Road Stories

Royal Retreat

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

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Nestled 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


Oliver 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 Ranch

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.

Last 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.

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Sandra 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 2018 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.

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O.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
Paul’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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