Dee and Lee have over 35 years of experience in the hospitality business! Starting in 1980, when they owned a travel agency in Oceanside, California, it was soon discovered that providing clients with places to meet without the hubbub of noisy taxis, elevators and telephones had become paramount. Understanding that renting guest ranches and large country homes would fill that need for their clients was only the beginning. This research also launched the beginning of a new hospitality run for them.
In the early 1990’s, Dee and Lee bought Hidden Valley Ranch & Campground in Coaldale, Colorado however, in a couple of years outgrew that, so purchased La Garita Creek Ranch in Del Norte, Colorado and transformed it into a very successful Guest Ranch for 7 years. After selling La Garita, they relocated to Estes Park, Colorado where Lee became the General Manager of the Aspen Lodge Resort and Conference Center in Estes Park while Dee became the Food & Beverage manager as well as the Event Coordinator for Weddings and Conferences.
After a very successful run in Estes Park, they purchased Coulter Lake Guest Ranch in Rifle, Colorado. In 2004 after experiencing two wicked winters high in the White River National Forest where they had to snowmobile 3 miles to get to their vehicle to go shopping, they decided it was time to sell the ranch.
Always looking for something new and more challenging, Dee and Lee headed to Kayenta, AZ, located right in the middle of the Navajo Nation, where Lee became the General Manager of the Hampton Inn in the world famous Monument Valley. He also oversaw the 95 seat Reuben Heflin Restaurant, the Native American gift shop and the Navajo Cultural Center. Meantime, Dee assisted at the hotel when needed, mainly focusing her attention on starting a Library for the Navajos as well as being on the Board to establish a much needed Animal Shelter in Kayenta.
After several years there, Lee was asked to open and manage the new View Hotel which overlooked Monument Valley. He not only was the General Manager of the hotel, but also managed the 300 seat full Service Restaurant and the Trading Post. Dee and Lee also lived on the property and were the only Anglos to live within the boundaries of a Navajo Tribal Park. After several wonderful years in Arizona, they headed back to Colorado where Lee assumed the General Manager position at the award winning Hampton Inn & Suites in Craig, Colorado where Dee was the Director of Sales & Marketing. Dee also had the honor of being appointed to the Moffat County Tourism Board where she was the secretary. Lee was the President of the Moffat County Innkeepers Association, covering 54 properties.
In 2013 Dee and Lee heard about the sale of a B&B in Chama, New Mexico and they knew it was time to get back into Owning Their Own Hospitality Business once again. Thus, the re-birth of a wonderful and beautiful 1901 Victorian B&B known as the Gandy Dancer Inn.
In September, 2014, Lee accepted the position of Director of Marketing for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad working out of the Chama, Depot. He still worked with Dee at the Gandy Dancer every morning preparing the outstanding breakfasts the guests came to appreciate. After breakfast Lee was off to the Railroad to create new and innovative ways to show the rest of the world the beauty and wonder of Chama, and the excitement of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.
Lee had become very involved with the San Luis Valley Tourism Association in 2014 while still in Chama, and then in March of 2016 he was voted in as President. Early in February of 2016 came the word that Old Cowtown was for $ale!
Wow, it was time to get back into the Ranching Business. So now Dee and Lee’s dreams came to fruition which is exciting as well as challenging! April 1, 2016 Mill Creek Ranch at Old Cowtown became a reality!
Dee & Lee Bates, John Engle, Christine Engle, Jeff Richards and Troy & Roxanne Owens – as owners of Mill Creek Ranch at Old Cow Town want to invite you to visit “their little bit of heaven” and spend some time enjoying serenity and quietness as well as lots of fun things to do.
John has been an invaluable partner for all three of the Guest Ranches that the Bates have owned.
He was the ‘john of all trades’ at each ranch, however his main title was Head Wrangler.
His horse expertise was invaluable and many guests called him the ‘youthful’ Horse Whisperer. Safety around horses as well as in the saddle is paramount to him!
As a part owner at Mill Creek Ranch, he is following the same past traditions and filling in where needed as well as well as offering a creative and rewarding Horseback Riding program for guests. He wants every rider to have “the experience” of a lifetime!
John joins Lee as the ranch coordinator for various ranch, sport and firearm activities. He is an avid shooter both with the hand gun and rifle and is anxious to work with guests so as to offer them an exhilarating and rewarding experience
Christine has been with the Bates for periods of time at two of their Guest Ranches.
She assisted in various aspects of the ranch operations as well as making sure the guests were well taken care of.
At Mill Creek Ranch she will pick up where she left off plus be working with Dee in coordinating many of the guest activities.
Christine will join John in caring for the horses as well as being one of the wranglers to take guests out on rides to see the beauty that surrounds the ranch. She wants every guest to have “the experience” of a lifetime and will do everything her power to make that happen.
Jeff Richards, married to Christine Engle for ten years has three sons ages 19, 15 and 9. He has worked in the Municipal Utility business in some capacity for over 15 years. The key areas were construction and working as a specialist for many product lines.
Jeff is an avid outdoors-man with special interests in hunting, fishing, hiking and the like! He, as Christine, has looked forward to owning and operating a ranch much like Mill Creek Ranch at Old Cow Town for many years. He is anxious to experience all the activities and challenges that the ranch has to offer and hopes to share these experiences with guests.
Both Troy and Roxanne reside in Flower Mound, TX with their two children, but are always thinking about when they can load up the truck and head back to Mill Creek Ranch to work and play.
Both Troy and Roxanne have had a passion for the outdoors and mountains their entire lives. Troy grew up in a suburb of Denver and spent most of his formidable years in the mountains, skiing, camping and climbing. Roxanne grew up in Arkansas and spent her formidable years camping and hiking in the Ozarks. She’s also had a love for horses from an early age so it’s fair to say both she and Troy are drawn to the ranch life.
Roxanne is a Regional Sales Manager with an international manufacturer and distributor for orthopedic products. She is active in Yoga and cycling, is an artist, amateur photographer and jewelry maker.
Troy has been in the executive search and consulting business for nearly two decades along with being an entrepreneur. He has consulted with companies in the areas of strategy, capital raises, team building and executive leadership. Troy is an avid outdoorsman and hunter. He also enjoys cycling, archery and the shooting sports.