I recently interviewed a family that stayed at Vista Verde Guest Ranch outside of Steamboat Springs in Colorado for our family ranch vacation portfolio. You know you’ve found a gem when the first statement about a property is, “Vista Verde is the greatest vacation experience we’ve ever had.”
I get that. Our dude ranch experience at Smith Fork Ranch is one of my all-time favorite experiences too. What makes these ranch trips stand out is that you actually vacation. For me, this means enjoying an absolute break from the schedule and demands of day-to-day life (with or without kids). The beauty of ranch vacations is that you are active (not just sitting by a pool), but someone else does all the planning and it’s logistics free. Heaven!
The family I interviewed about Vista Verde loved the service level at the property. Dude ranches cater to groups at a time, so having a high service level is key to ensuring there is enough personalization that the experience meets your needs.
They also raved about the riding program. Most “real” dude ranches focus on horseback riding. A few things to note: 1) All programs have minimum age requirements. Riding is a great activity with school age kids and up. If you have younger children, ensure there are supervised activities for younger kids available or you won’t be riding either. 2) Horse quality is important. In the absence of a review that mentions this, check Trip Advisor for comments related the horse feedback.
See my post on how to choose the best ranch vacation for more tips on things to evaluate before making a decision on where to stay. Ranch vacations are not inexpensive — it’s worth doing an extra bit of homework to ensure you choose the right venue and destination.