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Steamboat Springs, Colorado
web: vistaverde.com
email: reservations@vistaverde.com

By Roberta C. Stone, Correspondent

About Clark, Colorado and neighboring Steamboat Springs // Established in 1889, Clark is a small ranching town, 25 miles north of Steamboat Springs. Nestled in the shadow of the Routt National Forest and the Zirkel Wilderness area, Clark's first residents were the Yampatika Ute Indians, who used the rolling, hilly areas as summer hunting grounds. In the 1800's fur trappers entered the valley, as did miners, who mined 4 million dollars worth of gold from nearby Hahn's Peak and Columbine. Remnants of those boom days still exist in the area. In 1875, homesteading pioneers occupied large tracts of land which became cattle and sheep ranches and wheat and hay farms - industries that still fuel the valley's economy today. Nearby Steamboat Springs was named by fur trappers who heard a chugging sound, which turned out to be the natural springs dominating the area. Skiing has always been a part of the valley's folklore, since it was the only way to get around in those early winters. In 1913, Carl Howelson a.k.a. "The Flying Norseman" built the nation's first ski jump, located in the center of town, and still serves as a training ground for future Olympians. Fifty-two Olympians hail from this town! Howelson also started the Winter Carnival in 1914, an 82 year old festival that rumbles through the valley with ski races(including cowboys in full regalia) ski jumping, dog sledding and the high school marching band on skis to name a few. Today, Steamboat resort's Mount Werner, named after the hometown Olympic skier Buddy Werner who died in an avalanche in 1964, boasts 128 trails and 21 lifts on 2935 acres of terrain.

About the Vista Verde Guest Ranch // Cowboy heaven is the only way to describe the Vista Verde Guest Ranch. Located in northwestern Colorado on 500 idyllic acres of flat land and rolling hills, the dude ranch, tucked like a jewel in the arms of the Routt National Forest and the Zirkel Wilderness is a slice of Western Paradise that caters to your every need. Owned since 1991 by Suzanne and John Munn, this all inclusive resort offers a vacation to suit every whim and is recognized by the prestigious Conde Nast Recommended Hotels, Inns, and Resorts, magazine. Cuddle up in one of three deluxe rooms in the main lodge or in one of the eight first class log cabins decorated in elegant western motif featuring local hand hewn furniture and a spattering of antiques. Sleep soundly under down comforters, relax in terry robes or immerse yourself in the Jacuzzi on the porch - all while taking in the awesome views of the surrounding pine and aspen forests. Cabins range from 1-3 bedrooms, including master suites for parents and sleeping lofts with separate bathrooms to accommodate families with kids. Once you get there, you never need a car,because activities are within easy walking distance. The friendly staff which generally numbers 2 to one guests are happy to hike, bike, ride, fish, dog sled, rock climb and ski with you . Because the maximum number of guests is only 45, you can be assured of the highest quality service and attention.

Big Agnes cabin includes a Jacuzzi on the porch, woodstove heat, a master suite and separate children's suite.

Dining at the Ranch // You'll never go hungry here. The price of your room includes three sumptuous and delicious meals prepared by a Culinary Institute trained gourmet chef, who gives weekly cooking classes and wine tasting as well. Cuisine There is no better to eat than the ranch's intimate, candlelit dining room, especially since the price of your stay includes three ample gourmet meals. Hosts Suzanne and John Munn encourage guests get to know each other by dining together at large tables of eight. Adults can feast on the ranch's award winning cuisine while their children eat more kid friendly food with willing and entertaining staff members. Cowboy breakfasts are offered daily with homemade bread and fresh fruit a constant. Lunches offer hot or cold choices and there is always a delectable salad and soup. Afternoon tea, accompanied by wonderful conversation with owner, Suzanne Munn adds a personal touch. Dinner begins with an intimate fireside happy hour in the main lodge, followed by a variety of delicious choices (often fish, fowl, meat). You can always ask the chef to cook something special if you wish. Outdoor meals and picnics are frequent during the warmer months. In fact, the ranch offers three barbecues during a week's stay - one a breakfast al fresco experience after a dawn horseback ride and the last on a mountainside with a grand view of the Continental Divide.

Places to See // Park your car. You will not need it again until you leave. A fleet of Suburbans is available to take you all over the Elk River Valley to nearby towns like Columbine or Clark. How about a cross country trek or hike around Pearl Lake. You can also play in the Zirkel National Forest or the Routt National Forest to partake in the myriad of activities offered by the resort, including climbing nearby 10,839 foot Hahn's Peak. Vista Verde offers free transportation to nearby Steamboat Springs for skiing Mount Werner's 128 trails, shopping the small mountain town, or soaking in the hot springs they are so famous for. Nearby Rabbit Ears Pass offers great trails for winter and summer recreation as well.

Entertainment // Seven days a week, the ranch offers some sort of nightly entertainment. Winter will bring local musicians to entertain guests in the cozy atmosphere of the new lodge in front of a blazing fire. Other nightly entertainment could be a movie, a fireside chat, a parlor party replete with sundaes and drinks or an outdoor activity such as a night ski or snowshoe jaunt. Summer nights are filled with stars and of course, the quintessential campfires and sing-alongs as well as those western barbecues.

Things to do // Daytime winter activities included in the price of a room are, on and off ranch guided back-country skiing and snowshoe touring, (there are 30 km of groomed tracks) sleigh rides, horseback riding, snowmobiling, ski jouring (skiing holding a rope attached to a horse) and telemark skiing, Optional activities to take advantage of are dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice climbing, cat skiing or alpine skiing at nearby Steamboat Resort. Summer activities include horseback riding, (they have 70 horses) mountain biking, hiking, fly fishing, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, naturalist walks. Optional activities are hot air ballooning, or golf and of course, the rodeo in Steamboat Springs. Massages can be arranged, should your muscles be sore after all the activity. The Spa building contains two saunas and several exercise machines all with an inspiring grand view of the great outdoors.

Chef Jonathan Gillespie holds weekly cooking classes and wine tasting for those with culinary leanings.

Special programs are available for kids in addition to the regular fare of skiing and riding. Children 6-11 can partake in supervised activities such as treasure hunts, boat races, gold panning or animal tracking, while older teens(12 and up) go tubing down the Yampa River or spend an overnight in the forest. City slickers can visit the ranch in early or late summer and help bring in the herd. Yep, a real live cattle drive - Remember, Vista Verde is a working cattle ranch with 80 cattle. Is hunting your thing? The ranch offers a five day fully guided hunt on horseback in the Fall. All in all, Vista Verde aims to keep the entire family active and happy in western style.

Shopping // While the ranch has a small shop selling apparel, toiletries and gifts free transportation to Steamboat Springs is also available for a more extensive shopping experience.

How to get there // From Denver, drive west via I-70 to Dillion/Silverthorne (approx. 70 miles) Exit here and turn right onto Route 9 North. Follow to Kremmling (40 miles) Turn left onto US 40 West and follow to Steamboat Springs. (50 miles) Drive through Steamboat Springs past town until you come to a 7-Eleven on the right. Make a right onto County Route 129. Continue North to Clark. (about 18 miles) Just past Clark, turn right onto Seedhouse Road. Go 5 miles. See entrance to ranch on left. Drive takes approximately 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Be aware of winter driving conditions and rent a 4 wheel drive car. You can also fly into Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden, CO. and a ranch Suburban will pick you up at no extra cost.

Tips // If driving from Denver, be careful through Rabbit Ears Pass. Due to higher elevation, snow can come quickly. Although the altitude at the ranch is approximately 7800 feet, prepare by drinking lots of water prior to trip and avoiding caffeine and alcohol. Once you get acclimated, you can resume regular activity, but continue to drink a lot of water. (Ranch water is the best!) If desperate, eat snow. (It's really clean there) Bring casual, warm clothes in winter and don't forget the long underwear. You really don't need any equipment (the ranch has it all) except for downhill skis, if you think you will venture to Steamboat Springs. Also pack a bathing suit in winter for the hot tub. You don't even need a bathrobe - there's one hanging in your bathroom waiting for you.

By Roberta C. Stone, Correspondent

It's the little things that add up to the difference between this ranch and all others. Suzanne Munn has a spiritual connection to the original Native Americans who camped here 500 years ago, as well as a reverence for the natural beauty that is everywhere. No matter what your age or inclination, the Vista Verde Guest Ranch is the ideal vacation destination. Ask the 60% of guests who return yearly. It is Shangri-La to all who inhabit it, from the happy staff to the grateful guests.

Every night by the bedside, a personal letter appeared (along with some delectable) telling about different aspects of the ranch. Called "Tomorrow at the Ranch," each pamphlet contained an anecdote about ranch life plus helpful information to set the mood for the next day. One was about the pleasures of snow, another about fly-fishing, the next, the lure of the rodeo or a checklist for snow shoeing. All gave the feeling of the quiet energy and sheer beauty of ranch life bidding all visitors to join in. As Robert Frost did when he said- "I'm going to the mowing fields, you come too."


LOCATION: Steamboat Springs
ROOMS: 3 LuXURY Rooms or One of 8 first class cabins
CLOSEST AIRPORT: Yampa Valley Regional Airport
ACTIVITIES: HIKING, bikING, fishING, dog sledING, rock climBING, skiInG, RAFTING