Winter at Vista Verde Guest Ranch

My wife and I started our Vista Verde stay with a very blank slate. We did not research Vista Verde before coming. We did not look at reviews or search the internet for stories written about Vista Verde. We knew it was an all-inclusive resort and that they had multiple activities including snowshoeing. We knew we’d focus on snowshoeing while we were there. We didn’t quite know what to expect, other than it should be a top notch resort. Our wonderful experience left us wishing we had more time to spend there.

Overview of Vista Verde during Sunset

An Excellent Snowshoeing Destination

Since the resort is located on the Western Slope (west of the Continental Divide), it gets a lot of snow. When we visited in late January, there was a base of 8 feet. The area is compromised mostly of rolling mountains, which are characterized by gentle slopes, trees, and beautiful views. They are the perfect type of terrain for snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. There are many trails surrounding the resort. Some of them are well traveled and some of them are not. The trails are good for beginners and experts alike. The guides for our snowshoeing adventure, and other available activities, were excellent. Let the guide know what your skill level is and what you are looking to do and they will tune your snowshoeing adventure to your desires. The guides were also extremely personable along the trail.

Beautiful snowshoe trail

The entire time you’re there, you’ll notice the friendly staff who will likely know you and your party by name. You’ll likely be surprised by the way the staff tries to make you feel comfortable and at home, which becomes the general feeling that you get while visiting the resort. It feels like visiting an uncle’s ranch in Western Colorado.

A Luxury Resort

The best way to describe Vista Verde Guest Ranch is it is a relaxing place to be. When I write relaxing, I don’t mean to suggest that you will sit around next to a fireplace, sipping wine, and reading a book all day (unless you really want to). Vista Verde is the type of place that will motivate you to do many things such as snowshoeing, horseback riding, 4 wheeling, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, dog sledding, or even a winter hot-air balloon ride. Activities (aside from dog sledding and the hot-air balloon ride) are included with the price of the stay. Check them out here.

Aside from the activities, the meals (which were top notch), lodges, activity directors, and cleanliness of the guest ranch exceeded my expectations, which were quite high considering the all-inclusive per-night rate. I appreciated that the resort is all inclusive. After my 50-60 hours work week, I am exhausted and don’t want to make any more decisions.

If this sounds like your life, then maybe you’ll have an idea of luxury that is similar to mine which starts by being relaxed and not stressed. On vacation, I want to make as few decisions as possible. I want to only think about what food I want on my plate from the buffet (to be honest, it’s usually everything).

When I was at Vista Verde Guest Ranch, it was amazing how few decisions I had to make. For example, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are at specific times, just show up. At the meals, activity directors come to you and ask what activities you would like to attend for the day. The activity directors take care of most details such as difficulty level, routes, a sack lunch, etc. Everything is more or less managed for you.

Compared to a typical vacation where I am constantly concerned about how much I am spending, where I am going, what to eat, etc, here I pay an all inclusive fee and I am decision free. With everything managed, your mind is free to enjoy yourself and the surroundings. You can focus on being social, relaxing, or just simply enjoying the scenery.

Other Details You Should Know

If you are interested in Vista Verde, here are the additional logistics that you should know.

Getting to Vista Verde Guest Ranch: Vista Verde is located about 30 minutes north of Steamboat Springs. You can drive there, but most guests fly directly into Yampa Valley Regional, which currently has direct flights from Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Newark, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington-Dulles. I was surprised how accessible Vista Verde is nationally. See and book direct flights here. Vista Verde Guest Ranch offers a free shuttle that will pick you up from the airport. Make sure that they know your flight details (They’ll ask you in case you forget).

What to Bring: If you have winter gear such as skis or snowshoes, bring them along. They are not required. Vista Verde has a well stocked Nordic Center. They will let you borrow anything you need or have personal gear (such as gators) that they lend out that can’t be used by other customers. (Think socks).

Pro tip: If you don’t want to buy new gear, I suggest purchasing from their Nordic Center. They offer much of their gear at below market prices since it has been used. Some of the gear (such as snowshoes) you can try out before purchasing to make sure that you like it. Also, the Nordic staff are extremely knowledgeable about gear (compared to your average local outdoor salesperson). Vista Verde will ship to your home address.

Food and Alcohol: They offer a happy hour before dinner every day where they serve beer and wine. All meals are included with the stay. If you have dietary restrictions (vegetarian or similar) make sure to let them know (preferably before you stay). They will be accommodating. The food will likely meet or exceed your expectations. The best way to describe the meals is fine dining. Even the green chili surprised me by how good it was (I am a green chili connoisseur born and raised in New Mexico. Colorado, you don’t know green chili).

Families: Kids are welcome at the resort. Vista Verde does have activities that are tuned for kids that do not require your presence. You will not have to worry about your children’s safety or enjoyment while at the resort. Your kids will be entertained.

Accommodations: The accommodations should meet or exceed your expectations. The rooms were very clean. My understanding is they triple inspect every room before they let you check in. The rooms looked like they were triple inspected. Vista Verde did pay attention to the details. An example of this is they stacked the stove for us.

Stacked Wood Burning Stove

The Bottom Line

Vista Verde is an excellent resort if you are looking to get away for a few days, do some activities, and enjoy the company of others. You will likely return home refreshed and ready to attack any challenge or problems your life presents you with. When life attacks you again, you can return to visit your new found family at Vista Verde Guest Ranch (or maybe visit in summer too).

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