While many dude ranches close in the fall and reopen again in the spring through summer, Vista Verde Guest Ranch is a Colorado all-season wonderland. For guests of this all-inclusive luxury dude ranch, any time of the year is the best time to visit. Follow along with me as I share my winter adventure at Vista Verde Guest Ranch, along with teasers of the other three seasons.
Welcome to your new home on the Colorado mountain range, Vista Verde Guest Ranch blends AAA Four Diamond amenities and at the same time offers the opportunity to get your cowboy boots dirty — literally! This Colorado dude ranch is the perfect family or adult-only getaway.
At an elevation of 7,752 feet in the Elk River Valley surrounded by a National Forest, this Colorado dude ranch offers travelers a reprieve from the rest of the world with “…a little bit luxury, a little bit Old West, a place for adventure and a place for rest.”
My partner in crime for my Colorado winter weekend getaway to Vista Verde was my son-in-law Lewis. This would be our first solo adventure together — but it won’t be the last as this luxury dude ranch provided us with plenty of adventures, culinary experiences, and kick-back relaxing moments together.
Arrival at Vista Verde Guest Ranch
The best part of this adventure was my son-in-law drove, truth be told, allowing me the opportunity to soak up the beautiful Colorado scenery in the winter while he navigated the snowy roads in January. His truck pointed west toward Steamboat Springs with our ultimate destination, an adult-only long weekend at the Vista Verde Guest Ranch.
Situated at 7,752 feet in the Elk River Valley and surrounded by the 1.1 million-acre Routt National Forest, Vista Verde sits on roughly 600 acres and is located about 40 miles north of Steamboat Springs. This dude ranch is a unique blend of AAA Four Diamond amenities and authentic western hospitality. Our visit coincided with some of the coldest temperatures in January, but that’s what Colorado is all about.
While much of the 3 1/2 hour drive is along maintained state highways, Rabbit Ears Pass on Highway 40 can be a white-knuckle drive for even the more seasoned local drivers. After passing through Steamboat, we were glad we opted for a 4-wheel truck to make the journey as County Road 129 to Clark and then County Road 64 were a bit more treacherous but manageable.
And then we almost missed our entrance to the ranch as many signs were covered in snow. We quickly backtracked the 1/4 mile and drove into the ranch property.
This is the moment we realized this trip was going to be epic, and the perfect destination to unwind and enjoy our weekend. Why? The views!
The Main Lodge
The king of the Main Lodge of the property is the Great Room. This is where guests congregate around the fire, enjoy happy hour, and just relax. The furniture and decor in the Great Room are cozy and truly comfortable. Be sure to take time to walk around and check out the great Western artwork and decor.
Guests happily sink into the comfy leather couches, and we were no exception. We enjoyed a great selection of wine and beer each evening, some appetizers, and conversation with many others. And the fireplace was the centerpiece of the room, as well as the beautiful chandelier.
This is also where the reception desk is located at the entrance, and where guests check in and sign up for activities. The dining room is just off the Great Room.
Accommodations at Vista Verde
We checked in quickly and were directed to our two-bedroom North Fork cabin overlooking the winter horse pasture. Parking was directly in front of the duplex cabins, so we unloaded and stepped into what would be our home for the next 3 nights. The kitchen was nicely stocked with complimentary snacks, juice, soda, beer, and wine — with an option to make requests for more or less of any item, when available.
Renovated back in 2016, these North Fork & South Fork duplex, 900-square foot cabins are close to the Main Lodge.
While labeled cozy, for my son-in-law and me, the set-up was perfect, with a master suite with a king bed that looks onto the horse pasture and a private bathroom. The second bedroom offers a queen bed and a private bathroom. This set-up is perfect for smaller families, or adults wanting to share a cabin as it offers private bedrooms and then a living area and small kitchen.
But the view outside our back deck (complete with a hot tub) pulled us in like a magnet. We stepped out on the deck, even with the chill of the early evening, all we could do was be silent and take it all in.
Other accommodations at Vista Verde Guest Ranch continue with the rustic exterior, but the interior is what I like to call ranch couture, which equates to stylish, yet comfortable Western flair. The decor is a mix of antique, western art, lodgepole pine beds, and handmade log furniture.
Bringing large or multigenerational family groups? Consider one of their luxury private log cabins, larger versions of the cabin duplexes. Choose from one-bedroom to four-bedroom cabins, all unique in design, with a private hot tub on deck, thoughtful amenities like locally made bath products, cozy comforters, spa robes, etc.
Wanting more intimate accommodations, yet close to the action? Book one of the private lodge rooms at Vista Verde, located within the Main Lodge, steps from the Great Room and dining room.
Vista Verde wants this to truly be the perfect time to unplug and really enjoy your vacation with your family and friends. While complimentary WiFi is available in the Great Room, none of the accommodations offer phones or TVs — and no WiFi. Trust me, I tried, but the strongest signal is in the heart of the Great Room.
Dining at Vista Verde Guest Ranch
This will be the moment that changes your perception of dude ranches: dining at Vista Verde Guest Ranch. While some menus include traditional casual BBQ and ranch-style cookouts, Chef Cholly changes menus daily.
From seared scallops to Thai Bahn Mai, Crab Legs to pasta, and yes, BBQ, the dinner menus below me away.
While usually more casual seating, when we visited, there were still some COVID restrictions in Colorado, so our tables were more spread out. Guests were asked what their comfort level was for dining, and those not comfortable dined alone. A reserved sign with our name was placed on our table, although we did chat amongst the guests due to the intimate setting of the dining room.
Check the calendar for the times and themes of each meal.
Activities at Vista Verde Ranch
You will run out of time before you run out of activities at Vista Verde Ranch. One can only fit so many things to do in one day — and I tried. We wanted to include snow tubing but ran out of time. My son-in-law and I jam-packed our winter days with guided snowshoeing, guided snowmobiling, horseback lesson and riding (while my son-in-law enjoyed leather-making class), sleigh ride to feed the horses, ending each day warming our hands by our fireplace in our cabin. Enjoying the winter horse pasture view. Finally, making our way to the Great Room for pre-dinner drinks and conversation.
Of note is their horseback riding program! It is simply amazing, and with over 100 horses and a full-size indoor arena, it is even more amazing. Guests are paired with a trainer and horse that matches their ability. While I’m a fairly confident rider, after my indoor session, I was even more confident with my riding, but interestingly enough with interacting and getting to know my horse. Again, just do it! Totally worth the time and kids of all ages will love it, including this Grandma.
In addition, when checking in, each guest is given a calendar of the activities for the week.
Colorado’s other seasons are equally full of outdoor adventures. A full list of all-season activities is available here.
What Exactly is Included in All-Inclusive Packages?