Interview with a Yonder Steward—Sandi Croft, Sandy Valley Ranch | Yonder
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Interview with a Yonder Steward—Sandi Croft, Sandy Valley Ranch

Sandi Croft

September 21, 2020

Tell us your personal story and how you came to be a Steward of the land?

It all started five years ago, Marilynn Gubler, the owner of Sandy Valley Ranch, purchased my horse. My husband and I drove to the ranch to meet Marilynn. Once we got there we immediately fell in love with the property and became great friends. 

My husband has always loved building tiny homes (he’s even been featured on HGTV!). Marilynn invited us to bring one of the tiny homes we built and place it at the ranch so that guests have the opportunity to book it for a stay. The rest is history! Every year has been organic growth for us as we continue to bring more of our hand-built units to the property.

Share some of the ways that your property is committed to nature.

Sandy Valley Ranch sits on 160 acres in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Our area is unique as it encompasses three distinct desert ecosystems: Great Basin, Mojave, and Chihuahuan. While exploring the area, it’s common to come across saltbush, prevalent to the Great Basin, Joshua trees, a staple in the Mojave, and groves of mesquite shrubs, typically found in the Chihuahuan. 

We really make it a point to preserve the land and wildlife so that guests from all over can experience the Mojave Desert and all its beauty. After all, a square meter of “empty” desert dirt can contain between 5,000 and 10,000 seeds of local plants lying dormant, just waiting for their moment!

Tell us more about the unique horseback riding experiences your property offers? Any good horse stories you can share? 

We pride ourselves on providing intimate horseback riding experiences. We’re not your typical “nose to tail” service. Our horses are fit for all sorts of riding levels, that way guests feel comfortable throughout their entire experience. 

Prior to riding a horse, guests are paired with a wrangler for a lesson. They can choose from a variety of different experiences such as 1.5, 3 hours, or even an overnight riding experience. The overnight experience is one of my favorites. Guests ride 3-4 hours deep into the desert until they arrive at their campsite. From there they enjoy a dutch oven meal under the stars, sleep in their tipis, with their horses in the nearby pen, wake up, and ride back to the ranch. We also offer hands-on cattle penning and cattle drive experiences. We’re all about allowing guests to experience the working ranch lifestyle. 

What is one thing that you hope your guests will return home with- after their western-themed experience? 

Often guests can be nervous before riding a horse, however, we love when they come back feeling confident. The experiences that we offer allow guests to feel grounded and connected with nature. At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure everyone fulfills their dreams of being a cowboy or cowgirl.

Anything you do to protect the environment or give back to the community where you are?

When it comes to protecting the environment we make it a point to keep our surrounding areas untouched and respected. We’re mindful of how we host guests, conduct rides, and activities. 

A couple of times a year, we host a traditional Mexican rodeo. It’s a stunning event that has been a part of the ranch for many years and is near and dear to us. It’s our way of instilling and preserving local culture. 

Also, as a pet-friendly ranch, we charge a $10 pet fee with bookings. We donate a portion of those fees to the SPCA and other humane societies.