After a gorgeous morning with Pam hiking around Mirror Lake and the Medicine Bow peak area, we stopped for an outdoor lunch at the Beartree Cafe in Centennial, and then headed south to find Deerwood Ranch. We had no idea what we were about to experience and how extraordinarily gorgeous this 4,800 acre working ranch would be (even with some smoke in the air from Wyoming Fires much to the North of us.)
The drive from the highway to the Ranch’s barns and homes was about 2 miles down the Ranch’s main dirt drive. The backdrop of the Medicine Bow National Forest and mountains was quite spectacular. The sanctuary’s operators, Rich & Jana Wilson, greeted us upon our arrival. They were super nice and we knew it was going to be a fun adventure from the start. Jana’s parents (who still live in the original ranch home on the property) purchased the 4,700 acre ranch just after Jana finished at the University of Wyoming and married Rich. Their life plans of being educators changed when Jana’s folks asked if they would consider moving out to Deerwood to learn Ranching and help them run things. The rest was history and Jana and Rich ended up full time ranchers and raising their kids right there at Deerwood. Their son has recently completed college and moved back to live at the ranch and work with them. Rich & Jana are now in their 5th year with the Wild Horse Sanctuary. They had recently added about 35 new wild horses to the existing 320 already living on the ranch.
I think the photos will tell our story from here … we shared the tour with a couple of retired couples … and the wind definitely reminded us that we were in Wyoming ! The tour was about 2 hours long. We learned a lot, saw tons of beautiful horses, and the landscape of the ranch was pretty much heaven to me. I could only imagine its beauty in the Winter and early summer months. It was so interesting that I came back and got online to learn more. I found this video which I recommend if you have any interest in this part of the history of Wild Horses in the American West and the role that the Bureau of Land Management plays in all of this today. Watch video. More info: https://www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro
Deerwood Ranch is the very first BLM Certified Wild Horse EcoSanctuary. What this means is that they are private land owners approved by the BLM to care for wild horses. Deerwood Ranch is a family owned operation that has been used for cattle ranching for 30 years.
With the growing need to maintain the numbers of wild horses and with dwindling grazing available in the wild, the BLM (Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior) has turned to private land owners for help. There are 16 wild horse herd management areas in Wyoming alone, operated by the BLM on public properties. I believe they told us that there are only 3 or 4 Sanctuaries in the U.S.
– the two Scruffies