Return to Vista Verde Ranch website Tag – December 2010

Steamboat Is Featured In Eddie Bauer Catalog– Shannon Luthy, Colorado Editor

Steamboat received plenty of ink in the “Christmas in Steamboat” edition of the Eddie Bauer catalog. Page after page featured the northern Colorado town, also known as “Ski Town U.S.A.” Olympian’s were featured on a page titled, “Steamboat’s Legendary Winter Olympians Meet Up With Eddie’s Legendary Down Sweater.” Those featured include Nelson Carmichael, Todd Lodwick, Bugs Werner, Johnny Spillane, Caroline Lalive, and Chris Puckett.

Steamboat’s ski and snowboard instructors also are outfitted in Eddie Bauer.

One of the principals in the Eddie Bauer company apparently spends time in Steamboat and got in touch with officials of the ski area. Loryn Kasten with the Steamboat Ski Area says Eddie Bauer thought Steamboat would be a great location for the holidays, to show the Christmas spirit. “It’s a prime example of alternative means for the resort to speak to clients and potential guests to get the message out about what a great destination Steamboat is.”

It’s more than just the catalog, according to Kasten. “I was just in Denver at the mall and saw huge displays of Steamboat, with the More Barn, and Champagne Powder Snow. It’s great exposure for Steamboat and the community as a whole.”

It was a community effort, with shooting locations on the mountain, at Marabou Ranch, and Vista Verde Ranch, as well as downtown on Lincoln Avenue, which is Steamboat’s main drag. “The Steamboat Chamber was very helpful, as well as the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club kids who came out for a shoot at Howelsen Hill with Billy Kidd.

“The end result is definitely a prime example of how the community comes together to get the word out about Ski Town U.S.A.,” said Kasten.

Baby any day and a new horse

For a while there, it seemed like winter at the ranch would never leave. But, even though we’re still getting some snow here and there, it is melting away faster than it’s falling these days. We’re down to bare grown right in most places right around the ranch buildings, and the fences out in the pastures are finally fully exposed. On a sunny day like today, it feels like spring should feel. And with spring in the air, we’re getting ready for the first foal to arrive….any day now.
In the meantime, a crew from the ranch headed down to the Legends of Ranching horse sale at Colorado State University this past weekend. We were taking bets on how full the trailer would be on the way home. Apparently the recession has ended in the horse world as the prices were much, much higher this year than last. Because the horses were going for a fair bit, we only ended up with one little filly. She’s a cutie though, and is getting used to her new home. She is a 2 year old, so will take some training before we start using her for riding. She may be one who is rotated between the broodmare herd and the riding herd over the years. SCR Badger Pep is her registered name, and her nickname is still to be determined. She’s a sweetheart!

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.

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.  

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!

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.

Colorado’s Best Dude Ranches for Adults

Colorado’s best dude ranches are known for amazing family vacations, but they also make for incredible couples getaways. Most of the state’s ranches offer adult-only weeks, usually in the fall, when the pace slows a bit, the menus are a little more gourmet and guests can be found canoodling in front of glowing fires set amid spectacular mountain backdrops.

These all-inclusive dude ranches welcome you to take part in as many — or as few — ranch activities as you’d like, including hikes, trail rides, cattle drives, fishing excursions and boating, all of which can be tailored to all abilities.

Many ranches also throw in unexpected luxuries like spa treatments, yoga sessions and cooking classes. All of them have incredible home-cooked meals, serene settings and hospitality you can’t stop talking about (we’re serious about this one — read any online review of these ranches to see people expound on this subject).

Although a week is the standard all inclusive dude ranch stay, ensuring guests are really able to unplug and savor ranch life, these adults-only periods are a bit more flexible. Some even open their lodges and cabins to overnight travelers when they’re not booked up, featuring B&B services and a la carte activities.

Below is a sampling of the amenities that will appeal to couples looking for romantic vacatin ideas. Visit the Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association for more comprehensive listings.

Vista Verde Ranch, Steambat Springs

Toward the end of September, Vista Verde hosts an adults-only cattle gather, which is a remarkable experience on its own, but becomes even more so amid changing leaves and crisp fall air. You’ll definitely feel you’ve earned the hot-tub soak and three-course dinners that follow. Cooking classes and wine tasting are just a few of the off-horse activities to choose from.  Vista Verde also operates as a romantic winter resort from December – March.

Smith Fork Ranch, Crawford

This Gunnison National Forest ranch ranks among the best in the delicious meal category (though couples massages and guided adventures for two amp up the three-night Romantic Mountain Getaway package). Shade-tree picnics, a world-class wine cellar and private candle-light dinners focus on farm-to-table cuisine, with many of the ingredients harvested from the ranch’s own garden.

C Lazy U Ranch, Granby

For couples who aren’t on the same page when it comes to communing with nature, C Lazy U has the perfect solution: For one night of your trip, they’ll arrange a “luxury campout.” A ranch hand will guide you to a campsite with large cozy tent (with a king-size bed inside!), s’mores kit, firepit and other delights. Back at the ranch, deluxe rooms have a stocked mini-bar, plush robes, fresh-fruit baskets and options like jetted tubs and fireplaces.

Home Ranch, Steamboat Springs

A prestigious Relais & Châteaux property, Home Ranch offers two-night stays for adults each October. Live music, roaring campfires, fall-color hikes or horseback rides, and Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing on a private section of the Elk River keep guests busy — even as the in-ranch chef’s haute mountain cuisine tempts them to loiter around the dining room.

4UR Ranch, Creede

4UR sets itself apart from the outset with one major amenity: Its very own natural hot  springs. Those who can find their way out of the mineral water and into the elegant accommodations will also enjoy a cozy little bar and an Adirondack-style porch perfect for stargazing. Seven miles of Rio Grande fishing, long trail rides and food and wine from a Cordon Bleu-trained chef aren’t so bad either. Two adults-only weeks are offered each summer.

Laramie River Dude Ranch, Glendevey

This ranch also has a perfect-for-couples fall cattle drive; this one ambles through a secluded river valley. Additionally, Laramie River has a naturalist program to help visitors explore the area through wildflower hikes, birdwatchng, stargazing, orienteering and more. Three-, four- or seven-night adults-only stays are available in September.

Lost Valley Dude and Guest Ranch, Sedalia

Lost Valley refers to its accommodations as “Levi luxurious with cattle baron comforts.” The cabins, complete with stone fireplaces and porches with lounge swings, are nestled in the pines overlooking the valley. Adults-only weeks in September and October feature cattle drives and rides through golden aspen stands and a long list of activities that can be totally ignored by those who prefer to just laze around this peaceful ranch.

The Girls

Normally when I use the term, “the girls”, I am referring to my mini-me’s Maggie and Ella. But these days at the ranch that term is used for the gals out in the pasture- the new breeding stock for Vista Verde Ranch. The three young ones- Houston, Patty and Little Buck stuck around all summer learning the ropes of being ridden and how to behave to Terry’s standards. The older gals- Chex, Stella, Rachael, Mary Jane and Sally all headed off to meet the man of their dreams in hopes of having some cute little foals on the ground next spring. All of them just returned to the ranch and all but Sally came back in foal, so we’re hoping things continue well and we have 4 cute little babies before next summer. Along the way, we also picked up Gimlet, a little weanling (just left her mama for the big world) who will be worked into our herd as she grows up. This is one situation where being barefoot and pregnant is a pretty sweet life! Hopefully you get to meet these gals soon, they are as sweet as can be. And, even better, in a couple years you might be riding one of their kiddos.

July 4 Holiday at a Colorado Guest Ranch

Yesterday was a fun day at the ranch. Ok, most days are pretty fun, but it’s always a bit more special to celebrate a ranch holiday.

The morning started out with our regular orientation ride, as one would expect with a horseback riding vacation. The guests got a chance to get to know their horses, learn a little more about where we’re going this week with their horsemanship skills, and get some basic tools for understanding how to communicate better with their horse.

Lunch was a festive affair with the Colorado Lodge decorated in red, white and blue. Compliments to the tireless Sarah and her crew for all their efforts to make it look so good!

After lunch out on the deck, we held the first ever Vista Verde Ranch egg toss competition. It was a fierce and messy battle, but one by one each team was eliminated. Some were a bit more messy on their exit than others. After finishing, the guys had to take it one step further, so both Dace and Ben had to take turns trying to lob an egg over the pond to Clay, who was part of the winning team. Hey, when else is it socially acceptable to throw raw eggs around?

Everyone headed out for a variety of activities- riding, biking, fishing, hiking…and even some just relaxing by the pool. We gathered up again at the corral later in the afternoon to paint the white horses with red and blue paint. The festivities capped off just before dinner with the star spangled stampede. Hard to describe the fun of this annual 4th of July event at the ranch, but everyone should have the chance to witness it at some point.

It’s great to be able to celebrate being an American while vacationing at a dude ranch. We wish you all a wonderful Independence Day, and continue to appreciate those who serve our country as they allow us to live here and share this place with others.


9 Wild West Dude Ranches

As seen in The Daily Meal
9 Wild West Dude Ranches – by Nicole Campoy-Leffler

Spurs and all, these are more than just your average horseback riding adventure

In this digital modern age, John Wayne’s dusty Wild West seems a novel, old fashioned place. And while the Gold Rush may be over, it’s comforting to note that this gun-slinging, iPhone-less cowboy lifestyle is still alive and well on dude ranches across the U.S.

More than just tumbleweeds and cowboy hats, these dude ranches have amenities that would spoil even the toughest ranch hand. Swimming pools, live country music, wine cellars, and river rafting trips are all becoming dude ranch standard with fine dining, lavish spa treatments, and tennis courts rounding out some of the more luxurious offerings. Central California’s Alisal Ranch, for example, asks guests to “dress” for dinner and boasts a wine club with three levels of membership.

Whether you’re a seasoned horseback rider or got inspired by watching Rio Grande, the activities and itineraries available at each dude ranch can be tailor-made to fit your every whim. Wyoming’s storied A Bar A Ranch offers everything from fly fishing to skeet shooting and from horseback riding to golfing, ensuring you’ll earn your stripes in no time. And nothing goes with saddling up better than a fresh, epicurean meal.

Montana’s Triple Creek Ranch offers mahi mahi ceviche and braised Guinea fowl and organic chicken with seasonal vegetables and rice in their main dining room while Colorado’s Vista Verde Ranch has scheduled seasonal wine tastings and cooking classes throughout the year.

Harking back to the old West, these ranches let you get a taste of ranch life without actually making you wake up to do farm work at 5 a.m. Here are nine great ranches worth visiting all across the U.S.; go for the horseback riding vacations, stay for the food.

Colorado’s Vista Verde Ranch seems like it was made for the food-loving rancher. With cooking classes and wine tasting events, the ranch’s other activities like mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and rock climbing are an added bonus. Changing based on the season, the ranch’s culinary adventures take place all throughout the property from hearty breakfasts (like honey wheat pancakes with caramelized apples on top) to outdoor grilling and from a quick lunch between activities to tasting the ranch’s inspiring wine collection.

Thank you Nicole for including us as one of the best dude ranches in your article!  We are so proud of our all-inclusive Colorado resort and love introducing new people to Vista Verde Ranch.

Give us a call at 800-526-7433 for information or reservations!

What Does All-Inclusive mean when it comes to vacations?

Many luxury guest ranches, resorts and even cruise lines promote themselves as all-inclusive vacations.  But, what I have found is that many of them aren’t really all-inclusive. 

At Vista Verde Ranch, we have chosen to truly be an all inclusive Colorado vacation, and not nickel and dime our guests. 

What does that mean?  When you make a reservation for your ranch holiday at Vista Verde Ranch, you will know what the trip is going to cost you, and there won’t be any surprises.

Included in your luxury dude ranch vacation at Vista Verde Ranch are meals, beverages, activities, guides and equipment.

What do other so-called all inclusive Colorado vacation destinations charge you for that we don’t?
Wireless internet
Airport transfers
Beer and wine
Fly fishing licences
Equipment rentals
Lessons, instruction or clinics
Mini bar

Having said all that, and in the essence of fairness, there are some extra charges that we don’t feel right building into the price for all guests.  In the summer, those would be spa treatments and hot air ballooning. 

So, do your research.  Ask a lot of questions.  It can be overwhelming with all the choices and every dude ranch being so different.  I’ve even had guests put together grids to try to figure out which ranch is right for them.  Please know that we are always happy to answer any questions and help you find the right all inclusive Colorado vacation for you!

Chaos, Organized?

We have been trying to keep you all updated with the construction of the Great Room addition to the Main Lodge. But, while that has been going on, we’ve mentioned the indoor arena as well as a few other smaller projects. As I walked around this morning, capturing photos of everything happening around the ranch on this beautiful day, I realized that I should give you all a real feel for the scene. Maybe it’s because it’s all coming together finally and the pieces are falling into place. Or maybe it’s just because the weather is now allowing us to get some of the projects really going. Once you read this list, you’ll understand why Ben and Dace have a glazed look on their faces most days and why I’m working from home as much as possible! Don’t worry, these projects are all nearing completion and are on schedule to be done June 1. Here’s the list:
1) Great Room addition to the Main Lodge– you’ve all heard about this one, but it is looking REALLY good right now.
2) Outdoor kitchen and dining area– brick oven, major grilling space, patio seating right next to the….
3) Enlarged Lake Suzanne– ok, so we needed some dirt to build terrain around the Indoor riding arena (next up) so we decided to make the pond a bit larger so people aren’t hooking each other as they practice their casting.
4) Indoor Riding Arena– you may wonder why I haven’t written much about it. Well, not to knock Californians (I’m one!) but these guys were a little sensitive to working in our winter weather and seemed to take more snow days than work days. But a few pointed words from key people (aka, they guy writing the checks) has gotten them to pick up the pace just a tad, and buy a few pairs of mittens and hats to keep them going. Although it will be enclosed by summer, it wont be ready to use for riding until later in the season, but the point of the arena is really for winter riding more than summer riding and for the summer we’ll have….
5) Outdoor riding arena– this isn’t quite as exciting but the fencing needed to be replaced since we’ve had too many steers jump out during team penning so there is now new fencing and a nice chaparral gate to boot.
6) Staff housing– we needed to finish building out a couple staff rooms in the Parlor. So, since we had NOTHING else going on, we figured we’d that knocked out this spring.
7) Sand bathroom– you may have read about this surprise remodel early in the spring after a water leak ruined the floor. Bill has the tile and granite in, the walls painted and now the plumbing and light fixtures are going in tomorrow.
8 ) Corral space– remember that old hay barn that fell down last winter. Well, we’re taking advantage of that space to expand our holding pen for the horses, so dirt is being moved, rock walls built and fences will go up next.
9) Generator– I know, this really gets you going. But, look at the bright side (pardon the electricity pun) that now if the power goes out we’ll still have lights and water. What can I say, it’s the little details that make this place so great.
10) Revised pathways to cabin– we’ve been eyeballing this for a while and are finally doing it (again, since we have NOTHING else to do). The new pathway system will give each cabin more privacy as the main walkway will be moved to the other side of the stream.
11) Yes, there is a #11. The Dining room, Kitchen and Staff room remodel. Hey, it’s kind of like painting a house. Once you get started, it just seems so easy to add another room, and then another, and then another.

This may seem daunting to you, but with the exception of the Arena, it’s all on track to be done before any of you show up for the summer. The landscapers are coming next week to get the outside areas looking spiffy, lay sod, plant trees, arrange rocks, you name it.

It’s exciting to start seeing all these projects come together and be almost done. But, in the meantime, it’s a bit of a zoo around here!

With all that news of chaos, Kelli and I are going to go out and scout a good spot for our Wild Yoga….details to follow.

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.

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.