Ventana Wilderness – Rancho Salsipuedes

Who Dee Doo at Rancho Salsipuedes

UPDATE 9/19/2020: In 2015 the Mules were traveling through Ventana Wilderness in Monterey County where we had the pleasure of staying at Rancho Salsipuedes owned by Timothy Bottoms. We enjoyed our stay at the Rancho and learning of its unique history, which is documented in our original blog post below.

Rancho Salsipuedes is a rare place. About 12 miles inland in Big Sur, it is one of the LAST standing California Homesteads that is not owned by the government or by a corporation. It has been in the hands of The Bottoms family since 1975. It has been untouched by overdevelopment, remaining in all of its glory. It has been looked after with true, pure, authentic love for the natural world. 

Dolan Fire Map
Dolan Fire Perimeter, Monterey County, September 2020

We have come to find out about the Dolan wildfire that started August 18, 2020 and one month later continues to burn with only 46% perimeter containment. This wildfire ravaged thru and over the Rancho Salsipuedes, which we are very sorry to hear about.

In 2015, We left our palomino mule, Who Dee Doo, at Rancho Salsipuedes and glad to see in the photo below that he made it through the fire okay.

The Bottom’s family friend, Caitlin Ackerman, has organized a GoFundMe fundraiser to help the remaining horses and rebuild Rancho Salsipuedes. Please click on this link to read more about this special place and donate if you can. Warning, there are graphic images of the animals domestic and wildlife that didn’t survive.

Here is our original blog post that we wrote October 20, 2015:

October 20, 2015 – Rancho Salsipuedes:

Three Mules and one monk were walking south through Fort Hunter Liggett on a road bordering the Los Padres National Forest when a gentleman by the name of Timothy Bottoms stopped his Jeep, got out, introduced himself and asked if the kids needed water or hay for he had brought some. The monk responded, “No. We are okay. Thank you.”
He then invited us to his ranch to take a break. We said yes that would be nice. So we walked to his ranch, which is surrounded by the Ventana Wilderness, and took a break.
Tim asked if we needed anything in the way of supplies, gear, etc. The monk responded with a yes. Our pack boxes were over 25 years old and worn to the bone. Tim said he would be glad to help so he did by supplying us with four new pack boxes.

Who Dee Do

Who Dee Do, our third mule will be staying at Tim’s ranch. He never became easy for me to shoe. He had to be sedated and that was not a practical scheme for us walking through the Megatropolis.

Who Dee Do will be living with Tim’s horses and mules, a great place for Who Dee Do to live.

The Mules say thank you to Timothy Bottoms for his kindness and support he has shown the mules, the identifiers of this ages old nomadic way of life living with respect and reverence for this beautiful place called Earth, the home of human beings. ~The Mules

About Rancho Salsipuedes: “Nestled in the verdant, peaceful valley, stands the thick adobe walls of the Mission San Antonio de Padua’s Portreros Mulos built by the caretaker friar and several neophytes…it established ranch support for the mission mules.

After secularization in 1834, the property came under the private ownership of Vicente Avile, who purchased the drought stricken Rancho for the stately sum of $13, all he had in his pocket. The Rancho remained in the family estate for over one hundred years.

The Avila Ranch, a 160-acre homestead, became known as Salsipuedes (“get out if you can”), which was later sold to Timothy Bottoms in 1975 as a family refuge.”

On the ranch is an old stone cabin and oven built sometime in late 1800s/early 1900s.

The trails surrounding the property are very difficult to travel and impassable with overgrown brush and fallen trees. During the time we were waiting for our pack boxes to arrive, we spent our time clearing these trails.

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7 thoughts on “Ventana Wilderness – Rancho Salsipuedes”

  1. This is amazing!!!! Thank you, I love history and love to hear stories about the past specially California. I live in Paso Robles and have taken my family down Indians road. Thank you for holding on to and fighting a treasure of history as well Bottom’s family.

  2. The emotions of sadness & unbelief, joined by a flood of tears, overwhelmed me on Sept 11, when I learned that Salsipuedes was gone. For a couple of days, I thought of nothing else as a flood of memories returned. Almost 70 years old now, I was born in Paso Robles in August, 1951 and spent the first 5 years of my life at Salsipuedes along with 2 more sisters born in ’52 & ’54. Had to move to San Ardo when it was time to start school, near another set of Grandparents. While young, my heart always had a great joy and sense of peace at Salsipuedes. There is so much wonderful family history – my heritage – there in the earth (where my great great Grandparents are buried, along with a great uncle) and in the walls of that wonderful “adobe home” where I once lived. Thank you to the Bottoms family for saving my home. The home filled with love and laughter, secrets and tears, stories and memories. I was lucky enough to revisit Salsipuedes a few times in my growing up years and always felt a tranquility that is hard to explain. When we lived there, we had sheep and cattle, horses and mules and always a lot of people, always children to play with and families who returned year after year to visit and hunt and ride to the Coast. The last time I took my family there, was in 1995, and had the pleasure of meeting Mrs Bottoms who was gracious enough to share Salsipuedes with us. We took pictures and talked and enjoyed the home I once knew. We left California in 1974, moved to Oregon and ultimately to Montana where we have lived since 1984. Once again, thank you to the Bottoms Family for saving Salsipuedes.

      1. Bless your heart for sharing our story with the Bottoms family. My husband (Allen Padgett) and I celebrated 50 years of marriage last March, but we were connected years before that, thru Salsipuedes. As it turned out, Allen’s family were hunters and during the summers would come to Salsipuedes where my Great Grandfather Cipriano and Grandpa Sam would take them out. There are a couple of funny stories, but the best part of this is providence. Allen and I met in High School years later, and one of his dates with me was to take me back up to Salsipuedes to go fishing (1968). So I packed a picnic lunch and we hiked in from the old bridge. Had a great day, got to show him my home, where the old windmill used to be, the barn and corrals, the shop by the crick, talked about the old stand-tall radio in the house that we got to listen to Gunsmoke on, the phone on the wall that you cranked and a lady would ask how you were, and the old Oak Tree where Great Great Grandparents Vicente & MariaElena are buried. Because of Vicente & MariaElena’s kindness to the Dani family in the 1870s, another romance would bring 2 people together at Salsipuedes two generations later, as Sam & Marjorie (Dani) Avila would fall in love and marry. So it was only fitting that Allen & I (2 generations again) would fall in love and marry. To further the Salsipuedes connection, Allen & I were in the packing business here in Montana for many years, along with our cattle ranching. We still have 7 mules and 3 horses and still take family and friends out hunting to various favorite spots. Over the years, we raised our 3 daughters and 1 son to pack, ride, shoot, and hunt. We loved the life and never looked back. Please tell the Bottoms Family that Salsipuedes is magical to those who stay or visit, but for some “Get out if you can” refers more to the way your heart feels when you “have to leave.” Thank you all very much.

    1. My two sons and Chumash warrior / firefighter and me saved Old Adobe and Barns i’m the Dolan fire dragon.
      Recent rains on incinerated land scape changed topography. Many trails and roads covered in debris flows .
      Salsipuedes , road and bridge fine. Pavement gone in places.
      Hope for outstanding Spring with lots of grass for miles.

    2. Dear Linda,
      My name is Bridget Bottoms, the daughter of Tim Bottoms, current family caretaking over the wonderful Salsipuedes. My father only recently shared this post with me. I currently reside in Montana with my growing family, and would love to connect with you and hear more about your time at Salsipuedes. Please reach out if you’d like.
      Bridget Bottoms

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