Newton Jasper Phillips left his home in Santa Barbara and homesteaded in the Bootjack district of Mariposa Co in 1900. In the early 1900s tourists were flocking to the Yosemite area, drawn to this unique landscape by the words of John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt and guides were in demand. When Newt started packing into the back country of the Sierra Nevada's is not certain, probably in the late teens, but by 1920 he was going strong. Every spring Newt would leave his homestead in Bootjack and drive his stock to a small set of corrals behind the pond in Fish Camp on property rented from Charlie Beery, the major land owner at that time. Fish Camp served as Newt's summer Head Quarters until the early 1930's when he moved his operation to Jackass Meadow.
In 1916 a gentleman cowboy by the name of Fred Wass started working as a horse-packer and guide in Yosemite National Park. During the spring of 1934, Fred and his wife, Beryl, opened up the Fred Wass Pack Outfit on land previously used by Newt Phillips. Their Pack Station at Fish Camp started with 10 head of stock in 1935 gradually building up to 30 head. In 1937, Fred and Beryl, obtained a special use permit from the United States Forest Service for 20 acres at Skidder Camp. Skidder Camp was a logging camp of the Sugar Pine Lumber Co., located a little less than a mile down Big Sandy Road. (Now named Jackson/Big Sandy Road). In October of 1966 my parents, Mike and Sherry Knapp, acquired the pack station and changed the name from Fish Camp Pack Station to Yosemite Trails Pack Station.
Now some 50 years later we call ourselves Yosemite Trails Saddle & Sleigh Company but very little else has changed. We still bring our American Quarter Horses and Black Angus cattle to the mountains in the spring and gather them from the high country every autumn before the snow fall. It is then that our stock is moved onto winter pasture down at the Lazy K Ranch in the central San Joaquin Valley. A yearly migration that has been handed down from one generation to the next. In fact, because we raise our own stock, our American Quarter Hoses learn as a youngster how to travel in the Sierras and they are more "sure footed" than most horses. It is because our horses have been selected for their kind, gentle personalities and raised in the high Sierras, that they make ideal trail horses.
So if you are looking for a unique opportunity to create some special memories with family and friends, come ride with The Yosemite Cowboys.
Happy Trails, Larry Knapp