Red’s Wallowa Horse Ranch is within Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness, administered by the US Forest Service. There is no road to the 1,600-ft airstrip, so access is only by aircraft, foot, or horseback.

“This location is attractive for remote camping and hiking, and fishing on the adjacent Minam River can be particularly rewarding,” said Oregon Liaison Richard Mayes. His concern is that without mowing, the airstrip could become unusable and likely lost to future use. He has been awarded an RAF grant to mow the 1,600-ft airstrip and tackle brush removal. 

Situated within a designated Wilderness Area, mechanized equipment is prohibited. For the past several years, a volunteer has trailed in livestock and non-motorized equipment to undertake the mowing. This dedicated, 82-year-old volunteer will continue to participate and provide the equipment, but Richard has organized additional help. A new “mule driver” will take up the reins under the watchful eyes of the seasoned veteran.

Hand tools will be used to remove hawthorn and brush infesting the airstrip and the camping areas. RAF Ambassador Bill Ables will coordinate the mowing with USFS representatives, who are currently managing manual weed control efforts.

“It takes most of a day to mobilize and walk the mules and gear into Red’s,” Richard observed. He hopes the mowing can be completed in one day, but a hot day could vex the mules and slow things down, followed by another day to trail everything back out. 

“The project also demonstrates our willingness to collaborate with USFS and to donate our time, money and labor to protect backcountry access,” Richard said.

See airfield.guide for more details about Red’s Wallowa Horse Ranch. 


  1. Alan Cossitt on July 1, 2020 at 7:40 am

    Great job Rick. Wish I was available to video the process and help out.

  2. Tom Forbes on July 1, 2020 at 10:36 am

    The airfield length is ~2800 feet. Landing normally to South and slightly uphill. Go arounds would be difficult in lower powered aircraft.
    I have landed there many times and camped several times, especially when there are forest fires and smoke in the Idaho backcountry.

  3. Glen Geller on July 1, 2020 at 11:44 am

    This is great news. We flew in twice last year and once already this year (in our fleet of Tri-Pacers) and the field is getting pretty scruffy, thank you RAF for tackling this job.
    The area north of the gully is generally over flown by all but the biggest tires, but from the gully, through the dogleg to the south turnaround is useful.
    And whoever maintained the outhouse near the SE campsite, thank you! We saw it got a few repairs last year.
    Sadly the “facility” on private property beyond the SW campsite is very dilapidated. We have thought about building and installing a new throne, but the shoveling among the roots looks really tough.

  4. Miles Hancock on July 16, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    Thanks to Richard and Bill for this important effort! An update regarding Reds HR: The strip should be charted as Public in the very near future (currently charted as private). I am told this will also change the FAA Identifier from 4 digits to 3 which I’m told is the standard. FAA Airport Division is working on this change currently.

  5. Jeffery D SACKMASTER on August 11, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    I knew Red as a young man my father took us there on horse back adventures. Red was a true cowboy and mountain man. While there I met a Supreme Court Justice and his secrete girl friend many movie stars and others who shall remain nameless. As to my families promise to say nothing.. Reds was the last frontier. Red would tell me stories of the old days over eating bologna sandwich on our pack trip 20 miles into the mountains that he loved., I would love to be the caretaker at Reds to preserve the place that he built for those who come after. Lest we forget

  6. Bill Ables on August 12, 2021 at 10:34 am

    Jeff S., I would love to get together with you and talk about Red’s…Never had the pleasure to meet Red, but have heard allot of stories and know some of his family who still live in Wallowa County. If you’re interested in volunteering, contact me and I can help you there. Larry Brandvolt and I started that program back in 1995 when the USFS acquired the ranch.

  7. Gary Stamps on May 30, 2023 at 7:03 am

    My brothers and I spent about two weeks at Red’s in June of 1963. It was such a great experience. I was 12 that year. The days were filled with hunting, fishing, horses and exploring. I would hear the cookhouse triangle “ring”, usually 30 minutes before the main meals, that were served “cookhouse” style. Big platter servings of the best mountain meals I’ve ever had… to this day. A Stoney Burke Hollywood “double” ran the barn as I remember, picking and saddling your horse, usually always in black and full of stories. I only met Red a few times, at the Lodge and on the grounds a few times. I made the mistake of asking to ride his buckskin horse one morning. Maybe minutes, before it realized I was not in control, and he was … it was a quick bolt back to the barn, via the fence line and low-branch trees. Lots of laughs from the barn!! Seems like the camp cook was an Asian guy, I remember meeting Red’s daughter at some point. The nights were spent around a campfire. Planes and pack horses, guests and work hands, horses being moved to another ranch not far from Red’s. It was an exciting time for my brothers and me.

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