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Yakima Bound

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Written by
Lauren Hunsberger

Members Richard and Elizabeth Leider open the doors to Canyon River Ranch, a haven for trout fishing, bird hunting, hiking and nearly every other outdoor activity you can imagine.

It took Richard Leider and his partners three months just to muster the courage to propose buying Red’s Fly Shop and the surrounding recreational property. After all, the Yakima River Canyon, the site of the property and its owners were iconic in the Pacific Northwest.

But persistent in their desire to own recreational property and their vision of expanding the area to become a world-class fishing, hunting, rafting and outdoor destination, Richard and his partners, including Anthony Robins and Steve Joyce, opened talks with then owners Sharon Larsen (who goes by Marlene) and Loman Blankenship (who went by Red). 

“They weren’t really keen on selling,” Richard says. "The funny story is we were in their kitchen, and we said, ‘Well, if you are ever interested in selling we’d really be interested.’ At which point Marlene, who was the matriarch of the property, got up from the table, walked over to the refrigerator, got a huge manila envelope and plopped it on the table, from which dozens of cards spilled out. She said, ‘Put your card in, and we will give you a call when we’re ready to sell.’ ”

At the time the property was a combination of manufactured homes, two small cabins for rent, a trailer park, 60 or so campsites and, of course, Red’s Fly Shop. But more than the existing infrastructure, Richard and his partners were drawn to the location, the natural environment, the history of the land and the prospect of developing a recreational area to enjoy it all.

“There are 300 days of sunshine, an easy drive year-round with no ferry, there’s a water component, and on top of all that I enjoy fly fishing and bird hunting,” Richard says. “The hiking is also great; the property is surrounded by public lands, and you can see the Milky Way at night, which is a real treat for those who live in a well-lit populated area.”

In 2001, Richard, who is the founding principal of Trinity Real Estate, and his partners got the call they had been waiting for. Marlene and Red were thinking about retirement and thought the group would be good stewards of the land. Richard says they didn’t hesitate and bought the property in early 2002. They immediately began planning and researching the nature of the sensitive landscape on which they would build Canyon River Ranch. 

Beginning in 2009, the property was transformed and the lodge opened with 60 suite units available for fractional ownership or rent, followed by a restaurant and a whole host of new recreation opportunities. “We’ve added things over time,” Richard says. “It’s the ultimate outdoorsy sportsman location, with bike riding, horseback riding and a sporting clays course.” The property also includes a few residential homes. And, early this summer, phase two of the property, with 11 cabin lots, will open. It is the last phase of the development, as privacy is a top priority for the community.

Richard says the development of the ranch has been rewarding, but ultimately, it’s the memories he created with his wife, Elizabeth, and children, Alex, 26, Trevor, 24, Danielle, 22, and Christian, 20, that really stand out.

“I agree it’s mostly about relaxing. It’s the combination of hiking in the hills and through the creek bottoms, which is fairly physical. You’re out in the fresh air and sunshine hiking, and then you come back and relax and sit in the hot tub,” Richard says.

The Leiders say some of their best memories are fishing or hunting trips with family or friends. “There’s something about hunting along the ridgeline, with a little dusting of snow and clear blue skies. You feel like you’re the only one out there,” Richard says.

Aside from the year-round outdoor activities, the property also houses a small vineyard that produces enough wine for owners and guests to enjoy. They also get to take part in the harvest, which the Leiders agree is always a great time. Jazz concerts, wine dinners and other social gatherings round out the special events at Canyon River Ranch.

“The concerts are on small scale, very intimate. And the cliffs make a very nice backdrop,” Richard says. “It’s nice to be active and have lots of other fun things going on as well.” 

For more information or to book reservations, please visit canyonriver.net

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