Living in Colorado makes it easy to spend a lot of time outdoors; you can often find my family on the slopes, by the soccer field or camping by a lively stream. Being “outdoorsy” is just our way of life. However, I never realized that doing the things I love outside and having a “luxury” vacation could intersect… boy, was I in for a glorious surprise!
Vista Verde Guest Ranch is just north east of Steamboat Springs, Colorado; down a beautiful, windy road and over the Elk River. The 500+ acre ranch is a stunning piece of property, with horses running freely in the pasture and mountaintops peaking out from the distance. You can’t help but smile as you drive up to the main lodge and pass by friendly ranch-hands grinning at you along the way.
The recently-built lodge is everything you would think of for a Colorado dude ranch – over-sized, decked out in cowboy decor and utterly comfortable. And that stone fireplace? Simply gorgeous. We couldn’t help but notice every single detail was meticulously tended to; from the fresh baked cookies and bowl of apples, to the custom-built, Western Rustic style of the furniture.
There are nine, uniquely decorated guest cabins on the property, as well as lodge rooms, all named after nearby peaks; ours was Big Agnes. Our cute little cabin was warm and welcoming and our boys perked up not only about our private hot tub, but also for the perfectly-sized robes already there and waiting for them in their closet. They may have had us at the lodge, but they closed the deal with our stocked fridge (with beer and wine!), snack basket (healthy snacks at that!), already-setup firewood in the wood burning stove, and no TV in sight. Holy mama! What a treat!
Lodging amenities. Check.
The beauty of being at an all-inclusive resort, is that you really do not have to worry about anything. There is a certain freedom that comes along with that – rather than stressing about having a too-expensive glass of wine, or pondering which entree is the least expensive, you simply let go and enjoy the moment. The drinks (happy half hour every evening in the lodge!), the food (dinner is served at community tables), the activities (have I mentioned the kids had a more active schedule than us?) … everything, all included. Awesome.
Speaking of the kids…. The kids program at Vista Verde is fabulous. Your all-inclusive price includes the kids having their very own experience. Our boys learned all about horses, how to ride them and enjoyed a trail ride; learned to snow shoe and took to the trails; learned how to Nordic ski; rode a snowmobile to the top of a hill over and over again while tubing and did a ton of arts and crafts in the Kids “Hut”. They literally had the time of their lives. We were able to have dinner in the lodge with the other guests, do our own tours (I even got a massage!!), and generally relax. A few times we joined them, but mostly we got to do our own thing, too.
Kid activities. Check.
Activities are abundant and no two guests will have the same experience. We were blown away with the friendliness and flexibility of the staff. Yes, there is an ‘itinerary’ with a few choices, but mostly we were able to do what we wanted. Go backcountry Nordic skiing with our own personal guide? No problem! Go snow biking? OK! Sit by the fireplace in the lodge? Whatever you want! The hardest part was making the decision on what to do.
Adult activities. Check.
Having an experience like this is like no other. We got away from it all and had our family time together, but we were also able to connect one-on-one. We thoroughly enjoyed the great outdoors with no media in sight and had the time of our lives bonding with other guests and the staff (the VVR staff is second-to-none, I would even say they are my new BFF’s). When I think about planning and budgeting for a family vacation, sure Disney World sounds ok (until you think about the crowds, the lines, and the heat), but THIS experience at Vista Verde Ranch was magical for us and I would do it over and over again.
Vista Verde Guest Ranch offers winter, summer and fall experiences with three through seven night options.
Special thanks to VVR for hosting this experience. All opinions are my own.