Vista Verde Ranch offers much more than horseback riding. Some guests come just for the fly fishing, while others spend part of the time riding and the rest hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing or just relaxing. I opted to hike one day because it was prime fall foliage season in Colorado, when the aspen leaves look like liquid gold. Viewing the patches of gold among the deep green of the ponderosa and lodgepole pines, I decided Mother Nature stitched a patchwork quilt. Add in the occasional red patch of low-lying scrub oak, and it was almost impossible to take a bad picture.
The region has hundreds of miles of trails, but that day we hiked part of the Zirkel Circle in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. The trail meandered through forests and past streams, where rusty equipment left by 19th-century miners seeking gold littered the ground. We stopped to photograph wildflowers in the ruins of what was reputed to be a bordello.
Each day you had choices beyond riding, so another morning, a group of us walked among towering aspens with a professional photographer. She spent time with each of us to help us improve our photography skills.