The Red Corral Guest Ranch between Wimberley and Blanco is one of the most beautiful and diverse in the entire Hill Country, and perhaps all of Texas.
In 1997, Colleen and James Reeves opened their 1,100-acre ranch to the public and began hosting weddings, reunions, workshops, business meetings, and people searching for serenity.
“It’s a place where people can learn and rest. People from the city often don’t realize how good it is to get out, how peaceful life can be,” Colleen explains.
Guests may choose from several rooms in the Limestone Lodge, or Colleen’s Cottage, Deerview Cottage, Meadows Cottage, or the Stillpoint Cabin.
Colleen and James bought the ranch back in 1969, using it as a retreat from Austin, raising some cattle, hunting some deer, and having friends out to visit the heavily wooded rolling hills and burbling creeks. But something was missing.
“I wanted to be a part of something more,” Colleen says. “There had to be more than just keeping this for ourselves.”
The Reeves opened the guest lodge, built a giant labyrinth, and work with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to keep track of animals and plants on the land, James says.
They graze many head of cattle. They’ve gone to great lengths to make the ranch inviting to rare bird species such as the endangered black-capped vireo. They have several bluebird nesting boxes.
“We’re putting up a whole lot these days,” Colleen laughs. “Not just people, but birds, cattle, deer, all sorts of critters. We’re proud that we do the best we can to preserve nature and make people happy at the same time.”
At first, the Reeves lived in Austin where James had his medical practice, but they eventually sold that house and built a new one on a hilltop at Red Corral Ranch.
Quaint, quiet rooms in the Limestone Lodge are filled with antiques and personal items, some with bath areas built behind rock walls. A spacious dining room and restful living room with its miniature cavern above the fireplace add to the charm and comfort while the butterfly garden lures the multi-colored, ephemeral insects.
An inviting pool is nearby.
Colleen’s Cottage is a two-bedroom hideaway atop a hill. A sunset porch and nearby watering hole assures visitors relaxation and wildlife observation. Other cabins — Deerview Meadows and Stillpoint — are all located in secluded copses of trees.
The crowning jewel of the ranch, though, is the smallest: Stillpoint Cabin. This is a retreat in the woods — way back in the woods, more than a mile from the main house — the perfect place for a romantic retreat or a peaceful getaway. Inside are a kitchen and loft with a king size bed beneath a skylight that allows stargazing.
James and son Donald built this cabin without knowing how to build a building. They would drive to a building site, observe what the professionals were doing, then return to Stillpoint and try to recreate what they had seen, James explains with a proud smile.
“He was about 16 years old then, “ James says. “It was a bonding experience.”
Colleen spent 40 days alone in the cabin a little while back.
“It was time for me to come to a full stop and rest,” she says. “I went out there and read, listened to tapes, worked outside. It was a chance to be silent and listen. I had never watched the stars move across the sky before. At first, I was so homesick it hurt in my soul, but at the end, I didn’t want to leave. It was a wonderful experience and it changed me in many ways.”
The ranch also has a large pavilion, a cookhouse, and the big Red Party Barn that make special events and celebrations, reunions, and weddings a piece of cake.
“Weddings are becoming a big part of the ranch now,” Colleen says. “They’re fun. It’s so exciting because it’s a happy time for everyone.”
She says they average about 52 weddings a year. The ranch is so popular with newlyweds that about half of them keep coming back. One couple returns about every other month.
The Reeves quest for restoration of the soul is also reflected in their large wooden labyrinth, a replica of the famous one in the Chartres Cathedral in France, built single-handedly by Donald.
“The turns represent the turns of life, the pathways life can take,” James says. “It’s a very spiritual experience.”
The ranch also has several miles of maintained hiking trails, mostly alongside the creek that meanders across the spread.
“I practically beg people who come out to put on their hiking boots and get out on the trail,” Colleen says.
For Colleen, getting to know her neighbors and working with locals for catering and flowers and art work, and working with the ranch staff have been the most enjoyable aspect of running Red Corral as a guest ranch.
“I really love them all,” she says. “I’m so grateful for them.”
For James, meeting the wide diversity of people who come to the ranch has been the most enjoyable aspect of Red Corral. He also learned how to cook by taking lessons in the cookhouse.
“I’ve learned a lot. I was surprised how much it’s like surgery,” he says. “Do this, do that and get a great result. Plus I discovered the greatest invention of mankind is the gas grill.”
Colleen echoes her husband’s sentiments with deep appreciation.
“In Austin he never even buttered his own toast,” she laughs. “One day I came in the house and he’d made a blackberry cobbler from berries on the ranch. It was marvelous.”
But that sort of thing shouldn’t be a surprise at the Red Corral Ranch. After all, as Colleen notes, “This is a place to nurture people and the land itself.”
The Red Corral Ranch is located at 505 Red Corral Ranch Road between Wimberley and Blanco off Ranch Road 2325. For more information, call 866-833-4801 or visit the web site at RedCorralRanch.com.