Gene Kilgore’s Ranch Vacations

Ranch Vacations
The Leading Guide to Guest and Resort, Fly-Fishing, and Cross-Country Skiing Ranches in the United States and Canada, 6th Edition.

A day trip ranch in the Bay Area

FOR MOMS AND KIDS

Near Fairfield, California, Rush Ranch stretches across 2,070 acres of marsh and rolling grassland. For most of its working life, the ranch was operated by the Rush family, and they had great respect for the land. Unlike other landowners next to the Suisun Marsh, the Rush family did not dike or significantly alter the tidal action on their property.

Photo credit: Karen Vittorio.

Photo credit: Karen Vittorio.

Why is that important? Because with most tidal marshes in the United States managed or filled, their decision to leave the marsh to natural tidal ebbs and flows has proven to be an important contribution to tidal marsh science as a premier tidal habitat and in protecting plant and animal species of the marsh.Today, the ranch is owned and managed by the Solano Land Trust, so Rush Ranch is now open space and an important habitat for fish, bird and plant species.

And it’s open to the public, so if you want to get a low-commitment look at an early ranch that’s close to the Bay Area, you might stop by. Whether you’re a child or an adult, a hiker, birdwatcher, biologist, teacher, photographer, poet or painter, or just out for a picnic, this Solano Land Trust jewel will win you over. Within its boundaries are portions of the Suisun Marsh, one of the best examples left of a brackish tidal marsh habitat in the United States.

What’s special about a ‘brackish tidal marsh’? Well, first it is an important habitat for fish, bird and plant species, including many that are threatened and endangered (such as the Delta smelt, California clapper rail, Suisun song sparrow, and the American white pelican). Bird watchers have spotted some 230 different species of birds throughout the marsh and grassland habitats, and plant communities range from spring wildflowers to native bunchgrass and marsh-adapted vegetation.

Bring the family for a daytrip. There’s plenty to see: an historic blacksmith shop, a display of antique farm equipment, native plant garden. Perhaps the most interesting artifact is the visitor center itself–housed in a Sears Roebuck & Co. kit house. Ordered from the Sears catalog by the Rush family in 1932, it was delivered to the ranch on flatbed trucks and “assembled” at the very spot it stands today.

Coming up in April is the 23rd Annual Rush Ranch Open House. On Saturday, April 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. guests can enjoy a celebration of nature, art, music, dancing, and traditional crafts at Rush Ranch.  Family fun activities include guided marsh discovery hikes, live music, square dancing, weaving and spinning, flint knapping, local Native American culture, horse shoeing, blacksmithing, bats, falconry, farm animals, raffle, art show and silent auction, and a children’s art activity station.  Admission is FREE.  For more information call (707) 422-4491 or visit www.rushranch.net or www.solanolandtrust.org.

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