SANDPOINT, Idaho — Wood V-X Cattle Ranch is rooted in Idaho history, and the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch sprouted from that family tradition.
Answering an ad from Humbird Lumber Co. in 1939, Riley Wood put a down payment on 160 acres in the Gold Creek Valley with a handshake deal and started Wood V-X Cattle Ranch with a small herd of milk cows.
After multiple expansions and moves from dairy to Hereford to Red Angus, the ranch today maintains about 500 mother cows, 300 spring calvers and 200 early summer and fall calving commercial cows.
That legacy is shared with the guest ranch that was started in 1991 to tap into the Sandpoint area’s booming tourism industry. The businesses include about 1,300 total family-owned acres.
“On my mother’s side, we have had seven generations living on and around the ranch,” said Janice Schoonover, who lives at the guest ranch’s 10,000-square-foot log lodge that was designed by her father, Jim Wood.
“We are very thankful for those roots, and we do not take them for granted. We know that our ancestors put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this ranchland,” she said. “Our passion is to continue this legacy and pass it on to the generations coming behind us.”
Schoonover oversees the day-to-day operations of the guest ranch with her husband, Riley.
Jim Wood purchased the cattle operation from his father, Riley, in 1957, and his oldest son, Steve, started a custom meat processing plant on the property in 1977 that continues today utilizing Wood V-X cattle.
Many of the railroad grades used for logging in the Cabinet Mountains during the early 1900s are used for trails on the ranches.
The guest ranch lodge has six guest rooms, a recreation room and gift shop. The ranch also has four log cabins that are open year-round and an indoor riding arena. The ranch horse herd features about 70 horses that include new foals, guest horses and draft horses used for sleigh rides.
Schoonover said the dude ranch faced marketing challenges early on, but she sees a positive future for the venture that has attracted guests from around the globe.
“Many times, when people are looking for a guest ranch, they think of Colorado, Montana and Wyoming,” she said, referring to the early challenge. “But with word-of-mouth and a consistent marketing presence, we just had the best summer in the ranch’s history.”
She sees a bright future for the guest ranch.
“As people begin to get more congested in the city and they are discovering the need to unplug and experience the outdoors more, our ranch finds itself in a positive position to meet this growing need,” she said.
The changing seasons bring different clientele, she said.
“When we transition to our bed and breakfast, cabin rentals and sleigh rides in the fall, winter and spring, we see more of a drive market of locals and those from the Pacific Northwest,” she said.
Schoonover said hurdles were presented by the Great Recession, harsh winter of 2009 and this year’s pandemic, but the can-do resiliency that the family has shown for the past 80 years shined through to allow the companies to adapt.
She said a desire to keep the ranchland in the family led to the agritourism venture. A conservation easement protects the land from future development.
“The guest ranch opened up new doors that had not been explored before,” she said. “The operation, combined with forest management and grazing cattle, have provided a way to protect the ranch and lifestyle for the next generation.”