Farmstay U.S. Blog

Created for and by travelers and the farmers, these posts will cover a variety of topics related to farm stays in the U.S.

Wilson Ranches Retreat: ride 9,000 acres and dig fossils in Oregon

Wilson Ranches RetreatWilson 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 Wilson:

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 it?

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 Central Oregon.

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 about-history-right-side-bottom-image
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 generations.

4.     You follow a "green-friendly, twice-over" grazing program. Could you tell us how this works?

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 captivate you.

welcome-right-side-bottom-imageOur 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 Mt. Rainer).

6.    What do people see and do while there?

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? about-main-top-image

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 degrees.

9.     What's on your breakfast menu?

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).

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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.

1 comment for “Wilson Ranches Retreat: ride 9,000 acres and dig fossils in Oregon”

  1. Posted Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 10:43:58 AM

    My husband would love the Wilson Ranches Retreat! Every year we alternate where we go and what we do on vacation. This year is my year and we are going Gauley River rafting in West Virginia. I can't wait, I have never done anything like that before. I am going to have to send this post to him, I know he is going to want to come here next year! Thanks for sharing!

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