The Covered Wagon Ranch has been blessed with thousands of amazing guests since our doors first opened almost 100 years ago. In that time, we’ve seen generations of families visit the ranch year after year. We’ve seen guests arrive as infants, and continue visiting until they have babies of their own. One of the most special things about the ranch is that the minute you arrive, you become family, and it’s a gift to see that family grow every year.
Of all our guests, some have been visiting for so many years that they are truly part of the history of the ranch. None more so than Bill and Lyn Reed, owners of Everbright Farm in TN, who first came to the ranch in the late 1980s and have been blessing us with their wit, advice, and support ever since. They’ve known the Covered Wagon even longer than Kurt has! In hopes to memorialize these two brilliant people and their place in CWR history, we sat down with them to ask all of our burning questions:
Q: You two are the longest continuous guests at the ranch. How long have you been coming?
A: Since 1989. That’s 34 years this year. A couple of times Lyn came twice a year. And we’ll be back next year for 35!
Q: How did you originally find out about the CWR? What made you decide on a guest ranch?
A: We learned about the ranch from a friend in Memphis. In the 1980s, several families we knew were regular Covered Wagon Ranch visitors.
Q: What is your favorite memory at the ranch?
A: It’s always the people we meet and the staff: Wranglers, chefs, housekeepers, and of course, the owners. Vic, Will, and now Melissa and Kurt. Then of course there’s the horses, the rides, and all other fun activities including fishing and hiking (Bill is an expert fly fisherman).
Q: You’ve seen quite a few owners. Tell us your favorite thing about each one of them.
A: Our favorite thing about Vic (Benson Jr.) is that he was a historian. He knew everything about the valley, and was a really mesmerizing storyteller. He could also really make you laugh. Will King had a lot of vision regarding the horses and the trails. He was the best trail blazer and always willing to try new trails. He was also responsible for the building of the lodge, which was genius. Debi and JT showed a ton of attention to detail in the cabin décor. Then Kurt and Melissa have that real family orientation. They show exceptional attention to the horses, to service, to comfort in the rooms, and the food. They’re always trying to make your stay more memorable.
Q: There are a lot of ranches out there. Why do you keep coming back?
A: There are a whole ton of reasons. First is the owners. They really care about the ranch and it shows in the details. The horses are top notch, and there’s access to incredible trail rides. Kurt and Melissa have always been willing to exceed our expectations.
Q: What is one new tradition that has been developed since coming to the ranch that you really enjoy?
A: The first is that we now trailer to many trails (which allows us to ride on upwards of 200 trails). There’s been music on cookout night for the last ten years (by dear friends Rich and Tana Mayo), and the new made to order breakfast menu! We have the best chefs in the world.
Q: Do we expect to see you back at the ranch in 2024? When do you usually come and why?
A: Yes! We always come the last two weeks of July. We love the weather and the wildflowers that time of year.
Q: Who is your all time favorite horse at the ranch and why?
Lyn: I love them all… no favorites!
Bill: I love Oreo. He lets me take lots of pictures on our rides.
Q: If you were to give advice to a new guest or potential new guest, what would it be?
A: Book early… if you don’t, you might not be able to come.
Q: The Pucketts have talked highly about Everbright farm, and rumor has it you have some CWR horses there. Can you tell us about them and how you ended up with them?
A: Over the past 13 years, six horses and one Belgian Draft mule have called Everbright Farm home. Of the seven, three are how in horse heaven. Most of them were ready for retirement, in the 15-18 age range. A couple had some hoof issues… a less mountainous and rocky terrain was really beneficial for them.
I was caught… who can resist being pulled into the depths of a chocolate eye… and I found in the blink of an eye another CWR horse was coming to their new home at our farm!
Bill and I have been honored to know and serve these CWR horses in their retirement… to take care of their medical needs, to give them the care, the home, and the life they deserve.