The ranch was originally called Savage's Meadow because John Savage, an early trader who married into the Mi-Wuk Indian tribe ran his cattle there. Later, George Sprague and John Smith, early Groveland settlers, built one of the largest barns in Tuolumne County, which served as a stagecoach stop which is called to this day, Smith Station.
Today the ranch still runs about 20-30 head of cattle and about 150-200 head of sheep. It is one of the most popular guest sites in Groveland due to the scenic views of Smith Peak and the pastoral meadows surrounding the ranch-house and gardens.
The earliest record of the barn structure appears in a San Francisco map in 1877, though its age may be greater than that date. Sprague and Smith created a toll road to Yosemite and passengers on the stages to Yosemite stayed overnight in the original Smith House which was located near the barn, which was the change station for horses (thus, Smith's Station).
The present owner reconstructed portions of the Smith/Sprague barn that had fallen into disrepair. The barn was preserved by using wood from the land, using the original hand-hewn technique including mortise and tenon construction, just as it would have been performed in the late 1800's. The same preservationist that worked on the barns in Yosemite also worked on the Smith Station barn so it could be enjoyed for years to come.
Lodging Style and Amenities
Guests have an experience of being on a working ranch located only 16 miles from Yosemite National Park. The ranch-house was built in the 50's or 60's and is preserved much as it was when it was a family home and later a cowboy cabin serving cattle runs from the high country. The architecture is cedar tongue and groove siding with knotty pine in the interior rooms. The original fir flooring has its own charm along with the pot-belly stove surrounded with a river rock hearth for warmth and ambiance. Nowadays rooms have private baths and queen beds. The ranch-house and gardens serve as a popular wedding and event site for both locals and people who want a country garden wedding with some of the most gorgeous scenery and historical essence in Tuolumne County.
Breakfast Style Served
Open all year.
Ranch Activities Available
Barn tours are popular and are usually scheduled around the livestock work. The host grew up in Tuolumne County, so many a good local story is passed along to guests. Wagon rides are available on weekends and at special events May through October. Grounds available for weddings, reunions, private parties up to 200. The ranch holds a yearly OktoberFest the second Saturday in October.
$117 (extra person/bed-$18)
Travel on Highway 120 heading east from Groveland 6.3 miles. Turn right on Smith Station Road and stop at the red ranch house (do not google the address, as it is wrong! and we can't get google to change it).
Big Creek Meadow Ranch recycles and is committed to preserving the land. We grow and sell only grass-fed, hormone-free beef and lamb. Animals roam the range freely and live a stress-free life ensuring quality, less fatty meat
ADA Accessibility Notes
The barn is fully ramped, as the stagecoaches had to enter through one set of double doors and go out another. However, it is a working ranch and gopher holes abound, so don't wear high heels.
Pet Friendly Notes
One of the ranch rooms is pet-friendly.