– August 9, 2011

Vista Verde Guest Ranch – by Kara Williams for

Wide-open meadows, thick pine forest, pretty aspen groves, and looming mountains… welcome to nature on steroids at Vista Verde, a luxury, all-inclusive guest ranch near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Vista Verde may be a dude ranch, but this property offers so much more than just horseback riding. Think gourmet meals, whitewater-rafting and fly-fishing trips, mountain biking, a plethora of kids’ activities, and, yes, trail rides for every equestrian—whether you and your children have never been on a horse or you ride regularly.

Vista Verde is open year-round. Winter brings opportunities for cross-country or backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding. The ranch is adjacent to north Colorado’s Routt National Forest, so there are miles and miles for exploration—on horseback or on foot. The ranch’s proximity to Steamboat Springs means you can also easily downhill ski on world-class slopes or go on dogsledding or snowmobiling excursions. Transport to the ski town is included in the price of your vacation. A small property, Vista Verde only hosts up to 40 guests at one time, so it’s easy to get to know other visiting families over the course of a week—the standard length of stay. Similarly, some families form strong bonds with the on-site wranglers and the kitchen and childcare staff; even at the ranch’s busiest times, the staff-to-guest ratio is 1:1.Vista Verde recommends that visiting children are ages six or older to make the most of the excellent outdoor offerings at the ranch; if you have younger ones, just chat with the friendly reservation staff to see if Vista Verde is a good match for you. The ranch can be flexible, for sure, due in part to its small size.