Wilson Ranches Retreat is our
featured ranch stay of the month! The ranch is a 9,000 acre cattle
ranch in Fossil, Oregon, with plenty of opportunity for scenic
horseback rides and cattle roundups, hiking, and scouring for
prehistoric fossils. The Wilson Family has deep roots in the area
and a fascinating story. Here's our interview with Nancy
1. The Wilson Family came to
ranch in the Oregon Territories by traveling the Oregon Trail back
in the 1800s. Do you know much about their trek and why they made
Phil and Nancy's families homesteaded in Wheeler and Gilliam
Counties in the 1870's. They travelled on the Oregon Trail in
the early 1850's to the Willamette Valley before coming to North
2. What made you want to continue
your families' ranching tradition?
Love of the land and Phil didn't have enough sense to
leave. Phil came home to the ranch
after graduation from college. This is a great life and the
Blessings are many!
3. How has ranching changed over
the 150+ years your family has been ranching?
Wilson Ranches has gone from the horse-drawn age to the
combustion mechanical age to the computer age. The only
aspect of ranching that has been little affected is the cattle
operation. The LE brand has been in the family for four
4. You follow a "green-friendly,
twice-over" grazing program. Could you tell us how this
Wilson Ranches follows a "green-friendly, twice over" grazing
program to increase grass production. Each pasture is grazed,
rested, and grazed again in a rotational system with multiple
pastures. Wilson Ranches is managing the resources of the
ranch for future generations.
5. What kind of experience does
your ranch offer guests?
The deck at Wilson Ranches Retreat is a great place to watch the
cattle or deer grazing. The Retreat is shaded by trees, which
are often alive with a variety of birds as this is a songbird
migratory route. This incredible secluded scenic area with
spectacular sunsets and brilliant star-studded nights will
Our guests enjoy horseback riding in a geologically
and historically rich area of Wheeler County, or a quiet hike to
view the wildlife and diverse plant life on Wilson Ranches.
Guests are welcome to help move cattle from mid-spring to late
fall. A 4-Wheel Drive Sunset Tour is also available.
This tour is approximately five hours and will give you a
magnificent view of the Cascade Mountain Range (Three Sisters to
6. What do people see and do while
Wilson Ranches Retreat is a great place to headquarter your
exploration of the Clarno, Sheep Rock and Painted Hills Units of
the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. It has the
richest find of prehistoric fossils in the world. Public
fossil digging is available behind Wheeler High School in the town
of Fossil. The John Day River offers world-class small mouth
bass fishing and river rafting trips.
7. Could you describe the
landscape, flora, and fauna around your ranch?
Wilson Ranches is a diverse area with an extreme mixture of
geologies with formations from 50 million years ago to the present
time. Rolling hills to deep basalt canyons, high lava ridges
and buttes with amazing views of the Cascade and Blue Mountain
Ranges. The landscape is covered with wild flowers in the
spring and early summer.
8. What's the climate like?
The climate is semi-arid with an annual average rainfall from 12
to 16 inches per year. Temperatures in the winter are usually
mild but can go as low as 15 degrees below zero for short
periods of time. Summer temperatures vary from 70 to 100
9. What's on your breakfast
Breakfast is served family style each morning at 8:00 am with
the Wilson Family sharing their experience of life on the ranch and
interesting and entertaining stories by Phil. The breakfast
menu includes bacon (sausage, ham or beef little smokies), farm
fresh eggs, biscuits (blueberry muffins, coffee cake or German
pancakes), fruit, and Bob's Red Mill oatmeal with all the fixin's
(pecans, brown sugar, raisins and craisins).
For more information on Wilson Ranches Retreat, visit their Farm Stay U.S.
listing and their website. All photos
on this blog are courtesy Wilson Ranches Retreat.