Ted Turner’s long-awaited Casa Grande on the media mogul’s 585,000-acre Vermejo Park Ranch is ready for guests.
It’s big news that Vermejo Park Ranch’s upscale Casa Grande opens to the public in February. (The grand opening, complete with ribbon cutting, will take place in June.) The magnificent mansion, built in the early 1900s by then-owner William H. Bartlett, had been resting quietly until recent renovations brought it back to life, painstakingly preserving its architectural integrity while conforming to modern building codes. Casa Grande includes the property’s greenhouse, where the Vermejo kitchen grows herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
If you don’t buy out Casa Grande, you can opt to stay at the one of the six comfortably welcoming guest houses. Evoking ranch history with names like Barker, Chandler, Bartlett, Gourley, and Pennzoil, they surround the massive wood-and-stone main lodge rebuilt in 1991 after a fire — a fitting centerpiece structure with views for miles, dining rooms, and a shop stocked with requisite hunting and fishing supplies, seasonally appropriate clothing, and ranch-worthy cookbooks. Three larger retreats with individual bed-and-breakfast-style rooms are also available; one of these, Costilla Lodge, is located 25 miles away in the high country and is operated by a separate staff.
The ranch’s Outdoor Exploration program offers a variety of activities, including skeet and sporting clay shooting, 3-D archery, mountain biking, and horseback riding. From mid-May to September, there are wrangler-led rides in Vermejo High Country. During winter, guests can enjoy snowshoeing, ice fishing, tubing, Nordic skiing, wildlife viewing, and winter hiking. Come spring, attention turns to fishing — in multiple lakes and along 30 miles of streams.
“The fly-fishing is pristine and the sight-fishing is world class — you can really get lost in the fishing here,” says Vermejo’s activities director James Reidy. About half of the ranch’s faithful anglers come to fish trout — rainbow, brook, brown, and, at timberline, the Rio Grande cutthroat. Angler regulars come for nymphs in May or to savor dry fly-fishing in June, July, and August. All lakes are stocked, except for the property’s Alpine lakes. And catch-and-release is always encouraged.
To get to Vermejo Park Ranch, you’ll first need reservations. Then from Colorado Springs, Colorado, it’s a 2.5-hour drive via Interstate 25 to Raton, New Mexico, and a typically solitary 32 miles on State Highway 555 to the ranch. From there, guests are advised not to use GPS but to follow specific instructions on the website.
For more on the ranch, see the February/March issue.