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!

winter vacation overview

Dude Ranch Life: A California girl’s take on dressing for winter vacations

The other day I asked Melissa to help a guest who is coming for a winter vacation, but lives in a place where putting on a sweatshirt is most people’s idea of winter weather.  What she wrote was so great, I wanted to share it with all of you.  So, without knowing she was going to be a guest blogger, here is Melissa’s advice:

Melissa here! Stephanie passed along your info and that you needed some help figuring out what to bring on your winter trip. I have attached our packing list, but I wanted to give you a little more insight below.

Is the one cookie cutter answer for how to dress here? No. Why? Because each activity requires some differences in attire.

I like to break it down into active activities outside, sedentary activities outside and sedentary activities inside.

Active activities outside: Skiing and snowshoeing
These activities require your body to be active, moving and working. What that means is that your body is going to generate heat and make you warmer than if you are just sitting out in the snow. Here’s what I wear.
On Top- I start with an active tank top over a sports bra. Then, I layer a long sleeve. I wear a Smart Wool long sleeve, Hot Chili’s long sleeve, or a Nike Pro long sleeve. My next layer is either a down jacket or vest (jacket for when it is a chillier day and vest for when the sun is shining!). I have a 700 fill Marmot jacket that I absolutely LOVE. I have a Patagonia puffy vest that is great for warmer days. My final layer on top is my waterproof, hooded, lightweight jacket. I have a North Face one that does great – any brand will work.
On Bottom – If it is a chillier day, I first put on thermal leggings or long underwear. I have Hot Chili’s and they work great. Then, I wear a pair of leggings that I would wear if I was running or working out. If it is a warmer day, I skip the thermals and go straight for the leggings. My final layer is a pair of light, waterproof pants. I purchased the generic REI brand pair and they are perfect. I like to make sure they have a drawstring, so it is a really snug fit that snow can’t get into my pants if I take a spill on my toosh.
On your feet – Socks are going to be key! I have a few I like. You can’t go wrong with a pair of SmartWool. I also have REI brand merino wool hiking socks that I love. Then, you’ll slip your feet into a pair of our boots. On top of those, you’ll want a pair of gaiters so that snow doesn’t get into your boots. You can always buy a pair of gaiters here if you need.
On your hands – A pair of warm, waterproof gloves or mittens is ideal. I have an Outdoor Research pair of mittens that are great. We always have some here you can purchase. In addition, we provide hand warmers to slip into them to make your hands extra toasty on a cold day.
On your head – A warm hat or headband is great. I tend to use my Nike running headband that is lined with fleece. It covers my ears and then my hair is normally enough to keep my head warm. If it is not, I just put one of my hoods on. You will want a pair of glasses, preferably polarized. I also wear a fleece-lined buff around my neck for extra warmth. We sell them here in our store.
Lightweight Day pack- I carry a light backpack when I ski so that I can strip of layers as needed and have somewhere to put them. I also have a camelback bladder that I fill with water and keep in my pack. It’s great to carry some snacks too 
Sedentary Activities Outside: Horseback riding, sleigh rides, tubing, snowmobiling, etc.
These activities are all outdoors and don’t require much movement on your part. That means that your body won’t generate as much heat and you will really start to get chilly fast if not dressed properly.
On top- I normally go with a warm long sleeve, a sweatshirt, a puffy vest, and then a warm snow jacket.
On bottom – I will wear my thermals, leggings and then a pair of ski pants that are fleece lined.
On your head – A warm hat. This is where you can be really fun and get a cute winter hat with a pom pom! 😉
On your hands – Same as above
On your feet- Same socks as above. Then, a pair of snow boots would be ideal. We do have over-boots available for rent here. Stephanie looked and the smallest size we have is size 5 for women.
Sedentary Activities Inside: Riding in our indoor arena
Riding in the indoor arena is the main indoor activity people wonder how to dress for. It is a heated building in the winter that stays at about 50 degrees.
On Top- I wear a t-shirt and then a flannel over it. Then, I am fine with just my down jacket or vest.
On bottom- Jeans will do just fine!
On your feet- Warm socks and then a pair of boots with a heel. We have riding boots you can borrow if you need.
As far as our other indoor activities, such as cooking class, wine tasting, meals, or just hanging out in our main lodge you can dress how you would in normal cold weather and then just bundle up when walking to and from your cabin.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m a baby when it comes to cold, it’s the Californian in me, and I do just fine here. It’s all about being prepared and having layers!




Travel and Leisure – October 2017

With an article titled the Best All-Inclusive Family Resorts, you can imagine that we were honored to be a part of this collection that Travel + Leisure put together for families looking for an amazing family vacation.  Right now we are busy booking winter family vacations, but it’s not too early to think about your summer trip as well, so read on for some great ideas, as we’re hoping Vista Verde makes your list for 2018!  Read the article….

Ranch Holiday tips for those travelling from the UK

Tips For Travelling To Colorado From The UK
This guest post was provided by the folks at ESTA, who help travelers from the UK get their travel documents organized before they come to the US for ranch holidays, among other destinations.

Based in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado is one of the most interesting and diverse states in America to visit. As well as being full of stunning landscapes, Colorado has some excellent outdoor recreation facilities to offer- from skiing to hiking and horseback riding. The city life is pretty bustling too, with plenty of great places to eat and shop. There are also a number of popular festivals throughout the year. If you’re planning a trip to Colorado, here are our top tips.

When travelling to the US from the UK, you’ll need to make sure you have the right documentation. Apply for a USA esta online in the months before your trip to ensure that your application is accepted in time for your flight. Without a completed ESTA application, you won’t be allowed to visit Colorado. You’ll also need an up-to-date passport that is valid for six months after the final date of your trip.

Pack The Right Clothing
Packing for Colorado’s climate can be tricky, particularly if you have limited suitcase space. In the summer months, the temperatures are much hotter than the UK- averaging around 28 degrees Celsius, while in winter temperatures plummet with lows of -15 degrees Celsius! In addition, the weather can change quickly so make sure you’ve packed a range of waterproof clothing as well as your t-shirts and shorts. If you’re going to be completing any activities, you might need appropriate clothing, such as a skiing jacket, to ensure you can participate properly.  Ranch note: check out our packing lists for tips on what to pack when coming to Vista Verde for your ranch holiday.

Drinking Age
The drinking age in America is 21 and Colorado is no exception. Most bars and restaurants strictly stick to this rule, unlike in the UK where under aged individuals can drink with their parents present. Be aware that if you look under 21, even if you are not, you will be asked to show a valid ID when purchasing alcohol or ordering a drink in a bar.

The rules for tipping, or gratuity as it’s known in the US, are completely different to those found in the UK. Due to the low wages of waiters, it’s considered good manners to leave a tip of between 15 and 20% of the bill cost. Some restaurants will add this for you, so be sure to check your receipt before you leave an additional tip. It’s also common to leave bartenders a tip for your individual drink or a large order of drinks. Of course, it’s totally up to you but it’s good to know what is considered the norm when you’re visiting somewhere new.  Ranch note: At Vista Verde, we are committed to our all-inclusive pricing being just that.  So, no tipping is expected, and we ask that guests to not tip staff throughout their stay.  Put your wallet away when you arrive, and just let us take care of you!  If you are inclined to want to leave a token of your thanks at the end of your stay, you are welcome to add a tip onto your final bill and we will place it in a tip pool to be distributed to our staff.  But please note that this is not expected as part of our service.

As the US’s highest state, averaging 2,073 meters above sea level, visitors may experience altitude sickness when they first arrive to Colorado. Recognisable symptoms of the illness include headaches, sickness and tiredness but these are all easily treatable ailments. If you find yourself feeling ill when you’re away, be sure to drink a lot of water and avoid alcohol for the first few nights.

These are just some of our tips to ensure that you have a great time while you’re away in Colorado.

Dude Ranch Gear

The season is wrapping up at Vista Verde Ranch, and we have some great new and used gear available for sale!  If you’re in the area, stop by Sunday, October 22 from 1-4pm to shop and score a deal!

Bikes: Salsa
Bucksaws (S-XL) $2,500
Spearfish (S-XL) $1,200
XL Carbon Spearfish $1,900
Blackborows (XS-L) $900-$1,000

Winter Gear:
Snowshoes: Atlas, Crescent Moon $20-$40
Solomon SNS Ski Boots and Bindings: Various Sizes $20-$40
Backcountry Touring, Classic, and Skate Skis: Limited Selection $100
Kids Skis: $40

Hala Inflatable Boards-Nass, Straight-up, Hoss
Comes with carry kit and patch kit $850-$950

Discounted NEW Clothing and Technical Gear

Fly rods: (Prices will be posted soon)
Sage accel sizes ranging from 376-4 up to 596-4
Sage circa sizes 386-4 and 486-4
Sage LL 379-3
Sage txl-f 00710-4

Redington willow river women’s boots sizes 5-9
Redington palix river men’s boots sizes 8-13
Simms freestone men’s boots sizes 7-14

Redington crosswater women’s waders sizes small and medium
Redington crosswater men’s waders sizes S-XL
Redington sonic pro men’s waders sizes S-XL


Dude Ranch Life: Wrapping up and Saying Goodbye

Looking back on photos from this summer it seems so long ago that we opened the doors for the season in early June.  But, then again, the time just flew by too fast.  Here we are in our final week of the season, and with that we prepare for sad goodbyes as some of our great staff head off for new adventures in life.  Notably, we have two folks heading off who we’d like to recognize as they have been instrumental in the VVR family for a long time.

Brandon was being recruited to come work at the ranch long before he even realized we had our sights set on him.  As Ben’s nephew and based in Colorado Springs for his military service he came up to visit often.  After completing his tours in Afghanistan, we finally were able to get Brandon and Rachelle to come join us at the ranch in 2012.  With high expectations for his competence and performance, the poor guy was getting signed up for responsibilities before he even arrived.  Well, he rose to the challenge, and even took on more.  Over the past 5 years Brandon has been a critical player in helping us fulfill the mission of the ranch.  He took on running the fly fishing program, led the charge for the ranch hand crew, launched the snowmobiling program as well as was the lead rock star of the Farwell Mountain Boys.  The number of man-crushes that have been had for Brandon are countless, but nonetheless we can all agree that we wish we we could be like Brandon.

After starting their family while here at the ranch, Brandon and Rachelle fulfilled their promise to move back home to Pennsylvania to be closer to their families.  Wyatt (Wy-Guy), Scotlyn, and Coulton will never know how lucky they were to start their lives in the mountains of Colorado, but we’re rooting for them to be applying to work here sometime around 2027.  Until then, we’re pretty sure we’ll still get the chance to see this great family from time to time, as the pull of VVR is pretty strong.  Thanks to Brandon for being such a great part of our team, and thanks to Rachelle for supporting him being gone on those late nights playing bass guitar and those early morning grooming ski trails.  We have loved having them and their sweet family here, and will miss all of them dearly!

Right on Brandon’s heels is another great person, but one who had a more quiet role in the operation.  Trish first came to the ranch to cover some massage work for our therapist at the time.  It only took us a short while to know she belonged here as part of our team.  Over the years, she grew the massage therapy program, and then, because every massage therapist is a perfect fit for accounting, she added bookkeeper to her role at the ranch.  We all knew when Trish was here in the office, as there was always a zen vibe that arrived as soon as she walked in the door.  She heads out this fall to move closer to her folks in Rhode Island, unfortunately further away than her arms can reach to continue to provide our guests relief through massage therapy!

As Brandon and Trish, and the many younger staff head down the drive for the last time this week we give our most sincere thanks for their contributions to making the ranch a better place.  Happy trails, until we meet again!!

cattle round up at Colorado dude ranch

Dude Ranch Life: Cattle Ranching with the Beltons

October came upon us quickly, but it didn’t come quietly this year.  Although we always have the chance of snow here in the fall, this month kicked off with a full-fledged winter style snow storm.  Stunning?  Yes.  Welcomed?  Well, we’d actually rather default to our preferred October weather of sunny skies to show off the golden aspens.  But, that’s life in the mountains and today we’re already back to those sunny skies, albeit a wee bit chilly with the snow still hanging around on the ground.

The snow did help us out as it did encourage the remaining cow-calf pairs out in the forest that coming home is indeed a good idea.  You see, we’ve spent the last month convincing the cow-calf pairs to stay out by moving them around to find where the grass was still thick and lush so they could spend as much time out in the forest before we brought them home.  So, by the end of September we were pretty sure they would come home willingly.  Apparently they missed that memo, and although we brought a lot of them home that last week, there are still some stragglers out in the forest.  Following the storm early this week, their attitude seems to have shifted and this time they were a lot more willing to head back to the ranch.

One of the highlights of this fall round-up season for me has been getting our partners Christy and Matt Belton more involved with our guests during the round-up weeks.  We had them join us for dinner each week to meet the guests and then gather around the fireplace after dinner so everyone could learn a little more about their cattle operation.  It was fascinating.  Every week the conversation went a little different direction from water rights to testing bulls productivity (yep, that one got a little silly), but each week gave our guests a chance to understand a little more about the cattle industry and our partnership with Belton Livestock.  This is one of those amazing relationships where everyone wins–our guests get to be a part of a real cattle operation and Christy and Matt get some help with managing a roughly 14,000 acre USFS grazing permit along with over 200 cow-calf pairs.  What was apparent was that having this conversation with Christy and Matt helped the guests realize this is the real deal, and recognize that they have a vital role in helping with the Belton’s business success.

Now we just have to get the stragglers in and call it a year.  Fat happy cows and spunky, well fed calves are heading back to the Belton Livestock headquarters as I write this blog post.  Good job to all who came out to have some fun riding the land and rounding up cows!

coming to Steamboat for winter vacation

Planning your trip to Steamboat Springs & VVR

With the first snow teasing us about the upcoming winter we are getting a lot of calls and reservations for the winter season these days.  One of the main questions that comes up after people get an idea of how the ranch works is “How do we get to you?”  So I thought I’d take a few minutes to answer that question for folks checking in on our blog.

When coming to Vista Verde Ranch for a winter vacation, we strongly encourage our guests to fly directly into the Steamboat/Hayden (HDN) airport.  With the potential of winter driving conditions it’s just a lot easier to avoid driving up from Denver, and with all the direct flights available during the winter months it is a lot easier to to Steamboat Springs quickly.  One of our great staff will pick you up at the airport in a ranch vehicle and take care of the driving for you, so it makes life easy for you on your vacation!

The Steamboat Ski Resort puts together some handy info on the direct flight options into the Steamboat/Hayden airport, and you can even book your airfare through their travel service.

Our winter season runs December 14-April 1, so we hope you can come visit us and play in the snow!

Dude Ranch Life: When we say guest blogger, we really mean a guest blogging!

To start I should tell you how it came about that a guest is writing the VVR blog! I was talking to my friend Stephanie and saying how much we enjoyed her blogs, and when could we expect the next one?  As we know, Stephanie’s blogs are informative, amusing and beautifully written and must take time and inspiration to get out, but this time, like all writers, Stephanie was suffering writers block.  She asked me for some ideas, and while other guests nearby came up with several suggestions I suggested “why not get a guest to do a blog?” Stephanie grabbed hold of this idea and said “When do you think you can do it?”……well I was “strung up like a kipper” as we say in England, (Stephanie does have a slightly devious side to her,) so here goes.

My wife and I traveled 5500 miles to get here, suffering jet lag and aeroplane food and driving past many other dude ranches. So, we make a big effort to get here! This is our third time coming to VVR… and it is so worth it. Just for the record, in the past we have never been back to any holiday destination before, so why does VVR draw us back? Not just us but many other guests.  I decided I would attempt to find out what draws us all back.

Over lunch today I asked several people how many times they had been to VVR and why they keep coming back? Some, I asked, have been here over 10 times and many 8 or 9 times (good time to say that those on 9 get the 10th one free) so we are still “newbies ”

When asked why they keep coming back there were lots of different responses. Some say the horses, and indeed there is a horse for every standard of horsemanship from beginners to experienced riders.

But many people never ride a horse, and spend their time fishing, so for them its the fishing and the tales you hear over dinner each night tell of great fish caught and great fish lost all in stunning surroundings. I keep promising myself to go fishing but there is so much else going on. The hard thing at VVR is to make your choices each day.

And the hikers and bikers all talk enthusiastically about the excitement of their days, when we gather together for meals.

Which brings me onto another reason people keep coming back… the food. It is always superb, whether its breakfast out in a field or a gourmet dinner in the lodge you never hear any complaints. And, if you are gluten free, vegetarian or have any other dietary requirement they will always be able to provide for you.

With great activities and great food in beautiful surroundings you could not want for anything more. But, hold on a minute…the fun doesn’t stop there! Every evening there is some event taking place to continue the enjoyment. Line dancing, wine pairing, music night, horse shoe throwing etc with VVR personnel all on hand to make sure it all goes well. My particular favourite is line dancing, which is surprising as I cannot dance! but at VVR I can, as the song says when you get the chance to dance, dance.

When it all boils down to it its not just the horses, the setting, the fishing, climbing, hiking and bike riding, food, evening activities that make it extra special, great as they are, but it is the people. Not just the fine people who look after us, but the friendships that develop over the week keep many guests returning. Ben says in his introduction that it should be like coming back to your family. and, I think, that is why guests return to the ranch year after year, its coming home.

Happy holidays everyone!

Michael Kelleher

The Fly: Enjoying a family fishing vacation

This week we welcome guest blogger Jon Sutton from Outdoor Empire, which is a great website for fishing and hunting enthusiasts.

Most people associate dude ranches in Colorado with riding horses, campfires, and beautiful vistas. But that’s only the start of the story at Vista Verde Ranch: Summers at Vista Verde offer a litany of outdoor recreational opportunities, including paddle boarding, yoga, mountain biking and hiking.

And while these activities are all great ways to enjoy the great outdoors alongside your family, if you ask our fly fishing guides they’ll say fishing may very well be the most fun. Fishing allows you to teach your child a variety of life lessons, and you’ll have a blast while doing so. Most kids love to learn how to fish, even if they normally prefer sitting inside playing video games and watching TV.

However, to make the most of your day on the water, you’ll have to follow a few key tips to maximize your fun and success on the water. Five of the most important things to remember include the following:
1. Select a good location. There are a number of lakes within a few minutes of Vista Verde, many of which offer great opportunities for your kids to learn how to fish. Hahn’s Peak Lake, Steamboat Lake and Pearl Lake are three of the most popular local fishing holes, and they are full of various trout species and grayling. There are also a number of local mountain streams and rivers in our area, but it will be easier for your kids to fish in still, rather than moving, water.
2. Teach your kids to use simple fishing equipment at the outset. Most adults who venture to Vista Verde love to get out with our fly fishing guides and see if they can tempt a trout with a delicate fly. However, fly fishing on a river is a bit too difficult for very young kids (most kids will struggle to wield a fly rod until they reach 10 to 12 years of age). Instead, the ranch guides will take families to a lake and help simplify the activity as much as needed—typically with favorable results.
3. Prepare for the weather. You want to keep your kids comfortable to ensure they have the best possible time while fishing, and this means making sure they are dressed for the weather. Summer temperatures high in the Rocky Mountains never reach unbearable levels, but you’ll want to wear lightweight clothing to stay comfortable. Additionally, the sun’s rays can be rather strong this high above sea level, so make sure you bring hats, sunglasses and sunscreen for everyone.
4. Allow your kids to take plenty of breaks. Kids often become bored after fishing for a half-hour or so – particularly if they aren’t catching anything. So, you’ll want to allow them to take little breaks to keep their interest level high. After allowing your youngsters to explore the shoreline, go for a brief nature walk or simply run and play with their siblings, you’ll likely notice they regain their interest and want to start fishing again.
5. Always pass off your rod if you hook a fish. Let’s face it: You are more likely to hook a fish than your kids are, and reeling in the catch is the most enjoyable part of fishing. So, you’ll want to pass off your rod to one of your youngsters once you hook something (be sure you have a good hookset first), and allow him or her to reel in the fish. And always allow your kid to take full credit for the catch – even if you did the hard part.
If you’d like to learn more about introducing your children to fish, check out Outdoor Empire’s comprehensive review of the subject. There, you will learn more about the equipment and techniques that will give your youngsters the best chance to enjoy a day of fishing with you!

Equitrekking – August 2017

Our friends over at Equitrekking are the experts in planning horse back riding holidays.  This month, they put together a list of adult-only dude ranch vacations.  Although we are not adult-only at Vista Verde all the time, there are select times of the year when most people aren’t taking family vacations and during those times we do switch over to being adult-only.  What fun those weeks are here at the ranch!  In the article they mention our fall short stay times which are a great option for those looking for a quick getaway to Colorado.  Read the article……

dude ranch wrangler

Dude Ranch Life: What’s happening at the Ranch

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged as I seem to just keep finding myself running here and there, and not planted down in front of my computer.  Go figure, it’s a ranch!  With the kids back in school and a few less guests because of that, it seems to feel a little more quiet this week.  If you haven’t been following where we are in the season, this week is the first of our adult-only weeks.  It really tends to feel like a big switch from one season to another.  The college-age staff are leaving and returning to their studies which includes most of the kid wrangler crew.  The “late-season” hires have or are arriving and getting dialed into their jobs for the fall season.  The schedule shifts a bit with no kids and shorter daylight hours.  For example, the breakfast ride turns into a brunch ride because while getting up early for a morning ride is lovely, no one really wants to ride in the dark and sit out at Homestead eating a breakfast while shivering at the same time.

Although we have lots of great staff who come and go here, every once in a while there is a departure that needs to be recognized.  This week seems a little more quiet with the absence of Troy Corless.  Troy has been a guest favorite for years, but we always tell our staff there comes a time when they’ve learned what they needed to learn here at the ranch and it’s time to fly.  Troy realized it was that time and he found an amazing opportunity that made it a no-brainer to stretch out those wings and head out.  He will be joining a very talented farrier in the east for an apprenticeship.  This is such a great opportunity for Troy, and we are so happy to see him go off to take the next step in his profession.  No doubt there were tears shed, but we’re also just so happy to see him looking to continue to grow and move up in the world.

I’m sure many of you watched the eclipse on Monday.  We had a fun time checking it out, even though we weren’t on the path of totality.  It was about 95% here, so we sent our morning ride out a bit early to make sure everyone could get back in time to put on their glasses and enjoy the show.

With the start of the adult-only season we’re kicking off the wine pairing dinners again.  Friday nights will be a bit more noisy here I suspect, but they are always a great time with so many interesting dishes paired with tasty wines.  Also in a couple weeks we’ll start heading out with our guests to round-up the cows.  These weeks always lead to great stories of adventures on the trail–it’s such a splendid way to take in the fall colors and ride some beautiful country!

The office crew is shifting their attention over to winter with Zach getting the winter staff finalized and Devyn and the gals taking calls daily for winter reservations.  It’s funny to be talking about the ranch covered in snow when we’re still outside in our short sleeves soaking up the summer rays, but it won’t be long before the snow starts falling and our winter wonderland returns.  Until then, we’ll take every moment of time out on the dirt, crisp mornings and warm days, and the rustling of aspen leaves in the breeze.

Newly added October ranch stay

Due to the popularity of our October short stay, we have added another option for guests looking to come out to the ranch without the full week commitment.  The October 8-12 stay is already fully booked, but now we also have the option of another short stay October 15-19, 2017.  The 4-night, 3-day stay will be an adult-only stay, and we will offer the same program as we do the previous week with horseback riding, horsemanship clinics, guided hiking, mountain biking and fly fishing as well as yoga, cooking class, wine tasting, and a photography workshop.  That’s a lot of adventure to pack into a few days, so gear up and be ready for some fun!  Activities are weather dependent, but there is always something to do indoors if the weather isn’t cooperating with us.  Rates start at $1,795/person for the 4-night stay.

Learn more about our fall dude ranch stays or give Devyn or Melissa a call at 800-526-7433 to book your stay, and start packing your bags!

summer ranch recipe

Chef’s Corner: Chilled Corn Soup

Summer time is the perfect time of the year for chilled soups.  This summer, Chef Chol shares his recipe for Chilled Corn Soup, just in time for the Olathe corn to be coming into season.  Do you know the story about Olathe corn?  Corn isn’t a major crop in most of Colorado, but there is a small area in the state where it has been produced with renowned success.  Check out this article about Olathe corn from Food Republic, and then enjoy the recipe!

Chilled Corn Soup (8 servings)

• 6 ears corn, shucked
• 3 cups buttermilk
• ½ cup basil leaves, more for garnish
• 6 green onions, roughly chopped
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, more to taste
• 2 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
• Kosher salt, to taste
• Radish slices, for garnish
• Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
• Chives, thinly sliced, for garnish

1. Slice kernels off corncobs (you should have 6 to 7 cups of kernels). Discard cobs and place kernels in a blender.
2. Add buttermilk, basil, scallions, lime juice, garlic, salt, and 1/2 cup ice cubes to the blender and purée until very smooth.
3. Strain mixture through a sieve, pressing down hard on the solids.  Discard the leftover solids.
4. Chill the soup 2 hours until ready to serve.
5. Serve soup garnished with radish slices, chives, and a drizzle of olive oil.

dude ranch foal

News from the Nursery

The foals are growing and getting used to being handled and loved by our guests each week.  As we watch them lounge in the sunshine, frolic in the green grass, and stretch their legs running around the pastures, we’re getting to know their personalities and helping them get used to dude ranch life.  Here’s a quick update on the sweet things from wrangler Liz B.

dude ranch foalPaisley
Born: 4/24/17
Sire: Shaq “Gray Stik”
Dam: Teletubby “Reynyday Whoaman”

Paisley is Shaq’s first foal to be born here at VVR! Shaq is our current resident stud here at the ranch, and we have been anticipating watching this beautiful filly learn and grow to see if she will have the calm, sweet, curious disposition both of her parents have.  Like most gray horses, Paisley was born a darker bay color, but is starting to slowly gray out, just like her father, and displays a star matching that of her mother Teletubby. Paisley is extremely friendly and has a big, sweet personality. She is naturally curious and brave with new interactions and absolutely loves her weekly foal watch visits, where she gets to interact with guests. She especially loves getting pets and scratches from the kids that are more her size! Teletubby is back in foal to Shaq, so we look forward to a full sibling to Paisley in May 2018.

colt at luxury guest ranchMemphis
Born: 5/8/17
Sire: Shaq : “Gray Stik”
Dam: June “Frostys Red Baron”

Memphis is Shaq’s first colt to be born here at VVR. Memphis was born with a lighter red sorrel coloring, but with time is also starting to show some of his Sire’s gray coloring. Memphis definitely has the energy and athleticism of his father. Three days after his birth, he was already zipping around the pasture with the cutest little lope. Memphis is a little bit more timid than Paisley when it comes to interacting with people, but he gets more and more comfortable with people each day. He is a very sweet colt, and we are very excited to see his potential. June will be having another Shaq baby May 2018, so we look forward to seeing what this two produce next year!

foals on summer vacationApache
Born: April 2017
Dam: Ginger

Apache and his mom Ginger came to us from our cattle partner Matt Belton. Apache came to us at about one month of age and is growing fast. Apache is a cute little black colt with two white socks and the sweetest little face. Apache is by far one of the most curious, kind foals within the group of four foals we have this year. He’s inquisitive and quite independent of his mom at a very young age. He loves people and getting scratches and rubs in all his itchy spots! This young colt is very brave and seems to be a fast learner. His relaxed, carefree personality helps settle his mom, who can sometimes be nervous and very protective of him.

colt at family guest ranchHoulihan
Born: March 2017
Dam: Big Momma “Zans Rainy Gal”

Houlihan and Big Momma came to us from a horse sale in CO this last spring, and we are lucky to have them. Houlihan is a gregarious, friendly colt who gets his calm disposition and size from his beautiful, big-boned gray momma. Houlihan has great conformation, and his dark coat is already starting to gray out, so we’ll have another gray colt. He is extremely friendly and loves people. Big Momma is also currently pregnant with Shaq’s baby, who is due around next May/June 2018.  With her easy personality and great size, we think the combination of those two horses will produce an amazing guest ranch horse.


Guests get an up close and personal experience with horses at Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado!

Northern Colorado Speaks – July 2017

There are so many great reasons to come take a vacation in Colorado, and the folks at Northern Colorado Speaks point out that that history of Colorado is rooted in the Gold Rush and the cattle ranches that sprouted as a result.  So, to go back to Colorado roots, they put together a list of some of the best dude ranches in the state.  The article is titled 12 Dude Ranches in Colorado You’ll be Dreaming of this Summer.  Read the article…..

summer family vacation

Forbes – July 2017

Forbes writer Sherrie Nachman spent some time at Vista Verde with her boys, and shares he experience with readers.  The article is titled “Trying to Find the Perfect Way to Unplug?  Colorado’s Vista Verde Ranch is the Vacation Answer.”  Well said–unplugging while still enjoying an adventure vacation with great food too is what we’re all about!  Read the article….

hiking vacation in Colorado

Dude Ranch Life: How do they all have so much energy?

Maybe it’s that I’m not 23 anymore, or maybe it’s just because our staff are just that adventurous.  But, this morning it hit me that our staff are moonlighting (sometimes quite literally) in some pretty amazing athletic endeavors.  Why did this hit me this morning?  Well, Beka and I went for an early morning run, which was amazing and beautiful and fulfilling for this busy mom who is psyched when she fits in a 4 mile run.  However, you must please note that Beka was merely warming up for a full day of guiding and anticipating that she would be leading a hike on the Zirkel Circle.  You know, that silly little 11 mile hike into the Zirkel Wilderness.  While we were out running, we saw footprints on the trail.  Beka’s guess was that those footprints belonged to Shannon.  She had invited Shannon to join us on our run but Shannon opted out.  She was hoping to get a longer run in that morning…..before she also guided an all-day hiking trip.  Ummmm…..ok.

This conversation led to further ones with other staff about their epic outings recently.  The same energizer bunny Shannon joined Molly and Max H. earlier this week on a 21 mile/11 hour hike into the Zirkels.  The highlight of the hike was getting up on top of Flattop Mountain.

Oh, and then there was the climb up Wapiti Mountain with Maggie A., Jonah S, Shannon (do you see a pattern her?) and Molly that started at sunset and got back well after the full moon was way up in the sky.

Well, I can’t forget to mention the gallant attempt to climb Farwell Mountain by Nolan and Max.  Perhaps they didn’t make it all the way, but the scratches and bruises they brought back proved their pioneer spirit.

Of course, what better way to celebrate kid wrangler Max K.’s birthday than a sunrise hike up Hahn’s Peak with a whole crew of friends?

For creative adventures, the award goes to Jason and Sarah who are attempting to climb every mountain or visit every lake that one of our cabins are named after….each Sunday they tackle another one.

There was that night that Jonah J. hiked up to the top of Wapiti at 9pm, camped out, and was back at work by 7:30am.

Needless to say, our crew is making the most of their time off, and somehow they still have the energy to whip up amazing dishes, wash those dirty dishes, wrangle the horses and kids, and lead more wild adventures out into the mountains with our guests.

Anyone up for a walk around the block?

dude ranch owners at Vista Verde

Dude Ranch Life: Special Visitors

Recently we had some special visitors come up to the ranch.  Does the name Tufly ring a bell for any of you?  If not, here’s a clue: the Tufly family owned Vista Verde from the late 1920’s until the 1970’s.  Their boys grew up on the ranch, so we were thrilled when Elvin and Roy came by to visit with their wives Carolyn and Delene.  It was great timing, as they not only got to spend some time at the ranch and share stories of growing up at Vista Verde, but they also got to meet Chris and Laura who own the ranch now.

The guys had us totally entertained hearing about the trouble they got into as boys growing up on the ranch as well as what life was like at Vista Verde in those days.  They used to close the ranch down in the winter, and ski in throughout the winter to shovel snow off the roofs of the buildings.  Such a different lifestyle than what we have today!

It’s amazing how many people’s lives Vista Verde has touched in the past, and how many it continues to touch as a guest ranch today.  We’re all pretty lucky to call it home for even a week at a time!

a romantic winter vacation

Salt Lake Bride and Groom – June 2017

While those of us with kids are in the midst of summer vacation and lots of kid time, this article reminds us that there can be a time when the kids aren’t a part of the picture and time with our partners is the priority.  Tessa Woolf from Salt Lake Bride and Groom put together an article about 3 Romantic Outdoor Retreats to Get Away From It All, and we’re excited that Vista Verde was listed as one of those recommendations for romantic getaways.  Read the article….. and start dreaming of that romantic vacation!!

summer vacation the entire family will love

MSN.com – June 2017

Writers Lauren Smith and Sarah Schreiber put together a list of “22 Vacation Destinations Your Entire Family Will Love” and this article was shared by MSN.com recently.  What a great list of summer vacation ideas for families, just at the right time!  We were thankful to see Vista Verde included in the list, and always appreciative of people recognizing all we do to make the VVR ranch vacation experience the best family vacation ever! Read the article….

animals and kids at a family dude ranch vacation

Dude Ranch Life: Angels among us

On the very first day of my kids’ summer vacation we discovered that my daughter’s old faithful horse has some really serious health issues.  Given that having a horse is an integral part of my summer childcare plan, this put us in a bind.  Yes, we have plenty of horses here at the ranch, but they all have a job to do during the summer!  So I’ve been madly hunting for a great horse for my kid.  In that search, I have been reminded that it is a special creature who weighs 1,000 pounds and gently takes care of our children.  It’s never far from my thoughts or those of all our wranglers as they work with our herd, but this situation has put it really high on my radar right now.  We truly live among angels with these horses, and even the dogs and cats, here at the ranch who so patiently care for our little people.

No horse is perfect, just like none of us are–ok, maybe some of you have achieved perfection, but I’m far from it!  However, as I watch these animals who are so powerful stand patiently while little girls braid their manes, or small children pull on their mouths with no awareness of the discomfort they are causing the animal, or a group of kids lie down and surround a young colt, leaving it with no escape when he is wired to always have an out from prey, I see little angel wings sprouting.  So, parents, please remember when your kid complains that her horse eats grass to much, or that when he wants to trot or lope the horse doesn’t do it without a lot of kicking, or whatever other imperfections arise, that these creatures are taking care of your babies and keeping them safe.  I’ve been shopping for a replacement horse who is safe and kind, willing and sure-footed, calm and gentle, and they are not abundantly available.  So, I am treasuring the ones we do have here at the ranch.  Because we are surrounded by angels here, and luckily the kids who come here (and my kids are included in that thankfully) get to spend time riding around on winged horses without even knowing it!  Bet you never imagined when you booked your family vacation here at the ranch that you were also booking time with an angel?

dude ranch staff on bikes

Dude Ranch Life: Orientation week

It’s been a whirlwind of excitement and learning this week at the ranch.  You know that saying about drinking out of a firehose?  That is pretty much how our staff feel at this point.  They arrived Monday, and we kicked off our orientation time with a welcome dinner Monday night.  First thing Tuesday morning there were introductions and then we jumped right into laying out the ranch mission, touring the new staff around the ranch, and getting paperwork filled out.  Then if was off to their individual departments.  We’ve been busy from sunrise to sunset and everyone is ready for a well-deserved day off tomorrow!  Following a great suggestion by longtime guest Bruce G., I asked a couple of the new staff to share their experiences with our followers on social media.  Here’s what they’ve been experiencing so far this week. First up, meet Catherine:

Day 1:
Hi, I’m Catherine,
I’m from Charlotte, North Carolina.
I am so excited to spend my first season at Vista Verde Ranch as a Horse Wrangler.
Follow me on my journey over the next few weeks as I learn all the ends and outs of this beautiful place.

Today, we were completely immersed in the vision and mission behind what we are doing here at the ranch. Whether learning about values like compassion and leadership, or meeting those that are the heartbeat of the ranch; This place has already stolen my heart.

However, the day wasn’t all meetings. The wranglers spent the day exploring the acres of the ranch on horseback and meeting a few of the horses. Here are a few pictures from today’s adventure!

Day 2

Hey Y’all it’s Catherine!
Today was such a blast. It was the most beautiful weather we’ve had all week. Summer is definitely here. We spent the morning practicing all different types of first aid emergency scenarios. From practicing what to do about back injuries, making slings, or walking through head to toe checks, all of our first aid training was reinforced with live scenarios.

This afternoon the wrangler department saddled up and had our first clinic with the head trainer KP. Y’all, KP knows his stuff. He is such a wealth of knowledge on all things horsemanship. I learned so much in one short hour, and I’ve been riding my whole life. Today was full of reminders of how much of a gift this summer will be.
Also, I’ve been taking some spins on the Cruiser Bikes. It’s definitely going to be a favorite aspect of after work activities! So. much. fun.

Day 3

Hey y’all,
Big things are happening here at the ranch. Today was spent with everyone really diving into getting the ranch prepped for guests. Wranglers were mending fences and placing gates, guides were building paddle board trailers, and kids supervisors went on an orientation
horseback ride. It was a busy day, and most people were outside working all around. The energy was high, and it really feels like we’ve gotten into a steady rhythm with our departments. I’ve found that my favorite parts of the day are meals when we all gather together in the staff room and share conversations across tables. I also love department time. We get to bond with our team and focus on what we really love to do at the ranch. For me, it’s horses.

Counting down the days until we get to meet you all!

Day 4
Hi friends,
Today was filled with a lot of “first times.” We de wormed the mares and the yearlings, had our first “run out” to the back pasture, and had our first barn dance! There’s nothing quiet as exciting as chasing a heard of galloping horses through a pasture and herding them in the right direction. Also, I learned that head wrangler Ben Yoder-Henley and head trainer KP have some serious dance moves. Everyday the ranch has more and more to offer!

And now it’s Day 5 and Catherine and the rest of the crew are working with the housekeepers to learn the ins and outs of Sunday turnovers. Because, here at the ranch, everyone jumps in on Sundays to help get the cabins cleaned for the next group of guests!

Next we introduce you to Mackenzie:
My name is Mackenzie and I am beyond stoked to be a server at VVR this season! I’m originally from a suburb close to Chicago, and can’t wait for this change of pace in the mountains! Follow my staff orientation over the next 2 weeks to see a glimpse of what goes into prepping to serve our amazing guests! Day 1 consisted of stellar talks about the ranch, it’s mission, and what it means to be a part of the family here. I’m feeling truly honored to have this opportunity. The entire staff has already learned so much, and of course we continued the fun after training with bike rides and staff yoga!

Day 2- The ranch staff spent the entire morning soaking up information about first aid. We then practiced mock first-aid scenarios around the ranch!
In the afternoon, the waitstaff toured and explored the in’s and out’s of the kitchen. We also began to learn a bit about breakfast service and practiced carrying plates (current drop count: 0)! As you can see from the picture, it was a tough view to commute to work today, and an even tougher view to study our server book in our cabins! What a great second day for the waitstaff.

Howdy from day 3! All of the waitstaff just happened to show up in matching outfits today- wow we must ALREADY be stellar as a team! (Ok..maybe we planned it…) Today we had a birthday in our department of one of our wonderful returning staff, Terrence! What better way to celebrate than singing happy birthday to him as he walks in the staff room rubbing his eyes at 7am?!
Today the servers gained a wealth of knowledge from our lead server, Lisa, as well as birthday boy Terrence. We ran through a fake breakfast service- between the four of us “newbies” we probably asked a grand total of 1 million questions to make sure we’re the best we can be! Next, we learned how to set the table for formal dinner service. Lisa surprised us at the end of the day by telling us we will be riding tomorrow as a department! We couldn’t be more excited, bring on day 4!

Stay tuned, as we’ll keep you updated on the adventures of Catherine and Mackenzie as they navigate their way to opening day. We’re in the final countdown!

meeting at a dude ranch

Dude Ranch Life: Gearing up for the summer season

Oh boy.  Can I just tell you all how excited I am about this summer?  I’ve been doing this a long time (this summer marks 20 years in dude ranching– who’d have ever thought I’d be saying that?!) and there are some years that I am more excited about the start of the season than others.  It varies based on so many things, but this year it is definitely different.  I am pumped like I haven’t been in a long time.  Why?  So many reasons!!!

Where to start……in no particular order

Kids, tweens and teens- We’ve always put a lot of energy into our programs for the younger guests, but this year it seems like the stars are aligning.  With Addie and Mandy joining the ranch team, there is a level of professionalism, excitement, maturity, and fun that gets me giddy just thinking about it.  Both educators, these two gals are pouring into the program to make it the best ever.  And it wasn’t a shabby program to start with, so they really are reaching for the stars.  The two of them compliment each other so well as far as personality and skill sets and they will be tag-teaming on making this summer the best ever.  They have embraced and run with our new concept of not just splitting up the kids into kid and teen groups, but into kid, tween, and teen groups.  In doing so, they have crafted a whole new program, and there are so many fun activities packed into one week.  On top of that, they made all sorts of tweaks and improvements to the existing programs that are going to make them so much fun.  Listen, my two girls join in on the program each summer, so I have an extra personal stake in the game, and I know they are going to love it.  Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, I could go on and on….but let’s move on.

Betterness- Former owner John Munn left a legacy with his term “betterness.”  He always encouraged us to work toward that, and never settle for status quo.  This spring the ideas have been flowing, following many of us taking trips of our own and experience great service and unique amenities (hint, hint Chris and Laura, maybe we should all get paid to travel in the off-season, haha).  In little ways here and there, we are freshening up the special details that make a ranch vacation at VVR stand out to our guests.  Sorry, I can’t reveal them all, but it’s exciting to see them coming together!

The leaders- No, not me, Ben and Charlie.  We all just sit around and look pretty.  I’m talking about the people who make it all happen.  We have such a fabulous team this year, and they are so committed to excellence that I just get all mushy inside thinking about it.  Monday we had our pre-season manager meeting.  What I thought was going to be an hour or so meeting turned into an all-day affair.  Yes, keeping a bunch of dude ranchers seated inside for that long is beyond painful, but the discussions and the ideas that came out of it were so incredibly productive, positive, and honest.  It was incredible.  I was cranky by 5pm after being cooped up all day, but also so full of thankfulness for the team who makes this place rock and roll.  In addition to the old faithfuls, there are a number of new players involved in the ranch this past year, and everyone of them seems like they have been here forever.  I already mentioned the gals in the kids hut, but there is also Chef Jason who joined us last winter, and one would think he and Chef Chol have been working together for years based on the ease with the dining program has moved forward.  Then there is Zach who took over the HR and activity coordinating while Beka moved into the Adventure Center, and we all love having him in the office.  Ben Yoder Henley has returned to take the head wrangler role and team up  head trainer KP in the horse program. Melissa helped lead us in a new direction with housekeeping last winter, and she’s become a pivotal player in the office where she balances two very important roles.  And how can we forget the ranch owners Laura and Chris and their amazing kids–talk about energy and excitement!

Adventures await- We have a new era starting in the Adventure Center, and that might be different for some.  But the door is almost bursting off with enthusiasm from the talented and experienced team up there.  Beka, Isaac, Brandon, Ben, and Nate are working diligently to be ready to roll on June 4.  They have the newest and greatest gear, ideas for fun ways to experience the backcountry, and are so loaded up with wilderness safety training that you better not stub your toe on a hike or you might find yourself in triage.  They are ready to shake things up and give our guests the best outdoor experiences they have ever had at the ranch before.  That’s contagious, and I can’t wait to try the new bikes, hear about the fish tales, and watch the log of the many miles our guests and guides put on the trail grow over the summer.

Animals- The mare barn is going to be a little more noisy this summer with the addition of some chickens, chicks, goats and bunnies.  Yes!  The brainchild that started with some casual conversations between Charlie and Devyn has turned into some real live animals that Mandy rustled up for the ranch.  Me thinks I might have to take a few walks down to the mare barn for “quality control.”  I mean, it is really important for me to check out the foals and the animals, just to make sure the guests are getting the best experience possible, right?

Ok, I could go on and on, as in every corner of the ranch, in every department, and with everything we do there are amazing things happening this spring.  So, with the pace kicking into full steam this week and the staff arriving next week the heat has been turned up.  And it’s going to be a good one!  If you haven’t already made plans to join us this summer, maybe it’s time to squeeze in a week to the ranch.  Don’t miss this summer at VVR–I’m going to soak it all up and hope you can too!

foals at Colorado dude ranch

Dude Ranch Life: Springtime in the Rockies means babies!

The valley is just bursting with life.  The grass is spreading out over the meadows and the glacier lilies are popping out all over the place.  The rivers are rushing by with tremendous speed.  The sand hill cranes are calling out from the ponds and the trees are filled with chirping birds in the morning.  And, best of all, there are babies everywhere we turn!

Each day as we pass by our fellow rancher’s homes we see more calves dotting the pastures.  Our partners Christy and Matt Belton just held their branding over the weekend and now those little black calves are snoozing out under the sunshine next to their mammas.

Teletubby and Jane have both delivered sweet little foals.  Teletubby’s little filly is just as sweet and friendly as they get, and June’s colt is a little pistol full of energy and sass.

Oh, and to top all that, Monday morning we got the call from Chol and Alaya that they welcomed Saoirse into their family.  Eamon has a little sister and everyone is doing really well!  I asked Eamon if anything fun had happened today as we walked through the Lodge today with his papa, and his big news was that they saw some flowers and wanted to ask Charlie about them.  Finally, after some prodding he did remember that they also have a new baby!  Hey, we all have our priorities.

Here’s to the start of a season of abundance.  Bring it on Spring!