Do you recall when you were little and were asked “what would you like to be when you grow-up?” At age 3 my answer was that I wanted to grow-up to be a “black stallion.” My love of horses went so deep as for me to desire to be as strong, beautiful & free-spirited as are the wild horses that roam far northwest Colorado.
Pat Mantle was my hero for the simple fact that he owned, what seemed then to be, the most horses in the whole world. As an adult I learned that the Mantles settled in the area now known as Dinosaur National Monument. The Mantle ranch in Hell’s Canyon along the Yampa River was the headquarters for their horse and cattle operation. Horse-whispers before the term was coined, the Mantles would round-up the wild mustangs that still thrive in the region and tame them to the saddle for sale back East or for use in the family’s Sombrero Stables dude and trail horse operation.
The Mantle ranch remains the only private inholding within the over 200,000 acres of Dinosaur National Monument. Their story is recounted by Queeda Mantle Walker in her books, “The Mantle Ranch” & “Last Ranch in Hells Canyon.” The Monument is usually better known for the 80 acre dinosaur quarry in Utah. Those 80 acres were expanded 75 years ago, protecting landscapes far beyond the bones and including lands that surround the historic Mantle ranch. The expansion created friction between the Mantle family and the National Park Service, but it also preserved a culturally and environmentally important part of our State.
You can see the canyons and rivers and historic ranches of Dinosaur National Monument by joining us on one of our Beyond the Bones Tours.The next tour is as on August 25th. The tour is free, but we do require registration to assist in logistics. Please register by this Friday August 23rd.
The drive on August 25th will take us out on the Harper’s Corner Road, down to Echo Park along the river and then out across the Yampa Bench Road where we will have the chance to see the Mantle ranch at Hell’s Canyon.
For me this place is as close to sacred ground as it gets. The place where my family played and where my personal western heroes scrapped-out a living by taming the abundant wild horses. I will be joined by a handful of local characters who are as eager to share their stories as I am to share more of mine. We hope you’ll join us Beyond the Bones!
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