Waldo, here. Yup, it’s true, ACE and the stables are my retirement home. See, the New River Gorge is the Grand Canyon of the East, but I got my “professional” start in the Grand Canyon in Arizona.I kid you not. See, mules as trail and pack animals have a long history in the Grand Canyon National Park. For more than 100 years, we have been the best way for thousands of park visitors to venture into the canyon and visit Phantom Ranch, one of the main tourist destinations.
Pack mules bring down people, supplies, guest cabin equipment and food year-round. Mules are ideal for the task as sure-footed, structural sound critters are needed for the steep, winding trail. A one-way trip down the trail is about 10.5 miles and takes five and a half hours.
My career on the canyon was exciting but short lived as most people-carrying mules are only able to keep up for two-three years. Through a farmer in North Carolina, I was given the opportunity to see another Grand Canyon, this time in West Virginia’s New River Gorge. I still have a lot of miles left in me but enjoy the more gentle sloping trails here at ACE. The shorter rides (two and a half, three and a half and half day) are perfect. The scenery and stories are different as I now know a little bit about coal mining and the New River’s contribution to the expanding industrial U.S.
After a long day on the trail, don’t forget to plan some time at one of ACE’s deluxe lodging units. A good soak in a hot tub will take away some of that soreness from my saddle. If you still have some spunk, a refreshing dip at the ACE Lake would do the trick. Either way, take a ride in my retirement home and enjoy the trip in my New River Grand Canyon!