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Front Page » September 4, 2003 » Castle Country Day Tripping » The Hills are Alive
Published 4,046 days ago

The Hills are Alive


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By KEN LARSON
Sun Advocate publisher

High above the desert floor sits a mountain paradise with views of mountain ranges, river valleys, rocky canyons and flat deserts that stretch out hundreds of miles in every direction.

Sitting among the groves of quaky aspens amidst the delicate wild flowers that dot the underbrush are miles of lush green meadows. The paradise is the West Tavaputs Plateau in eastern Carbon county and the ranch site is Castle Country's premier destination guest ranch.

At any moment one could expect Julie Andrews to come dancing through the meadows with the Von Trapp children. The mountain views resemble scenes from the Sound of Music and the air is definitely filled with magic.

Tavaputs Ranch has provided guests with these great views, delicious food and a wonderful cowboy experience since the mid 1950's.

Tavaputs means sunrise in the Ute Indian language and spectacular sunrises can be seen from the front porch of the guest ranch house, an oasis of beauty that sits 9,400 feet above sea level.

Just below the lodge is Desolation Canyon, deeper than the Grand Canyon at Rock Creek. The drainage from the lodge has a vertical rise from river to Plateau of more than 5,000 feet.

Watching the sunrise over the steep canyons and distant Colorado mountains, smelling freshly brewed coffee, guests gather in the front yard and take their turn looking through a large telescope at five-point elk grazing on the lush meadows across the canyon.

The guest ranch is owned and operated by Butch and Jeanie Jensen and their children Tate and Jenni. The younger Jensens are the fifth generation that have ranched on the West Tavaputs mountain. Jeanie's parents, Don and Jeanette Wilcox began the guest ranch as a hunting operation and ran it until 1990.

The Jensens purchased the operation and have continued running it since then.

The Jensens openly share their way of ranch life with their guests. It's a real thing: cattle, horses, fences, home-style cooking, all part of the facilities offered at the Tavaputs Plateau Ranch. Dude ranch visitors become family quickly as they settle into the comfort and casual atmosphere of the family.

The Jensens overlap work and play as they mingle and get to know the new friends.

Following a delicious breakfast of French toast and bacon the guests often take a quiet walk alone on the ridge over soft green meadows or watch the sunrise over aspen groves and deep canyons. The front yard is a breathtaking vantage point.

While the guests relax after a hearty breakfast Tate Jensen gathers horses for the morning ride. As soon as they are saddled the guests are introduced to their riding companions. With names like Hot Shot, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Merrell, Concho, Buck, Petie, Dollar, Smoke, P.W. and RePete, one by one the visitors mount the horses. Already familiar with the horses by this point the talk circulates of who gets to ride George, the infamous white mule. He might be slow but he's dependable.

The horses trail through the wonderland of aspen and pine trees, lush mountain grasses and carpeted with flowers. Wild flowers like lapin, columbine, scarlet Gila, wild flax and Indian paintbrush brings the fields alive.

The wind rustles through the silver dollar leaves of the quaky trees and the guests slowly make their way over the gently rolling hills. On some trips large herds of elk graze in the valleys below. Wildlife is plentiful with bear, elk, deer, and mountain lions. However, mountain lions are rarely seen and bear usually hang out in the deep canyons. Elk herds are surpassing the deer population on the mountain.

The only people who see this spectacular country are white water rafters, ranch guests and families and friends of the Jensens.

The West Tavaputs sits smack in the middle of geological wonders.

The panorama view at the south end of the plateau called Black Hills Point looks into Trail Canyon on the East, Range Creek on the West, and Gray Canyon to the south. This point is part of the old McPherson ranch, Jeanie's great-grandparents. It is now owned by Vale and Gust Himonas, who bought it in the mid 1920's.

From that point one can see the canyon where the Green River and Price River meet and as guests pan the horizons in all directions hundreds of miles can be seen on a clear day. Below the vantage point is the San Rafael Swell, the LaSal Mountains, the Blue Mountains, Henry Mountains and the western edge of Colorado. East of Desolation Canyon is the Ute Indian reservation.

For the perfect vacation or weekend getaway, family reunion or corporate retreat the Tavaputs Ranch is putting together their fall schedule and will soon be looking at spring. Butch or Jeanie Jensen can be reached at 435-637-1236. or www.tavaputsranch.com.


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September 4, 2003
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