WHEATLAND – Del and Sandy Tinsley say they decided to purchase the old and vacated El Rancho Village because it was for sale. They also say they’d buy another one if they could have Wes and Diana Harriman manage it for them.
The Tinsleys, who now own the RV park, put an advertisement out to the RV community that they needed someone to refurbish and manage an old park they had just purchased. The Harrimans, who were RV-ing 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 and for sale 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 Dam, Guernsey State Park and Guernsey Dam, Gray Rocks Lake and Wheatland Reservoir. It is 30 miles from shopping in Wheatland to the south, Douglas to the north and is on the preferred route to get to Yellowstone and the Tetons. It is also an hour from the metropolis Cheyenne to the south, Scotts Bluff to the east and Casper to the north.
The wildlife is also spectacular, whether you want to see antelope in large herds, moose meandering among the pines on Laramie Peak or black bears that make their home in the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains – 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 Tinsleys live just a few miles from the park and, in fact, have a cottage next to their home which acts as a bed and breakfast. The RV park would be a great addition to that business on their property.
“I had been watching it as it had grown up in the weeds,” 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 Tinsleys, 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
Tinsley, cut out of the same cloth as a John Wayne, 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 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, 2000, and they say that on Labor Day, the park was already 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 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. Also, there is the bed and breakfast for mom while the boys satisfy their urge to rough it in a tent.
Prices for the adventure is reasonable with $30 a night for the RV sites, $50 a night for the cabins, $10 a night for the tent sites, $500 per month plus electricity for RV sites, and $750 per month, $250 a week or $60 per night to stay at the Airbnb.
The Harrimans, who suffered a great loss in a California wildfire at Paradise, lost everything. It was then 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, feels 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 Harrimans have been in Wheatland since the beginning of 2021 and according to Harriman, she says fate brought the couples together and they feel that it will be a long and prosperous venture together.
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 elranchovillage.com.