Species
Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Cutthroat Trout
Destination Type
Lodge
Fishing Style
Dry Fly, Private Waters, Sightfishing, Stillwater, Wading
Season
Year-round
Fishing Days
3 - 10+
Rate
$$
Why We Go
  • Experience an exquisite Ted Turner property in northern New Mexico that is comparable to Yosemite in both size and protected status.
  • Choose from a range of luxury accommodations and two locations on property staffed by personable professionals.
  • Fish for native Rio Grande cutthroat, brown trout, and rainbow trout on 19 lakes and more than 30 miles of small streams.
  • Experience a venue ideal for couples, families, and large groups with a diverse range of outdoor interests.
  • Enjoy a stunning, 550,000-acre property with 1200 bison and abundant wildlife dedicated to conservation and habitat restoration.
Overview

Ted Turner’s Vermejo is an expansive private nature reserve and guest ranch located on 550,000 acres in the heart of northeastern New Mexico’s scenic and unspoiled Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  This is an ideal venue for outdoor-minded couples and families as well as larger groups that want to experience a wide range of outdoor activities including fly fishing. Anglers have access to 19 fishable lakes, 30 miles of small streams, and a mix of native Rio Grande cutthroat, brown trout and rainbow trout. Guests also have a vast array of guided or unguided activities to choose from including hiking, birding, nature photography, historic tours, geocaching, archery, disc golf, mountain biking, wildlife excursions, and winter activities. For parties with younger children, they also have a great kids program.  The reserve, which encompasses 900 square miles, has 1200 free-range bison, abundant wildlife, and two main lodges located roughly 45 minutes from one another. The main Casa Grande mansion and complex is complimented by the higher elevation and more rustic Costilla Lodge, that is often referred to as the fishing lodge. Whether you want hike hard, fish hard, or simply enjoy nature, spa-treatments, and fine dining, this remarkable private preserve has something for everyone.

Fishing Program

Guests at both Casa Grande and Costilla Lodge have access to 19 lakes and 30 miles of small stream wild trout fishing. The ranch’s five Class A lakes are planted with brown, brook and rainbow trout that can reach five or more pounds and their stream-born Rio Grande cutthroats tend to run 8-12 inches with larger fish present. Catch rates tend to be high and qualified guides and instructors are available but not required. The lakes can be fished from boats, float tubes and from the banks while the stream fishing is walk and wade only and best suited to light tackle. Groups that want to spend a lot of time fishing typically stay at Costilla Lodge also known as the fishing lodge, as it has shorter drive times to a wide range of productive waters.

Accommodations

The property is a rather opulent homestead which includes a main property with a common “main lodge” building, two mansions, and five cottages. The separate Costilla Lodge sits higher in the mountains and works best for anglers looking for quick access to prime fishing waters. It is more in the classic western log-lodge style.  At most, the ranch will book 60 guests at any given time, although it can accommodate more for private events.

Costilla Lodge: Located about 45-minutes from the main lodge and sitting 10,000 feet in elevation at the base of the mountains, Costilla Lodge is an impressive log cabin style structure and has the best access to the fishing locations on property. Built in the early 1900s, the lodge contains eight bedrooms, two with king beds and the rest with two queen beds. The lodge has a separate staff, chef and dining area and is renowned among returning guests as the “fishing lodge”.

Casa Grande: The most prominent house and Ted Turner’s primary residence, this 1920s styled house has seven rooms, two of which are suites, and the others are standard rooms. The house has a chef’s kitchen, billiards room and conservatory. Most rooms have one queen or king bed. Guests who stay here may book the entire house or individual rooms.

Turner House: The largest of the mansions, this 10-bedroom house offers multiple common areas, many of the rooms have fireplaces, and is also the location of the Vermejo Spa. Most rooms have either king or queen beds though there are some rooms that sleep double occupancy with either two queen or two twin beds. Guests who stay here may book the entire house or individual rooms.

Cottages: Creating a semi-circle around the main lodge, there are five cottages which can be booked and are always private to one party. There are two five-bedroom cottages, two four-bedroom cottages, and one three-bedroom cottage.

Guests staying at the Costilla Lodge will dine in the main dining room at the lodge. The other properties will all take their meals in the main dining area of the main lodge connected to Casa Grande. Each party will have their own table and guests get to choose what time they would like to eat. When weather allows there is a grill-out once a week on the veranda. Guests may also choose to bring their meals to their respective accommodations or even out on the property for a picnic. Menus traditionally change each night and include a 5-course experience. Most ingredients are locally sourced and often include red meat and fresh vegetables. All dietary restrictions will be accommodated.

Additional Experiences

The lodge offers many outdoor recreation activities including nature photography, a children’s program for anything from entomology to horsemanship, conservation tours, historic tours, geocaching, archery, disc golf, hiking, mountain biking, wildlife excursions, and winter activities. There is also a small spa onsite which offers massages and facials. Guests may choose to book a guide for any of the above adventures, or explore them unguided.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at lodge, enjoy dinner

Day 2 – 5: Enjoy various activities guided or unguided

Day 6: Depart lodge after breakfast

Rates & Details

2024 Rates:

Rates are dynamic depending on time of year and availability. Please reach out for more information.

Includes: Accommodations, meals, guided fly fishing, use of gear for all activities, tax

Not Included: Gratuity, optional shuttle, alcoholic beverages, fishing license

Species: Rio Grande cutthroat, brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout

Season: Year round

Capacity: 60

Fly Water Q&A

Who is best suited to this destination? This is a great destination for families, couples, as well as large groups. It is great for anyone who loves a beautiful setting, high-end accommodations and, the outdoors, and angling. This is not a place where you will spend time on a golf course or in a pool, but instead exploring the natural world on foot, on horseback with a fly rod or with binoculars. Those who value conservation and wildlife will very much enjoy this destination.

Where is the lodge? The lodge is on 900-mile square mile property in northeastern New Mexico about 50 minutes west of Raton. Guests who fly private will fly into Raton.

How do I get there? Most guests will fly into either Denver or Albuquerque, then drive a very scenic 3.5 hours to the property edge in Raton, NM. From there guests will drive about 45 minutes along a dirt road through the property to reach the homestead. Please be aware that wild animals are roaming and it is not uncommon to come across mule deer, elk, and even bear.

When should I go? The property is open year-round. In the winter months, ice fishing is available for those interested in a snowy getaway. The lakes will usually be thawed and start fishing in April. At this time, all fishing is subsurface using nymphs and streamers.

Peak dry fly season is May through the end of June and terrestrial season usually starts in late June and lasts through the first freeze in late August. In September and October most of the fishing will be done with streamers.

The two creeks on the property will experience a short-lived runoff who’s timing is variable due to the high elevation. Runoff is usually finished between the end of May but can go as late as mid-June.

How will I fish? All of the creek fishing is walk and wade. These are very small creeks so guests will be using 2- to 3-weight rods. There are five larger lakes that guests can fish using a boat with a trolling motor, and another five or so lakes (depending on conditions) that guests may fish with float tubes. The ranch provides all of the needed gear and equipment. The lakes have some large trout and fishing with a 5- to 6-weight rod is ideal.

Is there wade fishing? Yes. There is wade fishing on all the lakes and creeks.

Where will I fish? There are many lakes on the property, 10 of which are stocked and fish very well. The stocked lakes are called Class A lakes. These lakes hold brown, brook, and rainbow trout that are healthy and reach a decent size. There is also a serries of glacial lakes with wild trout that guests can hike to. These are called the Castillas Lakes, the first of which is a 1.5 mile hike to reach. The lakes have decent surface action and using a dropper is very effective. The water is usually clear so you can at time spot fish and see the take.

There are 30 miles of fishable high-mountain creeks called Costilla Creek and Casilla Creek with Rio Grande cutthroat. These creeks are very small with large oxbows and cuts that run through a wide open vega (a large fertile plain). These creeks are very clear and while the trout are opportunistic, some level of stealth can be helpful.

The lower Vermejo River fishes very well but is technical and has fewer fish than the upper creeks. It has Rio Grande cutthroat, brook, and rainbow trout. This river also has more overhanging vegetation to navigate, so it is recommend that anglers who fish these waters cast at the intermediate level.

How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds? From the main homestead, the closest of the “Class A” lakes is 15 minutes away the farthest of these lakes is about 25 minutes away. The upper creeks are about an hour away and the alpine lakes trailhead is about an hour and a half away.

Guests staying at the Costilla Lodge have access to the creeks and alpine lakes in about 10 minutes. From this lodge the Class A lakes are about thirty minutes away.

What type(s) of fish will I catch? Brown, brook, rainbow, and Rio Grande cutthroat trout.

How many fish will I catch? The average angler can expect 10 to 15 fish per person per day on the big lakes and about 25 to 30 fish per person in the creeks. The Class A lakes have many 3.5- to 5-pound trout and the creeks will have fish that average in the 8- to 12-inches with opportunities for larger fish.

Will I see other anglers? The only other anglers will be other guests staying at the Ranch. Because this is all on private property, the guides are able to separate guests easily and those looking for a more secluded experience will be taken to a place where they are the only person.

What are the guides like? The guide-pool is a diverse group from all over the country. Some of the guides live on the ranch year-round while others are at the ranch from May through October and fish these waters exclusively. There are folks who specialize in lake fishing or creek fishing, those who like to educate and those who work well with the hardcore experienced angler. There are men and women guides on staff.

What are the physical demands? The main lodge sits at 7,500 feet in elevation so those looking for outdoor activities should keep the elevation in mind. Hike-in access to the alpine lakes is easy without significant elevation gain and the trailhead starts at about 11,000 feet so there is a gain from the main lodge to that trailhead. Costilla Lodge, which is very popular among the more fishing oriented groups is located at 10,000 ft and guest need to take that into consideration.

Are there any special skills required? No. Guests can choose to make their experience at Vermejo as easy or advanced as they like.

Does the lodge provide equipment? Whether guided or unguided all equipment is on site. Guided fishing days includes everything from waders to flies. Unguided days on the water are welcome with rods, reels and waders for guests’ use. A Fly shop is on site with all the flies and terminal tackle anglers may need if they are fishing alone. The lodge also provides Jon boats with trolling motors, float tubes, and gear for all other activities as well.

What is your favorite setup for the trip? Creeks: A small 2- to 3-weight single handed rod with a weight forward floating line and 5x to 6x leader and tippet

Lakes: A 5- to 6-weight single handed rod with a weight forward floating line and 3x to 4x leader and tippet

Creeks:

  • Redington CLASSIC TROUT 8-foot 3-weight rod
  • Redington ZERO 2/3 reel
  • RIO Technical Trout weight-forward 3-weight floating line

Lakes:

  • Redington TRACE 9-foot 5-weight rod
  • Redington RISE 5/6 reel
  • Elite RIO Grand weight-forward 5-weight floating line

What are the top flies? Blue winged olive, pale morning dun, grasshoppers, any rubber leg terrestrial including ants and beetles

What are the options if water conditions become challenging? The variety of lakes and great access to the creeks make navigating runoff or murky water very easy. If there are storms that make fishing difficult, guests will enjoy the comfortable accommodations. Wind can be persistent on the lakes at times, if guests are having a hard time casting out, they can take the Jon boats or float tubes out for better access.

What is a typical day like? Guests may arrive for breakfast at their leisure, it will start at 6:00 AM and end at 8:30 AM. For most day activities, guests will meet their guide at front desk at 9:00 AM and will be gone until 5:00 PM. Lunch will be out with your guide. Folks who choose to lounge at the lodge during the day can have lunch on site. Guests without booked guided days are on their own but activities are available in two-hour sessions throughout the day.

Most guests will return around 5:00 PM. Cocktails and appetizers will be served at the main dining area at 6:00 PM and dinner will be served at 7:30 PM.

What is the general vibe, atmosphere and style of the lodge? While the structures and the amenities are of the highest order, it does not feel like a resort but instead like a small community of friends. Guides and staff are very dedicated to the ranch and have a wonderful balance of work and play on property – they truly love being there and it shows in their interactions with each other and the guests. Dinner and cocktail hour are a social event and groups will often make friends throughout their stay. The lodge caters to a good mix of families and adult groups.

Is there an on-site owner, manager or other point-person at the lodge? The reservation team at the front desk is always available, and all employees are around to assist guests. Ranch managers do live on site, but are not always in the main lodge.

Where do we eat, and what are the meals like? Guests staying at the Costilla Lodge will dine in the main dining room at the lodge. The other properties will all take their meals in the main dining area of the main lodge connected to Casa Grande. Each party will have their own table and guests get to choose what time they would like to eat. When weather allows there is a grill out once a week on the veranda. Guests may also choose to bring their meals to their respective accommodations or even out on the property for a picnic. Menus traditionally change each night and include a 5-course experience. Most ingredients are locally sourced and often include red meat and fresh vegetables. All dietary restrictions will be accommodated.

What is the alcohol policy? Alcoholic beverages are not included in the package rates due to state policy, and all alcoholic beverages are available for guests to purchase. Guests may also bring their own to with them in their respective accommodations.

Where do we stay, and what are the accommodations like? The property is a rather opulent homestead which includes a main property with a common “main lodge” building, two mansions, and five cottages. The separate Costilla Lodge sits higher in the mountains and works best for anglers looking for quick access to prime fishing waters. It is more in the classic western log-lodge style.  At most, the ranch will book 60 guests at any given time, although it can accommodate more for private events.

Costilla Lodge: Located about 45-minutes from the main lodge and sitting 10,000 feet in elevation at the base of the mountains, Costilla Lodge is an impressive log cabin style structure  has the best access to the fishing locations on property. Built in the early 1900s, the lodge contains eight bedrooms, two with king beds and the rest with two queen beds. The lodge has a separate staff, chef and dining area and is renowned among returning guests as the “fishing lodge”.

Casa Grande: The most prominent house and Ted Turner’s primary residence, this house has seven rooms, two of which are suites, and the others are standard rooms. The house has a chef’s kitchen, billiards room and conservatory. Most rooms have one queen or king bed. Guests who stay here may book the entire house or individual rooms.

Turner House: The largest of the mansions, this 10-bedroom house offers multiple common areas, many of the rooms have fireplaces, and is also the location of the Vermejo Spa. Most rooms have either king or queen beds though there are some rooms that sleep double occupancy with either two queen or two twin beds. Guests who stay here may book the entire house or individual rooms.

Cottages: Creating a semi-circle around the main lodge, there are five cottages which can be booked and are always private to one party. There are two five-bedroom cottages, two four-bedroom cottages, and one three-bedroom cottage.

Is there internet and/or cell service? There is internet service in various places throughout the property, however strong Wi Fi is not guaranteed in each room. Cell service is spotty throughout the property and guests should not plan on having great service when away from the main lodge or Costilla Fishing Lodge. No guest office services are available.

Are there other activities? The lodge offers many outdoor recreation activities including nature photography, a children’s program for anything from entomology to horsemanship, conservation tours, historic tours, geocaching, archery, disc golf, hiking, mountain biking, wildlife excursions, and winter activities. There is also a small spa onsite which offers massages and facials. Guests may choose to book a guide for any of the above adventures, or explore them unguided.

Are there any other expenses? Full day fishing and other activities with a guide are not included in the package rates, a half day of fly fishing is $350 and a full day is $475 for up to four people. Alcoholic beverages, fishing licenses, gratuity for staff (10-20% of package rate), gratuity for guides ($50 to $75 per person, per day) and transportation from the airport (those that fly into Raton will have complimentary transportation).

Do I need a visa? You do not need a visa for this trip.

Are there any health concerns, dangers or annoyances? Wildlife is the most common danger and guests should be aware that there are bison, mule deer, elk, mountain lion and black bear on the property. Guides and staff are well trained in how to handle interactions with animals and if you have questions about this they will be happy to educate you about best practice. Please note to keep your distance from these animals at all times.

In the summer there can be some afternoon showers that last an hour or two. Because of the high elevation mornings can be a little cool even in the middle of summer, so packing for layers is best.

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