Vista Verde Ranch, among Colorado's finest ranches for sale, is a long-established luxury ranch in one of the state's most scenic areas. The Ranch is recognized as one of the top luxury guest ranch destinations in the world. Shadowed by the snow-capped peaks of the Zirkel Range at the headwaters of the Elk River, the Ranch consists of 587 acres with top quality improvements. An impressive lodge with a commercial kitchen, large indoor riding arena with staff apartments and posh western cabins provide a solid foundation for the customized experience that attracts guests from all over the globe. Adjacent to the ranch and bordering Coulton Creek is an elegant 8,800 s.f. log owner’s home; it overlooks the mare barn below and the ranch headquarters in the distance. Ranch activities take place on its deeded acres and by public land permits that provide commercial access to thousands of acres on the surrounding Routt National Forest. The regional airport is less than an hour drive and world-class downhill skiing, boutique shopping and fine dining is a half hour drive in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The current owner, with a shorter-than-intended tenure, closely followed his predecessors’ footsteps; he added his own long list of improvements and efficiencies to the ranch and they have enhanced both the business and the guest experience. The long-term management team has expertly pulled the best qualities of each previous owner and woven those qualities into their relationships with guests and staff. What has evolved is a culture and guest experience like no other.
Vista Verde Ranch is located six miles east of Clark and 23 miles north of Steamboat Springs. Access is via paved roads with year-round maintenance that parallels the free-flowing Elk River through the river valley cattle ranches. Clark, a picturesque community 17 miles north of Steamboat Springs, is home to a 1:7 ratio pre-school and award-winning K-8 charter school. A fire station housing an ambulance, structural engine, water tender, brush truck and squad truck is home to a capable crew of local firefighters. The hub of Clark is a post office and country store with a deli that serves made-from-scratch locally sourced food and a full service liquor store. Steamboat Springs is a resort town in northern Colorado and is about 160 miles northwest of Denver. Colorado, geographically located for easy access around the nation, is one of the top states to do business. High quality of life fueled by abundant outdoor recreation, a well-educated work force and healthy lifestyles are among the many reasons companies call Colorado home.
Vista Verde Ranch is nestled in a small, park-like valley that is flanked by forested mountains. While the ranch is at a comfortable 7,700 ft. in elevation, the distinct, 12,000 ft. rugged peaks of the Zirkel Range and the Continental Divide are just a few miles to the east. Beyond the southern boundary of the ranch is the free-flowing Elk River, a river said to flow more water for its length than any other in North America. Ranch improvements are clustered near the northeast corner and horse pastures extend south toward the tree-lined river corridor. The owner’s home is situated on a gently sloping hillside along the ranch’s western border and the managers home is at the southwestern end near the ranch entrance. The bulk of the land has a commercial-friendly conservation easement; three additional parcels allow for typical area residential development. The fenced pastures in the valley floor provide excellent native forage for horses and wildlife and the aspen covered hillsides rise to the spruce and fir forests at the higher elevations overlooking the ranch.
Ranging from 900 to 1,400 s.f., the twelve cabins are outfitted with fine linens, attractive artwork, stocked refrigerator and a private hot tub. Three lodge-style rooms, ideal for individuals or couples, are also available in the upper level of the lodge. The lodge was built on a grand scale and skillfully invites intimate conversation or curling up with a good book by the huge fireplace. The dining area easily accommodates a private wine tasting class or a full house in comfortably arranged seating. The impeccable kitchen is used for weekly culinary classes, allowing guests to re-create a sliver of their Colorado experience when they return home to their own kitchens. A state-of-the-art indoor riding arena expands the equestrian activities to a year-round opportunity and attracts some of the best horse clinicians in the industry. The insulated facility is surprisingly efficient; it is economical to heat in the winter and remains cool during the warm summer days. The Nordic center is the launching point for the wide array of outdoor adventures guests enjoy on the ranch. Every mountain activity imaginable starts here: a seemingly unlimited supply of quality snowshoes, bicycles, cross country skis and fishing rods, to name just a few, are matched to guests so they can safely experience mountain recreation. The kids’ cabin is similarly outfitted with everything-fun for the younger Vista Verde Ranch guests. Summertime guests can enjoy time in and around the swimming pool after a day on the trail or in the saddle.
The 8,800 sq. ft. custom owner’s home is a few steps from the National Forest boundary and has magnificent views of the Continental Divide. Located at the opposite end of the property from the Ranch headquarters, it is convenient to the ranch activities but far enough away to add an element of privacy. An intricately hand carved front door opens up to a dramatic great room that leads to a chef’s kitchen, inviting dining room, and the main level master wing. The upper level has 4 en-suite bedrooms, a gym area and a den. The 4-car garage was intelligently designed to allow a truck and trailer to pull through.
The improvements on the ranch lend themselves not only to unforgettable guest and owner experiences, but to excellent employee attraction and retention. The comfort and variety of the on-site housing enables the ranch to attract and retain excellent staff. The quality accommodations range from dorm-style rooms with private bunks to apartments, cabins and homes. The newly constructed manager home is on site and secluded from the rest of the ranch; it was built to incorporate flexibility for future employee or owner uses. The improvements and updates are done well and done right not only to have the best, most luxurious environment for guests, staff and owners, but also to increase efficiency and create predictability for future maintenance costs.
Up to 60 guests per week enjoy a stay at Vista Verde Ranch. Adventures on and off of the ranch are tailored to each individual; the staff to guest ratio is unique in the industry at less than 1:1. Guests can develop and hone skills in horse clinics, culinary classes, wine tastings and photography workshops. Hiking, biking, riding, fishing, rock climbing, rafting/kayaking, backcountry skiing, snow biking, yoga, and snowshoeing are just a few of the ways guests can experience adventure in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. The ranch is operated as a luxury guest ranch on 587 private acres and by permit on thousands of acres on the adjoining public land. Conveyance of the permits is customary after the sale and upon satisfaction of simple requirements. The majority of bookings come from returning guests and word of mouth and the staff turnover is extremely low. The evolution of the ownership and management has resulted in a driving mission to develop leaders at the ranch in the young staff members. The personal investment in the staff ripples out to each and every guest; staff members who are respected, empowered and mentored are naturally inspired to serve each other and the guests. The ranch business generates a positive cash flow; the larger return comes in the form of service to others — doing something bigger and being able to impact people in a deeply meaningful way. The ranch’s standing as a highly rated, globally recognized destination resort together with top quality improvements, infrastructure and highly talented staff in a pristine alpine setting, position the next owner for continued success.
Vista Verde Ranch lies at the confluence of Coulton Creek, which flows just inside the western boundary, and Hinman Creek, which flows along the southern boundary. The Elk River is just south of the ranch and flows from the adjoining Routt National Forest. Giant boulders in the river are rearranged every spring as the river drains enormous amounts of snowpack from the watershed. The river is tamed with the onset of summer, creating outstanding fishing opportunities in the healthy, nutrient rich waterway. Water rights for the ranch include ditch and spring rights for irrigation, domestic and stock uses plus ponds and wells. A detailed list that outlines the specific water rights is available upon request.
Routt National Forest nearly surrounds the ranch. It is a one-million-acre playground stretching from Wyoming to Steamboat Springs. The Yampa Valley Regional Airport with daily flights to Denver International Airport is under an hour’s drive. During the ski season, direct flights are available from Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Newark, Washington D.C., Seattle, Boston and Ft. Lauderdale. Steamboat Springs has a population of about 12,000; it is a friendly resort community with amenities often only found in larger towns. The UC Health Yampa Valley Medical Center is a full service acute care hospital offering sophisticated medical services to the area. Colorado Mountain College, a long-established community college, offers several 4-year degree programs. The Steamboat Ski Resort, acquired in 2017 by KSL Capital Partners and Henry Crown and Company (parent company of Aspen Ski Co.) has nearly 3,000 acres of skiing terrain ranging from 10,500 feet along the Continental Divide to 6,900 feet at the mountain village. It is consistently among the top ranked ski resorts in the nation for powder, variety of runs and hospitality. Home to more Olympians than any other ski complex in North America, City of Steamboat Springs owned Howelsen Hill is the oldest continuously operating ski area in the nation. Adjacent to the ski complex is the City-owned indoor ice rink and outdoor arena that hosts PRCA sanctioned outdoor summer rodeo series. With its long history of winter sports and agriculture, this area is where the world’s best athletes intersect with generations of ranching families.
Vista Verde Ranch is an opportunity to host guests in an intimate setting with an impressive variety of activities, outstanding cuisine and ultra-comfortable accommodations. The ranch is one of three ranches in the nation awarded the prestigious AAA Four Diamond rating, North America’s premier hotel rating program, and is recognized among the most exclusive luxury guest ranches in the world. With a strong expectation of quality and an eye toward ease of ownership in the future, every improvement on the ranch has been diligently and thoroughly upgraded. New improvements have recently been added, expanding opportunities available to guests and management. Somewhat unique in the industry, is the ranch’s ability to generate a positive cash flow with more opportunity to increase revenues. The federal and county permits that accompany the current ranch operation are exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to obtain in today’s regulatory climate. Vista Verde Ranch, with a long history of outstanding service and quality, combined with its location and irreplaceable entitlements, is being offered turnkey.