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!


Wow, what a week it’s been here at the ranch.  As most all know, we lost a great person in losing Jerry Throgmartin on Sunday, January 22.  His passing was completely unexpected and caught us all very much off guard.  As you can expect, this past week has been one of grieving, logistics, planning, re-evaluating and more grieving.

I headed to Indiana along with Terry, Dace, Beka, and Ben and his family for the services in his hometown.  It was heartwarming to see all his family and friends and be able to see the huge number of people who’s lives have been touched by Jerry.  All that time, Charlie, Bill, Steve, Kelli, Reid and the rest of the crew kept the wheels turning at the ranch.  My amazing crew in the office stepped up and took over as much as possible, for which I am so thankful.  Then, on Sunday we hosted a celebration of life at the ranch.  Over 100 people showed up as Terry, Dace and Ben led the service with music and thoughtful words.   Peggy got to be here with her kids Nicky, Christy and Gregg along with some other family members.  It was a nice way to wrap up a week of mourning with celebration and laughter.

For me, I have come out of the week with an immense amount of gratitude.  I think I can speak for the entire team to this point.  We are grateful for the outpouring of love from friends and family who have circled around all of us to show their support and appreciation for how Jerry left an impact on them.  We are grateful to have such an amazing group of people here at the ranch who have become like family to each of us.  We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work for a man, and a family, who are so invested in each of us and the vision for the ranch.  We are grateful for the leadership Jerry offered to each of us, and the enthusiasm from the family to continue down the path we’ve  been walking.  We are grateful for the wonderful guests here this last week, who seized the opportunity to enjoy the ranch and celebrate a life well lived with us.  We are grateful for so much, and we are excited now to pick ourselves up and move forward with a man and a mission in mind.  We will continue to do our best to create an amazing experience for our guests and our staff.  We will continue to try to be the best dude ranch out there, knowing that we’re only as good as our efforts.  And we look forward to the road ahead of us, while keeping fond memories of a man who helped steer our course.  We hope you’ll join us on the ride, and know that a wonderful man had a vision that we all get to live out in his honor.

Remembering Jerry

All of us at the ranch want to thank those of you who have written such eloquent and heartfelt notes to us on the blog, on Facebook and via email.  We really appreciate your support in the past couple days since we lost Jerry.

For those of you who have inquired, there will be services in Indiana on Friday, January 27 at 11am.  I don’t have all the details on that service at this time.

Jerry’s Colorado family and friends will celebrate his life at the ranch on Sunday, January 29 from 2-4.

Please keep the wonderful notes, messages and thoughts coming about Jerry in lieu of flowers.  We are keeping them all for Peggy and her family.  Also, if any of you have a nice photo of Jerry at the ranch, we would love to be able to put together a slideshow of his cowboy days.  If you do have a photo, please send it along to Krista at info@vistaverde.com. This ranch was his dream, and we want to remember him living it to the fullest.


Ride on Cowboy

The Vista Verde Ranch family suffered a heartbreaking loss last night with the passing of owner Jerry Throgmartin.  He passed suddenly and unexpectedly after becoming ill.

Jerry and Peggy purchased Vista Verde in 2006 and invested their love, time and resources into making it not only the best ranch to visit, but the best place to work.  His support and dedication to the ranch team, the guest experience and the place we all love was tremendous.  Jerry touched so many lives and left an incredible legacy at the ranch.  It’s been a pleasure to see him live out his childhood dream of being a rancher—and even a greater delight to see him fall in love with the hospitality industry and creating the guest experience.  What many people did not get to see is how much time and energy he put into developing us as a management team.  He was, quite simply, the best person to work for.

At this time, we appreciate all your messages of love and support.  If we don’t respond right away, please know that we are thankful for the support.   Jerry was a sincere man of faith and even though his departure is an incredible loss to us, his family takes comfort that this has all been a part of God’s plan.  While we seek to comfort one another, the beauty of a ranch is that it is a reminder that life doesn’t stop.  Horses need to be fed, meals need to be cooked, and snow needs to be shoveled.

Many have asked how they can show their support at this time.  We are asking in lieu of flowers for guests to send a note with any memories of Jerry and what the ranch has meant to you.  He took great joy in sharing this “piece of heaven” with others.  We will share these notes with Peggy and Nicky as well as the ranch team.   Also, please feel free to post any messages on this blog or our Facebook page.  We will share it all with his family.

More details will follow about Jerry and services planned in Colorado.   In the meantime, we are thinking of Jerry riding his horse, sharing laughter with friends and family, with the sun shining on his back.  Ride on, Cowboy.  We love you and God bless.

Startle.com (part of Forbes Travel Guide)- January 2012

Saddle Up for Luxe Cowboy Getaways

  • Posted by Startle Editor Caroline Patek
  • January 11th, 2012 03:00 AM

What if you could learn the ins and outs of life as a cowboy (or cowgirl) while on a luxury vacation? Strap into your stirrups and get your best wrangling arm ready, because we’ve got three ranch getaways to check out:

The Little Nell. This year, the Five-Star Aspen hotel will introduce “Cowboy Camp 101,” a new overnight horse pack trip catering to families who want to experience the rugged outdoors. Try out backcountry living by creating your own fire, catching your own fish and horseback riding to Snowmass Lake. Kids will learn fly-fishing, about insect life and how to clean and cook their catch.

The Resort at Paws Up. You’ll have plenty of space to explore the outdoors at this 37,000-square-foot working cattle ranch in Greenough, Mont. The resort is chock-full of ranch activities and outings: Wrangle a herd during a cattle drive or practice your hatchet throwing. Competitive types can sign up for one of the resort’s big game-hunting or fly-fishing adventures, where you’ll survey the surrounding lush land and hone skills like trailing your prey and casting a line.

Vista Verde Ranch. Head to Steamboat Springs, Colo., to relax on a dude ranch. Aside from gourmet food, personal service and cozy-chic accommodations, the all-inclusive ranch also offers its fair share of outdoor activities to satisfy your inner John Wayne. During the fall, participate in a weeklong cattle roundup. First, immerse yourself in various cattle drive clinics, and then go out on the trail, searching out cows on 16,000 acres in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests.

Snow Dances

It’s nice to know that Mother Nature can call us all out on ever thinking we can control anything in life.   After last winter’s amazing snow fall, breaking records left and right, and leaving us piles of snow to start our summer season in June, this winter has gone the other direction.  As you can see from the photos (credit to amazing staff photography Jessica Eck!), there is some snow, and it is beautiful out here, we just get spoiled out here and have pretty high expectations.

In November, when we received about 3 feet of snow, we thought we were off to an early start of the winter resort season in Colorado.  December rolled around and it wasn’t as generous.  The staff came in for training, and there wasn’t any fresh snow.  But we still had so much from November, that we weren’t concerned.  As orientation went along, we all just kept thinking, “The fresh snow will come”.  And then it never did.  This same mindset played into the holidays, when we kept expecting that we would wake up to a White Christmas, and never did.  Having so much snow in November still made it a winter wonderland out here, and still allowed us to get out and enjoy the snow on skis, snowshoes, horses, sleighs, and snow tubes.  But, like I said before, we’re kind of spoiled out here and used to fresh snow gracing us frequently!

Last weekend, we had a beautiful dump of fresh snow, that added another great layer to the white frosting on the roofs of the cabins and Lodge.  It allowed Charlie to groom a little more of our ski trails, and for the guides to get to some terrain that they hadn’t skied for a little while.  This morning, the wind is kicking in and another storm should be rolling into the area.  We’ll see how much snow this storm brings, but are just grateful for anything we get these days!

So, my mantra this year has been, “Do your snow dances!”.  What’s a snow dance?  It’s whatever you want it to be.  Grooving to funky tunes, rocking out to the 80’s, sliding to a salsa beat, you name it.  Just turn up the tunes, think about snow, and start dancing!  Here’s the best part of it:  you will burn calories, have some fun, and it will help you get in shape for you to come out and strap on some skis to enjoy the fruits of your labor!  I have no idea if snow dances work, and the inner cynic in me doesn’t even want to think about it….but it’s fun so go with it.  Do your snow dances, and I’ll let you know if it’s working!

Ringing in the New Year at Vista Verde Ranch

Whew, where did the time go?  The holidays seem to be a bit of a vortex of time for all of us at the ranch.  From the whirlwind of getting the staff back in action, training the newbies, and getting everything in tip top shape to open for the season, to all the festivities of the holidays (more about that in a bit) to shuttling people to and from the airport, getting them out on skis, horses, sleds, sleighs, etc….it seems like December 1 rolls in and next thing we know we’re singing Happy New Year!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, surrounded by great people and a festivities.

Our holiday season seemed to be broken down into 3 pieces.  There were the folks who came out prior to Christmas and helped us kick off our season.  This was a smaller group of guests and we really enjoyed sharing some fun with them and gearing up for Santa’s arrival.  As they headed home, the Christmas guests rolled in.  What a great group of guests.  We deocorated gingerbread houses, sang carols around the fire, on the sleigh, and all around the ranch.  The Christmas day feast was amazing thanks to Chef Matt and his wonderfully hard working crew.  In the following days, this group of guests headed home to their realities while another group of guests rolled in to ring in the New Year with us.  Once again, we were surrounded with laughter, great energy and fun folks.  Our annual New Year’s progressive dinner started with a sleigh ride and some skiers, great food and a beautiful evening.  Following several stops and about 6 courses, we finished up in the Great Room with the highly anticipated boot drop.  Yes, we are fuddy duddies and this happens long before midnight.  But, when you are playing hard in the snow all day, you need your sleep!

One of my highlights of the holidays was getting an “office pass” as Charlie likes to call it, and going out to lead a snowshoe tour up by Hahn’s Peak.  It was a beautiful day, and I got to have a ton of fun with Holly, Tim and Ted.  Lucky me.

Now we are into our adult only times, and with that comes the many honeymooners, some romantic vacation seekers, some getting away with friends, and some just sneaking away on their own for a bit of R&R.  We’re enjoying the crew here this week.  There are some here for their first time, some back after not being here for a while, and even one gal who just snuck away from close by to snowshoe and relax.  It’s a great way to start the New Year!

Here’s to a great year for all of you!  We hope to have you join us in 2012.  We’re filling up for the winter season, but there are still spots here and there. Surprisingly, we have room leading up to Valentine’s Day….so get your sweetheart and come out for a memorable Valentine’s Day getaway this year!

Deja Vu

It seems like I have posted pictures of a “new team” several times in the past couple years.  Yes, we have struggled a bit to find a good pair to replace Zig and Zag.  If I am counting correctly, I think we have tried 4 times.  And, we are really hoping that the 4th time is a charm with this new pair.

Draft horse teams are a tricky thing.  They need to work well together.  They need to have the right temperament.  It’s nice if they are attractive.  And they need to be able to pull a lot more at our ranch than what many teams pull in other settings.  A fully loaded sled in a foot of fresh powder isn’t an easy thing to drag along behind you.  It may sound easy, but those are hard horseshoes to fill.

In come  Tim and Tom.  Maybe not the fanciest looking team, but still healthy and strong. Reid and Terry had this team shipped in from Montana the other night, and so far they are proving to be exactly what we have needed all along.  Their first big test will be Saturday night with the caroling sleigh ride.  If they can handle a sleigh loaded with singing people in the dark, then they will have passed the ultimate test.  Between now and then, they are getting a lot of practice runs!  Hopefully this will be the last time you see a post about a new team for a long time!

Enjoy the holidays.  When it all gets to be too much, just imagine yourself gliding through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh, and the jingle bells ringing.  We’re living it out here at the ranch!

Leaving the Ranch

I love, love, love this post that we just had on our Facebook page from Ann:

This picture is my daughter who was so sad to leave Vista Verde yesterday. Last Sunday my kiddos headed out for an awesome trail ride while I back-country skied across frozen Hahn’s Peak Lake with one of your amazing guides. Today, I’m in Salt Lake City’s inversion and have yet to see the sun. Thank you Vista Verde!

Followed by a comment from Ann:

Today I unpacked and found that Willy the Moose was kidnapped again. Please advise as to your mailing address and Willy will be returning to this surreal winter wonderland.

Ann- Willy is yours to keep!  You just have to keep hiding him each night or the magic might go away.

‘Tis the Season

Here we are, 5 days until we open for the season, and despite the wintery feel outside, the heat is definitely turned up at the Ranch these days.  For those of you who follow this blog, you may notice a direct correlation with our orientation weeks and me falling off the blogging bandwagon.  It’s a pretty intense time here at Vista Verde each season. 

There really aren’t that many new staff this winter, but most of the return staff are from last summer so that still need to get the full orientation so they know what to expect from a winter season.  As much as we are still the same good old Vista Verde, the two seasons are really quite different.  With folks coming and going every day, rather than a set check-in and check-out day, there isn’t as much of a rhythm to the winter season.  And, an entirely different set of activities as well as the job of moving snow daily means new roles for most of the staff. 

Sarah is heading up the dining room again this winter, with Jessica returning to help her but a new crew otherwise.  Melissa is leading the charge in housekeeping with Lindsey returning to take off her hiking boots and dig in on any dirt inside the cabins.  Also changing hats is Kristin, who swapped her dining room role for a more behind the scenes one in housekeeping.  You wont miss her ability to strike up a conversation with anyone as she’ll still make her presence known!  Steve and Kelli have a whole new crew in the guide department, but all faces you may recognize from this past summer.  Kathy (dining room), Jess (wrangler) and Zack (ranch hand) have all felt the pull of the outdoors and are busy learning the ins and outs of the Nordic Center.  Matt has a largely returning crew in the kitchen with Lewis, Lisa and Vinny all sticking around.  Evan is going to help over the holidays as well.  In the office, Krista (KC) has come back for another dose of keeping me organized, as well as the entire ranch.  And Charlie has Jason and Tom back as well as Anna jumping in from the barn to help with everything outside.  John saved us in a pinch by jumping in to help for the short term when Dace had the coveted dishwasher position open up last minute.  And Terry and Reid (who has taken the head wrangler role) are lucky enough to have Nathan and John sticking around to help in the barn.  So, as you can see, there are many familiar faces in addition to Ben, Dace, me, Charlie, Steve, Kelli, Terry, Reid, Nicky, Beka, Matt and Bill.  We hope you enjoy seeing them this winter, as well as meeting those who are here for their first season!

You can enjoy reading about the crew on our Staff page.  Photos of the new folks will be coming soon as Carla just took them late last week.

I’m excited that I have two writers in the Front office, so expect to see some guest blogging this winter.  Requests for topics are always welcomed!

New budget rooms at Vista Verde

We’ve added some new accommodations to the ranch.  No, we haven’t expanded our capacity for people.  We’ve expanded it for horses!  After several years learning how the beautiful indoor arena fits into our program, we are finding that we need the ability to house more horses indoors.  So, this fall, we took on a project inside the indoor arena, adding 9 more stalls.  This will allow us to keep more training horses in the arena, so we can be working on improving our herd more consistently.

While the stalls have been built, we also re-did the insulation in the arena.  Lesson learned the hard way, traditional insulation does not work in a humid environment like an indoor arena.  So, that insulation was pulled out and we applied spray insulation.  This should help reduce the energy required to heat the arena in the future, and takes away any potential mold issues.

Terry and the wranglers are anxiously waiting for the project to be finished so they may start riding the horses inside again.  The snow covered outdoor arena doesn’t quite do the trick this time of year!

Empanada Filling

Chef Matt also updated his Empanada filling recipe to make it more user friendly.

Makes: 25


6- 6 oz. chicken breasts

½ – cup dry rib rub

1-Large yellow onion medium diced

1-Cup of toasted and rough chopped pistachios

Salt and pepper to taste

3- oz- olive oil

2- oz- butter


  1. Melt the butter in a sauté pan and slowly caramelize the onions on very low heat for about 2 hours.
  2. Rub down all the chicken breast with the olive oil and rib rub then grill of the chicken breasts to medium well.
  3. Once chicken has cooled cut it to medium dice and mix in the caramelized onions and pistachios. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and begin filling your empanadas.


Depending on how much filling you use in each one you may have less or more so play with your amounts to get the right amount of filling for the amount of dough.

Sweet empanadas are great also that you can make with some diced apples caramelized with butter, vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon. When you make sweeter ones you can add baking spices to the dough as well and a little brown sugar.

These can be really good served warm with vanilla ice cream.


Empanada Dough

Chef Matt has updated his Empanda Dough recipe to make it more usable.  Enjoy!

Makes: around 50(varies on the thickness of the dough and size of cutter)


4 ½ cups – All purpose flour

3 cups – Masa harina

1 tbsp. – baking powder

1 tbsp. – Salt

12 oz. – melted butter

½ to 2 cups – water

1-Egg blended with 2 ounces of milk

  1. Mix together the flour, masa, baking powder and salt in a kitchen aid mixer
  2. Slowly add in the melted butter on medium speed and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add in the water until the dough pulls together but is not sticky.
  4. Divide the dough into 3rds and let rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before shaping.
  5. On a floured surfaced roll out the dough to 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch in thickness.
  6. Cut out the dough with a 4 to 5 inch pastry cutter, brush ½ of the dough with the egg milk mixture add in your filling ( about 1 ½ tbsp.) then fold over the dough and seal up the empanada.
  7. Once all of the empanadas are done egg wash the top side and bake at 400 degrees F until golden brown.

This recipe can be easily cut in half or quartered to make the amount you need.

Bid on a 3 night stay this winter!

Vista Verde has donated a stay at the ranch to help raise funds for a local Steamboat couple.  Gary Crawford is a coach who works with Steph’s husband Todd at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.  A former Olympian, now training young athletes to follow in his footsteps, Gary has helped so many young athletes from the likes of four time silver medalist Johnny Spillane to the littlest kids on their way to Olympic dreams.  Gary’s wife, Kim, has suffered from major medical issues the past several years.  In this struggle, they have racked up an overwhelming amount of medical bills.  To help get them back on their feet, the local community is sponsoring an event November 18.  One of the items to be auctioned off is a 3 night winter stay at Vista Verde for 2 people.

To help increase the amount of bidding, we are opening up the auction via our Facebook page, for any of you to bid on that stay.  You can just post your bid on our wall.   If you are not on Facebook, or don’t want to have your name published with your bid amount, you may email Steph your highest bid and she will bid for you.  Email Steph at reservations@vistaverde.com.  The bidding will close at 8:45pm Mtn time on Friday, November 18.

The 3 night stay for 2 people is offered anytime during the winter (December 16, 2011-March 18, 2012, based on availability.  The stay may not be used for an existing reservation.  The value of the 3 night stay is $2,200.  Included in the stay is airport transfers from the Steamboat airport, meals, beer and wine, activities, guides, equipment and instruction.

To increase the value of the package, Olympic medalist Johnny Spillane and Todd Lodwick have offered to include a ski lesson with one of them, again dependent on their availability due to their winter competition schedule.  A lesson from an Olympic medalist?  That makes the package priceless.

Let the bidding begin!

The Vista Verde Royal Wedding

Over the weekend, we all were wrapped up in the excitement of Johanna and Javin’s wedding.  It was an amazing day!  I know many of you have been waiting for the details, so here they are:

In the days leading up to the wedding, the sun was shining and it was just beautiful around the ranch.  We started getting ready a few days before as the Lodge needed a pretty deep clean after being closed for a month.  We had moved all the furniture into the basement a few weeks earlier, so we had a clean slate for the wedding. Thursday Sarah and Lewis did a major shopping run, to get all the groceries for the brunch.  Thursday night the girls put on a little shin-dig for Jo, showering her with fun little goodies and whooping it up late into the night.  Friday the rental tables, chairs, etc.. showed up, and that is when the Lodge started to transform.  The Great room was set up for the ceremony, the Dining room for a post ceremony gathering, and in the wing we had everything staged for a great turnaround after the ceremony.  Jo and Jav were calm and cool during the rehearsal.  I had to laugh, looking at Jo’s bridesmaids.  Anita and Steph were two of them, and then she had two friends from growing up in Indiana.  The ranch friends were in skirts and cowgirl boots, while the “city friends” did their part to bring real world fashion to the ranch.

Early Saturday morning, we all started getting ready.  We knew it was coming, but were still somewhat surprised to wake up to lightly falling snow.  Lewis was madly cooking in the kitchen, Ben and I were doing a final clean on the Lodge, and Jo and her bridesmaids were up bright and early for hair and make up.  The cowgirls clean up well!  After some photos in the Great room, everyone was ready for the main event.  At 10am, Javin escorted the mothers down the aisle, while Jo waited behind closed doors in the dining room.  Nathan was playing DJ with the ceremony music, while many of us rushed from our roles in the set up in time to grab a seat and watch the ceremony.  It was beautiful, casual, and touching.  And, to no one’s surprise, they both said “I do” and then sealed it with a kiss.

After the ceremony, we moved the guests into the Dining room to enjoy some coffee, sign the guest book pages and watch a slideshow of the couple.  During that time, the newlyweds took the more traditional family photos.  The photographers even got them to step outside into the falling snow.  Cody even jumped in on a few photos with his favorite gal.   During that hour, there was a mad rush in the Great room as we took away the chairs, rolled in 9 tables, set them and got ready for the brunch.  It was amazing to see so many people pitch in to help.  There were the current staff who were on the schedule to help.  But, then all the former staff (think Kyle, AJ, Lee, Teresa, Josh, Jess, Rachel, Jenn, and more) hopped in and were willingly put to work.  Much to Sarah’s surprise, we turned the entire room around in about 15 minutes.  I am always amazed at how quickly a job like that can be completed when so many people help.  That gave everyone a little more time to visit, sip coffee and enjoy the beautiful view outside.

As the guest sat at their tables, we brought in the bridal party and then the newlyweds.  While folks dined, they visited and hugged, took more photos, and then finally got a bite to eat themselves.  Lewis did an outstanding job of preparing an amazing brunch spread as the solo chef of the event.  He told me he decided to come in earlier to just do it himself when he heard his kitchen assistant was going to be Terry.  He may be great on a horse, but with sharp knives?  It really was fun to watch the core management staff jump in and pull off this wedding with just a few of us.  Dace manned the waffle station, Bill carved the ham, Kelli assisted Sarah with the buffet, Steve manned the juice bar and Charlie was Mr. Coffee.

After a wonderful meal, we toasted with mimosas, enjoyed cupcakes for the wedding cake, and sent them on their way to Colorado Springs for their honeymoon.  After they left, the Great room took another transformation.  The tables and chairs went away, and all the regular furniture came back up.  We had planned to do that while there were so many of us around to get it done quickly.  Once again, all sorts of folks jumped in to help and the job was done in less than an hour.  The TV was switched to a football game, and the crew all enjoyed relaxing and visiting for a while.

From all of us at the ranch, we wish Jo and Jav the very best.  We love you like family, and will miss you as you move onto your next venture in life!

Shuffling Horses

By guest blogger- Reid Morgan

November at Vista Verde means many different things, but in the horse department, it means preparing our herd for the rigors of a Steamboat Springs Winter. We’ve been moving horses around from pasture to pasture, building new stalls in the indoor arena for some “5 star” horse living quarters, and also buying, selling, and donating horses. We have been on a mission to send some of our older horses to good homes this fall as it can be a challenge for the older guys to stay fat and happy through the cold winter. Many of our older horses (Red and Casey) have been going to therapeutic riding centers, where they’ll live happily in a warm stall and continue to give joy to the children who ride and learn from them. Some of our horses (Gaeton, Wyatt, and Sugar) are finding homes with kind individuals who are looking for a friend. One of our ponies (Arapaho) even traveled all the way to North Carolina for retirement! We get very excited to pass these horses, who have given us so much, on to new owners who will enjoy them in their later years.

Do not think, friends, that we are only giving away horses though! Indeed, we are adding to the herd as well. Just this past weekend a few of us headed down the road to an estate auction to check out a herd in Steamboat Springs.  The owner of this ranch passed away almost 4 years ago, leaving 26 horses to pasture for almost 4 years! These horses had been used for sleigh rides, hunting and camping trips, and even some trail rides and cattle work. It was very exciting to see the community rally around this family to help them find good homes for these horses. Though there are good arguments for and against the horse-meat market, no one wanted to see these horses have to suffer a trip all the way down to Mexico, so we all showed up to see what we could do! Vista Verde was able to provide a home for 3 of these horses, 2 beautiful white Percherons (full brothers) and one sweet black half-draft named “Stormy.” We are so excited to see how these big white boys do pulling our feed sleigh and we just now are getting the snow to make that possible! Also, we’re looking for good names for these two, any suggestions?

It’s always great to be amongst people who care as much for these beautiful animals as we at Vista Verde do, and the community of Steamboat Springs in one such group of people. Our horses give us such joy and companionship over the years, and teach us so much about ourselves! It’s all we can do to give back to them for their kindness and loyalty.

About.com – November 2011

Cattle drive at Vista Verde Guest Ranch in ColoradoHerding cattle back to Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado

© 2011 Dick Friedland

When I tell my friends I just came back from a roundup and cattle drive the inevitable response includes jokes about playing Billy Crystal in the movie City Slickers. In actuality the similarity ends with horses and cows.

I was at Vista Verde Guest Ranch, northwest of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the last week in September for the final week of a month-long cattle drive. I live in Colorado and chose this particular week for three reasons. First, the weather is usually good, with colder nights that quickly turn into warm days. Second, the aspen tree leaves have turned golden and it’s just beautiful. Third, the majority of the 1,000-head herd has been brought in, so we were heading up into the high country to help roundup strays, that didn’t want to be found. We needed to bring cows down from the open range before the deep snow falls and they eventually starve.

While all levels of riders can participate in the drive, my group’s experience made City Slickers seem like a walk in the park.

Link to full article

About.com – November 2011

The Mountain Bike Park at Colorado’s Vista Verde Dude Ranch – by Lois Friedland on About.com Adventure Travel
Bike Terrain Park at Vista Verde Ranch near Steamboat, ColoradoBike Terrain Park at Vista Verde Ranch near Steamboat, Colorado

© 2011 Lois Friedland

A tricky bike terrain park is set up a short bicycle ride from Vista Verde Guest Ranch’s main lodge. In the park, there are obstacles, rails and mini-courses where new mountain bike riders can learn skills, and skilled bicyclists can have a lot of fun.

The terrain park has been set up by Steven King, the biking guide whose skills let him easily balance his bike on a teeter-totter, and weave his way through a narrow rock-lined course then ride a rail at the end. He works with the groups of bicyclists who come to the park to improve their skills.

The course was designed, in part, to occupy the teenagers and other children who visit the ranch and aren’t interested in spending all week on a horse. (The day I was there, a duo of laughing, determined adults were learning to navigate challenges in the park.)


The bike terrain park is also a place to start and learn the skills needed to go on the single-track trails in the surround mountains. Some guests prefer easier routes, like the road that leads to a store where they can get ice-cream cones before riding back to the ranch.

About.com – November 2011

About.com Adventure Travel

Happy Hour with the Horses at Vista Verde dude ranch- by Lois Friedland

Wine glass in hand, we strolled around the pasture rubbing the silky hair on the flanks of horses that walked up and nuzzled us gently. Welcome to “Happy Hour With the Horses” at Vista Verde Guest Ranch. In addition to horseback riding, it was just one of the special experiences we enjoyed at this luxury guest ranch near Steamboat, Colorado.

During the time we were at Vista Verde, my husband, Dick, trained for a cattle drive then spent a day on the range bringing an octet of maverick cows back to the pasture for the winter. (As he indicates in his article about the cattle drive, the reality doesn’t resemble scenes from the City Slickers movie.)

I went riding but preferred to spend much of my energy hiking to see Colorado’s fall foliage, biking to watch others practice their skills in a mountain bike terrain park, and sampling rock climbing for the first time.

After a day of “roughing it” in the outdoors, we’d retire to our cabin (where I finally found the honest definition of “rustic luxury”) to clean up. Evenings included leisurely gourmet dinners, chatting with the eclectic mix of guests attracted to the ranch’s smorgasbord of outdoor activities. We’re still in touch with some of the people we met.

On the following photo pages, you’ll learn and see more about the special style of horseback riding at Vista Verde, training for cattle drives, where to go hiking, rock climbing and play in the dude ranch’s bike terrain park.

Link to full article

How you know vacation worked

I have kept this email in my inbox as I just love reading it. Each time I read Jason’s words, I laugh. But it also reminds me how a Vista Verde experience follows people home. While Jason was here with some friends, we talked a bit about how people take their experiences at the ranch home with them, and how that impacts their lives in different ways. Even after 15 years at this ranch, I am still amazed at how it creeps into many people’s lives when they are not here with us. It’s humbling, and exciting to know the ranch has that power. So, for your reading pleasure, I share Jason’s statement after he returned from our fall horsemanship retreat:

I got on the freeway this morning and needed to pass a car in front of me. I shifted my hips in the seat, lifted my left leg slightly, and started to move my right leg in….when I tried to pizza box my hands over the steering wheel it occurred to me that the car wouldn’t pass like I wanted….

Many thanks to the team. It’s always a good time.


Buttermilk biscuits

Makes: 4 dozen


20 oz. -all purpose flour

16 oz. – cake flour

2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. – baking powder

2 tsp. – baking soda

4 tsp. – sugar

2 tsp. – salt

1-lb. butter

3 cups- buttermilk

4- oz.- yogurt

1-    Set the oven to 350 F then medium dice the butter and break it up with your hands.

2-   Mix together all of the dry ingredients then sift; Cut in the butter with your hands until all of the butter is in small flakes.

3-    Add in the butter milk and the yogurt then mix until fully combined.

4-   Roll out the dough to about an inch thickness then punch out the biscuits with a pastry cutter of your desired thickness.

5-   Place the biscuits on an un-greased cookie sheet about a ½ inch apart and bake until the tops are golden brown, then cool for about five minutes or serve hot

Sausage gravy


3 tbsp. – bacon fat

1- finely minced shallot

3 tbsp. – all purpose flour

¾ lbs. – breakfast sausage

1 tsp. – sugar

1/8  tsp. – smoked paprika

whole milk as needed

salt and pepper to taste

1-   Heat a medium sized sauce pot on the stove then add in bacon fat, melt down then add in the sausage. Once the sausage is almost cooked and broken up add in the shallot and cook until translucent.

2-   After cooking in the shallot add in the flour a bit at a time along with the paprika and sugar until a wet sand consistency is achieved. Roux should in general be about equal parts flour and fat.

3-   Once the roux is cooked for a minute or 2 add in milk a bit at a time adjusting consistency as the gravy thickens. Cook the gravy on low heat for at least 10 minutes adding more milk as needed. I add the pepper and salt at the end so the pepper does not become too spicy and it is easier to gauge.

Grilled peach jalapeno bbq sauce

Makes: 1 cup


3- Jalapenos roasted, peeled, and seeded

½ – peach seeded quartered and grilled

2-shallot small diced

2-clove of garlic minced

½ cup- white balsamic vinegar

¼ cup- rum

2-tbsp. – honey

½ – vanilla bean split and seeded

1-cup of ketchup

1-cup of chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Sauté the roasted jalapenos, shallot, and garlic in a little olive oil until the shallots turn translucent. Deglaze with rum, flame off, then add the balsamic vinegar, honey, ketchup and stock.
  2. Cook on the stove at a low simmer until reduced by 1/3. Puree the mixture in a blender and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and vinegar if necessary.
  4. Continue to simmer if needed until the sauce reaches the right thickness and cool down for service.


Jalapeno sweet and tangy sauce

Makes: 1 cup


3- Jalapenos roasted, peeled, and seeded

1-shallot small diced

1-clove of garlic minced

1-tsp. – cilantro rough chop

½  cup.-Sherry vinegar

¼ cup- tequila

2-tbsp. – honey

1tsp. – toasted cumin

1-cup of ketchup

1-cup of chicken stock

  1. Sauté the roasted jalapenos, shallot, and garlic in a little olive oil until the shallots turn translucent. Deglaze with tequila, flame off, then add the cilantro, sherry vinegar, honey, toasted cumin, ketchup and stock.
  2. Cook on the stove at a low simmer until reduced by 1/3. Puree the mixture in a blender and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and vinegar if necessary.
  4. Continue to simmer if needed until the sauce reaches the right thickness and cool down for service.


Soy Sesame Dressing


4-shallots minced

6-cloves of garlic crushed

2inch chunk- fresh ginger

2cups- soy sauce

1cup- teriyaki

1cup- red wine vinegar

1cup- orange juice

½ cup- rice wine vinegar

½ cup- lime juice

2 tbsp- Dijon mustard

2 tbsp- honey

2tbsp- tahini

2 tbsp- sirachi

3cups- vegetable oil

4cups- sesame oil

2tsp- red pepper flakes

2tsp- granulated garlic

1cup- sesame seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. 1.     Mix together the first 13 ingredients down to the line above the vegetable oil
  2. 2.     Blend the ingredients until the mixture is homogenized, then slowly add in the vegetable oil first then the sesame oil.
  3. 3.     Add in the rest of the ingredients then adjust the seasoning.

Peanut Butter Cookies


2 ½ cups- A. p. flour

½ tsp. – Baking Soda

½ tsp- baking powder

1 tsp. – salt

½ lb. – unsalted butter

7 oz. – light brown sugar

1 cup – crunchy peanut butter

2 large – eggs

2 tsp. – vanilla

1 cup – dry roasted salted peanuts ground in a food processor to resemble bread crumbs.

  1. Heat your oven to 350 Degrees F. Line 2 baking dishes with parchment paper, and coat them with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together, and set aside.
  3. Whip the butter, and add sugar until fluffy. Add the peanut butter until fully incorporated, then add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla.
  4. Ad the dry ingredients in at slow speed, then finally the peanuts.
  5. Roll the dough into 2-in. balls, then place them on a baking sheet 2 ½ in. apart. Press each ball twice with a dinner fork, to make a crisscross design.
  6. Bake in the oven till slightly brown on the edges, about 10 min. Cool down for about 3 minutes
  7.  IF you want add 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips to the recipe.