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!

Back in the saddle again

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been immersed in the holidays and helping to take care of all the great guests we had here. It was a wonderfully fun and bustling time at the ranch with all sorts of special events and activities unique to the season. For both the Christmas and New Years week we were surprised by how active our guests were on their vacations! We had at least 4-5 ski trips going out each morning, horseback riding on the trail and lots of people in the indoor arena, sledders and then snowshoers too. We also spent a lot of time shuttling guests to and from the Steamboat Ski Resort for downhill skiing. All in all, it was a fun holiday! This past week has been one of catching up a bit as the guest counts dropped significantly. We had some extra staff come in to help us with the holidays, so they also headed back to school this week. Most of them had worked for us this past summer, so it was great to have them back for a couple weeks. Now we’re into our adult-only time, so we have a max of about 20 guests and more typically around 12 or so. We tend to not have guests going as many different directions since so many who come right now are avid skiers. But we’re still getting a lot of horseback riders, some snowmobilers and even the adults like sledding!

I had a friend visiting from California who came up and took some amazing shots at the ranch over the holidays and then again yesterday. He originally came up to take some interiors for his portfolio, but they turned out so well that I invited him back yesterday to a bunch of outdoor activities. Alex is a photographer who’s work varies from architectural photography to travel and fashion shoots. We had a blast and he got some great shots. He’s a really talented I’m sure I’ll be using them as I do updates to the website and brochure down the road!

New Years at the Ranch

A ranch holiday is unlike any other. We do things just a bit differently. No ball gowns, no big city lights, and we don’t even really make it to midnight. It might sound boring, but we all had a blast yesterday. The evening started out at the Kid’s hut for the first course of dinner. Then we strapped on our skis, and some hopped on the sleigh, and headed out to Homestead for course #2. The place was lit up with candles and a crackling fire and Matt was preparing all sorts of goodies to taste. Hot mulled wine and spiced cider warmed everyone up before we jumped back on the trail to go to the Indoor Arena where sparkly lights and nickering horses awaited us along with a wonderful 3rd course. After that we moved down to the dining room for the main entree. The night finished up in the Great room with a plethora of desserts and the place decorated to the nines. Charlie’s boot drop was a spectacular way to finish the night and cheer in the New Year. We hope you all celebrated the night in style. Best of wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!

Deck the Hall

With the new Great room, we decided to start a new ranch holiday tradition. Instead of going out and picking a single tree for the Lodge, we brought in a live spruce tree for each family. The other night, everyone gathered in the Great Room after dinner to make decorations and decorate their own tree. It got a little bit competitive, and we’re struggling to pick a winner. The trees are all lined up in the hall that leads from the Dining room to the Great room. Our halls have truly been decked!

Today we have the Yule log hunt. Tomorrow we’ll take the sleigh to Homestead for some caroling and roasted chestnuts. Then it’s the big feast on Christmas day and some major sledding.

Ho, ho, ho….Happy Holidays!

September at a Colorado Ranch

I was asked to write a quick blog post for Forbes travel guide today.  Although we’re looking at a lot of snow and winter vacation visitors right now, I was able to remind myself of the wonderful month of September, and those great adult only dude ranch vacation times.  

The cattle round up at Vista Verde gives guests a chance to luxuriate at night, and rough it by day.  During the week-long stay, guests at our all inclusive ranch immerse themselves in clinics early in the week, and then move out on the trail to search out the cows on a 16,000 acre allotment in the National Forest.  The riding is challenging, and the task is real.  Some days the cows outsmart the riders, which leads to a lot of terrain covered in the beautiful fall weather.  Other days, we find a group of them within minutes of leaving the trail, round them up, and are back in time for lunch. 

September is also a great time for fly fishing at Vista Verde Ranch.  With the weather a bit cooler, and the water a bit slower, the fish are eager and hungry.   Fisherman can enjoy casting in small streams, high alpine lakes and large rivers right around this Colorado getaway. 

With the beautiful weather in September, the aspens changing colors and the month being dedicated to adult only vacations, September is a great time for couples to sneak away for a romantic mountain vacation, friends to gather, and singles to retreat to Vista Verde Ranch.  

Local’s Day Fundraiser

To warm ourselves up for opening day, we decided to open our doors today to the locals. They were invited to come up and ski at the ranch for free and we had a nice group zipping around the trails all day. We did offer that they could leave a donation for the North Routt Charter school where Jack, Annie, Maddie, Lila and Cody all go to school. Kelli is heading down the road to pick up Maddie and hand off an envelope with almost $500 for the school right now! What a nice way to start the season. Tomorrow’s the big day…..I told you I would blog daily until then and I think I only missed 1 or 2 days. I’ll try to keep up with frequent posts during the holidays at the ranch.

The Winter Resort season is coming!

With only 5 days until we open our doors for family snow vacations.  Despite the wintery feel outside, the heat is definitely turned up at our dude ranch these days.

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 at our Steamboat Springs resort.  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.  They will surely lead some amazing cross country skiing trips in our beautiful Colorado mountains. 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!

 

Luxury all-inclusive resort stalls

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 winter program at the resort, 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. This will improve the guest experience at the ranch, both for winter vacations and summer dude ranch stays.

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!  The snow is piling up, and we are gearing up for the start of our winter season at our all-inclusive Colorado resort.

 

Win a 3 night winter vacation for 2 people!

Vista Verde has donated a stay at our luxury winter resort 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 an all-inclusive 3 night winter stay at Vista Verde Ranch Resort 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 all-inclusive 3 night stay for 2 people is offered anytime during the winter (January 2, 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 resort 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!

Shuffling Horses

November at our Colorado ski lodge 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.  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 Steamboat Springs resort 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.  Maybe you’ll get to enjoy a sleigh ride with your sweetheart during one of your romantic winter vacations?

 

Bringing Home Cows on a Cattle Drive

Bringing Home Cows On a Cattle Drive Isn’t Like the "City Slickers" Movie – by Dick Friedland
Cattle drive at Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado

Herding 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.

Thanks to Dick for this great article on his stay at our luxury ranch resort!

Link to full article

Lodging in Rustic Luxury at a Colorado dude ranch

Lodging in Rustic Luxury at a Colorado Dude Ranch – by Lois Friedland
Cabins at Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado

The cabins at Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado are surprisingly luxurious

(c) Lois Friedland

I’ve always thought the words "rustic luxury" were overused, but the cabins at Vista Verde Guest Ranch and Resort actually fit this term. Inside, guests curl up on a comfy couch or other hand-made wood furniture in front of a wood-burning stove, and retire to very comfortable beds. The all-inclusive weeks include refrigerators stocked with drinks and snacks, and a few bottles of wine. The number of bedrooms varies in the nine cabins but all have hot tubs. There are also three guest rooms in the lodge. When full, the guest ranch tops out at about 40 guests.

The guest to staff ratio is 1:1 and the staff – from the wranglers to the chef – are superb. The food is labeled "Cowboy Cuisine" but you can expect plenty of gourmet touches in the entrees, with suggested wines to match. From the custom furnishings to the soaps to the saddles and the organic beef and lamb, the ranch stays local whenever possible.

Vista Verde Guest Ranch All-Inclusive Week-Long Packages

In the summertime, everything, from the horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing is included. In the winter it’s snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and backcountry skiing. Steamboat Resort is about 25 miles away for guests who want downhill skiing or snowboarding. The Ranch Manager, Ben Martin, accurately outlines the ranch’s philosophy: "There’s everything to do but you don’t have to do anything."

The ranch has a 40 percent return rate in the summer, and the guests include many families because the ranch has special programs for the children. In the fall, there are some adult-only weeks.

VVR note- Thanks to Lois for a series of wonderful articles on luxury dude ranch vacations at Vista Verde on About.com Adventure Travel

The Team

Some of you may know that we lost Zig, one of our wonderful Percheron draft horses, last year. Since then we’ve been trying to figure out how to replace him. Usually when you work with a team, you buy them as a team. It’s very difficult to replace 1 member of a team as they definitely have a relationship and a work dynamic. We borrowed Whopper from some friends to see if we could pair him up with Zag, and we also bought Ben and Jerry who are a younger team. So far we haven’t found the right fit for our sleigh pulling needs. Today Terry, Jo and Nicky hooked up Ben and Zag together and it looks like they might be a good match. Zag is bigger than Ben, but his maturity is helping Ben learn to be a good little draft horse. It was a beautiful day and I got chills up and down my spine when I looked out and saw them making laps around the Sunday pasture. That is just such a magnificent sight…no matter how many times I’ve seen it. Just like running the horses in from pasture, it’s something I never tire of watching.

The Mountain Bike Park at Colorado’s Vista Verde Dude Ranch

The Mountain Bike Park at Colorado’s Vista Verde Dude Ranch- as seen on About.com by Lois Friedland

Bike 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.

Horseback Riding and Cattle Drives at Vista Verde Dude Ranch in Colorado

A great article by Lois Friedland on About.com Adventure Travel

Vista Verde Ranch offers much more than horseback riding. Some guests come just for the fly fishing, while others spend part of the time riding and the rest hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing or just relaxing. I opted to hike one day because it was prime fall foliage season in Colorado, when the aspen leaves look like liquid gold. Viewing the patches of gold among the deep green of the ponderosa and lodgepole pines, I decided Mother Nature stitched a patchwork quilt. Add in the occasional red patch of low-lying scrub oak, and it was almost impossible to take a bad picture.

The region has hundreds of miles of trails, but that day we hiked part of the Zirkel Circle in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. The trail meandered through forests and past streams, where rusty equipment left by 19th-century miners seeking gold littered the ground. We stopped to photograph wildflowers in the ruins of what was reputed to be a bordello.

Each day you had choices beyond riding, so another morning, a group of us walked among towering aspens with a professional photographer. She spent time with each of us to help us improve our photography skills.

Fun Winter Activities at a Dude Ranch

Ranchseeker posted this story on their blog in October, 2011.

As the temperature starts to drop many of RanchSeeker’s dude ranches are gearing up for their winter season. Gone are long, hot sunny days paving the way for winter fun. There are many activities that you can still enjoy at a dude ranch during the cooler winter months. Different dude ranches offer different winter activities depending on location, ranch amenities and the size of the dude ranch. Below are just some of the fun activities that you can find on your next dude ranch vacation.

1)      Skiing & Snowboarding. Some dude ranches like, Vista Verde Guest Ranch, are located near world famous romantic ski resorts. You can enjoy all the amenities of staying at a dude ranch and spend a few days hitting the slopes. Check with your ranch of choice, in advance, to see whether they can provide you with ski equipment and transportation to the mountain base.

Vista Verde Guest Ranch

 

2)      Cross Country Skiing & Snow Shoeing Vacations. At many dude ranches like, Ranch 4 Saisons, you can strap on a pair of snow shoes or cross country skis and head out to explore the snowy woods or meadows. A great way to spend the day outdoors and work up an appetite for a hearty dinner.

Ranch 4 Saisons

 

3)      Sleigh Rides. Various guest ranches, like Bar W, offer sleigh rides accompanied by hot chocolate and cozy blankets. It’s a special way to spend time with family and friends.

 

4)      Snowmobiling. Explore the back-country wilderness by snowmobile on your next winter dude ranch vacation. Western Pleasure Guest Ranch is just one guest ranch that offers a snowmobile package.

 

5)      Horseback riding. Winter horseback riding at a dude ranch is an unforgettable experience; one of the highlights of a winter ranch vacation when weather conditions permit.

 

6)      Dog-Sledding. Dog sledding is now being offered at some of the dude ranches and is a great opportunity to experience what can only be described as a truly one-of-a-kind adventure.

 

Bar W Guest Ranch

7)      Spa. For a truly relaxing winter-getaway many dude ranches offer spa treatments that you can enjoy in a winter setting.

 

Whatever you decide to do on your next dude ranch vacation RanchSeeker’s Dude Ranch Finder can help you find the ideal guest ranch.

Thanks Ashlie at Ranchseeker!  We love these winter vacation ideas!  Whether you are planning a family snow vacation or a romantic resort getaway, hopefully one of these ranches will fit your needs.

 

Fall season at our Colorado Lodge and Resort

The summer and fall luxury dude ranch vacation season officially closed on Sunday, but we do have a group of folks coming in today for a 4 day horsemanship clinic. In the days between the close of the regular season and this clinic, we took some time to regroup, process the season and have a little fun.

Sunday night the staff hosted a VVR “Prom” in the Great room to celebrate the finish of the season.   Some great outfits and hairdos were center stage of the evening.

Monday was the ever popular end of season meeting. Imagine a bunch of people who’s career objectives have been to not be in an office. Give them a summer of getting outside and playing in the backyard of a Colorado resort. Now, try to pin them down for a full day of sitting in a chair and having meetings. Challenging, yes. But this is how we get all our info about what worked, what didn’t and what changes we need to make for next summer’s dude ranch season.

The following day, many of the crew took off and played. We had two trailer loads of staff head up to the high country for a staff ride. The goal was to gather up the straggler cows that weren’t brought in the past weeks. The crew did get another small group, but there are still plenty out there to bring back home before the winter ski resort lodge season arrives.

While the crew was out playing, a posse of future wranglers showed up at the ranch. My youngest daughter’s pre-school class did a field trip to the ranch for the day. It was pretty humorous watching all these little kiddos take in the ranch setting. And it pretty well confirmed to me why our program works really well for kids 6 and up, but not so well for the younger ones. The kids were met at the Lodge by the hay wagon, with Jason and Nathan lending a hand to drive the team. We took them up to the arena where Sugar and Pinky, two of our most trustworthy “old guys” were waiting for a ride. Each kid got a turn to be led around the arena. Terry entertained the little ones by teaching them how to honk their saddle horns and laughing the whole time. After riding, they had a picnic on the patio and then headed back for nap. I was jealous at that point, thinking it might be nice to have my own personal nap time in the Great room. Ahhh, if I could be a pre-schooler all over again I would enjoy naps much more!

As we await the horsemanship clinic attendees this afternoon, there seems to be some weather rolling in. Hopefully the gorgeous weather we’ve had the past couple weeks will hold on a bit longer, but there is always the indoor arena if these clouds turn into something more serious.  I hear snow is in the forecast.  So, if you need winter vacation ideas, we might be ready for the ski season sooner than later!

 

Glam.com article on our Luxury Dude Ranch

Bridle Party: Horsing Around at Vista Verde Ranch

I had never gotten on a horse before in my life. But after getting married in Beaver Creek, Colorado, my new husband and I started our all-American adventure in the sleepy city of Steamboat Springs, a quaint and charming town with lots of open land and a disproportionate population of horses. We had somehow wound up on very foreign territory at Vista Verde Ranch, a breathtaking and remote retreat where we were expected to ride and wrangle with the best of them. (When did I agree to this?) Good thing I’ve always had a soft spot for cowboy boots and hats. Hoist me up and let’s get saddled.

When I told friends we were honeymooning at a “luxury dude ranch,” most people were understandably skeptical. I’m not really known for my athleticism, I’m allergic to large, hairy animals (my husband aside), and I’ve never, ever expressed any interest in horseback riding – let alone dude ranching. Their concern was well justified. But luxury is something I am familiar with, and I held out hope that the two contradictory travel genres would cancel each other out and land me somewhere on middle ground.


Roughing It
Upon arrival, we were greeted by Stephanie, a genuine cowgirl training her horse and walking the grounds. She let us pet her kind-tempered companion and pointed us toward to our cottage where we’d be shacking up and playing house. “It’s our policy to leave everything unlocked around here so just walk right on in.” I laughed. Dan laughed… Oh, she was serious.

Our rustic two-story home away from home was anything but rough. This country-cute cottage was cozy and inviting with an open kitchen, large living area, master bedroom, two additional bedrooms, and two bathrooms. (At least if any intruders did sneak into our lock-free cottage, they wouldn’t have to sleep in bed with us.) The wood-burning fireplace made for cuddly, warm nights and the private patio Jacuzzi was a happy surprise. There are no TVs, but since our days were packed with vigorous activities, and our nights were meant for romantic rendezvous*, the lack of television was a welcome change. (*Read: we were so whipped from riding horses, hiking, and biking, that we’d pass out cold at 8 pm sharp.)


Gitty-Up!
Have I mentioned I’ve never gotten on a horse before? I’ll tell you one thing: it’s a lot higher up than it looks. I sadly swapped my straw hat for a hard helmet. Safety over style, my friends.

The guests at Vista Verde – there were about 25 during our stay – generally stay at the ranch for about a week. It’s a comprehensive course, where one gradually learns the basic and not-so-basic skills of riding, and ultimately leaves an accomplished jockey. Dan and I, however, would only be there for two days. So we had to cram a week’s worth of training into 48 short hours. Thankfully, I had DB as my partner in crime.

DB was the horse I was assigned to ride (not to be confused with Dan Boyce, my new husband). A sweet, gentle creature, my handsome horse was a total mush – much like my other DB (awwwww!).

Dan, my Steamboat Dreamboat, riding Zip.

After a few minutes atop my mild-mannered mustang, I felt completely at ease and surprisingly confident. I didn’t need to clutch the reins with all my strength or scream commands. DB and I could practically read each other’s minds; we were getting on like an old-married couple. (Apparently horses lick their lip when they feel good about mutual communication, and DB looked like a kid with an ice cream cone.) Our trainers taught us how to turn, trot, and maneuver, and in no time we were racing obstacle courses and galloping home. It was amazing. I was doing it! And if we had stuck around for the rest of the week, Dan and I would have learned to herd cattle with our fellow vacationers. (I’m still so jealous.)

Guests are also encouraged to take advantage of other on-and-off property activities – like fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and hot air ballooning. It’s a pretty spectacular destination for an action-packed (but admittedly exhausting) getaway.


Chow Down
Meal time at Vista Verde is an extraordinary experience. An all-inclusive, all-you-can-eat ranch, Vista Verde doesn’t want you to worry about expense, but rather enjoy the tasty morsels being served up morning, noon, and night. And after a busy morning “ranching,” the massive buffet-style lunch is a sight for sore eyes. There’s plenty to spare for seconds, and the comfort food couldn’t be any more comforting.

After a nightly happy half-hour, communal dinners are served in the deluxe dining room. Dan and I were lucky to feast on the delicious food and toast to our successful days at a table with our friends including a few incredibly cool staff members. That’s probably the best part about Vista Verde — it really is a community. You meet new people and make new friends and laugh, learn, and embrace life together. It takes you on an emotional journey on and off the horse. It’s unlike any other experience.

I was definitely disappointed when we had to turn in our saddles and part ways — and even sadder to say goodbye to DB. It turns out this city slicker has developed a love for life on the range. And my new cowboy boots are proof that you can take the girl out of Colorado, but you can’t take the Colorado out of the girl.

Vista Verde Ranch
Steamboat Springs, CA 80477
970-879-3858
https://www.vistaverde.com

the dude ranch Summer season comes to a close

To update you all on where we are in our summer dude ranch season, we have moved from our dude ranch for families time to adults only, and then adults only cattle round up weeks.  This is our final cattle round up week, and also our final week of the season.  We have had 4 total weeks of rounding up cattle, and have brought in about 250 head so far, so there is still some work to be done this week.  While not all the guests at our Colorado lodge and resort participate in the cattle round up while on their ranch holiday, we have had a lot of folks heading out to ride the back country and find those critters.

The first week was the most successful, as we got the cows who seemed to be the most willing to be rounded up.  The second week was the week of weather, with rain, drizzle, fog, but still some sunshine in there.  That was a hearty and willing group of guests who laughed their way through the weather and brought sunshine to our lives!  Last week it seems like fall officially hit us.  The colors started to change, the air got a bit more crisp and it finally felt like September is suppose to feel around Steamboat Springs.  This week is a continuation of that great weather, and we are gearing up with our cattle clinics today, and will start looking for more cows tomorrow.

Sunday is our official closing day, but we are going to sneak in a quick horsemanship clinic next week for a couple days.  The staff will be heading out for off-season adventures or moving on to their next step in life.  Those of us considered “lifers” will be getting together to reflect on the season, make plans on how to improve our all inclusive resort experience, and look forward to gearing up for the winter season, when we become more of a Colorado ski lodge.  And, of course, even though we live in vacation paradise…we’ll probably be taking a little time to get out of town for some time off.  Oh, and we have a wedding to throw in November…I’ll be posting all sorts of photos of Johanna and Javins’ wedding on November 12, in the Great room!

We hope to see you this winter for some fun in the snow!

 

Moonlight Hiking at our Colorado Resort

John and some of the staff had a little adventure last week.  Here is his tale of their hike up Hahn’s Peak.  Hahn’s Peak is one of the hallmark peaks around our Colorado Lodge and Resort.  In the summer we hike it, but if you come for a winter vacation then we put on skis to get up the mountain.

Last Sunday a group of Vista Verde Ranch staff did a full moon hike to summit Hahn’s Peak. The moonlight negated any need for headlamps, yet the multitudes of rock pieces made the last stretch of the ascent fairly difficult. Without shelter of trees at the top, the wind picked up quite a bit so we hid out in the abandoned tower at the summit. Trey brought his ukulele to play a few songs while the group was huddling in the cover of the tower. After quickly posing for a group shot at the top of the mountain everyone headed back down. The staff members from left to right in the group picture: John Hill (Pool Manager), Kathy (Server), Jason (Ranch Hand), Jess (Wrangler), Trey (Fly Fishing Guide), Jami (Housekeeper).

Thanks for sharing your story John!  Our summer season is almost over, but you can still plan a winter vacation to go cross country skiing in Colorado, or sneak away for a romantic mountain getaway.

Full Moon on Snow

So it’s not like we’re the only place enjoying a full moon tonight, but there is something very different about full moons on winter snow. At Vista Verde we get to enjoy a spectacular show every time there is a full moon in the winter. The opening act is when the moon starts peeping over Wapiti mountain with a navy blue sky as the backdrop. The main event is the first part of the night when the snow reflects all the light from the moon which makes it light enough to go out for a walk, a ski, or a snowshoe without any lights needed. It’s so bright that the trees make shadows. After crawling into bed and sleeping under the moon’s watchful eye, if you wake up early enough (which I do) you get to watch the moon set over Sand Mountain. It’s actually darker at that point until the sun starts lighting up the sky again.

I’ll see if I can get a picture tonight as it comes up….but we are all heading into town tonight for a little manager dinner to have a bit of fun before the rest of the staff arrive!

The Summer Guest Ranch Season is Full, now what?

We’ve encountered a problem this summer at Vista Verde Ranch.  Normally our summer season is fairly full, but this year is off the charts.  For those planning a Colorado summer vacation for 2011, we don’t have good news.  There are still some spots during our last week, when the ranch holidays are for adults only.  That is also the last week of our cattle gather, which is loads of fun.

Having said that, I turn my thoughts to winter.  For those of you looking for an amazing winter vacation idea, please consider Vista Verde Ranch!  We still have space for winter!

Winter time at the ranch is great for a romantic mountain getaway.  Whether you are a skier or not, we can offer a great Colorado Ski lodge experience.  Yes, the cross country skiing is great here, but we also have horse backing riding, sleigh rides, sledding, snow shoeing, and our ever popular weekly wine tasting and cooking class.

Come join us for a family snow vacation over the holidays, or during our adult only times enjoy the ranch as a romantic resort getaway.

Heading Home for the Holidays

While some of our guests are starting to think about what to pack for their Christmas vacation at the ranch, those of us living here have our thoughts on Thanksgiving. With Thanksgiving being the one major holiday that we celebrate while the ranch is closed down, the place tends to turn into a bit of a ghost town. It’s the last getaway for most of us before we open for the winter ranch season. So, where is everyone going?

Ben, Holly and the kids will be packing up this weekend to head down towards Colorado Springs to spend the week with Holly’s family.

Dace is visiting some friends at another ranch and then jetting off to IL to see his folks at their farm.

Steph is leaving Todd behind and taking the girls to CA for some warm weather and time with her sister and family.

Steve and Kelli and taking Maddie to Denver for a weekend of museum and aquarium visits to celebrate her 11th birthday. Then they’ll head over to Kelli’s folks home in the middle part of the state for Thanksgiving. Happy Birthday Maddie!! Gosh, we remember when you were barely walking…..wasn’t that just last year?

Charlie is following Barb down to her mom’s in Frisco, CO for a quick one day visit for Thanksgiving, but he’ll spend the better part of the week working on their new house up by Hahn’s Peak. It’s beautiful by the way…who knew one could create such a masterpiece building a house just on weekends?

Jo and Javin left last week for a road trip. Javin dropped Jo off with her family in IN and then continued on to spend a couple weeks with his family in PA. Nicky is also taking the opportunity to catch up with her family in IN for the week. At the same time Bekah is taking a couple weeks to spend time in FL with her folks.

Terry might have the most exciting Thanksgiving plans as he’ll be sitting on the sidelines of the Bronco game. Did you know his wife is the Bronco girl? She’s the one who rides Thunder across the field every time they score a touchdown. Go Broncos!

So, who is going to stay behind and keep an eye on things? Well, Bill took some time off earlier in the fall but is going to stay put and finish working on his projects. And Rob was hoping to get away but has since complicated his life by getting a new baby. After Steve and Kelli showed up with their new black lab, Rob fell in love and ended up with a sibling of Rosie. So, he’ll be staying put at the ranch to take care of his new bundle of joy.

Upon return, the crew will be hitting the ground running as we have just one week to prepare for the new staff to arrive, training them and then getting ready to open for a white Christmas! We hope you all have a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends and laughter.

September Mountain Getaway

A few months ago, we added an extra week at the end of our season.  But, I haven’t been great about getting the word out there so there are still a few cabins open for that week.  If any of you are looking for great fall foliage, fun in the mountains and some great R&R there is still time to plan your ranch holiday!

The week we added is September 25-October 2, 2011.  As mentioned above, it is an adult only week.  These are great weeks for romantic mountain getaways, or trip with your girlfriends.  And, of course, the best dude ranches are great for a single traveler as there are so many wonderful people to spend time with, while also getting some quiet time for yourself.

September is my favorite month of the year, and the adult only times lend a different feel to the ranch experience.

This extra week will be the 4th of our series of cattle round up weeks.  As we will have been gathering cows for 3 weeks prior, this time will be spent searching for strays.  That means lots of bush whacking while riding the amazing country side near our Colorado lodge and resort all day long, looking for sneakiest of them all…the ones who have evaded us previously.  The aspens are usually beautiful at that time and the air crisp.

If the idea of sitting on a horse all day doesn’t appeal to you at all, keep in mind that the bikes are still tuned and ready to go, the fishing rods trembling at thrill of autumn fishing, and the hiking trails spectacular in their fall glory.  Great food awaits you at the Lodge each evening, and a hot tub bubbling on your deck.

If you are interested in joining us, give Stephanie a shout at 800-526-7433 or reservations@vistaverde.com.  And, although we are technically closing on October 2, we will be offering our Horsemanship clinic October 5-9 with ranch trainer Terry Wegener.

There’s still time to play at our Steamboat Springs resort!

 

The horses are moving in!

This fall the construction crew moved from the actual riding area in the indoor arena over to the part of the arena that will house the horses. As the weather got colder and the stalls weren’t quite ready, Terry, Jo and Nicky moved the horses that needed to be worked daily into temporary pens in the arena.

 
As you can see here, Gunslinger, one of our new weanling colts, had a hall pass from his pen while Jo was cleaning it. He was trying to visit with one of his future girlfriends, but she didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Ahh, rejection starts at a young age. Keeping the horses in the warmer environment and with blankets on helps keep them from growing the woolly mammoth coats that they grow when they live outside. This, in turn, makes it a bit easier for upkeep with them when they need to be worked daily because if they sweat during a “workout” they will cool down and dry off more quickly. With the 2 and 3 year olds we have added, it is important to work them year round so they have a proper base of training before we put them into the string for guests to ride.
Just this week, the crew did finish work on a couple of the stalls so a few of the mares were moved into their new digs and are keeping an eye on the guys working on the tack room and wash bays.
It’s starting to feel like a real live training barn down there! We hope you get a chance to visit it and smell the great smell of cedar shavings filling the barn area.

Vista Verde Guest Ranch on Away.com

Thanks to Kara Williams for the great write up on Away.com.  Kara has written about some fo the best dude ranches in the country.  She knows what really makes a great all inclusive resort vacation as she has been to many in her travels.

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.

Note from Vista Verde- We hope you enjoyed this article.  We look forward to having you join us for a ranch holiday, or even for a romantic winter vacation sometime!