Preservation of the Empire Ranch House and other buildings is a primary mission of the Foundation. Click here to see a history of preservation projects completed and underway, most with funding and volunteer help from ERF.

Volunteer Days for hands-on preservation activities at the Empire Ranch are held 8am to noon on the first  Saturday of most months. Additional volunteer days may be scheduled for special events or additional preservation projects. Volunteers work on general upkeep and landscaping of the Empire Ranch Headquarters, and assist with preservation projects.  In addition to helping preserve and protect the Empire Ranch, you’ll enjoy learning new skills, and meeting with fun, like-minded folks! Additional Volunteer Days may be scheduled for special events or additional preservation projects. Go here to learn more about Volunteer Days, or go here to send in a Volunteer Opportunities Form. Volunteer with us and make a difference at the Empire Ranch!

Docent Tours and Docent Training

Docent-led walking tours of the historic Empire Ranch House are held at 11am on the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Tours start at the Empire Ranch Visitor Contact Station and provide an introduction to the history of the Empire Ranch families and the buildings in which they worked and lived. Click here for more information.

Interested in becoming a docent?  Click here for more information about the docent training program.

Gift Shop

The ERF Gift Shop is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, except during summer months when hours are reduced.  The Gift Shop is staffed by volunteers who work five hour shifts.

Gift Shop volunteer responsibilities include stocking, organizing, and cleaning the Gift Shop; processing sales using an iPad and Square software; providing general information about the Empire Ranch and Las Cienegas National Conservation Area; and completing various reports.  Training for all tasks provided.  Volunteers must be personable and willing to engage with visitors.

Click here to sign up as a Gift Shop volunteer.

Special Events

With the assistance of ERF volunteers and BLM staff, the Foundation sponsors events to raise public awareness, funds and friends. Follow links below to view our current event calendar and further descriptions of our recurring special events.

Current Working Calendar

  • Empire Ranch Cowboy Festival – The annual Cowboy Festival, sponsored by the Empire Ranch Foundation, is held the first Saturday in November and draws more than 3,000 visitors who come to the Empire Ranch to enjoy Western heritage demonstrations, arena and livestock exhibits, cowboy cooking and Western entertainment.
  • Spring Trail Ride – In 2010 the Foundation re-instituted its popular Spring Trail Ride & Dinner, which draws over 100 guests who experience the beauty of the Empire Ranch and Las Cienegas National Conservation Area by horseback, wagon ride or just for dinner and festivities.
  • Legacy Day for Students – Since 2004, the Empire Ranch has served as classroom for a day, when students and teachers from area middle schools travel to the ranch to learn about the history of the Empire Ranch and ranching heritage through demonstrations by local ranchers and cowboys and BLM staff.
  • Western Movies Under the Stars – The Foundation partners with The Loft Theater to show Western movies on an outdoor screen at Empire Ranch Headquarters.
  • Christmas at the Ranch – On the second Saturday in December we enjoy welcoming guests to the festively decorated Empire Ranch House  for a bit of holiday cheer and some fun shopping.

Oral Histories & Archives

The Foundation is actively gathering and organizing photos, oral histories and other documents relating to the Empire Ranch and the Foundation. Oral history interviews are conducted with individuals who lived and/or worked on the Empire Ranch or who have had significant involvement with the Empire Ranch.