What’s Happening on the Ranch?

There’s always something happening at Vista Verde Ranch. Foals are born, new recipes are created, or the wranglers are playing tricks on each other. Come here to read the latest news!

ranch romance

Dude Ranch Life: Ranch Romance

Based on the raging success we’ve had match-making our staff for an unprecedented number of marriages, this year marks the launch of a new division of the dude ranch operation.  We are proud to announce our new venture VVR-mony.com.  Rather than relying on sites like e-harmony.com to match up couples who later come to honeymoon at the ranch, or bring their growing broods for family vacations, we are going to claim that portion of the market so we develop a client base from the ground up.

Beka is already known for her top notch screening skills in picking the right staff and has an uncanny knack for assigning them to convenient housing arrangements where they may catch each other’s eye on the way down to clock in for work.  Now, she will put her laser sharp skills to work with willing applicants who sign up for the VVR-mony.com package.

With this new venture, we are excited to capitalize on the ranch’s history of recruiting quality people and putting them through a sweat-inducing interview process that weeds out those who aren’t able to sing, dance, serve, summit, wrangle, clean, iron, shovel, scoop, and cast all with a smile on their face.  We feel that this base will allow us to match the perfect clean cut, all-American, can-do, service oriented, and nature loving individuals that will ride off into the sunset holding hands and planning their future stays at VVR.

Sign up for a free trial today!  After April Fool’s Day, this offer is no longer valid.

winter glamping in Colorado

Only In Your State – March 2016

As the winter season winds down, many of us are thinking about off-season adventures.  Just in time, this article from OnlyInYourState.com came out titled, “These 8 Glampgrounds In Colorado Will Give You An Unforgettable Experience.”  Along with showcasing Vista Verde as one of the options, there were some other great suggestions that are inspiring many of us to look at a “staycation” this spring!  Read the article….

history of ranch fencing in the West

A history of fencing in the West

For you history buffs, please enjoy this guest post by Andrew Swenson of Gallagher Fence.

Fencing has come a long way over the years and has a fascinating history. Long gone are the days that farmers would collect sticks, strap them together and hope for the best.
How Did Barbed Wire Fencing Come To Be?
With advances in technology, better fencing was inevitable. Farmers needed a solution to issues surrounding containing and protecting their livestock. While sticks may contain small animals such as goats, sheep, and other smaller animals, large animals such as cows, horses, and the like require much sturdier fencing.
In the late 1800s, barbed wire was invented. It provided a solution to large animals knocking over fencing, predators simply walking through or under fencing. All of this in a readily available format that was both low maintenance and low cost.
Barbed Wire Made the Standard of Fencing
Once the barbed wire was introduced to the market, it offered farmers an option that they could not ignore. As the West was being colonized, it allowed the farmers to contain their livestock quickly and safely without wasting valuable space. Without barbed wire, many farmers would have been unable to protect their livestock and mark their lands.
This was particularly important with vast areas of government land being given away and free for anyone to use for their animals grazing. This led to an argument between farmers who kept their livestock on their land or had their fields fenced to keep out wildlife and other animals and the farmers who let their animals out to graze. This led to the Fence Cutting War in Texas.
The Fence Cutting War in Texas
Due to a widespread drought in 1883, farmers were finding it harder to find water and food for their cattle. This led to desperation and for some farmers to seek desperate measures. Migrating herds would be blocked by the fences that had been set up and wander around trying to find a way through. Ranchers began cutting down these fences to help their cattle get through to somewhere they could get water. The owners of the land would also try to increase their borders by cutting the fences to neighboring properties or government land and rebuild them past their original lines. This eventually got out of hand, fences started appearing across roads, some fields were burnt, and there was over $20 million worth of damage done in the summer and fall alone. While fence cutting still continued on and off over the years, it was not permitted to get as out of hand as it did in 1883.
Why to Look For Alternatives
Farmers have always cared for their livestock. After all, it is their livelihood and abused, or starved animals are of no use to anyone. This is why farmers wanted to find a viable solution that would keep their livestock safe and contained.
As other methods of containment merely hold the animals inside their paddocks but offer no protection from predators, barbed wire was a necessary evil and was therefore left as a standard.
Early Electric Fencing
The first electric fencing was not used for animals. Rather it was designed to keep people out of places. These wire fences could carry currents that ranged from a light zap to lethal force. It was heavily used in areas such as prisons, government buildings, and, with the war, concentration camps, dugouts, and other military zones. These electric fences caused thousands of fatalities throughout World War 1; the most deadly was known as the “Wire of Death”.
Today’s Standard of Fencing
Although barbed wire fencing had become an industry standard, farmers were always on the lookout for a better alternative. One that did not cause their animals to end up with tangles, lacerations, or other injuries. That led to farmers to start looking towards electric fencing in the 1930s although it was not widely used at first. Certain areas would ban or limit its usage as much of the first electric fencing was unpredictable when it came to the strength of the shock that one sustained after touching it.
Despite these roadblocks, farmers knew this was the viable option they had been hoping for. It would keep their animals safely contained and would keep predators on the right side. Not only was it safe and more efficient than traditional methods, but it was also cheaper in the long run too. The wires (particularly high tensile wire) required very little maintenance, were quick and easy to set up, and did not need a lot of materials. This saved farmers a lot of money, time, and effort and for these reasons electric fencing will continue to be the new industry standard for livestock fencing.

This post was written for Vista Verde Ranch courtesy of www.gallagherfence.net

Cross Country Ski, Fat Bike, and Mountain Bike Equipment Sale

In preparation for upgrading all our equipment, we are clearing out our current fleet of cross country ski equipment as well as our fat bikes.  If you’ve been in the market for a back country ski touring set up, or some used cross-country or skate skiing equipment then pay attention!

Saturday, March 26 from 10am-2pm will be the big sale.  If you don’t live in the Steamboat area, you are welcome to call Steve or Kelli, and have them ship you the package if you know your size.  Give them a call at 970-879-8836 ext.115 or you may fill out the Contact Us form and they’ll get back to you when we’re not out guiding guests.

Backcountry ski packages- $150 for skis and boots, $175 for skis, boots, and poles

  • Salomon BC ski boots size 36 through size 50.
  • Alpina Lite Terrain waxless ski’s with Salomon BC Manual bindings size XS, Small, Medium, Large
  • Alpina Cross Terrain waxless skis with Salomon BC Manual bindings size Small & Large
  • Alpina Discovery & Woody waxless skis with Salomon BC Manual bindings size XS, small, medium and large

Snowshoes- $50-$100

  • Tubbs, MSR, Crescent moon and Atlas snowshoes, various sizes

Skate Ski and Classic Ski packages- $150-$350

Fatbikes- $1,500

  • Fatback fat bikes 14,16,18 & 20 inch
    • 2×9 drive train
    • 26 wheels with 3.8 inch tires
    • mechanical disc brakes
  • Salsa Horsethief & Spearfish Mountain bikes 2×10 with 29 inch wheels

Mountain bikes- $600-$2,500

  • Full suspension DeVinci, Jamis, and Salsa

Kids bikes and cruiser bikes- $50-$200

family snow vacation

TakingtheKids.com – March 2016

Following their experience at the ranch through travel diaries, Eileen and her family have put together another installment of the trip report.  There is a section about Steve talking about families who come to the ranch for winter vacations.

Steve King, who oversees the winter cross country ski program here and the summer adventure program, says he sees growing numbers of families seeking an alternative fun in the snow adventure that the ranch provides. “They think the kids will want to go into the downhill mountain every day—and we provide free shuttles—but they just want to play in the snow.”  He says they’ll take families out Nordic or back country skiing, build a fire and make s’mores.

Read the article….

  • barn dance at luxury ranch
  • snowmobiling on Colorado vacation
  • leather working at vista verde ranch
  • learning to dance at winter ranch
  • beer tasting vacation in Colorado

Dude Ranch Life: The winter’s biggest hits

What would make the winter vacation experience at Vista Verde better?  That is the question we ask ourselves every year at the end of the season as we reflect on the past season and make plans for the following year.  Last spring, as our background noise was the drip, drip, drip of the snow melting off the roofs, we sat in the Great room and talked about what could we add to our program that our guests would love.  There was quite a list that came out of that meeting, and we were able to implement some of them this winter.  Guess what?  They’ve been a hit!

The biggest project was the construction on the barn loft, which allowed us to bring a little of our summer fun into our winter season.  Nate spent most of the fall busily insulating and upgrading the loft for a beautified look and some nice warmth on winter nights. Now, each Monday evening, we’re stomping and swinging with our guests for an old fashioned, W estern barn dance.  In addition to that we’ve noticed that our guests often ask to learn more about couples dancing and line dancing so they can whoop it up during the music show.  Bubba offered up his services, and our dance lessons have been in demand almost every week of the winter so far.

In past years, we have danced with the Forest Service to negotiate a way to offer our guests snowmobiling trips that leave right here from the ranch.  And this winter they turned on the music and let us go.  There have been so many more guests going snowmobiling, now that it’s more handy and leaves right from the Sunday pasture.  What fun we’ve had, and the views……they are indeed amazing.

With all the outdoor adventures available for our guests, it’s been clear that many folks just wear themselves out, and sometimes they need a more mellow way to spend their afternoon.  Nate’s class in leather working has given our guests an artistic outlet as well as the opportunity to try something they’ve probably never tried before.  And since our weekly wine tasting has always been a hit, it was no surprise that adding a beer tasting would be a great addition.  This also gives guests who aren’t staying for a full week vacation the chance to spend some time with the chefs one way or another, as we spread out the culinary events throughout the week.

With a month of the season left, and a full house of guests coming for spring break, we still have plenty of time before we sit down again and ask, “What would make a winter vacation at Vista Verde Ranch even better next year?”  But, if you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them here.  We’ll toss them into the hat and see what we can do for next winter!

Dude Ranch Life- The spotlight is on Chef JT

Every once in a while, Chef John Thompson– also known as “JT”– steps out from behind the kitchen doors.  Even though they rave about his culinary creations, many of our guests don’t get a chance to meet him during their stay.  JT is the yin to Chef Chol’s yang, and how they complement one another is the key to the success of our culinary program.  We interviewed him the other day so you can all get to know him a bit better.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I grew up in Hanford, CA.

Q: What brought you to Colorado?

A: I moved to Boulder so Erica, my wife, could go to grad school at CU Boulder, and for me it was a chance to jump into the incredible food scene in that city.

Q: Did you think you would be a chef when you were growing up?

A: No, being a chef was not on my radar as a kid, but my mom and grandma were incredible cooks, and I spent tons of time in the kitchen with the both of them.

Q:  How did you get into the culinary arts?

A: I was offered a job as a prep cook while visiting a friend at the restaurant where he waited tables. The chef said, “What are you doing today?” My answer was, “I’m out looking for a job.” He asked me if I could start tomorrow, and so here I am–15 years later.

Q: Who do you admire in the culinary world?

A: Some of the leading chefs I follow are Sean Brock, David Chang, Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, Daniel Humm, David Kinch, and Corey Lee.

Q: How would you describe your style of cooking?

A: I love American food.  I think of America as a melting pot–it has a very unique style of food and a rich history of using local and in-season ingredients to recreate the food of all our ancestral past as our own.

Q: What is one tip you think everyone should know for cooking at home?

A: Keep your tools in good shape and always use the best produce and ingredients you can find.

Q: What do you do in your free time?

A: I spend time with my wife Erica and our baby Althea.  I am an avid angler (the ranch staff teased us that we would name our baby “Brooke Trout”), so I still find time to fly fish with my fishing buddy/dog Goldie every chance I get.

Q:  How has ranch life been for you and your family?

A: Finding the ranch is the best thing that ever happened to me and my family. Our “ranch family” makes being so far away from our real family much easier. I look forward to going to work every day as much as I look forward to being in nature on my days off.  It’s a very unique opportunity to be a chef in such an amazing setting. I love that I can take a 10-minute break to hang out with my family and that they are only steps away from the kitchen.

fitness for your ranch vacation

Fitness for your ranch vacation

Devyn (a certified Pilates instructor among her other roles at the ranch) offers some tips for preparing for your ranch vacation.

Whether you visit the ranch in the winter, summer, or fall–it is a very active vacation. Of course, you don’t have to begin an intense training session before your stay, but getting into a strength routine is always beneficial. Doing a little strength training makes you more aware of your body, helps you get up from a wipe-out in the champagne powder, gain more control in your legs for horseback riding, and some more power for those tough hikes. My favorite kind of exercises are total body and body-weight exercises. They allow you to get a quick work out in anywhere!

Everyone should do planks. They are a fitness junkie’s classic exercise. Yes, they engage your abdominals, but they work the oblique and back muscles too. Gaining strength in the core will help you sit up straighter while riding and help dig into the abs for strength while bike riding (instead of straining the lower back) Try doing them for a minute at a time. Laying on your tummy, place your forearms flat on the floor, stack shoulders over elbows then squeeze your legs together, tuck your toes under to lift the knees off the floor then straighten the legs. Keep squeezing your legs together to engage the glutes and inner thighs.  Think about scooping your abdominal muscles in and up to keep them engaged.

Lunges are an incredible, classic exercise as well.  If you can do them with a resistance band or weights, that’s even better. Strength in the legs and inner thighs is most beneficial when communicating with your horse while riding. In back country skiing, I’ve found that engaging the glutes helps me to stand up straight and power from the rear instead of the hip flexors. To make lunges really effective, make the motion slow, slow, slow.  Articulate through the full length of your leg muscles. Slowing it down fires up the slow twitch muscle fibers which are used for endurance. Keep the knee of the leg in front of you in line with the front ankle. Do not let the knee creep forward over the toes or strain behind your ankle. This protects your knee. Think about pressing the heel of the front leg into the ground to engage the glutes and straighten the leg. Play with doing the full range of motion for 1 minute, then holding (leg in a 90 degree angle) for 30 seconds, then pulsing it out (little up and down) for the last 30 seconds.

Add these exercises to your fitness routine, and you might find your time in the hot tub is more about watching the stars than relieving the aches and pain of sore muscles!

  • history of a colorado dude ranch
  • early dude ranch photo

Dude Ranch Life- a little history

The other day I stumbled across some great historical photos that I had saved in a file.  They were from Elvin Tufly, who sent them to me after he visited the ranch a few years ago.  His stories from that visit took me on an amazing journey back into the early days of Vista Verde Ranch.  Back then, it wasn’t a luxury dude ranch, but a school of hard knocks hay and cattle ranch.  The Tufly family lived at Vista Verde in the summers, and once it got too cold they would move their cattle down to Clark and live there for the winter months.  In the spring, they would drive the cattle back up to the ranch to graze for a bit before driving them up to Willow Creek for the summer.  The amazing, lush grass that fills up the valley and gives the ranch its name would grow all summer until it was time to cut it for hay.  Come fall, the Tuflys would gather up their cow-calf pairs, separate out the calves, and drive them all the way to Steamboat to be loaded on the train for their ride to Kansas City.  In the winter, Elvin’s mom would rally her girlfriends to ski up to the ranch to check in on the buildings.  The gals would spend a night, shovel the roofs, and then ski back to Clark.  Ok ladies, this definitely is a different twist on a girls’ weekend!

It’s pretty humbling to think about how different life was at the ranch in those days.  No fully-staffed, all-inclusive vacation with bubbling hot tubs, housekeepers tidying up after you, chefs preparing amazing meals, and the horses saddled when you show up at the barn.  It was a tough life, and we love to look back and imagine what it must have been like for these folks who called Vista Verde home for so many years.  Thanks to Elvin for sharing these memories!

Some notes from Elvin about the above photos for you history buffs:

  1. After I enlarged the picture I was able to see the smaller boys in the picture better and discovered they are the Fetcher boys; the smallest would be Ned, who I believe was or still is running the Fetcher ranch.  John Fetcher was the one behind the camera; after seeing the picture larger, I recall Orval and Dad were working in the corral and John drove up for some reason, and they had stopped to get a drink, as there always was a tin cup hanging on the pipe filling the water trough.  The water came directly from the spring. I am the one in the goofy, extra large hat.  The adults are, as we had determined previously L-R Orval Bedell Sr, Art Tufly (Daddyart), and Hollis Tufly.
  2. Art and Salome Tufly on the way home (grandparents).  It would appear this was taken just above the old Poppin bridge.  That bridge is gone, and a new one is there; it is the first bridge crossing the river after you turn off onto the Seedhouse road.  The only thing left of the old bridge is a mound of dirt with a bench sitting facing the river.
  3. Art Tufly with a four-up team in front of the old house. It would appear there is a start of my parent’s house or possibly there was something there prior to the small log house, but that is where it stood.

 

Chef’s Corner: Cauliflower Pot Pie

While some of you already hear the birds singing and see the flowers blooming, we’re still cuddling up to fires in the fireplace and warm, cozy meals at night.  Here is a great winter recipe, for anyone who wants to relish a little bit more of that warmth before winter comes to an end.

Cauliflower Pot Pie (serves 2-4)

Ingredients for the filling:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound cauliflower

1 leek

1 carrot

½ pound mushrooms

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

4 tablespoons flour

2 cups soy milk

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons fresh tarragon

½ teaspoon fresh thyme

½ teaspoon fresh oregano

¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

 

Ingredients for the biscuit topping:

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons olive oil/margarine

4-5 tablespoons water

1/3 cup olives, small dice

 

Procedure:

  1. Peel and clean all vegetables as necessary and dice into ½ inch pieces.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan and add the vegetables to sauté until soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the sherry vinegar to deglaze the pan.
  4. Turn the heat to medium and whisk in the flour, allow to cook for 7 minutes, do not brown the flour.
  5. Slowly whisk in the soy milk until thickened.
  6. Turn heat to low to simmer.
  7. Add the bay leaf, tarragon, thyme, oregano, mustard, salt and pepper and simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and prepare the biscuit dough by combining the dry ingredients and then gently mixing in the wet ingredients, finish by folding in the olives.
  9. Transfer the cauliflower mixture to a small casserole dish (9”x12”), drop the biscuit dough on top and bake oven for 20 minutes, allow to cool slightly before eating.

 

 

celebrating valentines day at the ranch

Dude Ranch Life- A romantic evening in a romantic destination

Love is in the air today.  The kids are loving on their horses.  The dogs just worship their people.  And after tonight’s annual Valentine’s Day Aphrodisiac Dinner, there will be even more love in the fresh Rocky Mountain air! For years the ranch chefs have challenged themselves to come up with unique menu items for this night, with each course including an aphrodisiac.  Hey, why not have a little fun on this day of love?  It’s a little different this year as Valentine’s Day falls on the same weekend as President’s Day weekend, so we have plenty of people enjoying a family vacation at the same time as others are luxuriating in a romantic getaway.  But, the kids are heading up to the barn for some fun food and games while the parents (and kid-less adults) get to be treated to a special night in the dining room.

So, what’s on the menu?

How about starting with smoked oysters served with savory granola and lemon, tomato granita or raw with Champagne mignonette?

Follow that with truffle risotto topped with Hedgehog mushrooms, Parmesan, and fresh French Perigord black truffle.

Or, choose between either fresh egg yolk linguine, Royal red shrimp, heirloom cherry tomato, basil, garlic and olive oil or  roasted rack of lamb with Anson Mills farro, cucumber, feta, olives, mint, and pomegranate molasses.

Finally, finish the evening with Cookies and Cream.  That’s vanilla ice cream coated with chocolate cookie crumble, raspberry foam and candied rose petals.

Pair this all with a great Champagne or a luscious wine……folks, we’ll send you off to your hot tub and say goodnight!

Whether you are celebrating Valentine’s Day with a lover or just someone who you love, we hope it’s a wonderful one.  Because love comes in so many different forms, let’s celebrate all of them!

all inclusive winter ranch vacations

JauntMagazine.com – February 2016

Here is a great round-up of top dude ranches for winter getaways, put together by Jaunt Magazine in cooperation with the Dude Rancher’s Association.  According to Jaunt Magazine writers if you’re looking for the ultimate winter escape, look no further than these all-inclusive dude ranches, each of which offers cold weather retreat in some of the most breathtakingly beautiful parts of the country.  Read the article….

feeding the herd at a winter resort in Colorado

Gigi Embrechts Photography – February 2016

Photographer Gigi Embrechts visited the ranch a few weeks ago, and took some amazing photos while she was here.  Upon returning home, she wrote an article about her experience at the ranch.  We are touched by the kind words she shared about her winter vacation at the ranch.  And we were thrilled to have her send us some of the amazing photos she took while at the ranch!  Read the article….

new horses at vista verde guest ranch

Dude Ranch Life- the snow piles up

Somehow my blogging habit got buried in the snow this past month.  It’s not hard as it has been snowing almost non-stop until this week.  Although most of us love fresh snow and it makes for a lot of fun adventures, after a certain point we all need a little vitamin D therapy when it snows day after day after day….

For those of you who like to keep up on what’s happening at the ranch, I’ll give you a little update.

In the barn, Sam and KP continue their horse shopping spree.  Each year we need to add to our herd to ensure that we have enough solid and sound riding horses.  In the dude ranch world as the horses age, they get upgraded to kids only.  I say upgraded as it’s a pretty cushy life taking short rides out with the little kiddos.  As these horses move out of the adult riding string, we have to replace them with younger mounts.  In the past we tend to attend a number of horse sales in the spring.  But, this always leaves us biting our nails as you don’t know what you’ll find, or if what you see at the sale is really who the horse will be once you get them home.  So, in the effort to always try to do things better, we are shopping a little differently this year.  Sam and KP have been perusing the online horse sale listings, traveling all over the state to try out horses, and bringing them home one by one.  It’s a little more time intensive, but we’re hoping for great results with this new approach to horse buying.  So far they have acquired some great ones.  They’ve found Turtle, Blondie, Bugs,  My favorite is a mother-son pair who look almost identical.  The seller showed Sam and KP the son, named “Bugs”.  After he watched them really like Bugs, he thought about how his wife had been bugging him to get rid of more of his horses, so he ran back to the barn and pulled out “Sadie”, the mom, to add to the mix.  Like mother like son?  Yep, it was a two-fer on that day.

Moving down to the dining room, it’s been a great season of hearty winter food and fabulous pastries.  We’ve committed to the weekly wine-pairing dinner all winter long, and I got to join the fun last week.  Chef JT and Chol had decided to change up the menu so it was fun to see the new food and wine pairings put into play.  My favorite was the chicken liver pate ravioli.  Note that this is a big deal, as I can have a bit of a “ewww” factor when it comes to unusual foods.  But JT made me try it, and despite the fact that I thought I’d hate it, I loved it!  What really impressed me was watching Chol move from table to table as he prepared for each course, touching base with the guests who have dietary restrictions and let them know how he was modifying the dish for each of their needs.  I had such a sense of pride knowing how much work goes into preparing a elaborate 5 course dinner as it is, and then seeing how seamlessly Chol and JT accommodated a variety of dietary restrictions without pause.  Those guys rock.

Across the drive, the duplex remodel is coming along.  This week they installed the sound-proof wall in between the units.  Charlie and Bill had fun testing it out yesterday, trying to yell at each other from either side.  It “sounds” like the wall works pretty well, and should be even better once the units get further along in the process.  We are booking both sides up for the summer already as people are planning their summer vacations right now, and we’re looking forward to our guests enjoying the gorgeous view of the winter horse pasture from their hot tubs on the deck.

Last in the updates is the mad pace of interviews that Beka and Ben are on right now.  Every couple days they head into Steamboat where bandwidth is more of a reality than a dream, and they Skype interview dozens of potential employees.  The summer staff is coming together and Beka has her hands full juggling applicants, reference calls, and fielding lots of questions.  As always, we’re hiring for character and attitude, so if you know of a great young person who might fit the dude ranch culture, send them our way!

And that’s a wrap on this week at the ranch.

great dude ranches for skiing

Equitrekking- February 2016

Jocelyn from Equitrekking.com put together a round-up of “7 Guest Ranches that offer Top-Notch Skiing” with a nice list of ranches that are open during the winter months.  If you are looking to combine a dude ranch vacation with a ski vacation, take a look at her recommendations.  Read the article….

romantic cross country ski vacation

XCSkiResorts.com – January 2016

According the article titled “Glide your way to Romance with XC Valentine’s Day Getaways” cross country (XC) skiing and snowshoeing are some of the most romantic forms of recreation and Valentine’s Day is coming. So get away with your loved one to a winter wonderland of memories for some outdoor recreation and pampering that you deserve.  The folks at XCSkiResorts.com put together a great list of options for romantic getaways this Valentine’s Day weekend.  Read the article….

tubing on spring break in Colorado

Family Travel Forum- January 2016

The folks at Family Travel Forum put together a long list of great ideas for the very best spring break vacation ideas, and included Vista Verde as one of the recommendations.  As the edge comes off of the winter weather, and the sun shines a bit longer each day, spring feels like the best of both worlds.  The whole world seems to be coming alive, yet there is still snow on the ground to play in and enjoy.  Read the article….

sticky bun recipe from Vista Verde Ranch

Chef’s Corner: Maple Glazed Sticky Buns

The snow falling outside is wonderful to play in, but also makes us want to come inside and curl up in front of the fire with a yummy treat.  Well, here is a great option for that yummy treat, and a ranch favorite!  This recipe makes approximately 2 dozen rolls

 

Ingredients:

Danish dough, one sheet, 17” x 25”

1 pound unsalted butter, whipped

1 Tblsp. Ground cinnamon

8 Tblsp. Granulated sugar

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup maple syrup

8 ounces melted butter

 

Method:

  1. If the dough is frozen, allow it to warm slightly, but not too much, if too soft it will be difficult to roll, if too frozen, it will crack!
  2. Whip the butter in a mixer with a paddle attachment until very soft and spreadable. Spread the butter evenly over the entire surface of the dough with a spatula.
  3. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle over the entire surface of the dough.
  4. Tightly roll the dough evenly into a log. Wrap the dough first in plastic wrap and then in foil. Refrigerate overnight to set up.
  5. The next day, combine the pecans, maple and melted butter in a bowl and spread on the bottom of a baking pan, Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the rolls from the refrigerator, remove the foil and plastic, and slice into 24 pieces. and arrange in the baking pan.
  6. Bake the rolls for 12 minutes, rotate the pans and bake another 12 minutes until done. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack.
  7. Turn out onto a platter to serve. Enjoy!

 

Steamboat dude ranch round up

The Dude Ranches of Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs is a pretty wonderful place and has become a bit of a hub of Colorado dude ranches with three ranches belonging to the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association within a 6 mile radius of each other.  We all enjoy the camaraderie of being neighbors and friendly competitors.  Dude ranching can be an isolating business, as there aren’t many people who can relate to the challenges and rewards.  Reading a hotel industry magazine just doesn’t cut it.  We’re not dealing with ADR’s and REIT’s.  We’re dealing with people, emotions, animals, dirt, and a staff that is like family.  So, we feel pretty privileged to have some other great ranches within a stone’s throw with whom we share the ride.

The Home Ranch is just 6 miles down the road, right off of the Elk River Road.  A Relais and Chateaux property, they have a strong emphasis on their farm to table dining.  With beautiful views of the Zirkel Wilderness area right from the Main Lodge, this ranch is top notch and classy.  They have a similar guest count, great riding and fishing, and a variety of cabins and lodge rooms.  As well, the Home Ranch is also open in the winter for cross country skiing vacations and other fun activities in the snow.  This is the first ranch we refer guests to when we are full, as they are as close as you can get to being similar in the dude ranch world.  As I always tell people, comparing ranches is like comparing apples to oranges, but they both taste good.

The Elk River Guest Ranch is only a mile or so down Seedhouse Road, right next to the Elk River.  This ranch has had a number of owners in the past 10 years, and has gone a few different directions.  But, a little over a year ago it was purchased by a Bex, a former staff member at another Colorado dude ranch who had a dream of owning her own dude ranch.  She and her husband opened the Elk River Guest Ranch for traditional dude ranch vacations last summer, and are busily building up the business.  It’s a smaller, more rustic ranch, but is loaded with charm and great riding access into the Routt National Forest.

And then there’s Vista Verde Ranch.  Our ranch has been functioning as a dude ranch since the 1970’s, and we just keep fine tuning our offering.  Through a couple amitious owners, the facilities have been drastically upgraded over the years, the staff filled with long term, dedicated people, and our committment to “betterness” keeps us moving forward all the time.  We pride ourselves in our diverse offering of activities, hiring phenomenal people, luxurious accommodations and amenities, and a culinary program that walks the line between ranchy and fancy.  Summer, fall, or winter you can find us looking forward to getting to know our guests and sharing this little slice of heaven with folks from all over the world.

We hope you make it to one of these Steamboat dude ranches sometime soon.  We’ll take all the guests we can handle, but as long as you visit one of these ranches it’s a win for the industry.

remodeling new luxury cabin

Dude ranch life: The demolition party

Monday morning the construction crew rolled in ready to start work on a major renovation in our duplex cabin.  After spending all fall getting the plans ready to go, the finishes picked out, and planning the construction schedule, we are happy to see the project officially underway.

The duplex cabin looks out over the Winter pasture, and sitting on the deck in the hot tub in the evenings will be a great spot to watch the horses and even maybe wildlife as they settle in for the night.  The remodel will give each side a master suite with a king bed and a second bedroom with a queen bed.  And the view from the cozy living rooms will be tranquil.  Both units will have a distinct look and feel that Bill has been masterfully creating in his mind, and slowly putting together with each design element he selects.  North Fork will have a more polished and finished feel while South Fork will be a little less refined but still very upscale.  Each side is designed for a variety of users from two singles to a family with one child or a single parent with two children, and even two couples who want to travel together.

North Fork and South Fork are already being booked for the summer of 2016, and we’re excited to reveal the process as we move through the winter and into the spring.

A Colorado ranch Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the ranch

Nothing was stirring, not even the snow on a branch;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The guests were nestled all snug in their beds;

While visions of tubing danced in their heads;

And mamma in her woolies, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out in the pasture there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Untied Bill’s rope curtain ties and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the mile-high snow,

Gave a lustre of midday to the meadow below,

When what to my wondering eyes, but of course,

A cherry red sleigh pulled by a big black horse,

With a handsome driver with the face of a boy,

I knew in a moment he must be Troy.

As he rounded up the herd, through the snow they came

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Trigger! now, Roper! now Mellow! and Tucker!

On, Tonto! on, Mosey! on, Cowboy! and Pucker!

To the top of the cabins! to the top of the Lodge!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As aspen leaves that before the thunder storm fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the tops of the cabins the horses all flew

With saddlebags full of toys, wrangled by Sam and KP, and others too—

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and stomping of each little hoof.

As I pulled on my bathrobe, and was turning around,

Down the chimney came Charlie with a thump and a bound.

He was dressed all in Carhartt, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of fresh towels he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a ski guide just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And his Stormy Kromer hat was all covered with snow;

A leftover scone he held tight in his teeth,

Chef Melissa is making us all round as a wreath;

A radio call from the front desk and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

Stocked our firewood, cleaned our hot tub, and delivered more wine; then turned with a jerk,

With a mention of the time tomorrow we should be ready to ski,

And a heads up that Ben would be waiting with coffee,

He sprang to his saddle, to his steed gave a whistle,

And away they flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

 

Merry Christmas from all of us at the ranch.  We hope you have a wonderful holiday!