Recipe for a Perfect Day at Vermejo
By Guest Blogger, Nina Boys
When you have more than half a million acres filled with nature, including five distinct ecosystems and a dizzying diversity of wildlife right outside your door, memorable days aren’t hard to come by. Even more so when it is yours to explore at leisure, either on your own or with an expert guide. A stay at Vermejo is like having a private national park just for you and your friends, where there are no wrong choices when choosing your daily adventures. If you love nature like I do, here is my take on how to spend a perfect day at Vermejo.
6:00 a.m. Rise early and watch as soft morning rays illuminate the surrounding lush valleys and alpine peaks while practicing sun salutations during an outdoor yoga class. Or hit the winding 2.5-mile fitness trail in front of the lodge, stopping to take in deep breaths of the fresh mountain air.
8:00 a.m. Fuel up for the day ahead with an oversized mug of freshly brewed coffee and a made-to-order omelet packed with organic veggies from the lodge greenhouse – just don’t forget to crown it with New Mexico’s beloved green chilis.
9:00 a.m. There is no better way to explore Vermejo’s diverse landscapes than on horseback, so head to the nearby stables where equestrian caretaker and guide, Misty, will get you saddled up for a ride through open fields where wildflowers bow in the wind and curious prairie dogs pop up from their dusty underground homes. You will also want to remember to look up in hopes of seeing some of the 386 species of birds found here, bald eagles included. And don’t be surprised if you see a timid black bear hiding amongst the Ponderosa pines as you follow winding dirt roads into the forest. Seasoned riders may choose to gallop these lands as cowboys have for generations, or better yet, take a guided ride into the Sangre de Cristo Mountain high country with Vermejo’s last true cowboy. You’ll be forgiven for pinching yourself as you canter beneath the peaks of the southern Rockies, without another rider in sight.
12:00 p.m. Having worked up an appetite from your morning on the range, join a custom cooking class that begins in the organic greenhouse, where you’ll gather a variety of herbs and microgreens in order to prepare homemade pasta with crisp vegetables. Follow the chef as he teaches you how to mix, roll and cut the perfect dough before it is dropped into boiling water and tossed with an herb sauce made from your just-picked ingredients. Grate a small mountain of Parmesan cheese on top and enjoy with a crisp glass of rosé from the lodge wine cellar.
2:00 p.m. An afternoon adventure is now calling. Will you join one of Vermejo’s ecotourism guides on the Rain Canyon Hike to a plateau revealing sweeping vistas of native bison grazing lands, or grab a geocaching hand-held GPS and embark on a self-guided tour, learning about the ranch’s historical legacy along the way?
4:30 p.m. It has been a busy and fulfilling afternoon of discovery – what the Vermejo team likes to call “finding yourself in nature”. So, of course, a relaxing massage by an experienced therapist using all-natural products sounds just about perfect.
6:30 p.m. Cocktail hour on the lodge’s front terrace beckons, and you’ll want to sip a prickly pear margarita while the chef expertly grills some wild game, including elk steaks carved to order, alongside an impressive ‘make your own’ vegetarian tagine in clay pots brimming with organic fare.
9:00 p.m. Following s’mores for dessert, grab a book from the lobby lounge before sinking into your heavenly bed in Casa Grande – the 7-room historic building filled with impressive artwork, Ted Turner’s personal memorabilia, and period piece furniture. Tomorrow is full of possibilities – will it be lunch at Costilla Lodge, Vermejo’s eco-retreat at 10,000 feet? Or perhaps you will want to try your hand at catch-and-release fly fishing for native cutthroat trout. That is to say, what will be your perfect Vermejo day?
Nina Boys is a passionate traveler whose journeys have taken her across five continents to some of the world’s most beautiful natural and cultural wonders. Her blogs and travel articles have appeared in Virtuoso.com, Huffington Post and Roads & Kingdoms.