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A Presidential Retreat

Ranch HouseOne of the more ridiculous caricatures of Ronald Reagan as president was the unfair, inaccurate assertion by critics that he was lazy and too old to be president. Quite the contrary, Ronald Reagan was in superb physical condition—as evident in his longevity of life—and was an extremely hard worker. Nowhere was this more evident than at Rancho del Cielo.

The 40th president “relaxed” at the Ranch by working at the Ranch. His unique method of relaxation included cutting wood, clearing brush, and a penchant for chopping up used telephone poles that found new life as a sturdy, winding fence. Reagan’s typical companion on the trail was a chainsaw, which could often be heard buzzing loudly through the canyon.

Ronald Reagan quite literally built much of Rancho del Cielo, from the modest expansion of the adobe home itself, to the creation of the pond outside the house, where he enjoyed canoeing with Mrs. Reagan in his leisure time.

Reagan’s only genuine forms of relaxation—at least by most definitions—were his horseback rides during the day and his reading by the hearth in the evenings.

When Reagan was not “recharging his batteries” behind a saw or in the saddle, he was doing so by driving his beloved blue Jeep, a gift from Mrs. Reagan, along the ranch trails.

“The whole Ranch is for work,” said Barbara Walters when she visited in 1981. “It’s truly a labor of love. For Ronald Reagan loves this Ranch. He loves the land and, in a larger sense, all that it represents.”

“There are things that give you a sense of accomplishment,” reflected Reagan, “Things like clearing a trail, pruning a section of woods that has to be done, clearing brush—and then you go at it.”

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