learning more about the Leave No Trace principles, which we promote as we explore and enjoy the natural world surrounding the ranch.
EMERGENCIES: IF YOU HAVE AN EMERGENCY AFTER HOURS, PLEASE USE THE PHONE AT THE FRONT DESK AND CONTACT THE EMERGENCY MANAGER ON DUTY.
Beverages: A selection of complimentary wine and beer is offered in the dining room during mealtimes. There is also a beverage order form in your cabin if you would like us to restock your refrigerator with drinks. For the wine connoisseurs, Cholly’s Private Cellar List offers some of his favorite wines for an additional charge.
Do you miss bottled water? Well, our very own private spring is the source for all the water on the ranch. That means the water right out of the tap is certified and regularly tested to be as good, if not better, than what you buy in the stores.
Entertainment: We have a small book and DVD library upstairs in the Great Room for you to borrow. Please note that due to our remote location there is limited bandwidth so streaming videos doesn’t work. If you would like to have movies or shows to watch while at the ranch, you should download them at home before you leave to come to the ranch.
Fax: If you must work while you are here and need to send or receive a fax, we do have one available in the office. The number is (970) 879-6814.
Fitness: A treadmill, elliptical and free-weights are in the Fitness Center.
Front Desk: Our front desk is staffed from 7am-9pm each day. Please stop by if you need anything or have any questions. For emergencies after hours please use the phone at the front desk to contact the emergency manager on duty. Or, if your cell phone does work in your cabin, you may call 970-879-3858. That number rings by Steph’s bedside at night. Please only call if it is an emergency.
Gratuity: Although we do not add any gratuity and our staff doesn’t work for tips, we often have guests ask us if and how they can leave a gratuity because they really want to give something extra for them as a thank you. In the event that you would like to leave a special thank you for the staff, please just include it in your final payment and we will divide it up among the crew evenly. Our staff works as a team, and we encourage that team effort by asking staff to not accept individual tips. Please keep in mind, there is absolutely no expectation of a tip.
Hot tubs: We check your hot tub daily and keep it clean and working properly. All you need to do is replace the cover when you are done soaking. If you have any problems, please let us know so we can address it as quickly as possible. Please do not add any products to the water.
Housekeeping: Our fantastic housekeeping fairies will visit your home each day to tidy up and restock towels as well as a quick visit in the evening. You will find a full set of amenities, robes, a hair dryer, a humidifier and a fan in your home. If you need anything else, please let us know.
Internet: The Main Lodge has wireless internet if you have your own computer, or you can use our laptop in the Great Room. Please keep in mind that due to our remote location, our bandwidth is very limited, so video/music streaming and downloading is not available. You may want to download movies before you arrive to the ranch if you are interested in watching them at night. We know you would like better internet access, as would we. It just isn’t available in this remote setting. We absolutely insist that you have the most recent and updated virus protection program before you use the internet service so that you do not infect other computers on the network.
Laundry: 24 hour turnaround laundry service is available for our guests Monday through Friday with a service charge of $2.00/lb. If you would like to have your laundry washed please use the cloth laundry bag, located in the master bathroom cabinet/closet in your cabin or room, and leave it by the front door before you head down to the Lodge for breakfast. Please remember that we are a ranch and not a Laundromat, and while we will do our best, we cannot guarantee results. There are also plastic laundry bags available in the master bath in case you need to take home dirty laundry. And finally, if you need to weigh your luggage before you depart for the week, there are scales available at the front desk.
Newspapers: If you’d like to keep up with the outside world, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal are available in the Great Room most weekday afternoons.
Outside guests: Occasionally our guests have friends in the area and want to have them out to the ranch for a meal. We welcome this, given at least a 24 hour notice. The price of their meals ($45/lunch and $95/dinner) will be added to your bill unless you tell us otherwise.
Pool: The Vista Verde pool is located just behind the main Lodge and is open from 10am-6pm. There is no lifeguard on duty. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult or sibling over the age of 12. Pool towels are available in the bathroom at the pool.
Shuttles: Transportation into town for shopping is available, typically given 24 hours notice. We ask your cooperation in helping us minimize driving trips by combining with other trips already scheduled–typically Monday and Friday. We charge $95 for a privately scheduled shuttle, other than your airport pick up and drop off. If you need a special item from town, we can add it to our list and get it on our next town run. We do not provide transport in the evenings, unless it is to catch a flight.
Special requests: Do you have an item that you forgot to pack, or realize you need now at the ranch? We would be happy to purchase these items and add them to your bill. We have town runs Monday and Friday and can get them on those days for you.
Soft goods and supplies: Cowboy gear and other apparel, gifts, jewelry and postcards can be purchase at Fancy’s Mercantile. Many of the things you might forget (toothpaste, sunscreen, etc.) can also be purchased at the front desk. For special items not normally stocked, we can usually pick them up in town for you. There is also a selection of hiking socks, biking shorts and other outdoor gear available for purchase in the Adventure Center.
Telephone: Cell phone reception is hit or miss up here in the mountains, but we do have reception boosters in each cabin to help you be reached in case of emergency. We do encourage you to turn off your phones and take this time to disconnect. If you must be in touch, please refrain from using your phone for talking in common areas and on guided activities. Please, no phones or tablets in the dining room. The guest phone is located in the east entry of the Lodge by the Dining room. There is no charge for domestic calls. If you receive a message we will post it on the cork board outside the dining room if we can’t pass the message to you personally.
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.
Settling In: On Sunday afternoon you will get a chance to meet many of our staff at different spots around the ranch. The wranglers will be fitting your saddle and matching you with your horse, the kid wranglers showing you the kids hut, and the guides giving you a feel for the variety of options within the Adventure Center. This is a great chance to talk in more detail with them about what kind of adventures await you and ask any questions you might have.
Sunrise Stroll: If you’re up early and want to get outside in the morning to stretch your legs, join us for a walk on Monday in front of the Lodge at 7am. We will take you on a two mile walk down the driveway to get your appetite going for breakfast.
Orientation morning: We’ll spend the first morning getting everyone dialed in on all our programs. First up is the riding orientation followed by a short ranch ride. Once everyone has that under their belt, the choose your own adventure part of your stay begins.
Happy Hour: Meet down in the Great Room for an après ride, hike, fish or bike drink! In addition to catching up about the day’s adventures, we use this time to touch base with you to make plans for the following day.
“Formal” Dinners: The nights that we offer an adult-only dinner are events in themselves. These multi-course meals are intended to be leisurely and offer you a chance to spend time getting to know the other guests, while the kids and teens enjoy the more simple Dine ‘n Dash dinner and activities. The teenagers are welcome to join you if they are happy to eat what is offered on the adult menu and sit through a longer meal. Conversely, you are welcome to join the Dine and Dash dinner if you would rather not sit through the dinner event. Please just let us know 24 hours prior to the meal. Otherwise we will plan for all the adults to be at the Formal Dinner and all the teens to be at the Dine and Dash dinner. If you would like a table reserved for your party on a given night, we are happy to accommodate you with advance notice. Otherwise, we like to enjoy the company of new and old friends at larger tables.
Evening Entertainment: Most evenings we offer some sort of entertainment. Some nights are casual and just involve a campfire and conversation. Some nights are more of an event with musicians or a barn dance. Keep in mind that all of these are optional if you are just too tired to take one more step!
Rock Climbing: If you’ve never climbed before or have only climbed in an indoor gym, you can’t miss this trip! These guides get rave reviews every time for the fact that they can challenge strong climbers while at the same time easing the nerves of beginners. The climbing rock is just up the road in the National Forest, and the scenery is beautiful. Be prepared for a short hike up to the rock.
Wine Tasting: Try some different wines and learn a little about the many varietals and regions. Sit back, relax, and swish and sip with Chef Cholly.
Carla’s Photography Tour: Are you frustrated that your pictures aren’t turning out as well as you’d like? Do you have a new camera that you don’t understand how to use? Would you like to be able to take better nature pictures? Then join Carla Jones to spend some quality time with your camera and a professional.
Rafting and Kayaking: A river rafting trip on Friday is fun for all with a mix of exhilarating rapids and serene and scenic drifting. The rivers tend to run higher earlier in the season, and it becomes more of a float trip later in the summer. The trip to the Colorado or Eagle River is a beautiful drive, about 2 hours each way. Duckies (inflatable kayaks) are provided for those who want more challenge and hands-on adventure (and more water in the face!). Leave at 7:00am and return by 5:00pm or so. If you would like a different type of water adventure, we will take you to Steamboat for a half-day kayaking trip instead on Friday. Please let us know by Monday evening if you are interested in either rafting or kayaking.
Wild Yoga: Join Devyn to either ride or hike to a scenic spot in the aspens for a 1 hour all-levels yoga practice. You just have to figure out how to put your chaps on over your yoga pants! We will hike to the early morning Tuesday class for a heart rate-raising flow class. On Wednesday you may choose to ride or hike for a slower, more relaxing class.
Cooking Class: One of our talented chefs will delight you with a demonstration class teaching you practical tips of the trade and showing you how to make some special creations.
Paddle Boarding: Looking to get out on the water? Join us to learn how to paddle board on one of our nearby lakes. Following a short drive to the lake enjoy the views, some sunshine and a splash in an alpine lake. You can make it a leisurely afternoon of drifting around on the board, or work up a sweat paddling so you can jump in the lake to cool off!
Town Trips: Steamboat Springs is a great place to visit with cute shops and galleries and a quaint museum. We are happy to provide a driver Monday afternoon or Friday morning when we head in to run ranch errands.
Hammock Time: If all the activity has you worn out, and you just want to relax with a good book, let us set you up with a hammock and a cool drink! Visit the Front Desk to pick up a hammock and relax out under the aspens.
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 longer lunch rides. Although we offer kids, tween, and teen rides, families are encouraged to ride together if they wish. 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 working with our foals. Our horse trainers and wranglers will be working our young horses daily, as well, so you are always welcome to come watch them ride.
If you want some more specific instruction, our wranglers are always able to offer instruction per your request on your trail ride. 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 wrangler 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 sheet (you sent 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.
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.
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!
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, a challenging 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 in the Terrain Park 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 trip 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.
Hot Air Ballooning: Hot air ballooning with a licensed pilot early in the morning (~6:30am). If you’ve thought about ballooning, this is the time to do it! The trip begins up the road a ways, and you float over the National Forest, looking down on the ranch where you eventually land. Keep your eyes out for wildlife, check out the peak you hiked, and swoop down and pick pine cones off the tops of the trees. The cost is $295 for adults and $225 for children 12 and under. There is a six person minimum.
Massage: Soothe your sore muscles and free up your stress related tension with a mixture of deep tissue massage, pressure points, and stretching. Massages are typically scheduled on Monday-Friday at 3:00pm and 4:15pm. The fee is $130/hour and our therapist will meet you for your appointment in the massage room. See our spa menu for more details.
Please keep in mind, once we sign you up for these optional activities, you are committed and will be billed for the service.
Private Water: 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.
Sporting Clay Shooting: It’s like the golf course of shooting sports. Give sporting clay shooting a try with our friends at Three Quarter Circle Ranch. Prices vary depending on how many targets you want to shoot, and whether you want instruction or not. Please inquire at the Front Desk to learn more and make arrangements.
Rafting and Kayaking: Although there is no additional cost for rafting or kayaking, we mention it here as you do need to let someone at the Front Desk know by Monday evening if you are interested in trying out either activity on Friday.
Epic Trip: Looking for something epic? This trip involves packing up tents and sleeping bags and heading out for an overnight stay deep in the backcountry. This is the real deal, with a vigorous hike carrying packs, dinner, and stories as the sun drops behind the peaks, and a night listening to the rhythms of nature. The trip leaves mid-day Wednesday and you will return to the ranch in time to ride to the Steak Ride dinner Thursday afternoon. Due to the Epic nature of this trip, the number is limited to 2-6 people with an age minimum of 13 years and the cost is $310/person.
Golf: Two excellent 18 hole golf courses are located in town:
The Rollingstone Ranch Golf Club is a Robert Trent Jones II designed golf course. Fish Creek flows near five of the holes, and the course is flanked by aspen and evergreen trees. The course has a total of 6,906 yards and is equipped with a driving range, putt/chip green and sand bunker.
Steamboat Springs Haymaker Golf Course is a Championship par 72 Scottish (Links) Style Layout. Designed by noted golf course architect, Keith Foster, this course gives beautiful views of the Yampa Valley. The course has 7,308 total yards and was nominated by GOLF DIGEST as “Best New Course Design” back when it was developed.
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. (Please note these are being updated with our new summer staff between now and June 1)