– June 2010

Top Ten Dude Ranches by Gigi Ragland

Our ten favorite dude ranches that offer a week of all-inclusive horseback riding (and other fun outdoors activities), gourmet dining, and a genuine Western experience for the whole crew.

9. Vista Verde Ranch, Luxury Guest Dude Ranch
Clark, Colorado
A stone’s throw from Steamboat Springs, enveloped by towering peaks along the Continental Divide, sits a 1930s cattle ranch tucked away in the Elk River Valley. Original owners, Hollis and Jean Tufly, dubbed it Vista Verde Ranch, translated as “the green view.” During summer, every color of green dots the ranch, from the forest of pines to the mountain meadows surrounding it. The luxury guest ranch is known for attention to detail. At breakfast in the main lodge, guests are greeted by guides and asked what kind of activity they would like to do that day and are offered choices based on their responses. The ranch has a 1:1 guide to guest ratio even at its busiest times. The folks at Vista Verde have thought of everything. There is even a rack of cowboy boots for guests to use for horseback riding (kid sizes, too) if they didn’t bring their own. The ranch offers an extensive riding program for adults and little buckaroos to improve horsemanship skills in addition to trail rides of the Routt National Forest. Foodies will enjoy gourmet dinners, cooking classes, and wine tasting events. And for those who want to round out their round-up of activities, they can head over to the Adventure Center for hiking, yoga, rock climbing, or mountain-biking on full-suspension bikes.