Daric Knight overlooks the Hooper Ranch in Springerville. Knight’s grandfather, Robert Hooper, established the ranch in 1951. Knight and his brother, Lance, now own and operate the Hooper Ranch. Photo by Joseph Schmidt
By Joseph Schmidt
SPRINGERVILLE – A lucrative industry throughout Arizona’s early decades of statehood, the cattle-ranching business has experienced significant declines in recent years.
However, a family continues the tradition of ranching by adapting to meet modern challenges.
The cattle-ranching boom was already under way when Robert Hooper decided to get out of the lumber business and relocate from Oregon to Nutrioso, Ariz., in the late 1940s. In 1952, he took his wife and children and settled on the outskirts of Springerville.
Hooper passed away in May. His grandsons, Daric and Lance Knight, now run the cattle operation.
“My family built this thing up … from a rundown set of corrals and a real small house,” Knight said. “They put a bunch of this together, and we’ve been in it since then.”
Hooper Ranch saw some success over the years raising purebred Hereford seed-stock cattle, but the family gained something else from their time working the land.
Hooper’s daughter, Roxanne Knight, raised her three sons in the ranching life. She and her husband, Galyn Knight, bought the land right next to her father’s, where they started their own operation.
“Our children work right along side us,” Roxanne said. “Husbands and wives work right alongside one another, and multigenerational members of the family too.”
But after the stock market crash of 1987 and the recession that followed, the ranching business began to slow. The family began searching for new ways to make up for lost income.
The family purchased Reed’s Lodge, a motel formerly owned by Galyn Knight’s parents. Roxanne also began an ecotourism service, K5 High Country Adventures. Her son Daric started Knight Guiding and Outfitting, organizing and guiding hunting trips in Arizona and New Mexico. Daric’s brothers Traegen and Lance began working in real estate and banking, respectively.
Revenue from these other businesses has allowed the family to continue ranching through economic downturns, including the most recent.
“Being out here, being on the ranch, we’ve got to do a lot of these other streams to bring money in to be able to do it,” Daric said. “You can’t do it just in ranching.”
People may complain about the price of steak at the grocery store, but the cost to get that meat on the shelf is dear as well, he said.
“The income stream is not any more than it was a long time ago,” Daric said. “Inflation hits everything.”
Daric bought out his grandfather’s operation and now manages the Hooper Ranch. His parents still live on the land right next to his, and his brothers manage their own cattle operations nearby.
And though life on the ranch isn’t the easiest or most lucrative, Roxanne said it carries many rewards.
“There’s something about the country here that just gets in the blood. The open space, the challenges,” she said. “That’s part of the appeal … The love of nature and the love of animals. It would be very hard to live in the city.”
Ranching: A Knight family tradition
Cattle ranching is more than a business for the Knight family, who have spent 60 years in Springerville, on the same land. And though the economic downturn is affecting the industry, the Knights are adapting so they can continue to do what they love.
Video by Joseph Schmidt
Life on the Hooper Ranch
Daric Knight and his family continue live on the Hooper Ranch, established by his grandfather Robert Hooper 60 years ago. The ranch, in Springerville, is home to purebred Hereford seed-stock cattle. (NOTE: This display requires the latest Flash player, which is available here.)