Elk Are Back At Wind Walker Guest Ranch – Press Release 1/12/2004

DATE 1/12/2004 7:15 AM

This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89.

Elk Are Back At Wind Walker Guest Ranch

Sent: Monday, January 12, 2004 7:13 AMThe elk are back! The elk are back! Loretta Johnson wanted to shout it from the tops of the mountains that tower over her Wind Walker Guest Ranch in Spring City.

Elk watching is one of the ranch owners’ favorite wintertime activities, and one she loves to share with guests who visit Wind Walker, located on 994 acres of land at the 6000 foot level of Manti-Lasal National Forest s hills. But after a deprivation hunt that lasted from mid-November through December, Johnson was worried that there may not be as many elk, especially males, around this year.

“During the hunt, I would go outside and tell the elk to stay among the juniper trees,” she says with a laugh. “I was afraid they weren’t listening. But last night, as I was coming home, there was a six-point buck standing right at the end of the driveway. I was so happy.”

Johnson loves to take her guests out elk watching at night, when the animals come down from the mountains to eat hay in the fields and sharpen their horns on the trees. For many people, creeping out on a moonlit winter night and crouching down among the trees to watch elk make their way down from the mountains is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, she says. “It’s dark outside, the snow is bright and fresh, it’s just beautiful.”

During the winter months, people often come to the ranch to escape the inversions and just “get out of the city,” Johnson says. For other winter guests, just being around snow is something new. “We had two families her over the weekend from Jacksonville, Florida. They just came up to play in the snow and see winter in Utah. They all had a great time. They just sent me an email that said “we’re back home now, and it’s 74 degrees.”

In addition to elk watching, Johnson keeps her wintertime guests entertained with activities such as ice skating on outdoor ponds, cross-country skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, wagon rides and other snow-related games and activities. “It really is a winter wonderland,” Johnson says. “Sometimes we will take guests out snowmobiling and build a fire right in a snow mound and roast marshmallows and hot dogs.”

She also plans special events, such as an upcoming Murder Mystery weekend, where guests use role-playing and clues to figure out “who shot the sheriff.” “Everybody plays a part and people seem to have a great time,” Johnson says. She also hosts singles weekends, which attract people from all around the state, along with “Pack and Pamper” specials that include a day of roughing it camping in the mountains, followed by a day of being pampered with massages, facials and yoga.

During the summer, Wind Walkers’ horse back riding program is a big attraction, along with fishing and hiking. The ranch is also the home of a special children’s camp, which Johnson founded after her then nine-year-old daughter was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. It includes a number of special programs for children that incorporate play and activities with learning and therapy.

For additional information about elk watching and the Wind Walker Guest Ranch, contact Loretta Johnson at (435)462-0282.

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For more information Contact:Monte Bona
Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council
(435) 462-2502
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