If you are looking for a bucket list luxury guest ranch vacation, look no further. For four nights last March 2022, we went on a multigenerational trip to Vista Verde Ranch (VVR) – an all-inclusive Colorado luxury dude ranch in the Rocky Mountains, just north of Steamboat Springs. Everyone (ages 7 through 74 at the time) said this was one of our most unique and best vacations ever!
What I especially appreciate as the one who plans all trips for my family and friends, and spends much of my time taking care of others (I work as an ER and consult psychiatrist in the hospital) was that I didn’t have to research or plan a single thing other than pick the dates and book the trip! Once we arrived, there was an extensive variety of outdoor adventures and activities to choose from, and delicious dining options at every meal. For the few days I was there, everything was taken care of and I was able to fully relax.
We live in Orange County, CA but drove down to San Diego where we were able to take Wednesday outbound /Sunday return direct flights on Alaska Airlines to Hayden/ Steamboat Springs, which is the nearest airport to VVR. Pick up and drop off from Hayden/ Steamboat Springs is included, and once we landed, we were greeted by a friendly ranch hand who drove us to VVR.
There was literally something (actually, MANY things) for everyone to do once we arrived at Vista Verde Ranch. The activities described below are included in your stay, and the ranch has friendly and knowledgeable staff members to guide you through each activity. Many of the activities we did at VVR were things we either tried for the first time, or were inexperienced in, but the VVR guides put us at ease with their patience and instruction.
During the winter season, these are some of the activities included in your stay: Trail Riding, Horsemanship Clinics, Backcountry Skiing, Snowshoeing, Fat Biking, Tubing, “Snoga”, Sleigh Rides, Ice Fishing, Photography class, Cooking class, Wine Tasting, Beer Tasting, Leatherworking class, Evening programs (barn dance, music night, etc..)
Our boys (almost 7 and 9 at the time) absolutely loved the Kids’s program which is for ages 6 to 15. This wasn’t just a “babysitting service” that some kids’ clubs are. The staff (“Kid Wranglers”) led the the kids through a variety of small group activities including leather working, trail riding, tubing, archery, snow art, spring shed with the horses, and backcountry skiing! On two of the evenings, during the formal dinner for adults, the kids had a fun dinner of their own with games and movies. During the week we were there (the end of their winter season), there weren’t as many kids there tend to be over the summer or winter holiday weeks, but our boys quickly made friends with the kids who were there!
My parents who are in their mid 70’s and young at heart gave trail riding and ice fishing a try. My parents also attended a cooking class, made custom luggage tags during leather working and line dancing during our stay at VVR.
One of the activities that all generations enjoyed doing together was the snow tubing. The VVR staff brought us to a nearby hill via snowmobile and sleigh and after each time we tubed down, they would pick us all up and bring us back to the top. Even grandma and grandpa went down a few times!
While we did several activities together as a family (trail rides, cross country skiing), thanks to the Kid’s program, my husband and I were even able to a sneak in a couple of “date” adventures including snowmobiling through the Routt National Forest, backcountry skiing, and enjoy a couple nights of kid free fine dining.
Aside from all the guided activities, our California born and raised kids loved simply playing in the snow.
After afternoons of snowball fights and snow fort building, it was such a nice treat to enjoy a glass of wine and soak in the hot tub on our cabin deck.
NOTE: While a wide variety of guided activities are included in the stay, winter activities that are ala carte (additional fee) include: massages, dog sledding, snowmobiling, skiing at Steamboat Ski Resort.
My husband and I opted to add on Snowmobiling (on site) and Dogsledding for the family (in Steamboat springs) . Both were things we did for the first time and were scenic and exciting!
Our family stayed in the Big Agnes Cabin and grandparents stayed in a room (Pearl) in the main lodge. Something to consider: when you stay in a cabin, you need to walk a short path to the main lodge for meals, versus in the lodge you can just go downstairs.
Our cabin was well appointed with cozy and comfortable beds. The cabins and rooms are stocked with an assortment of included wine, juice, soda beer, wine, tea and coffee. Our cabin had a wood burning fireplace. There were humidifiers which helped with the no dry air at the higher altitude (I think around 7000 ft). Our cabin had a hot tub on the deck, where we enjoyed soaking in after our fun snowy activities each day.
As a foodie, I thoroughly enjoyed every meal- breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner. For the adult-only dinners, some of the entrees we enjoyed included Maine lobster risotto, and Chilean sea bass. They had steak frites for lunch one day with our kids loved! The meals are paired with curated wines that are different every day – usually a white and 2 reds, and selection of beer.
Vista Verde Ranch is a $$$$ vacation, with pricing similar to other luxury guest ranches and luxury all inclusive vacations in the United. States. This was the first time our family has ever been to a dude ranch, and we were so impressed with how many activities we had to choose from. We heard from other guests who have gone year after year that each season is special. During summer and fall – you can hike, bike, paddle board, fly fish, trail ride and more. We would love to return to experience another season here!
- Visit their website for more information: https://www.vistaverde.com
- There are some adult only periods in fall and winter. Family periods are summer, winter holidays and some February and March dates.
- Over the summer and in September, they only offer weeklong stays. During late fall and throughout winter, shorter (3 or 4 night stays). are options.
- Since it is a small intimate resort (I think their max guest capacity is around 50 people; when we visited there were around 30 guests) and they have many repeat guests/ families – dates book up fast. If a time you would like to visit appears fully booked, you can email them to check remaining dates and be placed on a waitlist.
- There is limited wifi and cell service -intentionally! I LOVED this. We had no digital distractions throughout our stay, didn’t bring iPads or laptops. We enjoyed our family time and playing outside together so much! If absolutely necessary the lodge does have wifi.
- If you would like to see more from our stay – here is a link to our Vista Verde Instagram guide.
Here’s a short video summary of our stay:
*While we were hosted for this stay, all the opinions expressed and photos contained in this post are my own.