Rescue Animal Ranch near Leavenworth is voted ‘Top Roadside Attraction’ – 2022’s BNWE
The Refuge River Ranch offers guided tours for guests. #k5evening
LEAVENWORTH, Wash. Refuge River Ranch is the winner for Best Roadside Attraction in the 2022 Best Northwest Escapes Viewer’s Poll.
About five minutes from Leavenworth, you can experience the perks of ranch life in a breathtaking setting.
Refuge River Ranch stands against the backdrop of Sleeping Lady Mountain and is home to a menagerie of animals with special needs.
“Refuge is a safe place, and we’re on the river, and we’re a ranch with a lot of rescue animals,” said owner JodieK, a single mom who also acts as a caretaker for all the creatures on the ranch. re my fur babies. It just feels good.”
Every animal has a story. Billy the Kid, an alpaca, was born with growth issues and lost his eye. Dudley the pig suffers from PTSD and scars from two separate dog attacks.
The ranch is now their forever home and for $20 visitors can take a tour.
“It’s not a petting zoo. It’s a one-hour guided tour,” JodieK said. “I say we are perfect for ages 5 to 85.”
Admission helps fund the ranch, and each interaction also provides an opportunity for education.
“Every time an animal has to find a new home, you literally reduce that animal’s life expectancy,” she said. “I honestly believe that about 90% of our rescues could be eliminated with just a little education.”
In the alpaca enclosure, she teaches guests to squat and approach from the side so the sensitive animals aren’t scared. She demonstrates how to properly hold a chicken, protecting its fragile legs and bones. When it’s time to meet Dudley, she explains a common misconception about pigs as pets.
“A mini micro teacup pig – you’ve heard of them? They’re very popular. There’s actually nothing like it. Because you’ll never have a pig under 100 to 300 pounds,” said she declared.
Other animals on site include horses, Nigerian dwarf goats, barn cats, miniature donkeys and a white-breasted turkey named Mr. Turkey, who was meant for a dinner table but now follows JodieK like a dog.
Some of the rescues are “situational” – the previous owners could no longer care for the animals or were unprepared for the upkeep.
“It’s not that they’re mean and abusive and horrible like you see on TV. They’re actually very loving people who love animals,” she said. “They just have such big hearts that they forget to stop and think.”
She hopes the tours will help enlighten people about the real work it takes to run a ranch and care for the animals in the herd.
JodieK funds Refuge River Ranch, with the help of volunteers and donations. She hopes it will eventually become a standalone business.
“On tough weeks, I google ‘condos’,” she laughed. “There are very difficult times. But there are also very rewarding times. It’s worth it. No more rescues.”
You can book a visit or buy a gift certificate online. JodieK also needs a specialized van to transport small animals to and from vet appointments, and you can donate to help. There is also a garden apartment available for overnight rentals on the property.
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