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!

The Thrill of Back Country Snowmobiling

Guest Post

Cliffs, jagged turns, bumps, and speed!   My first time snowmobiling and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!  I joined in with some of our guests, a family from Holland, who were out for their second Snowmobile extravaganza since arriving for their winter getaway in Colorado.   The day showcased a brilliant blue ski, confident rays of sunshine, and white powdered ground etched in stark shadows from proud standing Aspen trees and lush evergreens.

Into the Routt National Forest we went for a two hour adventure.  About midway, we went over a beautiful stream via a bridge made entirely of ice and snow.  Once we turned off our engines we could here the lull of the trickling water and nothing else but muffled silence.   Amazing!  On the way back we got to see the beginning of the sunset sinking into the mountains we were just heading out of.  What a perfect time spent touring the backcountry!

Also, the handwarmers on the Snowmobiles were a wonderful touch, making my snowmobile experience that much more enjoyable.  And I was able to turn them up hotter especially as the sun began to dip down, taking the temperature down as well.   Not only did I have a memorable trip, but our guests from Holland had no idea that their family snow vacation was going to tickle their fancy as much as it did, which they expressed to me while taking photos at one of our scenic stops along the way.   What a memorable trip!  I can’t wait for the next one!

A week to remember

We just finished up with a monumental week of winter enthusiasts. It wasn’t until I was getting the bills together for all the guests to check out that I realized that out of the 20 guests staying with us, 10 of them were comp stays! How do you get a comp stay at the ranch you ask? Well, come stay with us 9 times and the 10th stay is on the house, or maybe I should say on the ranch. We’ve had several of our loyal guests reach that goal each season, but this was a first to have so many at the same time. It’s pretty humbling from our point of view that there are that many wonderful people out there who have put us on their vacation list that many times! And, to top it off, we had Pat and Jayne staying with us the same week, and they were on their 18th stay. Ironically, Pat is the one who first gave us the idea for the 10th stay free program. So it was fun that he could be here to witness all the guests reaping the rewards of his brainchild. In honor of Pat and Jayne and all their years of coming to Vista Verde, we decided it was time to make them a part of the ranch heritage. As you can see from the picture, the trail formerly known as Wooded Way is no longer so wooded, thanks to our beetle friends. So, we decided it was appropriate to rename the trail, and to do it in honor of these two who have been such a big part of our ranch family all these years. As soon as we can get the sign made, the trail will now be known as the JP Trail. Our hats are off to all these loyal guests, and we hope some of you reading this will reach that 10th stay too!

Mountain Biking or ‘Biking in the Mountains’

Do you enjoy taking your bicycle down to the corner store for ice cream, or maybe you are a fitness fanatic and you get your blood pumping with a good cycling session…

Take a Steamboat Springs vacation and you can do both! Up in the beautiful mountains of Colorado there are endless trails and scenic routes to go biking. Vista Verde Guest Ranch has an amazing  program with top of the line bikes just waiting to be tested!

Steve and Kelli King head up Vista Verde’s Adventure Center, guiding hiking and biking trips all summer as well as cross country skiing and snowshoeing trips for guests coming to join us for a winter vacation in Colorado. Their goal is to give everyone the cycling experience that they are looking for, be it an adventurous mountain bike trail, or more laid back and scenic ‘biking in the mountains’. Although they appeal to both ends of the spectrum as far as fitness and adventure level, every rider will enjoy their new fleet of the Jamis bikes.

This year they invested in a new wheel which is a 650B, a 27 1/2 inch wheel. This new technology is a bigger wheel that allows more stability and rolls over rocks more easily. Guests this season are already raving about them, and a few have put in orders for their own Jamis, 650B bikes!

Steve and Kelli’s philosphy is that “if you want to introduce someone to a sport or activity, you have to give them the best equipment so they can succeed.” This is definitely true at Vista Verde. Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tag along with some guests on an easy going, scenic ride around Steamboat Lake and through the historic Hahn’s Peak Village. It was a nice relaxing afternoon, and I enjoyed it so much that I thought I was ready to step it up a bit. This past week I joined them for an intense mountain bike ride. It was such a blast! I learned how to ride over logs, and I was put to the test going up a monsterous hill, but the sense of accomplishment at the end, and the vast view of the Zirkel Wilderness at the top were worth all of the effort!

Also, some Vista Verde trivia for you…. I learned was that all of their bikes have names, so they can keep track of each one. Well three of them, named Breyer, Klondike and Cold Stone are designated for the casual ride to the Clark Store to get ice cream when guests are looking for a relaxing afternoon during their ranch holiday!

This year Steve is excited about 3 brand new snow bikes they have added to the fleet for the winter! So summer, or winter you will have to come out to our Colorado mountain resort and try out the trails on something other than four legs! Give the mountain bikes a try next time you’re enjoying a vacation at our luxury ranch in Steamboat Springs!

Snow is falling, falling on me

After 10 days of sunshine and blue skies, the clouds came back last night and we woke up to fresh snow this morning. Granted, it was pretty sloppy snow because the temperatures were pretty warm. But, throughout the day it’s turned into fluffier snowflakes and is piling up more each hour. Steve and Kelli left the rest of the guides in charge back at the ranch and headed out for an all-day ski today with Mickey, David, Sharon and Bruce. In a few minutes, I’m going to head out and do a little “quality control” on our groomed trails. And I see Rusty heading out on horseback with our honeymooners for a ride in the peacefully falling snow. I’ll see if I can get a picture of the pretty scene while I’m out scouting the trails!

Wild Mustangs Find a New Home at Vista Verde Guest Ranch

Think back to your favorite Western; the romantic mountain getaway, with the mustangs running wild and free across the plains of the west. Built for the rugged terrain of the Colorado Mountains, the cowboys tamed and trained some of these wild mustangs.  Many herds of these horses still running free today.  In an effort to manage the land and prevent their population from exceeding its carrying capacity, the Bureau of Land Management has begun adopting some of these wild mustangs into the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP).

Since 1971, Colorado has protecting and ensuring the future of our beautiful wild mustangs with the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act passed by Congress. In 1986, the WHIP program was created. The Wild Horse Inmate Program was the first of its kind, bringing the horses to corrections facilities to be gentled and trained by inmates before being adopted. Besides an emotional and relationship building outlet with these horses, it has given the inmates the opportunity to learn equine skills to use when they are released.

These mustangs have a distinct feature that makes them stand out right away in a herd: their distinguishing code on the left side of their neck. This code gives three identifying pieces of information: the registering organization or state they came from, the estimated year of their birth, and the horse’s registration number within the BLM system.

Just this past spring, we adopted 3 new horses for our family dude ranch, giving them a new home and a bright future in the mountains of Colorado. Our horse program was introduced to Cuatro, Cheyenne, and Caddy, our new, once wild mustangs. They joined Crow, another mustang who has been here for years. Cuatro has already carried his share of guests as the 4 year old gelding is a joy to ride. Cheyenne, 6, and Caddy, 4, are still perfecting their skills with our wranglers this season. From their time with their wild herd, these horses understand all too well herd dynamics, so when they came to Vista Verde they adapted very quickly to our herd of over 100 horses. We are excited to have them with us and be able to give them a purpose and new life guiding guests who are on ranch holidays, while staying in the mountains of their home state.


If you would like to learn more about the WHIP program you can visit the BLM website at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Programs/wild_horse_and_burro/Wild_Horse_Inmate_Program_Colorado.html .

Vista Verde on TV

Almost two years ago we had a film crew come out to the ranch and follow a family around on their vacation. It all sounded nice and benign when we got the call and put them in touch with a family who was willing to be filmed. It turned out to be a little more “stalking” than anyone expected, but Jill and Ken and their girls were so game and so gracious. After all this time, and many jokes about the whole experience, they are finally going to have their 15 minutes in the spotlight. On January 19 at 6pm EST, their winter adventure will air on the Fine Living Network. We haven’t seen it, so I may regret sharing this with all of you…and Jill may hate me for telling you too! Hopefully it will be a nice piece showing their beautiful family having fun at the ranch in the wintertime.

The New Lodge Update

Happy New Year! We rang in the New Year with our annual Progressive Dinner on skis and the sleigh and enjoyed the evening’s festivities with a wonderful group of guests. As we look forward to the New Year, we are excited about projects that will be completed this year. As you can see, the Lodge addition is rumbling along and starting to look like a real building. The crew is putting in the tongue and groove on the ceiling, building the stairs up to offices and meeting room and framing in the bathrooms and the front desk downstairs. The fireplace shell has been built, and the rock work will come in after the front is framed out. Down the driveway, the footers for the indoor arena are in place and the steel work will be starting very soon. We wish they could be done with a snap of the fingers, but we’ll try to be patient since the finished products will be such a great addition to the ranch! Keep tuned for more updates, and Happy New Year to all.

Looking for an adventure?

Being at Vista Verde is like a playground for adults. There are so many fun toys, activities and new things to try, it can be hard to decide what to do next! This past week I was offered to join a trip out Rock Climbing with our outfitter, Rocky Mountain Ventures, and it was such a blast!

I definitely had my reservations. For one thing, my first and only rock climbing experience had been on a first date in an indoor gym, needless to say he is not still around and I have not climbed since. But everyone needs a little adventure in their life so I decided to give it a whirl.

I went with one other guest and it was like having our own private rock climbing session. It was so great, a girls day out with a rock climbing professional. We hiked into the Routt National Forest, which surrounds our luxury guest ranch, where we climbed a 5 – 6 and a 5-7 (in rock climbing terms, moderate level climbs). We both learned how to ‘repel’ and ‘belay’ for each other as well as scale the rock face.

Our guide, Kevan was so encouraging and patient. It was technically the ‘advanced rock climbing session’ offered later in the week, but I was by no means advanced. The other gal I went with, a guest at our ranch for the week felt the same way even after doing the beginners climb, but he helped us along and taught us all the tricks of the trade. We heard his stories of traveling the country to destination climbs, even using portaledges, which we learned is sleeping on a cot-like bed suspended on the side of a ledge! This did make me feel like my little adventure was nothing in comparison, but the view from the top was so beautiful. The sense of accomplishment you feel makes it all the more worth while.

Being eager to learn and hungry for a good time definitely made for a wonderful morning on the cliffs overlooking the guest ranch resort where I'm spending my summer. So if you have a desire to be adventurous and do something out of your comfort zone for a change, you will have to come and try out our awesome Rock Climbing adventures!  To top it off,  the rock climbing is part of the all inclusive rates at our guest ranch, so there is no extra charge for the experience.

Holidays at Vista Verde

We would like to wish all of you a very Happy Holiday season. We had fun last week combining Christmas with Hanukkah as they fell at the same time this year. So, we bounced between lighting the Menorah and spinning the dreidel to cutting down and decorating our Christmas tree and singing carols. The guests got a kick out of, or at least they humored us, the staff caroling from cabin to cabin on Christmas Eve.

The snow has been coming almost non-stop. Although some of us would like to see the sun, one really can’t complain when we get to ski fresh powder every day!

Many of our guests checked out today, and another group comes in this afternoon to ring in the New Year with us. So in between helping the housekeepers and checking on delayed flights, I wanted to send Holiday greetings out to all our friends!


Get Away From It All With a Colorado Horseback Riding Vacation

Recently Fortune Online posted an article titled: 3 Good Reasons to Take a Work-Free Vacation. It then went on to outline the three things you could tell your team back at the office about why you won’t be available to them while you’re on vacation. That got me thinking…

It’s no secret that we lead busier and busier lives. Technology provides incredible opportunity to connect and share information 24/7. It allows us to leverage our time and attention in both our business and personal lives. We can get more done faster, if we use it right.

But there is a point at which it all becomes too much. Instead of using our technology, we begin to feel as though our technology is using us. We feel as though we are held captive, at the beck and call of anyone and everyone who has our phone number or email address.

There comes a time when it’s nice to just unplug and get away from it all.

That’s where Vista Verde Guest Ranch comes in to offer the perfect mountain getaway.

As a luxury Colorado lodge and resort, we are not exactly off-grid. If you want to stay connected, you can. But we also make it easy to disconnect if that’s your desire.

Nestled privately at the foot of the mountains, it’s easy to believe that the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Our menu of family adventure activities will keep you excited and engaged: horseback riding, hiking, fly fishing, mountain biking, romantic (kid-free!) dining, wine tasting, and more! You’ll forget there’s even an office that misses you.

So during your next ranch holiday and horseback riding vacation, consider unplugging completely. We’ll provide the good excuses (too busy riding!) and let you to explain it to your team at the office.

He wants an Adventure and She wants a Luxury Getaway

Trying to plan a romantic yet fun getaway with your special someone? But the challenge comes when you want a romantic luxury resort and he wants an active wild adventure. How could you possibly accomodate both of you in one trip??

Vista Verde Guest Ranch has the perfect balance of the two. As a luxury guest ranch we offer the adventures and exciting experiences all nestled in the romantic mountains of Colorado.

During the summer he can enjoy white-water rafting, guided fly fishing and mountain biking while you enjoy peaceful trail rides, a massage or a cooking class with our executive chef!  By meeting with our guides and wranglers before you take off on your excursions each day, they determine your destination and your path all right then and there while talking to you, tailoring and creating exactly the experience you are looking for. You can choose to go off  with a wrangler for a scenic trail ride, while he learns the ropes on a mountain bike in our terrain park. Or take turns with eachothers favorite activities and do them all together! It’s your choice at this romantic all inclusive resort .

In the evenings we all enjoy live music, barn dances, or a relaxing dessert on the deck. After the long days, snuggling up in the cabins or your own private hot tub are the perfect way to catch up on the activities you did and your favorite parts of the day. By taking advantage of the many activities that we have to offer you are sure to enjoy all of the experiences that both you and your other half are looking for.

It is the perfect place to take some time away to just enjoy eachother, the beautiful Colorado scenery and share new experiences together. From our formal coursed dinners with wine service to the family style lunches with staff we offer every end of the spectrum. We give our guests a down home comfortable and relaxed environment all while maintaining our AAA Four Diamond status.


A Cabin in the Woods

Yesterday we hitched up the team and slapped on the skis for a trial run through a new addition to our winter program- Lunch at the Homestead cabin. We will serve lunch out at the old Homestead cabin once a week this winter for all our guests. So the staff got to be our guinea pigs this time around to make sure we didn’t have any unexpected snafoos in the plan. It was beautiful out there with all the new snow we’ve received, and the food was delicious compliments to Chef Rob and his crew. If you’re joining us this winter, we’ll look forward to sharing this fun experience with you!

Creating a Romantic Mountain Getaway

It is something in the air?

Romance  seems to abound here at Vista Verde Guest Ranch. I should know. I met my (now) husband here six years ago, and know several other couples who met here and are still together years later.

There’s something about the west that is just plain romantic. Gorgeous mountain vistas, a light breeze, adventure in the air – makes for the perfect romantic mountain getaway. Even an east coast girl like me can get wrapped up in the draw of rugged cowboy chivalry.

A few weeks ago, we had a young couple stay with us. She worked for us years ago, so she knew she was in for the ultimate romantic Colorado getaway –  though I’m not sure she had any idea just how romantic it would get.

Her man worked with us behind the scenes to plan a private afternoon horseback ride to the cliffs. Chocolate-dipped strawberries, a bottle of bubbly and a beautiful view… plus, the all-important element of surprise. It doesn’t get much more romantic than that!

She got to say “Yes!” to a modern cowboy, fresh out of the stirrups and down on one knee – boots, hat and all!

Congratulations and best wishes to the newly engaged couple!

Who knows…. they  just might be back to enjoy our romantic Colorado honeymoon cabins!

Whether you’re planning a proposal, special event, or simply looking for romantic vacation ideas, you might consider a Colorado luxury dude ranch. We have all the right elements for a unique and romantic adventure getaway.

The Vista Verde winter staff are here!

Monday afternoon the staff rolled into Steamboat Springs and then to the ranch to begin the 10 day information download called orientation. We are excited to have so many returning staff from last summer and winter. Steve and Kelli have the Dream Team up in the Nordic Center with 100% returners. Charlie has already deemed his crew of ranch hands as the A-team. So, it may turn into the A-team vs the Dream Team this winter. Dace and Rusty put together an agenda of fun activities mixed in through the next week or so to add a little fun to all the work they are doing. So, for starts, everyone headed into Steamboat Springs last night for a hard core bowling competition. I bet you didn’t even know Steamboat Springs has bowling? Bekah and her server staff took the lead for the night and showed everyone they know how to “serve up” a whopper of a win. Pardon the pun. Well, now it’s off to get my latte as Bekah has the girls practicing making espressos and lattes. Ah….life is rough here at the ranch.

Fall Not finished

Soon enough color will sweep the mountains of Colorado offering a painted site for fall vacationers of Colorado’s wilderness. Coming from Indiana, this seems like an early Autumn, but for the short summer’s of Colorado it is completely normal. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but Before we know it the first snowflake will hit the ground. In morning when the horses run through the ranch from pasture to pasture, frost has already started to coat the ground. But it’s too early to talk about cross country skiing in Colorado, after all, only one yellow leaf has been found on the property so far. The trees encompassing the property are still all green, so this lonely aspen leaf must have floated in from somewhere else. But with the afternoon winds, (that are a sign of fall) the lone leaf could have drifted from 

Winter is Here!

I flew back in from California yesterday to find that winter had arrived while I was gone.  Most of us took some portion of last week off to enjoy time with family and friends during the one major holiday that we aren’t open.  Steve and Kelli were down in Denver and took Maddie to her first Nutcracker performance.  Ben and Holly packed up their troops and drove down the Colorado Springs for some turkey time and Christmas shopping.  Dace headed to Oregon to visit with his brother and family.  Charlie was nearby with Barb’s family.  Rusty and Bekah headed to another ranch to help their friends hosts guests there for the holiday.  And the last guys standing- Rob, Matt and Bill enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast fit for kings here in the dining room while no one else was around.   We all felt there is so much to be thankful for and hope you all enjoyed a nice holiday as well.

Now we’re back in action, gearing up for the staff to arrive next Monday.  Today we hammered out the rest of the details of the holiday schedule and the logistics of all the festivities we have planned.  Oh yeah, and then we all had to fill out our health insurance papers to switch to a new company.  Yep, even here we have some paperwork to shuffle! 

I’ll get some pictures of the snow posted in a couple days so you can enjoy your view of the ranch via computer!

More than a Colorado dude ranch

 Times have changed since the Tufly family from the 1930’s were roping and wrangling on the grounds of Vista Verde. Although VVR hasn’t strayed too far from their roots as one of Colorado’s dude ranches, this all-inclusive Colorado resort ranch isn’t afraid to change with the times. Understanding the new age cowboys and cowgirls way of life is exploring the Colorado terrain and scenery in every way possible, we know that “cowpeople” today aren’t ashamed to jump on a bike or take a family hike up the mountains during their horseback riding vacation. We pride ourselves on not being just another of the many Colorado dude ranches. 

Unleashing my inner new age cowgirl, I have been taking advantage of the scenery and hiking as much as possible. Three Island Lake is one that any guest at Vista Verde looking for an escape from the office workplace should mosey up. Although our time constraint kept us from moseying, the usual three-hour hike of 6.1 miles turned into more of a trail run completed in nearly two hours. But the beauty was appreciated all the same. During the 2,800 feet elevation gain, the path switch backs and twists through the Zirkel Wilderness area. Just before the lake with three islands is reached the path guides you up a few rocky areas alongside a runoff stream. Around the bend a valley opens up filed with Pink Elephant Heads (Pedicularis Groenlandica) a pink flower in which the petals form a trunk and ears to look well, like an elephant’s head. After this stunning sight, the lake comes into view. A short jaunt up the path around the lake, will take you into view of all three islands. 

After all, who says a family dude ranch vacation or romantic honeymoon can’t have a spice of adventure to it? 

Living it up at the Ritz

I just pulled back in from a fun getaway at the Ritz Carlton in Bacherlor Gulch (Beaver Creek/Vail area).  I was a Ritz rookie, but had the opportunity to go stay there for a meeting of the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association (www.coloradoranch.com).  We have meetings twice a year, and the fall one is usually the fun one that is held in a unique venue.  Last year we went to Vegas, which was a riot at 7 months pregnant.  I wasn’t much for the nightlife at that time.  But, back to the Ritz.  We packed up the kids and hauled them down to stay in a deluxe suite and we treated like royalty.  Dace and Ben showed up for the day on Monday, so they didn’t get the full treatment.  It’s really fun to go somewhere like that, especially when you are in the hospitality business.  I was able to really watch what they are doing with a critical eye, and as with any good vacation we take, I was able to steal some good ideas.  Now, don’t expect a earpiece-wearing, suited up valet next time you pull up to the ranch or a phone next to your toilet, but I did get some good ideas to put into place.  Now it’s back to reality….although I can admit to all of you heckling me right now that I do understand our reality at the ranch is a bit dreamy.

Ranch Resort Under the Rainbows

Anyone who has visited the mountains or lives in them can testify that mountain weather can be unpredictable. Even with that, reading headlines across the nation like “Record Rain Soaks big Apple” and “Texas Towns Tap Toilets to Beat Draught”, makes me realize that with its unpredictability isn’t that bad. Besides, when mountain weather is good …  it is good. Sometimes it is more than good even to the point of enchantment. A few weeks ago a few rain showers passed through Vista Verde Dude Guest Ranch which left a beautiful vibrant rainbow that covered the ranch. Moments later the romantic moment got better when another rainbow appeared in the sky to form a double rainbow. Although the horse trail rides, arena work, hiking, biking and fly-fishing are all part of the main attractions here, little moments like this are what make a horseback riding vacation more than just another Steamboat Springs Vacation.

Our blog is now really a blog!

Many of you have enjoyed visiting our ranch blog called This Week at the Ranch.  We’ve been posting updates on our site since last winter.  With the increased interest in this section, and growing backlog of posts, we decided it was time to make it a true blue blog.  So, here it is.  The weekly posts will continue, and we’ll keep trying to come up with fun tidbits to share with you on life at Vista Verde.  Sometimes it’s exciting, sometimes trivial, but always honest and heartfelt.