Opening Day!!

June 1st, 2012 by Jeff Way

The first day of the season is here and already we have a lot going on! The horses came through Sheridan last week so they’re back at the ranch, ready to ride the trails! The weather has been beautiful as well. Sunny days with cool breezes. Perfect for hiking! Tomorrow we’re having a wedding on Howard Hall lawn and several of the guests have gone fishing.  It is going to be an amazing summer!

We are so excited to have dudes start arriving.  We have made several changes since last year that we’re excited to share with you. Our next blog entry will be full of details and new photos!

Opening Day

Wranglin Notes are Here

February 1st, 2012 by Jeff Way


Wranglin Notes
Volume 1, No. 196        Eatons’
Ranch    December 2011

All of us here at Eatons’ Ranch hope you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! As we look back on this past year we think about how fortunate we are to live where we live, to do what we do, and to have you all in our lives.   The last few years have been challenging, but thanks to your support the challenges we have faced have been more rewarding than ever.

Echeta Trip 2011
Horses crossing Wild Horse Creek at the Bar 11


All in all the Ranch family has had a good year. We’re healthy, our children are healthy and for that, we are thankful. Many of us had the opportunity to get a for a few excursions during the off season, which is always welcomed before or after four months of the dude season. We welcomed many familiar faces to the Ranch this summer, along with many new ones as well.  Keen Butcher and his family joined us for their annual Ranch reunion in June.  July was a good month for groups and families traveling together.  Thanks to Ted and Laura Mandelkorn, many new people were introduced to the Ranch.  Michael Shinners and his family joined us in July for the third consecutive year.  Mike Holloman and Tim Surrat joined us during the month as well to celebrate Tim’s 50th birthday with many family and friends in attendance.  We had a few guests, who we were very happy to see again, that had taken some time off between visits.  Mary Roby and her
children and grandchildren joined us in July for the first time since 1998.  George and Mary Kenny returned with their family in August after last being here in 1974.  In August we were also joined by the familiar faces of Charlie and Stephanie Fagan, who brought their children and grandchildren.  In addition to the faithful August crowd, we hosted a couple of weddings and for the first time, we hosted a photography workshop by David Stoecklein.  The beautiful wedding of Kate Brewster and Justin Hammerich fell on the same weekend as the
photography workshop, but both events went off with out a hitch.  We plan to host another workshop in 2012.  Our loyal September contingent joined us following Labor Day and we quietly ended the month with the Third Annual Wolf Creek Wrangle trail run and hike.  We look forward to the Fourth Annual on September 22nd.  We kept our doors open for a little longer for the highlight of 2011.  The wedding of Mary Eaton and Nate Schmeiser on October 8th. The wedding of 100 plus family and friends was officiated by Rob Cagnina in Howard Hall. It
was a wonderful event and everywhere you looked there were smiling faces.  So many people commented that they couldn’t have been happier for two very special people.

Ranch kids kicking their heels up at Nate & Mary’s Wedding


This year we are not going to write the usual detailed year in review. Instead, we are shifting the focus to photos from years past and to those we lost in 2011. We hope the photos bring back memories of the time you have shared with your family and friends, and with us. We are sorry to admit that sometimes it takes a year like this to make us realize just how many lives Eatons’ Ranch has touched
and how we in turn have been touched by so many special people. This year we lost a number of people near and dear to the Eatons’ Ranch family. Some left us far too early life, but we are so lucky to have known them. Some had not been able to visit the Ranch in years, but they were the people who supported us year after year and became part of our story.


Betty Lou Girardi by Mary Dailey     Betty Kaufmann by Jonathan McNutt      Gerry Clapp by Mary Dailey

          In Memory of…….

Jack Stanton, David W. Oskin, Jr., Nancy Payne, Clem Egan, Gerry
Clapp, Miff McBride, Liz Jacobs, Betty Kaufmann, Herb Koether, Betty Lou
Girardi, Blair Klein.


Some of the obituaries, eulogies and notes from families of the departed expressed the importance of Eatons’ Ranch during their lifetimes. Miff McBride first came to the Ranch with his father in 1937 and trips to the Ranch became a family tradition. He passed peacefully at home with an Arthur Dailey photo of Eatons’ Ranch by his bedside. During her amazing lifetime, Betty Lou Girardi, traveled extensively throughout
the world, but in her obituary it said that her favorite place to travel was Eatons’ Ranch. Betty Lou and her husband Joe visited the Ranch for 41 consecutive seasons. Betty Kaufmann first visited the Ranch in 1936 with her parents and their first trip to the Ranch was in 1923. The Kaufmann and Eaton family have a long history together. Betty visited the Ranch for 37 consecutive seasons.  A line taken from an Erika Frey poem over 30 years ago that sits overlooking Eatons’ Ranch still holds true today more than ever, “…when you ride these pastures I have loved, let your heart beat fast for me and I shall not be dead.”


Life is made up of experiences and interactions with others. Based on our experiences and interactions with the friends and family that we have lost this past year and before, our lives are full. To all of those who lost loved ones this past year, please know that our thoughts are with you. If we have failed to mention anyone here, we apologize in advance.


  The printed version of the Wranglin’ Notes will be in the mail soon with even more pictures.  We wish you
all the best in 2012 and we hope to see you this summer! Check out our blog and keep a look out for our upcoming specials!





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Wranglin’ Notes

January 31st, 2012 by Jeff Way

The annual Wranglin’ Notes will be going out via e-mail to all of you who have signed up to receive our e-newsletters and e-mail updates.  The printed version will be in the mail soon!

Our winter bed & breakfast is up and running.  The dinner and brunch menus are now available online.  Enjoy our Wyoming dude ranch this winter by joining us for dinner, brunch, or a night at the foot of the Bighorn mountains.





Tis the Season from our Wyoming Dude Ranch

December 22nd, 2011 by Jeff Way

                                        Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Here at the ranch we are gearing up for the Holidays. We have had a few months to catch our breath before heading into our second year of the Bed and Breakfast.    Hope you all have a safe Holiday Season. We are looking forward to what the New Year will bring.


First Day of November Brings First Snow

November 1st, 2011 by Jeff Way

The barn with a fresh coating of snow.

It’s November and with it came the first snow! We are getting ready for Winter here at the ranch. Our 2011 Dude Season was great, thanks to all of our wonderful guests! We are looking forward to an exciting winter season, stay tuned for more information on upcoming events! Don’t forget to like our new fan page on facebook.

Wyoming Rodeo Week & Cowboy Polo

July 19th, 2011 by Jeff Way

Members of the Eatons' Family at the Wyo Rodeo

Rodeo week is always an exciting time for both the guests and the staff here at Eatons’ Ranch.  The carnival, the street dance, and the excitement of the rodeo itself gives the staff a chance to get off the ranch for a little while and enjoy the nightlife of Sheridan.  Friday night was Eatons night at the Wyo Rodeo, in which the Eatons family made a special guest appearance.
It’s always great to get involved with big events like the Wyo Rodeo, but it’s fun for the ranch to participate in community events as well.  This last Sunday, the wranglers at HF Bar challenged our wranglers to a friendly game of Cowboy Polo at the Bighorn Equestrian Center.  They faced during the halftime of one of the Polo matches hosted in the afternoon.  In case you were wondering, Eatons’ Ranch came out on top!  Everyone had fun and is looking forward to the next matchup.  Check us out on Facebook for more pictures!

Nate Schmeiser fights for possession during the Cowboy Polo match

The Dude Ranch Season Is Upon Us

May 20th, 2011 by Jeff Way

View from Rattlesnake Ridge

Opening day is just twelve days from now.  Our cleaning crew has been hard at work opening cabins since mid-April.  Summer employees are arriving almost every day to help get ready for the season.  All of our 51 cabins will be open and ready to go June 1st.  The cabins may be ready, but we will be hard pressed to get this Wolf, Wyoming dude ranch’s grounds all cleaned up by opening day if it doesn’t dry out soon.  It has been a very wet May.  We’ve had over 2 inches of moisture this week alone.  It’s hard to complain about the moisture, but with the cool weather that has accompanied the rain, we haven’t had much of a spring.

We start the season off with 20-30 guest the first week and gradually pick up from there.  June looks to be pretty busy, but if you haven’t made your summer plans yet we still have a number of openings in July and August.  The Sheridan WYO Rodeo is July 13th thru the 16th.  The WYO Rodeo is great family fun and we still have a number of cabins open rodeo week.    Space opens up in August after the 8th if you are looking for an end of summer vacation before the kids go back to school.  Also, for those of you who have never experienced a fall along the Bighorn Mountains you should definitely consider a September visit. 

Keep an eye out for updates about the Third Annual Wolf Creek Wrangle 10 mile trail run and 10K hike on September 24th.  We will be offering discounted packages around that weekend.  We will have more details in the coming weeks.

If you haven’t made reservations at our dude ranch along the Bighorns we hope to hear from you soon.  For those of you who already have reservations, we’re excitied about the new season and we look forward to seeing you all soon!

Spring Snow

March 31st, 2011 by Jeff Way

Spring Time at Eatons'

Every time I plan to write something, another month has gone by and there is snow on the ground again.  We just received a spring storm that brought about a foot of wet, heavy snow.  Here at at the foot of the Bighorn mountains, we often get our heaviest snowfall in late March and April.  Hopefully we will actually have a spring this year.  It seems the past few years it has been cold and wet through spring, and then it goes right into the heat of summer.

There is much going on here at our Wyoming dude ranch this time of year.  Our cows are a little more than halfway through calving.  Atfer a rough start, the cows and calves seem to be doing well now.  Carpentry and refinishing work is under way in preparation for another season.  Soon we will have a makeshift crew arrive to begin opening cabins before guest season begins.

We have kept some cabins open this off-season for a small bed & breakfast business.  We have used word of mouth to advertise, and only a handful of people have taken advantage of the beauty, the peace and the quiet of Eatons’ this time of year.  Dining, however, has been popular since the end of January.  We offer dinner Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights as well as brunch on Sunday.  Mike and Marisa have done a fantastic job taking care of our dinner guests.

If you are in the area, we hope you will join us for a meal, a quiet night’s stay along Wolf Creek, or maybe both.  For those of you still deciding on a summer vacation, we hope you will consider Eatons’ Ranch.  We know you will be glad you did.

Wyoming Winter Wind Chill

February 25th, 2011 by Jeff Way

Here at our Wyoming dude ranch we are closing out the month the way we started with cold, cold weather, at least until Saturday.  The low last night was -13 degrees with wind chill values of -25 degrees.  Tonight it is supposed to warm up to -9 degrees with wind chill values of -20 degrees.  It makes one long for those warm summer days.  Fortunately this cold snap is supposed to be short lived with temperatures hitting the 30’s in a couple of days.

The cold doesn’t shut things down on a ranch.  The cattle still need to be fed and we already have 17 calves on the ground at last count.  Our first calf was not due to arrive until the second week of March, but three separate fence lines could not deter one of our bulls a month before they were supposed to be turned out with the cows.

Our contractors arrived this week to begin updating bathrooms in some of our cabins.  The Lodge, Rinehart, Ayres, and Wigwam are all getting a little extra attention before we open June 1st.  They will be re-roofing a few cabins as well.  Lonny Gibson has put new flooring in three cabins and is now at work refinishing the stair case in the Main Ranch House.

We plan to try and keep warm this weekend along the Bighorns as we get ready to head into March.  June 1st will be here in no time and we look forward to seeing many new and familiar faces this summer here at Eatons’ Ranch..

Wyoming Dude Ranch In Winter

Dude Ranch In A Deep Freeze

February 2nd, 2011 by Jeff Way

Yesterday at our Wyoming Dude Ranch it was 10 below zero.  This morning it was 15 below zero.  It has been colder but but when the wind picks up and the wind chill gets down to negative 30 that is cold enough.  When the the temperatures drop like this trucks don’t start, pipes can freeze, and outdoor work is down right miserable.  Those of us in charge of the livestock, like Bill Ferguson, don’t have a choice but to venture out into the cold.  The cattle and horses need extra feed and water and access to open water can be a problem out in the pastures.  Two to three times a day ice must be chopped and cleared from tanks and streams.

We know the deep freeze won’t last forever, but the warm days of spring seem a long way off.  The snow covered pines in the background and the ice covering Wolf Creek are beautiful sights and makes us appreciate the change of seasons here in Wyoming at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains.  And it makes us appreciate even more the warmer days ahead when the snow and ice will melt, making way for the green grass of spring that will follow.

Wyoming Dude Ranch in a Deep Freeze

Meanwhile Back At The Ranch

January 27th, 2011 by Jeff Way

Winter at our Wyoming Dude Ranch

It is peaceful here at the Ranch.  The beginning of a new season at our Wyoming dude ranch seems so far away when there is snow on the ground.  There is still much to do this time of year, but the days move at a much slower pace than during the summer.  New flooring is going into a few cabins, and some bathrooms will soon be remodeled. We have a few cabin roofs that will need our attention as well.  Every year we think we have caught up on improvements and repairs, but with 51 cabins and 90+ structures in all, there is always work to be done.

Bill, Karen, and Will Ferguson, along with Mary Eaton, Nate Schmeiser and T.J. Ferguson just returned from the Dude Ranchers’ Association Convention in Tucson, AZ.  While they were away, it was still business as usual for those back at the Ranch. Reservations are beginning to pick up, but there are a number of dates in July still available.  Join us for our Annual July Roping on the 3rd and for the 4th, we will be celebrating a Cowboy Christmas.  There are wonderful fireworks displays in the area and, depending on the weather, we sometimes have our own display on Howard Hall Lawn.  The Sheridan WYO Rodeo is July 13-16 and is a great event for the whole family to attend.

Our bed and breakfast is up and running with a few guests taking advantage of a winter escape.  This weekend, we are hosting an open house to highlight what we have to offer for winter accommodations and dining.  If you are looking for a little getaway in a beautiful location at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains, please contact us for more information.

Even with snow on the ground, we know the new dude ranch season here at Eatons’ is closer than we think. We will be hard at work between now and June 1st in preparation for the first guest’s arrival.  We hope to see you this summer!

Christmas at Eatons’

December 23rd, 2010 by Jeff Way

You know Christmas is near when you put up a tree.  As many of you know, putting up a tree when you have young kids in the house is a big event, and picking out that tree can be even bigger.  Cutting down a Christmas tree has been a tradition for many of us here at the Ranch, and this marked the fourth year in a row that my family and I, along with some friends, headed out to find that perfect tree.  After a long hike along the bottom of South Red Canyon in the cold and the snow, we all managed to find Christmas trees for our families.  The excitement on the kids’ faces made the trek worthwhile.  They didn’t seem to mind the cold fingers and toes because they had helped bring home their own tree.  It is little traditions like these that make the holidays so special.

We hope this holiday season finds you safe, happy and surrounded by those you love.  We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Bed & Breakfast at Eatons’ Ranch

November 1st, 2010 by Jeff Way

If you find yourself in our neck of the woods this winter or if you are just looking for a brief getaway to recharge from the day to day stresses we all experience, then be sure to come see us.  For the first time, we will be open as a B&B for a limited number of guests, from December 1-19 and from January 6-May 1st.

Come join us for a night, two nights or as many as you would like to stay.  A warm, comfortable cabin will be waiting for you.  No horseback riding will be available, but you will have access to all of the hiking trails, fishing and nearby winter activities in the Bighorn Mountains.

Rates will range from $100-150/night/room and include a full breakfast.  Additional meal packages are also available.  Please contact us today for more information.  We hope to see some of you again before next summer!

Fall at Eatons’ Ranch

October 28th, 2010 by Jeff Way

We’ve had a warm fall so far, which has prolonged the beautiful colors.  We are just getting a hint of typical October temperatures, and it feels good.

All of the cabins have been closed down for the winter, and life moves at a much slower pace.  Elk and deer hunting season is in its final weeks, and cattle work is under way in preparation for our calves to be shipped in early November.  Even though the Ranch is quiet, we are busily planning for next year.

We are offering all of our guests who joined us in 2010 a $500 discount per cabin if reservations are made for the same time period in 2011 and for a minimum of 6 nights.  In order to receive your discount, we must receive a $500 per person deposit by December 1st.  We hope you will be able to take advantage of this offer.  It is our way of saying thank you to all of you who were able to join us this past year.

Wranglin’ Notes

September 16th, 2010 by Jeff Way

“Wranglin Notes” by Tom Ringley is here!

“There is an allure to Eatons’ Ranch that can’t be explained.”  So begins the Foreword by the Ranch’s current general manager Jeff Way and what he says has proved true for generations of Eaton family members, dudes and employees.  One can’t help but wonder if Howard Eaton, at the age of just seventeen, and the first of the Eaton brothers to go west in 1868, had any inkling of the enduring legacy they would eventually build and how many people down through the years would share a part of their dream.

At Eatons’, one of the oldest dude ranches in the West, you can still mount a horse and freely roam the Ranch’s 7200 acres at the foot of the beautiful Big Horn mountains.  The pleasures you experience will be little changed from the Ranch’s earliest days as you follow the same trails traveled by generations of Eatons’ guests.  Author Tom Ringley has followed the historic trail of Eatons’ itself, and of the many people who have  played such a large part in its fascinating history.  Filled with stories, photos and archival tidbits from the Ranch’s own Wranglin’ Notes newsletter, Tom’s chronicle  tells  the complete story of this unique enterprise over the last 131 years and helps us understand the truth of Jeff’s words:  “Remember, once you are a guest here, you are always a part of Eatons’ Ranch.

Contact us now to order your signed copy!

Second Annual Wolf Creek Wrangle

September 3rd, 2010 by Jeff Way

The Finish

10M & 10K run/hike, Saturday, September 25th, on the oldest Dude Ranch in the nation – Eaton’s Ranch outside of Sheridan, WY. The 10 mile trail run offers a challenging up and down course along the face of the Big Horn Mountains.  The trail is somewhat challenging, but worth it for the vistas!

Prizes will be awarded to the three best times in each gender division, and Eaton’s provides a free BBQ for all runners and hikers. The cost is $35 to hike the loop and $50 to run it, and each paying participant will receive a free, North Face t-shirt. All proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity! To register, call Big Horn Mountain Sports at (307) 672-6866.

If you have not visited the Bighorn Mountains before, make sure you bring your sense of adventure. Horseback Riding, Hunting and Fly Fishing are some great activities to explore after your big run. If the 10k run drained your adventures spirits, and your in search of relaxation. The Eaton Ranch’s 40 X 70-foot pool and hot tub are available for guest use; soak those tired muscles after a run!

What is a Dude Ranch Vacation?

May 12th, 2010 by Jeff Way

What exactly is a dude ranch vacation? In its simplest form, a dude ranch vacation offers a room, three meals a day and horseback riding, but it truly offers so much more.  You still receive all of the above, but in addition to that you get beautiful scenery, fresh mountain air, the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, and western hospitality at its finest.

Dude ranching is rich in history, and we are fortunate to be descendants of those who started it all.  The Eaton brothers settled in Medora, ND in 1879 and quickly began accepting guests from back east and their native area of Pittsburgh.  Before long, the cost of their generosity and hospitality began to add up, and they had to consider charging people for their stays.  The first recorded paying guest was Bert Rumsey from Buffalo, NY in 1882, and thus an industry was born.

There are over 100 member ranches in the Dude Ranchers’ Association.  Each ranch has a history of its own, whether it spans 125 years or 10 years; there is a ranch suited to every individual and family.  Here at Eatons’ Ranch, our main focus has always been horseback riding.  We offer our guests the opportunity to explore over 7,000 acres at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains as well the 1.2 million acres of the Bighorn National Forest on one of our 200 horses.  When not riding, you can enjoy the peace and quiet with a good book, hike a myriad of trails, fish Wolf Creek, take a refreshing dip in the pool or watch the children play under the sun on Howard Hall lawn.  We provide our guests with enough options that you can choose to do as little or as much as you would like to during your stay.

It’s not too late to plan your dude ranch vacation.  We invite you to join us and experience everything Eatons’ Ranch has to offer during your dude ranch vacation. Once you have spent time with us, you will always be part of Eatons’ and its history.

Four Weeks Until The First Dudes Arrive

April 30th, 2010 by Jeff Way

Opening day is just four short weeks away, and there is still much to do to get ready for our first guests.  We are in full swing trying to clear the grounds of all of the leaves and branches that fell throughout the fall and winter months.  The grass has really greened up over the last week, and it is time to start up the mowers to stay ahead of the spring growth.  We have updated more bathrooms as needed and are working on quite a few cabins in other ways as well.  It seems that every year we think we are caught up, but there are always improvements to be made.

We completed a major facelift to the living room of the Jenkins.  Thanks to the efforts of Steve Gage, Sean Meier, Lonny Gibson and Ed Gilbert, Mary Eaton’s vision of the interior going back to its original state was realized.  It is hard to believe it is the same cabin.

Given the state of business, we have taken a conservative approach to capital improvements, but we have an ample supply of paint and stain for the cabins, decks and out buildings that will have a fresh coat when the first guests arrive.

We know the season is upon us when the horses make their annual three-day trek to Wolf from the Bar 11 Ranch, their winter home.  T.J. Ferguson, Nate Schmeiser and their crew will leave Echeta on May 21st with approximately 140 horses.  Once here, they will join the 50 plus horses that spent the winter in Wolf.  In a little over a week’s time most, if not all, will have new shoes and be readied to re-enter the dude string.

We are excited here in Wolf, WY to welcome new and familiar faces for the 2010 season.  If you haven’t already considered a dude ranch vacation for this summer, it is not too late!

Spring at Eatons’ Ranch

April 1st, 2010 by Jeff Way

Is it really Spring? Here at Eatons’ Ranch, we follow the calendar very closely; not the particular days so much as the month and the season. When we flip the calendar page to March, we know there will soon be new calves on the ground and that spring is right around the corner.

Today is April 1, so we are officially eleven days into spring. This is hard for us to believe as it doesn’t seem we had much of a winter. We certainly had our share of cold weather through January, but it has been relatively mild since, and unfortunately we have had little snow. If one of our longtime guests was still able to call us about the snow pack, we wouldn’t have much to tell him.

Spring along the Bighorn Mountains can seem like winter in most other places. We typically get the majority of our snow in April, so maybe it is still on the way. It is hard to complain about this weather as the mild temperatures are great for calving, and we can get a head start on outdoor projects before the season begins.

One thing I have learned over the last 15 years is that nothing is ever good enough for ranchers when it comes to the weather. Mild dry temps are good for the calves but can be bad for the hay crop. If it does rain, it usually rains too hard to soak into the ground and much is wasted in runoff. If you have good moisture in the spring and a lot of grass to follow, then the fire danger increases as the hot days of August roll around. We can be hard to satisfy because there are so many variables at stake!

Much like everyday life, nothing goes exactly the way you want it to. There are so many things that are out of our control, and the weather is often the least of these. One thing we can control here at Eatons’ Ranch in the spring is our preparation for another guest ranch season. Before we know it, the calendar will read May 29th and we will be welcoming new and familiar faces to our home in the Wild West. We hope you can find some time to join us and enjoy a dude ranch vacation like no other. We would love to share with you our way of life and give you a true western horseback riding experience.

And we promise not to complain about the weather.