December 8, 2016

Red Cloud Ranch Says, “I Know Jo, Do You?”

By Jo Mixon

Red Cloud Ranch Bed & Breakfast

You know, every week when I visit one of our Chamber member businesses, I think it is the greatest place I’ve ever been. But the next week comes around and I find yet another member whose business is absolutely magical! This week my grandson Greg and I had the privilege of spending time with Stevie Bass and her husband Ken Gallard at the Red Cloud Ranch, their little piece of heaven on earth. Nestled in the forest high on the mountain between Angel Fire and Taos, is the Red Cloud Ranch Retreat, a rustic working cattle ranch that they open to the public in June, July, and August as a Bed & Breakfast. Serene, secluded, and sacred are the words that came to mind as they toured us around the grounds.

Twenty-two years ago, Ken and Stevie purchased the 220 acres and began restoration on an old hunting lodge, the only building on the property at the time, which dates back to the 1930’s. With their two young children in tow, they spent the first few summers living in tents as they renovated the cabin, turning it into what is now the Welcome Cabin, where guests are served a gourmet breakfast, as they look out over a brook fed trout pond to the majestic Wheeler Peak and the Sangre de Cristos Mountains.

They spent their first six years at the ranch without water or electricity! It is obvious that this ranch is a labor of love! They now have two other guesthouses, which are available for rent in the summer months. A perfect place to relax and unwind from the fast paced stress of city life, they want your stay to be a “rejuvenating and healthful experience”. With an emphasis on serving healthy natural foods, Stevie cooks using fresh organic items from her garden whenever possible. She serves only hormone free meats and no trans fats. The real secret treat I discovered is that Inn Keeper Stevie is a well-known nationally published food stylist and recipe creator. Better Homes and Gardens featured the food of Red Cloud Ranch in a June 1996 18-page spread. In my opinion, you might not want to miss her breakfast!

They also put emphasis on keeping their land as a traditional wildlife habitat. Land stewardship is what Ken calls it. No motorized vehicles are allowed past the cabins. All of the work on the ranch is done on horseback. We took a hike on the Nature Trail Stevie and Ken have cleared. It is a family friendly interpretive nature-hiking trail, complete with 55 stations along the way, with descriptions and explanations of the flora and fauna which give environmental facts about the forest. Greg’s favorite was the Ponderosa Pine Tree, or as Ken called it, the Ice-Cream Tree. A few years ago, he and Stevie were horseback riding in the forest and an aroma filled the air. They could not explain the phenomenon. He said it smelled like Jamocha Almond Fudge ice cream. Ken said he finally got off the horse and stuck his nose into the bark of the Ponderosa Pine, and sure enough, this was the source of the smell! With a little caution Greg stuck his nose to the tree and let out a joyful giggle and said, “It does!” So I had to try it, too. They are absolutely right, Jamocha Almond Fudge. I swear I could even smell the waffle cone! Also dotting their trail are many whimsical creatures that Stevie has artistically created out of wood she has found in the forest.

As an added personal pampering touch for her guests at the Ranch, Stevie provides monogrammed robes both for adults and children. And they photograph their guests, sending them the photos after their stay. This brings me to another fascinating fact I learned about our hosts. Ken has his own internationally known “sideline”. His extreme ski and lifestyle photography is published in many magazines in the US and Canada. I googled him later and found his photography to be beautifully breathtaking.

I highly recommend a stay at the Red Cloud Ranch. Included in their rates is a four-day special with the fourth day at half-priced, and a week special, with the seventh day free. Spend your days in the relaxing untouched beauty of the ranch as you hike, bike, bird watch, fish or canoe in the pond; or simply enjoy the solitude while you soak in the hot tub. Visit their website, www.redcloudranch.com for a virtual tour. Call Stevie at 575-751-0015. Tell her Jo sent you!

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