About Destination: Forever Ranch and Gardens

Yes, but visitors need to be sure they make an appointment. D:F Ranch is a long way out from the nearest cities (45-50 miles) and in order to prevent people from wasting their time seeking our location only to find the gate locked because no one knew they were coming, we request advance notice. In order to optimize your time and energy, feel free to call first at (928) 766-2597.

Given the remote rural desert location of D:F Ranch, we want to avoid disappointing or inconveniencing people who do not know how far away from town we are (an hour's drive each way from Kingman or Lake Havasu City) by requesting that people who want to visit set up an appointment. We can be very flexible about this, but we simply want to know that you're planning to drop by. That way, everyone ends up satisfied. P.S. Several days or more of advance notice tends to produce the most reliable results, although we will accommodate same-day requests whenever possible.

The property was initially purchased in late 1998. Work on the garden aspects began in 1999, and evolves constantly. There are now thousands of plants installed across roughly 6 to 7 acres of the 40 acre property; the rest remains under wild and native vegetative cover. Head honcho Jan Emming moved on-site permanently in 2012. The ranch is off-grid and operates upon solar power only.

Infrastructural improvements have been made, including a water well and distribution system (2003), septic tank (2007), fencing (2010), and two storage sheds (2000 and 2008). A small home made of papercrete construction was completed in 2012, which was when General Manager Jan Emming moved on-site permanently to oversee further creation of the gardens and nursery operations. D:F Ranch is off-grid and runs on solar power .

The terrain at D:F Ranch is mid-elevation desert cactus shrubland. Hills and rocky outcrops stud the area, with flat to gently sloping terrain often abruptly transitioning to steep, bouldery hills. D:F Ranch offers a blend of these two types of topography, which is part of why it was selected. We are in the southwestern foothills of the Hualapai (pronounced wall-a-pie) Mountains, in an ecological transition zone between three major western United States biomes. The Mojave Desert lies to the north and west, while the Sonoran Desert lies to the south and southeast, and the Arizona Interior Chaparral/Great Basin zones blend in from the Hualapai Mountains to the east. The result is that plant and animal species from all three zones are found on the property and in the region, making for rather remarkable scenic diversity and biological interest. D:F Ranch is located at an elevation of 3000 feet, with the main ridges of the Hualapai Mountains rising to over 6000 feet on average, and up to 8400 feet.

An exact count is difficult at any given point, but we estimate that over 2000 cacti, succulents, and small trees have been planted so far. As many as 10,000 may be planted eventually. As in most botanical gardens, however, this planting will take place over considerable time and the gardens will take years to reach full maturity and diversity.

Some of the items added are native plants such as ocotillo, Joshua trees, red barrel cactus, and hedgehog cactus. Many were obtained as salvage plants from roadway easements occurring as a result of development in the area between 1999 and 2004. Numerous additional nursery-grown and landscape-cultivated plants have also been installed, like golden barrels, organ pipe cacti, and century plants. Most of what grows out there now is capable of minimal assistance for survival. Plants that do well here must be able to tolerate significant extremes of heat, dryness, and occasional hard frost in winter. Animal pressure via feeding activity has dictated a fairly large amount of plant selection too over the years. Yes, rabbits and rodents will definitely eat great numbers of very spiny cacti and other succulents!

Irrigation is achieved from a domestic well and water-distribution system. Watering is done manually with hoses from storage tanks. Two large flood-retention basins were created right near the well shaft, allowing heavy runoff from infrequent desert rains to percolate down to the water table and recharge the aquifer below. Created in July 2008, these two basins capture an average of around 75,000 to 100,000 gallons of water during the course of a typical year, which is much more than what is typically used annually. Banking water for the future into the aquifer is important in a climate that sees only about 8.5 inches (230 mm) of annual rainfall on average.