When Alvin Kesterson was a teenager he had big dreams. The youngster grew up surrounded by lush forests, quiet meadows and the Umpqua River, all contained within his family’s ranch. Kesterson wanted to share its beauty with others. So he dreamed of a day when a portion of the 2500 acre Big K Ranch would be set aside as a guest ranch, where cowhands herd cattle while anglers experienced the bounty of the Umpqua. Today, that dream is a reality. “This type of thing has been in my mind for a long time. Elkton needed something like this, ” Kesterson said.
A working ranch, Charles Franklin Kesterson established the Big K Ranch over 100 years ago when he bought 400 acres of land along the Umpqua River Loop. Native tribes had fished and hunted on the property for generations before that. The area’s first white settlers had camped nearby for a time in the 1800′s, until the population center drifted toward present day Elkton, about 10 miles northwest of the guest ranch. Over the years, the Kestersons acquired small tracts of property from adjoining landowners until the ranch grew to its present size. Cattle and forestry supply the family with most of its income, but Alvin was not sure that ranching would keep up with the property’s tax burden. The idea of a guest ranch took serious form in the late 1980′s and the lodge opened for business in 1993. Alvin saw it as a way to give the family the means to ensure holding onto the ranch. “We’re not a development company. This is our heart and soul,” says Kathie Larsen, guest ranch manager and Alvin’s daughter. “It’s an exciting venture for us.”
Today the Big K Guest Ranch is an outdoorsman’s dream. Twenty-five hundred acres of fertile land bursting with game and ten miles of hard-to-get-to water plus a full service lodge and twenty private cabins make the Big K perfect for any type of vacation. We play host to private conferences, family reunions, weekend getaways, and more.
“The Umpqua River drainage is one of the most pristine places in the American West, and why I’ve been fishing and hunting it for more than 40 years. Recently my family connected with the kind folks at the Big K Guest Ranch, and the memories and friendships we’ve come away with will never be forgotten.
Be it riding horses through lush, Douglas fir forests, rafting the mighty Umpqua or fishing for salmon, steelhead or smallmouth bass, there’s no shortage of exciting experiences to be had. My wife took her first Roosevelt elk with the Big K, and my 10 year old son, a blacktail deer. The new pheasant hunting operation has opened doors to family wingshooting adventures we otherwise would never have experienced; three generations have taken part in this great fun. The turkey hunting in the region is second-to-none.
The guides are first class, offering years of know-how in both fishing and hunting. As for the lodge, the setting will take your breath away, and the kind staff will keep you smiling. There’s a reason we’ve filmed multiple TV shows with the Big K, and why we’ll keep coming back!”
Host, Trijicon’s The Hunt (The Sportsman’s Channel)