Dude ranch in danger of closing
Published Tuesday, July 3, 2012 5:43PM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 3, 2012 7:50PM MDT
A western outfitter west of the city has seen a huge drop in bookings over the last few months and may hang up the reins for good if it can’t attract more tourism dollars.
Dave Richards is a guide, outfitter and the owner of Saddle Peak Trail Rides.
He has been in business for 34 years and says business usually picks up when its Stampede time, but not this year.
“Usually our Stampede week is filled and sold out back by February, and this year unfortunately it's not, and to be honest we're running scared,” said Richards.
Richards was looking forward to the 100th anniversary of the Stampede to shine the spotlight on western culture and activities, but he's just not seeing bookings from clients south of the border or from the UK.
The ranch has seen an 80 percent drop in back country trips alone and now Richards is struggling to pay the bills.
” Fortunately I've got family helping me, but if I had to pay staff right now I probably couldn't do it, well, I can't even pay myself, you know it's bad when you can't afford tires for your pickup truck,” said Richards.
Richards was raised in the Rockies and started the ranch on his father’s homestead in 1978.
The rustic ranch is nestled along the eastern slopes of Banff National Park, northwest of Cochrane, and offers visitors a glimpse of the wild west.
The ranch will host a large group of visitors from Ontario on Wednesday but Richards says July and August have lots of openings and other outfitters are also reporting slow times.
The Saddle Peak operation offers pack trips and trail rides, company and convention Bar-B-Ques, and cabin rentals for those who want to get away from it all.
For more information, visit the Saddle Peak Trail Rides website