Go west – Advice Eating

Running of the horses takes place daily

SGet outside this summer and enjoy the fresh air of the Rocky Mountains. As someone who grew up in the foothills of the Rockies, I took it for granted how refreshing the crisp trees, babbling brooks and wide open spaces can be. I recently visited this bliss in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and was not disappointed at Vista Verde Ranch.

Vista Verde Ranch is located about 20 minutes from downtown Steamboat Springs in the small town of Clark, Colorado on nearly 600 acres of lush ranch land surrounded by the Routt National Forest. It’s just far enough from town for you to fully connect with nature, but close enough to explore and stop at the local shops for artwork and treasures to commemorate your vacation.

Horseback riding through the Elk River Valley in summer

Upon arrival, the ranch team quickly joined us in the fun and ushered us straight into the rustic dining room full of guests who became friends by the end of our stay. Some were like us for the first time, while others were unofficial experts on the ranch, having returned for more than 10 years. Each meal was not only an opportunity to taste the chef’s Western creations using locally sourced ingredients, but also to get to know the other guests. From rabbit stew with pappardelle cooked to perfection and hand-cut prime rib to freshly made soups and salads and pastries made to perfection, we enjoyed every meal.

After dinner we joined the other travelers in the great room for live entertainment, line dancing, camaraderie and a glass of wine. It was just the right amount of western fun with a luxury cabin to return to at the end of the night.

Fly fishing in a nearby crystal clear stream.

We spent the night with a glass of wine in hand at the outdoor private spa on our cabin veranda. We stayed in the “Saddle” cabin, named after Saddle Mountain, and the view was spectacular day and night. The stars that evening looked otherworldly and three dimensional. While sipping my morning coffee on the wraparound porch, I watched as the horses moved from the pasture to the arena areas where we would soon join them for a ride.

This morning, Vista Verde’s chief wrangler, Steph, showed us the ropes around our very well trained horses before taking us for a scenic view of the ranch from horseback. The shuffle of our porter’s hooves was broken only by the sweet chirps and sounds of nature as we passed the vast expanses under a clear blue sky.

In the afternoon we drove back to the horse arena for an archery lesson. One thing about Vista Verde is that the staff is not only incredibly friendly but also knowledgeable in many areas. The ranch also offers yoga, fly fishing, mountain biking, paddle boarding, cooking classes, wine tasting and more in the summer.

Expansive landscape of Vista Verde Ranch

Though you could spend any moment on Vista Verde’s property, downtown Steamboat Springs is also a treasure worth exploring. We spent the morning visiting galleries, the highly recommended local bookstore and local shops strolling around town before settling down for lunch. Salt + Lime, an eclectic Mexican restaurant with a Western flair, served up creative cocktails of its own with street tacos and side dishes to match the bright colors. It was just enough to fill us up before returning with our guide for an afternoon of fishing.

Our last dinner at the ranch whetted our appetite to return. The staff will make you feel at home while providing all the amenities you would expect. It’s one of only three ranches in the United States to have been awarded the AAA Four Diamond rating, which is evident the moment you walk through the door. If you’re planning to make it a family vacation, Vista Verde accommodates families with children during certain months and offers fully supervised programs with activities sure to keep them exhausted. We stayed for an adults only week and the tranquility was divine.

Steamboat Springs is a worthwhile getaway any time of year, and it’s clear why this western paradise, which translates to “ranch with a green view,” is worth adding to your summer itinerary.

For more information about Vista Verde Ranch, call 970.879.3858 or visit vistaverde.com.

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