Flying W Ranch celebrates its seventieth season


Take off the cowboy hat and mosey on down: the Fly W Ranch in Colorado Springs reopens on Thursday, May 26, offering its Chuckwagon Supper and Original Western Stage Show for a seventieth season.

The Flying W stands on the farm where Don Wilson moved his family and a whole bunch of cows in 1947. His daughter Marian and her husband, Russ Wolfe, soon followed to help the business. The family began offering locals horseback rides followed by campfire suppers, rich in smoked meats, in 1953. Increasingly, the Flying W also served live music. The Flying W Wranglers got their start here in 1957, producing party vinyl records at the ranch over the years and performing with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, among other bands.

Soon the crowds of customers vastly outnumbered the horses. A replica of a Wild West village has replaced the horse-riding attraction, with demonstrations of Indian rug weaving, blacksmithing and other vintage skills. About thirty buildings stand, from a school to a miniature train depot, as well as a few tepees. Marian Wilson Wolfe died in 1999, but Russ and the Wolfe family kept their hands on the reins.

It all came to a screeching halt on June 26, 2012, when the Waldo Canyon Fire swept through, leaving only a small building and a tepee still standing in the West Village. Millions of dollars, including donations and grants, and a lot of hard work finally produced a new facility with good improved fire mitigation in the area. Towards the end of the restoration project, Russ died in 2019, aged 94.

Click to enlarge

Russ Wolfe continued family traditions at the Flying W.

W-steering wheel

“He didn’t see it finished, but he could see the restoration plans,” says Leigh Ann Wolfe, his daughter and current ranch owner. “I had this saying of Tennyson stuck to my steering wheel for five years: ‘It’s better to have tried and failed than to live your life wondering what would have happened if I had tried.’ He fell just when it was all over.

Of course, the ranch’s triumphant reopening in 2020 came up against the COVID pandemic. The Wolfe family held on, gathering 18,000 visitors that season. This year they plan to offer the Chuckwagon Supper and the Original Western Stage Show until September 20th.

It’s not all western swing and nostalgia these days, though. There is now a Flying W Ranch Foundation, its primary mission “dedicated to stabilization, mitigation and rehabilitation of the burnt area of ​​Waldo Canyon in order to educate and protect the community regarding flooding and conservation”.

The Flying W Ranch is located at 3330 Chuckwagon Road Road in Colorado Springs and opens for the season May 26. Admission is free for children under four, $30 for ages four through twelve, $65 for general admission, and $60 for ages 65 and older, active duty and retired military. For information and tickets, call 719-598-4000 or visit flyingw.com.

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