I want to highlight some of the other aspects of Vista Verde Ranch. You already know all about the horses and food, however, there is much more to this incredible Colorado ranch. Each day, there is a list of activities to pick from, including a trip downtown to do some shopping in Steamboat Springs.
Embrace your inner Katniss Everdeen
I fielded a few questions as to whether or not Vista Verde Ranch is kid-friendly. Let’s just say that if I were a kid, a vacation on this ranch would be akin to heaven. Two of the ranch activities I am writing about today are perfect for kids and adults, as is the Feed Sleigh which I wrote about here.
In fact, the first activity is perfect for those kids who love the Hunger Games, or adults who love the Hungers Games (me). Young and old alike can embrace their inner Katniss by trying their hand at archery at Vista Verde.
This evening activity was done inside the riding arena during our March stay. The bows are compound bows and everyone gets a lesson on how to use them, as well as safety instructions. I’ll admit to the fact that I spent most of the time walking around taking photos of barn kitties.
However, Ryan had an absolute blast shooting the targets. Turns out, he’s as natural. He’s only ever shot a longbow in the past, one he had custom-made. The targets were a fake beer, deer, and other animals as well as bales of hay. And don’t worry, no barn cats were harmed during archery, just this fake turkey.
Down dog at 7,800 feet above sea level
We did this activity, called Snoga, on a whim. I decided that snowshoeing followed by yoga and then more snowshoeing sounded fun, especially in this beautiful area. We’d brought our own snowshoes and I’d even packed my cross-country skis, but it turns out, I didn’t need to. Vista Verde has all the outdoor recreational items guests need.
We met Devyn, our yoga instructor, outside the Nordic Center and strapped into snowshoes. It had been snowing on and off all day but as we started off the sun came out. It was a short hike to the cabin where we would do a little downward dog. Of course, I overestimated my current fitness level and although it’s a short snowshoe, I sweated through our sun salutations with Devyn inside the picture-perfect little cabin. It’s the original Vista Verde homestead cabin.
Thankfully, Devyn had brought us mats and water bottles. Despite my unrelenting sweat, it was a wonderful experience. Devyn is a top-notch instructor who wraps it up by signing at the end of savasana.
It’s not as weird as it sounds, in fact, it is awesome. Devyn graduated from Boston Conservatory, a college for the performing arts, and can really sing. From now on, I’m going to require that all my yoga instructors sing sweet songs at the end of savasana. Just kidding, but I am going to tell them about it.
Ice fishing with a Bald Eagle
Ryan got a second lesson in horsemanship with Mary and Aspen, while I went out to Steamboat Lake with guides Miller and Greg on my last full day on the ranch. The guides do all the work like baiting the line and holding the fish and packing in and out equipment. It’s the only way to fish in my opinion.
I was lucky because Tracy and Roy were on this excursion too. They are a super fun couple from Texas who I’d gotten to know by sitting with them at dinner. By the way, Vista Verde has paperwork that guests fill out before coming, and one of the questions in the age of COVID-19 is if you are comfortable sitting people outside your bubble. I answered yes, and Tracy and Roy must have answered yes too, and I’m certainly glad they did.
Steamboat Lake is just a short drive from the ranch, and as we piled out of the SUVs, the sun shone brightly on the lake that was obscured by a lot of snow. Don’t forget the sunglasses and sunscreen on this outing. Exposed skin burns fast at this altitude, especially with sunshine glaring off the white snow all around.
We trudged out on the snowy lake, past a couple of local ice fishermen. After clearing the snow off the ice, Miller made seven holes for us with an auger. We each got a baited child-size ice fishing pole and a collapsible chair. Zach, the youngster among us, got hot chocolate too. I was glad there was a child with us. Being from California, he was extremely excited about the snow.
Ice fishing, like other fishing, is a waiting game. It just so happens that we were waiting in one of the most glorious places in Colorado, with soaring peaks around us and in the distance. And we were not alone. A bald eagle waited too. Apparently, the bald eagle is a common sight by the ice fishing guides and likes to wait for ice-fishermen to catch something because on occasion, he gets the catch given to him. It’s a pretty nice gig for a bald eagle—a fresh fish in the dead of winter on a frozen lake.
He was in luck because Tracy caught a rainbow trout that was the perfect size for the bald eagle. He flew up and began circling us immediately when he saw the commotion. We were all enthusiastic about Tracy’s catch. Miller threw the fish to the bald eagle. The big bird caught it, dropped it and then swooped back down and grabbed it again. We were all highly entertained. I’m sorry I don’t have any footage (you’ll just have to imagine, or go).
The only other fish was caught by Zach’s older brother, but as the old saying goes, a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work. And despite not catching a thing, the experience was what mattered. And it was a true Colorado experience, one where I didn’t even have to touch a worm or fish.
My first post about the ranch: On the Road Again
A second post about the ranch: Hot Tubs & Horses
A third post about the ranch: Come for the Fun, Stay for the Food
Thank you to Vista Verde Ranch for hosting our stay.