While the Hill Country’s reputation for Texas firsts continues to grow, for example, first vineyard, first olive orchard, etc., one ranch appeals to tourists not through the new attractions it promises, but through the old. Enchanted Springs Ranch in Boerne resurrects the Old West in all its three-dimensional grit and glory for visitors every week – with a twist. Situated on 86 acres of working ranchland, Enchanted Springs is no run-of-the-mill dude ranch. While other area ranches offer modern-day rodeos and roundups, Enchanted Springs takes you back in time to a scene straight out of the Wild West, with 60 fully erected frontier style buildings, a pistol-packing show to rival Annie Oakley, chuck wagon dinners and an exotic animal park.
“Retirement just didn’t work out for me,” says owner Steve Schmidt, one half of the marriage and partnership that are responsible for this 2008 Oprah Winfrey “Wacky Family Attractions” top pick, rated just below Legoland. Schmidt built the entire park himself, beginning over eight years ago after retiring from a long and varied career path. Tinkering around on the ranch and motivated by a life-long draw to all things cowboy which began in childhood, Steve built the first few buildings on a whim. Encouraged by the reactions of friends and family, what began as a hobby quickly turned to an obsession and Schmidt just kept on building. The ranch now proudly boasts over 60 buildings or facades, some of which open into a large dance hall.
Thanks to Steve’s hard work, Enchanted Springs is “quickly becoming the preferred western movie set in Texas”, boasting a long list of film and television credits, including two award-winning movies and another due out in 2010 titled Legend of Hell’s Gate. But Steve is most excited about the ranch’s appearance on an episode of motivational speaker Tony Robbins’ debut reality show, set to air in July on NBC primetime. “They had me counsel the couple for six days before Tony showed up,” Steve says proudly. And it’s no wonder. One look around Enchanted Springs Ranch and it’s clear: Steve Schmidt has no trouble being motivated.
Steve isn’t the only inspirational marvel at Enchanted Springs though. Pistol Packin’ Paula is the ranch’s main attraction and she’ll be there whenever you visit the ranch. Paula is a two-time World Champion pistol twirler and is the only woman to achieve that status, as well as the only professional female pistol twirler. Paula performs several times a week after the chuck wagon dinner with her trick horse, aweing the crowds with her twirling and shooting abilities. In addition, the ranch’s own trick miniature horse performs, and kids compete in a ‘Pony Express Obstacle Course’ while adults are arrested nightly for mock warrants written by friends and family. “It’s all very humorous and silly,” Steve says of the arrests and warrants.
Enchanted Springs Ranch offers tours year round, where adults and kids can get a close-up look at the Old West, learn a little about our Texas heritage and enjoy the ranch’s unique menagerie, including a herd of Texas Longhorns, buffalo, elk, zebra, and even Oryx, an endangered African species similar to the gazelle. Events can be coordinated and hosted on site, from corporate affairs to birthday parties. Lodging is available in an 1800’s log cabin bed and breakfast. Reservations are required to attend the summer show and chuck wagon dinner. Additional information can be found by visiting www.enchantedspringsranch.com or by calling 800-640-5917.