: : Some history; our philosophy : :
|“Treat the land lightly. Remember that we are borrowing its use from our children.”
Our guest ranch is unique a family-owned piece of land in the middle of the wilderness. It has been in private hands since 1885; the current owners have operated it since 1953.
The ranch was first opened for use by the vacationing public in 1940. At that time, it was called the Diamond D Guest Ranch. Prior to that it was used every summer by cattlemen and shepherds who drove their herds into the high-country meadows clear into what is now Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. Even earlier, American Indians from the east side of the Sierra came over Paiute Pass on their way to trade with the tribes in the foothills near Auberry. One of their major summer-use campsites was in what is now called Blayney Meadow on the western-most part of the ranch.
Later still, the area became a mecca for people traveling on foot or horseback. In 1947 the Muir Trail was completed and became one of the most popular trails in the United States, attracting thousands of users every summer. After peaking in popularity in the mid-1970s, traffic has slowed to such an extent that some hikers report going for a week without seeing another soul along the trail, a special treat for European hikers weary of the crowds in the Alps.
The oldest building on the ranch is what we call the “Shipp Shake” cabin. It was built of hand-hewn logs and hand-split pine shakes by one of the ranch’s original owners, the Shipp family, around 1895. Sallie Keyes Lakes are named for Sallie Keyes Shipp, their daughter.
The name of the ranch was changed to distinguish it from the half-dozen other Diamond D Ranches in the western United States. In 1959 our “new” hydroelectric power plant (originally made in the mid-1920s) was installed, providing the ranch with over 60,000 watts of electricity.
Many of the local landmarks (Sallie Keyes and Heart Lakes, among others) were named by two longtime ranch visitors, a college president and Yosemite National Park’s first doctor, an acquaintance of John Muir. A frequent guest who was one of Walt Disney’s lead animators got increased understanding of how animals moved and acted while he enjoyed his annual stay at the ranch (he also made some memorable “trail ducks” that looked like ducks, dogs, and Mickey Mouse).
In the 1940s, movie legends Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were guests. The daughter of president Franklin Roosevelt helped wash dishes. We have hosted people from around the world; authors, teachers, doctors, filmmakers, songwriters, artists, scientists, bankers people whose work you would recognize immediately have graced our dining table over the decades.
We have offered the ranch for public use because we believe that America’s wild lands should be experienced by people so they don’t lose touch with the things that inspired generations of our ancestors. An outdoor program on the Discovery Channel or the manicured lawn and neatly-trimmed trees of an urban park aren’t a good substitute for the real thing the wild land in its natural state that surrounds us.
Make the ranch your wilderness base camp. Pick one of the following three options.