Vermejo Park Ranch, NM

Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge in Raton, New Mexico.

Vermejo Park Ranch, NM


There is nothing quite like Vermejo Park Ranch. Consisting of 588,000 acres situated high in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico, it ranges from high prairie grasslands at 6,400' to above timberline at nearly 13,000'. Vermejo offers a diversity of ecosystems with resulting flora and fauna found almost nowhere else in the West in such pristine condition.

Private resort, bison ranch, hunter and fisherman's dream- Vermejo is all of these and more. A showcase of ecosystem management, the ranch offers boundless opportunities for sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts of all persuasions. A limited number of guests visit the ranch each summer to enjoy the wilderness beauty and experience outstanding lake and stream fishing as well as other outdoor activities. In autumn, hunters arrive in quest of trophy elk, mule deer, pronghorn and bison; in spring, Merriam's turkey hunts beckon.

The main lodge is tucked away at 7,500' in a valley that offers a panoramic view of the mountain range on the western boundary of Vermejo. The ranch is accessed over a single paved road and a 45 minute drive from Raton on the eastern boundary of the ranch. The two-story log lodge reflects the hospitality that is Vermejo's signature. The lodge's distinctively appointed dining room is the setting for hearty ranch breakfasts and gourmet evening meals. A comfortable lounge is a convivial meeting place to swap stories, while the expansive veranda provides a vantage point to watch deer and elk forage in the valley as the evening sun dips behind the mountains. A meeting room is located on the second floor of the lodge for groups wishing to conduct business in a stress-free environment. The tackle and gift shop is well-stocked with fishing and hunting supplies and quality outdoor clothing.

Date Range

Winter season: mid-January - early-March
Summer season: mid-May - early-September

What is Provided to Customer

Winter Season: We provide all your rods, tackle, and other equipment necessary for ice fishing.

Summer Season: We offer Orvis fly rods and reels, as well as spinning rods to guests at no additional charge. You will also be provided with a trolling motor and batteries should you choose to make use of the many boats located at our fishing lakes.

Region/Terrain Where You Fish

Vermejo boasts 21 lakes where you will encounter rainbows, brown and brooks. Most of the fish are 15-17 inches, but quite a few are much larger, up to 8 pounds. The lakes range in elevation from 8,000' to 12,000'. All of our lakes are accessible by vehicles, however for some lakes 4-wheel drive is recommended, as are 8-10 ply tires.

Some 30 miles of small to medium-sized freestone streams beckons the sportsman amid glorious solitude. Rainbows, brooks, Rio Grande cutthroat inhabit these waters, fair game for beginner and experienced angler alike. Vermejo's streams offer one of the few remaining locations for Rio Grande cutthroat trout. A project is underway to preserve and expand the habitat for this species to again prosper. Optimum stream flow usually starts in late June. August fishing is noted for excellent water quality and comfortable temperatures.

Typical Weather by Season

January- March Vermejo is open for an exclusive winter program hosted out of our high country Costilla Lodge. Weather this time of year varies with snow and cold. Average highs, lows, snow fall and hours of daylight are as follows:

High F: 30.5, Low F: 17.5, average snowfall: 17.72 inches, hours of daylight: 9 hrs, 54 min

High F: 30.0, Low F: 17.5, average snowfall: 21.00 inches, hours of daylight: 10 hrs, 51 min

High F: 39.0, Low F: 25.5, average snowfall: 27.75 inches, hours of daylight 11 hrs, 58 min

Our summer fishing season runs mid May through early September. Average highs, lows, average precipitation, and hours of daylight are as follows:

High F: 67.7, Low F: 39.1, Average precipitation: 1.12 inches, hours of daylight: 14 hrs, 10 min

High F: 77.7, Low F: 46.7, Average precipitation: 1.21 inches, hours of daylight: 14 hrs, 42 min

High F: 79.6, Low F: 49.8, Average precipitation: 3.39, hours of daylight: 14 hrs, 27 min

High F: 78.6, Low F: 50.4, Average precipitation: 2.85, hours of daylight: 13 hrs, 34 min


Sample of Typical Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Vermejo Park Ranch
For guests who are driving, we open the gate at 6:00am so guests can check-in early, enjoy a hearty breakfast, and get in a full day of fishing. For guests flying in, Raton has a private airport located about 1 hr. 15 min. from the ranch, and Colorado Springs is the closest commercial airport, about 3 hrs. 30 min. from the ranch. A representative from Vermejo Park Ranch can pick you up at either airport, or you can rent a vehicle and drive to the ranch. Once you arrive, you’ll enjoy a hot breakfast and coffee at the lodge where you’ll meet up with your fishing guide and discuss where and how you’d like to fish for the next few days. Your guide will prepare the vehicle for you with box lunches (pre ordered by you), batteries, trolling motors, drinks, fish coolers, snacks, tackle, rods, and anything else you may require. From there, you’ll enjoy a full day fishing with a shore lunch. When you’ve had your fill for the day, you can come back and enjoy a cocktail on the veranda while you watch the elk herd graze in the meadow below. A gourmet meal will be prepared for you in the dining room between 7:00 and 9:00 pm. At dinner that evening you will designate what you’d like for your box lunch the following day, and arrange a time to meet up with your fishing guide.

Day 2 to 4: Three Full Days of Fly Fishing
After breakfast each morning you will head out fishing. With 21 fishing lakes at various altitudes and over 30 miles of fishable stream, each day holds new adventures. Many guests enjoy having a fish fry for lunch where your fishing guide will prepare your morning’s catch right on the shore for you. Horseback riding, skeet and sporting clay shooting are other activities that our guests enjoy when they are not fishing. Saturday nights during our summer months offer a barbeque cookout at one of our lakes featuring live music, king crab legs, brisket, s ‘mores, cowboy coffee and more!

Day 5: Depart Vermejo Park Ranch
Guest check-out on your day of departure is by 10:00am. You can get up early for breakfast and head out for a few hours of morning fishing before you return to the lodge for check-out.


On-site Activities

Vermejo offers unparalleled fishing opportunities for experienced and novice anglers alike. Other activities you can enjoy during your stay include horseback riding, skeet, sporting clays, hiking, wildlife viewing, nature tourism, winter activities, visiting historic sites, photography and more!

Off-site Activities

Vermejo is located in beautiful northern New Mexico, and the area is rich in exciting attractions. Enjoy visiting Capulin Volcano, Sugarite State Park, Philmont Boy Scout Ranch, or the NRA Whittington Center. Experience local balloon festivals, rodeos and shopping in Raton, Cimarron, and Taos.


Lodging, Meals, and Accommodations

Main lodge: The wood and stone main lodge was rebuilt in 1991 after a fire destroyed the original structure. The architect was under strict orders to maintain the property’s rustic, ranch-inspired charm; this building hosts the reception area, dining room, lounge, and the Vermejo Company Store. There are no overnight guest accommodations in the main lodge itself. The lodge’s picturesque veranda offers guests the perfect spot to sit and sip a drink with friends- new and old- as the sun slides behind the mountains and the elk graze the green meadows below. Stroll through the double French doors to the lounge for a cocktail before enjoying a fabulous meal prepared by the gourmet chef.

Guests are lodged in one of the six early 1900’s cottages adjacent to the main lodge. The cottages are comfortably appointed with double occupancy rooms and private baths.

Barker House: Originally the carpenter’s cottage, Barker House is set at the edge of the tree line with stunning views of the Vermejo Valley. An intimate space, Barker House as four well-appointed bedrooms with private baths and can sleep six comfortably.

Chandler House: Built for a ranch secretary, the two-story cottage is separated from the main lodge by a large lawn. Chandler House’s five bedrooms and three baths were recently updated to meet Vermejo’s high standards.

Bartlett House: Formerly the men’s quarters, the two-story, eight-bedroom house offers hotel-style accommodations just minutes from the main lodge. The two bedrooms upstairs have private baths while the ground level features three, two-bedroom suites.

Gourley House: This remodeled five-bedroom cottage once housed the staff butler. Three of the rooms have private baths while two of the downstairs bedrooms share a bath. Like most of the other buildings in the main complex, Gourley House sits in dignified solitude across the manicured lawn, a short walk from the main lodge.

Pennzoil House: Mr. Bartlett built this home with its spectacular views of the Vermejo Valley to accommodate the doctor treating his son Norman, who suffered from tuberculosis. Sit together in the cozy living room before retiring to one of the two upstairs rooms (which share a bath) or one of the two downstairs rooms, which offer guests complete privacy.

Casita House: The smallest dwelling on the property, Casita House was once the Ranch’s laundry. Now families enjoy the spacious living area and three bedrooms, which sleep four. Pine trees were cleared to form a large side yard where guests may catch glimpses of elk and deer while sipping their morning coffee.

Casa Minor: Built for Norman Bartlett in the early 1900s, this large residence boasts a gracious central living area and 12 bedrooms, all with private baths. One of the downstairs bedrooms was recently updated to meet handicap accessibility standards. The sun porch boasts the property’s only residence TV, and groups may gather there or on the main lodge to catch the latest news and sports highlights.

*All accommodations are closed at headquarters for our winter season*

Costilla Lodge: The newly-built Costilla Lodge was constructed using the Ranch’s own timber and stone and is in the process of receiving a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating by the US Green Building Council. Located at 10,200 feet and twenty-five miles from headquarters, the spacious lodge provides sweeping views of the Costilla Basin, known for its excellent fishing venues and day hikes. With eight private bedrooms and baths, the lodge comfortably sleeps sixteen guests. A dedicated staff of five-including a private chef- is onsite to meet your every request. Private groups, corporate retreats and families may reserve Costilla Lodge between mid-May and mid-September. Rooms at Costilla Lodge are only available ‘a la carte’ mid-January through mid-March during our winter program.


Species You Fish for by Season

Summer season:

Species: Rio Grande cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and grass carp.

Venues: There are 21 fishable lakes at Vermejo and 30 miles of stream.


May: Midges are hatching. Most effectively caught on midge larvae imitations sizes 10 to 16 fished under a strike indicator. There is also a nice caddis hatch on the Vermejo River this time of year.

June: Mayflies are beginning to hatch. Most effectively caught on emerging mayfly patterns, bead head nymphs, and some dry imitations of the mayfly. Damselflies are also starting to hatch and trout are caught using damselfly nymphs (this is a good pattern all season). Starting mid June to the end of the season anything that floats and is presented well will catch trout out of the streams.

July: The damselflies really start to come off in the beginning of this month. This is also a great time to come to Vermejo for dry-fly fishing. Patterns used are adult damsel, adult mayfly, grasshoppers, beetles, humpies, royal wulff, some terrestrials, and different attractor patterns.

August: Terrestrials are in season and a blast for cruising trout!

Trout are also caught on a variety of streamers during all times of the season. The lakes are full of minnows, leaches and crayfish. July and August are the best times to target the grass carp in the lakes. The fly they like the most is the adult damselfly. They will also take a variety of small beetle patterns. Be sure to use strong hooks when tying flies for carp. The carp at Vermejo can reach up to 25 pounds! A blast on a fly rod!

Stream gear: Most of the streams at Vermejo are in open meadows and are fished best with an 8.5’ 3-4 wt. rod and floating line.

Lake gear: For lake fishing bring a 5-7 wt. rod with floating line and maybe an intermediate sinking line for when the trout are deep. For big streamers bring a 7 wt. rod. For strike indicator fishing bring a 6wt. For dry fly fishing a 5 wt. is perfect.

Winter season:

Species: Rainbow, brown, brook trout.

Venues: Costilla Reservoir, Underwoods Lakes, Seven Lakes.

We use standard ice fishing equipment, primarily using jigs.


What Should Customers Bring?

Guests who would like to fish with waders or float tubes will need to bring them with them. We have a fully stocked tackle shop for any fishing items guests wish to purchase on site.

Additional items we recommend bringing:

  • Sunscreen
  • Chap stick
  • Camera
  • Waders
  • Lotion (dry climate!)
  • Quick dry clothing-preferably with sun protection
  • Warm layers- mornings and evenings can be cool
  • Wading boots/sandals/hiking shoes
  • Hat
  • Fishing net
  • Binoculars
  • Insect repellant
  • Change of clothes for evening meals


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do you provide waders for guests or do I need to bring my own?
A. We do not have waders available for guests to purchase or rent. If guests would like to fish with waders, they are welcome to bring them. No felt bottomed waders please.

Q. Do I need to have 4-wheel drive to get to the lakes?
A. 4-wheel drive is not required to get to most of our lakes. There are a few lakes which require 4-wheel drive, but most of our fishing lakes and streams are easily accessible via well-maintained dirt roads. Of more importance than 4-wheel drive is making sure you bring a vehicle with high ply tires, as guests frequently get flat tires, especially on rental vehicles. We do have a mechanic on site who can aid in changing and repairing flat tires.

Q. Can I stay in the main lodge?
A. No guests stay in the main lodge itself. All guests are housed in our surrounding guest cottages.

Q. What is standard for gratuity?
A. Gratuities are not expected but appreciated. It is common that guests leave a gratuity for our staff and many ask what the normal gratuity amount is. In order to help, we recommend guests leave a lump sum to be distributed to our staff (including wait staff, fish house, housekeeping, kitchen, bartender and front desk employees). Industry standard is 10-15% of your total bill. Customary guide gratuity is $50-$100 per day. Again, we strive to provide you the best service possible regardless of gratuity.

Q. Do I need to get a guide to fish your property?
A. Guides are not required, but are strongly recommended, especially for first time guests. Guides can help you get you oriented on our large property and many fishing locations. Guides can also help inform you what flies/lures are working where, which lakes have been recently stocked, and which lakes are fishing the best. Of course, our fishing guides also offer instruction and technique advice, whether it’s for fly tying, casting or trolling!

Q. Can we bring our dog?
A. We have a no pet policy.


Vermejo Park Ranch
Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge
40 Miles West on Hwy 555
Raton, NM 87740
575-445-2059 ext. 317

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