The founders of Explore Ranches spent the majority of their childhoods outdoors. Allison grew up in the shadow of El Paso’s Franklin Mountains and learned how to drive stick shift in the deep canyons of her family’s ranch in the Davis Mountains. Jesse grew up in San Antonio but split time between his family’s place at the confluence of the San Antonio and Guadalupe Rivers on the Texas coast and the clear waters of the Little Blanco River in the Texas Hill Country. Jay grew up on a working cattle ranch in South Texas, fishing the creeks and roaming the open grasslands in search of wildlife.
Each partner has spent the last thirty years trying to recapture those moments outdoors and recreate those experiences for others. Allison designed her own outdoor wellness retreat on her family’s ranch, the Withers, a place with some of the darkest skies in North America. Jesse started an international ranching institute and now runs his family’s ranching operation on the Texas coast, a place that has received the state’s highest award for land conservation. Jay spent his early twenties piloting American tourists around the disappearing Amazonian rainforest and has worked in more recent years to conserve wild places in Texas through several conservation initiatives.
The jarring reality is that today nearly 85% of Americans live in urban counties. Rural lands—the source of our food and fiber, the water that reaches our cities and oceans, the habitat for wildlife and the places that inspire us—are foreign places to many. The epidemic dislocation from the outdoors, as author Florence Williams of The Nature Fix calls it, has been occurring for the last several decades, but has gone virtually unnoticed. Everyone, including both children and adults, is spending vastly less amounts of time outside.
In the U.S., more than 145 million people participate in outdoor recreation every year and 80% of their spending goes to travel and accommodations. Currently, the majority of the nation’s land is privately owned and inaccessible to travelers. In addition, landowners are faced with increasing financial pressures and challenges to keeping their property intact and self-sustaining.
Explore Ranches exists to share the experience of wide open spaces and the work of our fellow landowners with others. Explore Ranches aims to create the same opportunities the founders had as children and continue to seek out as adults. Each one knows, and science is proving, that when we spend time in the wild, it recharges our imagination and reinvigorates our soul.
Allison, Jesse and Jay know that finding an unforgettable, private place with natural open space to share with friends, family or colleagues can be daunting, if not impossible, so they hand selected the most scenic landscapes, comfortable accommodations and memorable experiences they could find.
Every one of Explore Ranches’ getaways is exclusive, so that guests are ensured solitude. Explore Ranches offers a range of experiences, from an all-inclusive lodge and working ranch in the mountains near Steamboat Springs to a historic retreat in the Big Bend where guests can explore thousands of acres on their own.
Along with their ranch partners, Explore Ranches looks forward to sharing the best of Texas and beyond in hopes that more people find their own place in the wild.