The following article 1st appeared in Ranch & Reserve Magazine’s 12th issue
What better way to rediscover the joys of Christmas and experience a truly unique Christmas vacation than at a dude ranch. A Christmas ranch vacation is an ideal opportunity for family, friends or couples to relax, recharge and reconnect with loved ones by spending active days and leisurely evenings together.
Western Ranches are well-known for their always warm welcome, generous hospitality and outstanding natural surroundings, especially during the Yuletide season when many ranches offer a special Christmas program replete with time honoured traditions and bygone Christmas customs.
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!”
Imagine…. the luxury of feasting on a gourmet Christmas dinner prepared by a trained chef, in a beautifully decorated ranch lodge by a crackling log fire.
Imagine…. an old-fashioned, jingle bells ringing, Christmas sleigh ride, sipping hot mulled wine or schussing along glistening powdered snow in the pristine winter wilderness of a Colorado ranch resort.
Imagine…. soaking in a hot tub under crystal clear starry skies of old, at a ranch in the Arizona desert after an exhilarating day spent riding the range.
Imagine…….all this and so much more to be enjoyed during a Christmas ranch vacation at one of two stunning western locales.
First stop is the Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch, laid out like a small western town, located in the remote Mohave Desert, a two hour’s drive from Las Vegas in picture-perfect Wild West country of cacti, scrubland and barren foothills.
Christmas in the desert is an especially lovely time of year with moderate sunny days and cool nights. The entire ranch gets decorated with Christmas lights and literally oozes an old-fashioned, down-home Christmas; horses have Santa hats and bells and miniature Christmas trees adorn every guestroom. There’s a guitar playing entertainer, White Elephant exchange gifts under the tree, delicious hearty Christmas fare and lots of good cheer for guests, whether mingling in the spacious timbered lodge or around a blazing campfire in the communal courtyard. Moonlit wagon rides and unobstructed star-gazing evoke memories of a far simpler time when Christmas was something joyous to behold and shouts of Merry Christmas rang out to greet friends and strangers.
Ranch activities at Stagecoach Trails are designed to appeal to all ages and tastes, such as scenic horseback rides, rental ATV’s and fat tire mountain bikes to explore the sandy desert terrain, a popular petting zoo, archery and wild-life viewing. Back at the ranch, a hot tub and heated pool soothe tired muscles while billiards and horseshoes are perennial ranch past-times.
Accommodations include comfortable one & two bedroom suites with private bathrooms for small or larger groups. Ranch hosts and owners, JP and Tricia McCormick, take great pride in offering guests an old-time fun-filled Christmas vacation with an authentic taste of the Old Wild West…. the stuff of magical Christmas memories to take back home.
Next stop is the upscale, all-inclusive Vista Verde Ranch in Northern Colorado, 25km north of Steamboat Springs. If your Christmas wish is to be indulged and pampered in a Norman Rockwell type scenery, then Vista Verde fits the bill. The pure-white winter beauty and bracing mountain air, create an enchanting Christmas wonderland evoking childish memories of frolicking in freshly fallen snow on long ago Christmas mornings.
Christmas at Vista Verde is a rare delight and will surely be a cherished memory for years to come owing to its ultra-luxe ranch amenities, in-house spa massage and plushy comfort of well-equipped cabins with private hot tubs, as well as the many seasonal and exciting activities to keep everyone happy and healthy outdoors whether it’s horse rides along snowy trails, skiing, snowshoeing, snow tubing or Fat tire biking. A kid’s program for younger guests is an extra bonus for parents, while other Christmas treats might be a dog-sledding expedition or a trip to the nearby famous Steamboat Springs ski resort. Adding to all the festive fun and Christmas cheer, log fires burn brightly, Christmas lights twinkle, mistletoe and holly hang from the beams, as guests help to decorate the many individual Christmas trees or enhance their cooking skills with a culinary class. And no Colorado ranch Christmas would be complete without the thrill of “dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh!”
However, the pièce de résistance at Vista Verde is surely the totally decadent, haute cuisine sumptuous Dicken’s style Christmas banquet. Guaranteed to satisfy even the most exacting gourmand, this celebratory meal ensures that by evening’s end, ranch guests and staff alike are filled with the merriest of Christmas cheer and in true Christmas spirit, table guests have become friends.
The Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch and the Vista Verde Ranch, each with its own unique setting, contrasting winter activities and Christmas traditions, are just a sample of the many western dude ranches who offer a select Christmas program of winter-themed activities for the benefit and enjoyment of their guests.
Whatever one’s belief, Christmas continues to be celebrated around the world and thus remains a very special occasion to share with family and friends, with its age-old customs of hearth and home, loved ones gathered around the fire and familiar well-loved traditions. No matter how one chooses to celebrate Christmas, be it a religious event or not, simple or extravagant or creating new memories at a western ranch, this heartfelt Christmas message never fails to resonate with the best in all of us, ”On earth peace, goodwill toward men”
And lastly in keeping with the Holiday Season,
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
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