WHEATLAND – Del and Sandy Tinsley say that they decided to purchase the old and vacated El Rancho Village because it was for sale. They also say that they’d buy another one if they could have, Wes and Diana Harriman manage it for them.
The Tinsley’s who now own the RV park put an ad out to the RV community that they needed someone to refurbish and manage an old park that they had just purchased. The Harriman’s who were RVing in Colorado saw the ad and decided to come to Wyoming to check out the area, the park and the job.
Both couples believe it was fate that brought them together. Four people who just a year ago didn’t know each other, found themselves kindred couples and the four are as if they have known each other all their lives.
El Rancho Village located just north of the Dwyer Junction rest area off I-25, exit 94 has an official address of 26 Fishcreek Road. The park has been empty for two years, but it took a visionary like Del Tinsley to look at the location and realize that it was a great place to have a business.
The park has great views of Laramie Peak, is close to some of the best Walleye fishing in the state at Glendo State Park and Gray Rocks Reservoir. As well as there is great boating at these reservoirs including Guernsey Lake and the Wheatland Reservoir. All within 15 miles from the park and open to the public. Shopping in Wheatland is 15 miles to the south and Douglas to the north. This park is on the preferred route to get to Yellowstone and the Tetons. It is also an hour from the metropolis of Cheyenne to the south, Scottsbluff, Neb. to the east and Casper to the north.
The wildlife is also spectacular whether you want to see antelope in large herds, elk and deer meandering among the pines on Laramie Peak or black bears that make their home in the eastern edge of the Medicine Bow National Forest – all just a 20-minute jaunt up the mountain to the west.
“We had a bear killed out here on the highway,” Sandy Tinsley said. “We also had a herd of about 200 elk right here in our neighbor’s backyard.”
The Tinsley’s live just a few miles from the park and in fact have a cottage next to their home which is an Airbnb.
“I had been watching it as it had grown up into the weed,” Tinsley said. “It’s been closed for two years and I considered it an opportunity. I love the challenge of fixing it up and getting it going. We bought it the first of July last year (2020) and really didn’t get it open.”
The Tinsley’s contrary to the advice of not buying businesses and running them during COVID didn’t listen to the talk around them and pulled the trigger on this RV park with cowboy cabins that each have a personal name such as “The John Wayne Cabin” and “The Jim Bridger Cabin.”
Tinsley, has undertaken many things in his life that weren’t supposed to make sense, but he never backed down from a challenge and most people, including his wife will tell you, “when you ride with Del Tinsley, you had better buckle up. You’re in for quite a ride.” Once a publisher of a statewide ag newspaper, The Wyoming Livestock Roundup and part owner of a livestock auction in Torrington, he has done many things.
He officially met his wife while working in her father’s store in Wheatland in 1962 where her parents ran a refrigeration repair shop and then ran the Gambles store for a while. The couple have been married for 26 years and Sandy says that life with Del has never been boring.
The Tinsley’s officially opened the park without managers July 15, 2020, and they say that on Labor Day, the park was full.
“The location’s why I bought it,” Tinsley said. “Close to home, it has six full acres, it’s all zoned commercial. You can get on your four-wheeler and in 40 minutes you can be at Hubbard’s Cupboard in the mountains. This is my fourth RV park that I have owned and I’m excited about this one.”
The park has 28 hook-up sites with full electricity, five cowboy dry-cabins which have electricity including heat and air conditioning and the main building has showers, laundry and restrooms. In addition, there are seven spots open for people who would like to pitch their tents and do some wilderness camping.
The Harriman’s who suffered a great loss in a California wildfire at Paradise lost everything. It was then that the couple decided to go on the road and be permanent RV dwellers.
“We would travel from park to park as work campers,” Wes Harriman said. “We worked and traveled at the same time.”
The couple who were both raised in California feel that they have found a home in Wheatland.
“We’re here for good,” Diana Harriman said. “We’re not going anywhere. I am done moving.”
Work Campers is a website that owners of parks can post ads when they need help in the day-to-day operations of the parks, according to Harriman. It’s for people who travel for a living, most of which are retired and want some added income. There are jobs posted for office, maintenance, and management.
The Harriman’s have been in Wheatland since the beginning of 2021 and according to Harriman, she says that fate brought the couples together and they feel that it will be a long and prosperous venture together.
Wes and Diana would like for you to come out anytime and get acquainted. They would love to show you around.
El Rancho Village has a Facebook page and you can also contact Diana Harriman at (307) 331-9972 for more information or to find the availability for camping. Their website can be found at: www.elranchovillage.com