My wife and I started our Vista Verde stay with a very blank slate. We did not research Vista Verde before coming, including avoiding reviews or searching the internet for stories written about Vista Verde. But, we knew it was an all-inclusive resort and that they had multiple activities available, including snowshoeing. Other than being a top-notch resort, we didn’t quite know what to expect on our visit. Then, after our wonderful experience, it left us wishing we had more time to spend there.
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 has mostly rolling mountains, 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 well-traveled and some remote. The trails are also a great option 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.
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, four-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 workweek, 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 your surroundings. You can focus on being social, relaxing, or just simply enjoying the scenery.
Other Details You Should Know
If 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 at a national level. 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 is 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 all part of the cost of your stay. If you have dietary restrictions (vegetarian or similar) make sure to let them know (preferably before your 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 chile connoisseur born and raised in New Mexico. Colorado, you don’t know green chile).
Kids are welcome at the resort. You can complete activities as a family or separately. Vista Verde has kids’ activities that do not require parents’ presence. You will not have to worry about your children’s safety or enjoyment while at the resort. The resort will keep your kids entertained.
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 for the day. In our experience, the rooms looked triple inspected. They also paid attention to all of the details. For example, they stacked the stove for us.
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).
Thank you to Vista Verde Guest Ranch for hosting us on our stay. As always, all opinions and views expressed are entirely our own.