About Us

The Lyon family is proud to continue a rich ranching history. For approximately 6 decades the ranch was operated as a dairy by Swiss Italians who, like many others in the area, immigrated here in the late 1800’s to find new opportunities on land that reminded them of their homeland. They hand-milked their cows in the ranch barns and separated the cream from milk in the small building adjoining the barns. The product was taken by wagon to creameries in Cayucos and Harmony where it was made into butter and cheese and loaded on to ships at the wharf in Cayucos. When regulations made small dairies obsolete on the central coast, a shift was made from milk cows to raising beef cattle on the ranch.

Lyon’s have had success with raising high quality and healthy Hass avocados, Valencia oranges and beef cattle. In 1999 Cottontail Creek Ranch added another branch to their operation, a luxury ranch vacation rental. The ranch house has been a successful addition toward achieving viable sustainable agriculture. Your hosts Susan, Kristopher and Michael Lyon invite you to join them for a getaway that will demand an encore!

Ranch Philosophy

The Lyon family invites you to enjoy their home and to experience ranch style living. Roger and Susan and their family are passionate about the central coast and the environment. They have been active in preserving the historic ranching and open space qualities that make the central coast unique. Balancing ranching and farming while protecting the environment on the ranch and in their community is ever present on their minds.

Roger and Susan carry forward this conservation ethic in their handling and implementing sustainable natural and organic practices on Cottontail Creek Ranch. If you are interested please ask them to share these practices which couple economically viable production of quality food while protecting the vast natural resources of the ranch.

Pictured is Estero Bluffs State Park, a successful partnership between State Parks of California and the CLC.

Roger founded the Cayucos Land Conservancy which, with an active volunteer board and membership, continues efforts to create a green belt surrounding Cayucos. CLC holds a conservation easement on the Estero Bluffs State Park(4 miles of coastline north of Cayucos) and most recently purchased a conservation easement on the 900 acre San Geronimo Ranch with its 2 miles of ocean view overlooking Estero Bluffs directly across Highway One. www.cayucoslandconservancy.org

Roger was also instrumental in making the conservation of the historic Hearst Ranch a reality. The resulting conservation easement permanently protects the 82,000 acre ranch surrounding famous Hearst Castle and provides public access to 18 miles of pristine California coastline.

Conservation Fund

SLO Tourism Land Conservation Fund

Cottontail Creek Ranch has started, as of July 1, 2009, a voluntary land conservation fund whereby guests will be asked to make a charitable donation to the fund in the amount of at least 2% of the rental rate. Cottontail Creek Ranch guests have overwhelmingly exclaimed at their enjoyment of the wide open spaces and working agricultural landscapes during their visits and hope the area will retain this magical quality for their return visits. The creation of this fund gives our guests and others an ongoing opportunity to be part of conserving the natural beauty of the area. A directed giving fund has been established with the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation whereby guests make their donations to a specific earmarked fund called the SLO County Tourism Land Conservation Fund. In turn, the Community Foundation will make grants as directed by Roger and Susan Lyon to non-profit land trusts or public agencies for land conservation projects in San Luis Obispo County. Initially, planned grant recipients from the fund are the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County, the California Rangeland Trust, the American Land Conservancy and the Cayucos Land Conservancy. Each of these land trusts has a proven track record in this County.


Why 2%?

2% was the most obvious number because guests staying in all of SLO county except for this north rural area are charged in addition to the 9% Bed tax, a 2% BID (Business Improvement District assessment for marketing). For more information on the how and why please go to "The Making" below.


Our Goal is Participation in making a difference

Cottontail Creek Ranch is participating by matching our guests 2% donation and anticipates and invites other businesses in the County, not only the lodging industry, to share our excitement about the possibilities and choose to participate. The goal is to generate sufficient funds to make significant donations to conservation projects in San Luis Obispo County.We hope you will join us in continuing to make a difference to preserve this pristine region of California for generations to come. Your donation is tax deductible and soul enriching.


Three grants awarded in the first year!

The first and third grants have been made to the American Land Conservancy (www.alcnet.org) to help them bridge the funding gap to acquire Wild Cherry Canyon Ranch. This ranch, when acquired, will be a 2400 acre addition to Montana de Oro State Park, and will eventually provide a continuous trail linking Morro Bay with Avila Beach! The 2nd grant was made to California Rangeland Trust. CTR's mission is to conserve the open space, natural habitat and stewardship of California's ranches http://www.rangelandtrust.org


The Founders

Susan and Roger Lyon are the owners of Cottontail Creek Ranch, an 850 acre ranch near Cayucos. They have operated a luxury ranch vacation rental since 1999 which has provided the opportunity to scores of people from all over the world to enjoy their working ranch and the drop dead scenic beauty of this area


The Making of the SLO Tourism Land Conservation Fund

When booking a stay in the county guests pay the lodging rental rate and an additional 9% transient occupancy tax, which goes into the County general fund. For the last several years the hospitality industry has proposed forming a countywide business improvement district (BID) to require hotels, bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals to collect an additional 2% of gross revenues. Although collected by the County, this 2% assessment is to be used by the BID exclusively to promote additional tourism in the County.


The rationale was that other counties and cities were charging upwards of 13% to their guests and SLO could not compete for tourist dollars. Many hospitality business owners in the County, particularly small operators in the north county, objected to this additional tax/assesment. Part of the objection was that the type of marketing contemplated was not geared toward promoting the very small rural businesses and the reason their guests come as well as return to the area. Through the debate about whether the needs of these small rural operators would benefit from the BID, Susan came up with a rather novel marketing idea: Since the tourist industry benefits from the spectacular open spaces and scenic beauty of the area, why not earmark a significant portion of the proposed BID funds to a land conservation/stewardship fund that would be used to make grants to land trusts in the area which are working to preserve these open spaces. The BID could then promote the fact that the hospitality industry businesses, which benefit from tourists coming to enjoy these wide open spaces, actually put their money where their mouths are. While there seemed to be interest in the concept, the rural operators (including Cottontail Creek Ranch), felt that there was not enough commitment by the drivers of the BID formation committee to merit participation in the BID. By mutual agreement, the rural north county was excluded from the BID formed by the County in May 2009. Effective July 1, 2009, the 2% BID assessment has been collected by operators in the unincorporated area, Except for the rural north county. Because of the lengthy debate and subsequent solution, Cottontail Creek Ranch guests have the unique opportunity to participate in preserving San Luis Obispo County by way of their charitable donation to the SLO Tourism Land Conservation Fund.

Thank you in advance,

Susan and Roger


Favorite Links

Land Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture

Cayucos Land Conservancy www.cayucos.org

American Land Conservancy www.alcnet.org

Hearst Ranch Conservation www.hearstranchconservation.org

California Rangeland Trust www.rangelandtrust.org

Ag Adventrues www.agadventures.org

Briles Concrete Homes www.brilesconcretehomes.com

High Countree Nursery www.highcountreenursery.com

SLO County Area Information

Cayucos Chamber of Commerce www.cayucos.org

Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce www.pasorobleschamber.com

San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce www.slochamber.org

Hearst Castle www.hearstcastle.com

Friends of Hearst Castle www.friendsofhearstcastle.org

Lodging, Event Planning and Touring

The Cass House B&B www.thecasshouse.com

Cayucos Creek Barn www.cayucoscreekbarn.com

Central Coast Outdoors www.centralcoastoutdoors.com

Treebones Resort www.treebonesresort.com

Outside’s Wilderness Lodge Vacations www.outsidelodges.com

Elegant Images Limousines www.elegantimagelimos.com

Alexis Limousine www.alexislimos.com

Outback Trail Rides www.outbacktrailrides.com


Terry Hoage Winery www.terryhoagevineyards.com

Herman Story www.hermanstorywines.com

Hope www.hopefamilywines.com

Clayhouse Winery www.clayhousewines.com