A slice of heaven in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains, Paradise Ranch will keep you coming back.
by Mark Bedor
Their names are lost to history, and we don’t know when it happened. But the Western legend still remains of that day long ago, when a pair of Wyoming cowboys topped a ridge line, gazed down into a valley and declared, “Man! This is paradise!”
For anyone who’s ever had the good fortune to visit the 160-acre slice of heaven in the Bighorn Mountains known as Paradise Guest Ranch, that story rings true.
“It’s aptly named,” said Dick Schwaab, visiting the ranch from Wisconsin with his wife to celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary with their large family. “What’s not to like?
“It’s the one place where you say, ‘Where should we go?’ And everyone says, ‘The Ranch! The Ranch!’ ”
It’s easy to see why. Paradise Ranch lies in a pristine oasis of private land in a bowl-shaped valley surrounded by a million acres of national forest outside Buffalo, Wyoming. The teepees of the Cheyenne once dotted the meadows here.
The ranch was founded in the 1890s, when cattleman Norman Meldrum began summering his herd in the valley. He loved the area so much, he built a cabin that still stands today and acquired a deed to the property. More cabins were built for visiting friends. The first paying guests arrived in 1907, and Paradise Guest Ranch was born.
More than a century later, this unique hideaway is as inviting as ever. Cabins are nestled into a mountainside, looking out on a lush valley, with landmark Fan Rock highlighting the opposite slope.
“Through its verdant meadows meandered a singing trout stream,” wrote author Aldo Leopold of his visit here in his 1949 classic, A Sand County Almanac. “After my first visit to Paradise Ranch, I remarked to myself, ‘What else could you call it?’ ”
French Creek is the name of that stream, where it’s not uncommon to spot moose enjoying their breakfast at sunrise. And the water is alive with trout. Early one morning, guides Dan Towsley and Jacob Friesen wade in the chilly, clear water to demonstrate why here at Paradise, they call it ‘catchin’,’ not fishing.
“Just gotta get the fly in the water,” Dan said, as he lands yet another, “and you’re rewarded with a beautiful trout.”
This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Winter 2022 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.