Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bar 10, Cowboys Unlimited

Here is a great mule Story. 80 miles straight South of St. George, right near the edge of the Grand Canyon, lies Heaton's Bar 10 ranch. The Heaton family has ranched the Arizona Strip for 5 generations, but Tony and Ruby consolidated and expanded their ranch holdings to the edge of the canyon. As was common in these isolated expanses, access to the ranch house was simplified by adding an airstrip to the property. Coincidentally, about this same time tourists began running the Colorado River in rubber rafts. Soon, many hundreds of people were floating down the river through the Grand Canyon, just down-wash from the Bar 10. When cattle prices fell, and interest rates soared, Tony recognized a business opportunity in the Colorado River. By the time river rafters got to a point near his Bar 10 Ranch, they had already been on the river for seven days, the length of time most people budget for a vacation, and near a person’s maximum enjoyment of the cold water, hot sun, and camping conditions on a Colorado River raft trip. Tony offered rafting companies the option to end their trip a few days earlier – just below the climactic Lava Falls Rapid, and use his airstrip to catch flights back to Las Vegas. He quickly organized teams of mules, and he and his four young sons were soon bringing wet, sunburned, awestruck tourists up from the river to his ranch. (Italics from Bar 10 Website)

The Heaton's pulled people out of the river by mule for about 10 years. By 1985, they had built a lodge and traded mules for helicopter service which helped accomodate the ever growing numbers of rafters that visit their ranch each year.

Our boys hired on at the Bar 10 for summer work this year. I envy them. Their job is hard work, but in a vacation sort of way... We followed them around this last weekend--what a cool job! The photos show their typical day.

Flying into the Canyon (no flight on earth can compare!)

Assiting river runners and their gear onto the heli, after arranging weights for best balance

Flying back out... (I'd work for free all summer just for the heli trip)

Guiding horse and ATV tours

Telling tall tales...

Teaching guests about ranch education, "Out behind the Barn."

Washing the dinner dishes for guests and crew

Performing "Devil went down to Georgia" for after dinner show

Sharing the life with Mom

*Important note... one need not float the Colorado river to enjoy a Bar 10 experience. It's worth the drive!

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