By Eric Yang
on 10.9.09

vista-verde-ranch-gear-patrol

Vista Verde. Even the name alone sounds like serene goodness. Set in the alpines of Steamboat Springs, the best way to describe Vista Verde is “adventure ranch” and it’s a near-perfect getaway option for your inner cowboy, or maybe even your never-filled childhood dreams of being on Hey Dude. Granted, this time in the wilderness of Colorado. Vista Verde isn’t so much a dude ranch, nor is it a luxury spa resort. But rather, somewhere comfortably in the middle bridging both.

Sounds nice, right? So, we went.

vista-verde-biking

Besides culling unique gear and finds, Gear Patrol is always on the lookout for alternatives to the vacation mainstays, and luckily you don’t have to go abroad to find them. If you’re reading this, it’s probably already too late to book a trip this weekend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead.

First, lets talk some numbers. Nearly 50% of all people who go to Vista Verde make it back for a second visit. How many alternative vacation destinations (besides the obvious) can you say you’ve made it back to? From the moment you arrange your booking to the moment you leave, the Vista Verde crew make it their priority your trip is one your best vacations, and by our take, they damn well get close. They liken it to being with your closest friends and being treated like one, and that’s something we wholehartedly endorse. Not so much spa pampering as it is down-to-earth handshaking and back patting. Both, acceptable forms of (ahem) affinity while on a ranch.

vista-verde-horseback-ridingThe ranch accomodates about 40 guests in total, and any feeling of über-resort anonymity is left for the über resort. Here, you’re on a first name basis with you fellow guests and staff. It happens without you even trying, perhaps its while youre horseback riding, perhaps it’s while youre mountain biking or on the terrain park, perhaps it’s while your fawning over the dish you just learned from Chef Robert in one of the culinary courses, or perhaps it’s just when you’re recapping the day over a cup of afternoon coffee. Either way, it happens.

Adventures are in abundance, here. During the summer: fishers can partake in fly fishing on the Colorado and Elk Rivers or one of Vista Verde’s two ponds stocked with Rainbow Trout ranging from 14″ to 24″. Hikers can choose from mild trails to challenging forays that extend beyond the timber lines of the Zirkel Wilderness (we recommend the Hahn’s Peak, a 10,880 foot summit). Climbers both beginner (classes offered) and advanced can choose to climb and rapel in the National Forest and even those that prefer the water can either raft the Eagle River, or Kayak the Yampa River – both lead you back to the ranch. Winter brings on cross country/backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding, photography ski tours, or even snowmobile towed sledding. If you can think of an adventure, it’s likely Vista Verde has it, in a way only the Colorado wilderness could offer.

Editor’s Note: Remember how fun camp was? Well, you can relive those memories and likely have more fun doing so. When you book, just email Stephanie. She’ll help get everything arranged, and don’t forget to tell her Gear Patrol sent you.

Cost: Summer ($3,300+) | Winter ($1,275+)