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.
“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.
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 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.
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!