Kickapoo Valley Ranch consists of eight well-appointed cabins tucked up against the scenic Kickapoo Valley Reserve. Although a travel writer, I’d never heard of it until I attended the Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism one year. There, the owners of the ranch had a booth set up. I wandered over, but only because I spotted a tray filled with plump, homemade cookies.
Nevertheless, it was a good thing that I wandered over. For it turns out those cookies – which were not only plump, but chewy and delicious – are a signature part of the Kickapoo Valley Ranch story. And it’s an interesting one that goes something like this.
More than a decade ago, owners Joseph Rogan-Nordstrom (Cowboy Joe) and David Rogan-Nordstrom (Cowboy David) vacationed out West a few times. There, they were captivated by the landscape.
“When you’re in the West, and you are around such vast nothingness – and, really, everythingness – it grabs into your soul,” says Cowboy Joe. “That’s the story unique to us. We went on these vacations, it grabbed us and we were profoundly changed.”
When they returned, they decided to ditch their jobs and create an authentic Western guest ranch. They found the perfect spot in Wisconsin’s Kickapoo Valley, which sits in the state’s Driftless Area – a region untouched by the glaciers.
Kickapoo Valley Ranch Is Born
And so in 2003, Kickapoo Valley Ranch was born. Soon, eight guest cabins dotted the ranch’s rolling land in the Ocooch Mountains. The cabins have plain exteriors but are beautifully decorated inside in a chic, cowboy style. (Cowboy Joe is an interior designer.)
As the ranch is intended to be a sanctuary, there are no phones or network television in the cabins. There are no activities offered, either, other than sitting on your cabin’s back porch in one of the comfy Nantucket rockers. Or chatting with the resident llamas.
Lots of Extras
Cowboy Joe says that over the years, guests frequently comment on how clean the cabins are and how dark it is at night. The stargazing is amazing here, he says.
And what about those cookies? Cowboy David is the baker, and fresh cookies await every guest upon arrival. His signature recipe is double chocolate chip cookies with walnuts. But today he makes many different kinds, plus cakes and other goodies, all on site and all for sale. Score!