Royal Retreat

Canyon Ranch is fit for a queen and travelers seeking solace in the Big Horn Mountains.

Jennifer Denison
February 9, 2018

170603 RW CanyonRanch004Nestled in the Big Horn mountains of northern Wyoming, Canyon Ranch offers spectacular views while hiking, fishing, viewing wildflowers or bird-watching. Photo by Jennifer Denison

When I meet people while on the road for Western Horseman, I’m frequently asked, “So your job is just going around to ranches and talking to people and taking pictures?” While that is partially true, there is the other part of my job—the part that consumes the majority of my time–that involves taking those interviews and photographs and compiling them into stories for the magazine and website. This often happens in hotel rooms and coffee shops while on the road.

OliverOliver Henry “O.H.” Wallop founded Canyon Ranch in the 1880s and raised horse for polo and the British Army’s remount program during the Boer War and World War I. Photo courtesy of Canyon RanchLast June while on a 14-day road trip to northern Wyoming and southeastern Montana, I was in the middle of intensely wrapping up research and writing a feature for our August issue about the Tejon Ranch in California. I was in search of a quiet place to stay where I could fit in writing time between gathering stories. Paul and Sandra Wallop invited me to stay at Canyon Ranch in Big Horn, Wyoming. The 3,000-acre ranch was founded in the 1880s by Paul’s great-great grandfather, Oliver Henry “O.H.” Wallop, who was the son of the fifth Earl of Portsmouth in Great Britain. Even Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain visited the ranch in 1984 and learned about its rich polo and Thoroughbred heritage. If the ranch is fit for the Queen, then it’s certainly fit for a Western Horseman editor.

I had visited the ranch in 2011 with artist Carrie Ballantyne, who often photographs her subjects in the stone barn on the ranch, but I really didn’t notice the ranch’s peacefulness and spectacular scenery until I spent a couple of days there at the dining room table looking out into a lush meadow while reading, writing and editing photographs on a tight deadline. Had it not been for the solace and inspiration I found in the quaint Foreman’s House on Canyon Ranch, I’m not sure the story would’ve turned out as well as it did, or even got done in time.

170603 RW CanyonRanch0010Sandra and Paul Wallop are your hosts at Canyon Ranch. Paul is the fourth generation of his family to operate the ranch and an avid fisherman. Sandra enjoy riding her horses and is interested in reining.

In the February issue there is an article about the history of the ranch and its ties to British royalty and the popular television series Downton Abbey. Here are some photos and extra tidbits of information about the ranch, as well as a list of my list of recommended events and places to check out should you decide to book a stay at Canyon Ranch.

170603 RW CanyonRanch006O.H. created the ranch’s Marguerite daisy brand in honor of his wife, Marguerite. The brand has been passed down four generations and continues to be a symbol of the ranch’s heritage. Photo by Jennifer Denison

MalcolmPaul’s father, Malcolm Wallop operated Canyon Ranch while serving three terms in the Wyoming senate from 1977 to 1995. Photo courtesy of Canyon Ranch

Three vacation homes are available on the ranch: the Foreman’s House, Hay Meadow House and Canyon Ranch Lodge.

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Detours & Destinations

Canyon Ranch is minutes from the hamlet of Big Horn and 15 minutes from Sheridan, Wyoming, a Mecca for cowboys. Here are some must-see events and places to help plan your visit to northern Wyoming. For more events and tourism information, visit sheridanwyoming.org or travelwyoming.com.

  • Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show, May 18-20, Holiday Inn, Sheridan, Wyoming. Emerging and established craftsmen from all over the world participate in workshops and showcase their work at the annual trade show. 
  • Bots Sots Remount horse sale, June 2, Kendrick Mansion: Trail End Sate Historic Park, Sheridan, Wyoming. Produced by Ike Sankey, the sale features approximately 50 consigned horses that excel on the ranch, in performance classes or on the trail. botsotsremount.com
  • Buck Brannaman Colt Starting Clinic, June 7-10, Houlihan Ranch, Sheridan, Wyoming. For $30 per day, spectators can watch 30 horsemen selected by Brannaman to start 30 colts with four days of personal instruction. houlihanranch.com
  • WYO Rodeo, July 11-14, Sheridan, Wyoming. Top competitors in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association will compete at the 88th-annual event. There are also Indian relay races, street dances, a carnival midway and more. sheridanwyorodeo.com
  • Don King Days, Labor Day weekend, Big Horn Equestrian Center, Big Horn, Wyoming. This action-packed weekend includes polo, steer roping, bronc riding and wild cow milking competition. thebhec.org/donkingsdays.htm
  • Tom Balding Bits & Spurs offers tours of its store and shop in Sheridan. tombalding.com
  • Brinton Museum is located on the historic Quarter Circle A Ranch in Big Horn, which was owned by rancher and businessman Bradford Britton. It features exhibits of old and contemporary cowboy, ranching and American Indian art and artifacts, and a tour of Britton’s ranch house. thebrintonmuseum.org
  • King’s Saddlery, King Ropes and the Don King Museum, is a Western gear experience. The store carries hundreds of ropes, saddles, bits and other cowboy gear needs. Don’t miss the gear exhibits in the Don King Museum, named for the legendary saddle maker and store founder. kingssaddlery.com
  • The Mint Bar has been a favorite cowboy watering hole in Sheridan since it opened in 1907. Check out the old photographs, taxidermy and more than 9,000 Wyoming ranch brands burned into the wall. mintbarwyo.com

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Tags: WyomingSheridan WyomingGuest RanchBig HornsCanyon Ranch