Ron Clayton and the Mules of the Grand Canyon – Rare Interview!

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 | Filed under Interviews

Howdy folks!

Well, today got away from me… so I decided to post something special and wonderful –  but simple… (I need my beauty sleep – ha!).

So, I thought I would post one of the best interviews (in my opinion) from my TV series, HORSE AND MAN.  This particular episode is dear to my heart because the location was incredible, the history was epic, the wranglers were real and the mules had a huge job which provided a wonderful service for millions of Americans.  Oh, and we were the first film crew allowed into the canyon with the mules.  THAT was a very special honor.

We were able to spend the entire day, from sunup to sundown, with the wranglers.  Awesome.  This episode was extra and never aired so you can view it fresh!

Please click on any image or the link to watch this segment.  I think you will really enjoy it.  I know I loved every second of producing it.


OKOK, you may notice that the supers (titles) are not on and the audio is not perfect.  Yup, this segment isn’t totally finished.  But, I hope you will like it anyway…

Legendary Ron Clayton, Mule wrangler for 30 years...

HORSE AND MAN – Mules of the Grand Canyon – Click on the link to see the video!

Wranglers coming in after a long day's ride.


Knowing I was going to meet Ron Clayton, the legendary cowboy who had worked with these mules for 30 years, I was a bit intimidated.   But, I shouldn’t have worried because after about a minute of chatting about his mules, the grizzled wrangler melted.  This man loved his mules… He babbled away like a new Dad as he showed off all of his 150 prized mules.  All of them were special.  He knew all of their names.  I swear, he was like Santa Claus among them.  The mules all gathered ’round just to be close to him.

However, my sweetest memory of Ron was his crying over his part in a MAKE A WISH day for a dying child.  Ron personally granted the boy’s wish to go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  So, Ron saddled up his best mules and dragged the boy down in a sled.  It took all day and it had never been done before.   But Ron was set on giving this child his wish.  And, he did…  As Ron relayed this story to me, he cried.  Very touching.


In the video, you might not feel the vastness of the HUGE mule barn.  HUGE.  It fits 150 mules.  And, everything was tidy.  That barn put my measly three stall barn to SHAME.  You could eat off of the floor that 150 mules ran through daily.

Another fun memory was that all 150 mules knew exactly where to stand to get their dinner.  When the mules ran in, it was absolute mayhem for about 30 seconds – until they got to their particular buckets.  After that, all you could hear was munching.  Amazing.  They also put themselves away.  All 150 mules knew exactly where to go after dinner.  The whole procedure took about 3 minutes.  Those mules made my jaw drop in many ways!

And, all the gear (for 150 mules) was cleaned and stowed properly. Double Amazing.  Those wranglers ran a tight ship.  They have to because there are so many mules, so many tourists and so many opportunities for disaster.  After all, the territory is unforgiving.

That day with Ron Clayton and the Mules of the Grand Canyon was more than memorable for me.  This is why I wanted to share it with you again.  I hope you enjoy it.

This is Rosie. The wrangler LOVED her! Watch the video to see her incredible moves!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

15 comments have been posted...

  1. dawndi Post author

    Thanks, Mollie. That interview and shoot was one of my favorites… Hug Dr. Jan for me!

  2. Mollie Latham

    Hi Dawn,

    I love this video! I’m a student at Keele University in the north west of England studying Biology, and I recently learnt all about mules in my conservation lectures. My lecturer Dr Jan Hoole recommended your wonderful blog to me and I absolutely love it! This video is so interesting, I really enjoyed it!

    I look forward to exploring more of your videos and staying up Tod are with Norma Jean the donkey, who I have fallen in love with!


  3. dawndi Post author

    (I know your Dad was full of integrity.)
    There is a woman on this comment thread from my blog on your Dad. She has a painting he may have drawn?
    You can read her comment and I can put you in touch.

  4. dawndi Post author

    There is a woman on this comment thread from my blog on your Dad. She has a painting he may have drawn?
    You can read her comment and I can put you in touch.

  5. Debbi R.

    I was wondering if you somehow get a message saying your dad’s name is used in a blog to be able to read and respond to it. I wrote you in a previous blog entry that I may have found 2 drawings that your Dad, Ron Clayton may have drawn. I describe them on the 3.17.16 blog I wrote to you. I am sorry for not spelling your name correctly. Dawn has my e-mail address, if you want to contact me. Otherwise, if you could blog and let me know if your Dad did these drawings of mules. Thank you.

  6. Debbie R.

    Just yesterday, I came across a print/lithograph that may have been drawn by your father at a local thrift shop. I thought it was of a bucking horse, but it may be a mule. It is on beige paper and a small /medium sized penciled sketch allowing for a large border of the beige paper. (about 24″ by 24″) The artist’s name is that of your father. The artist signed it 2Xs. If I am remembering correctly one was printed and the other was a cursive signature. The owner of the store had a note on the one I found that stated she had 2 prints/lithographs by this artist. I did not look for the 2nd print yesterday. The 2nd print was not nearby the one I found in the store. I could possibly send you a picture of it and try and find the 2nd one in the store and send its picture of it to you, also. Thank you. Dawn at Horse and Man has my contact information, if you would like to directly e-mail me.

    Debbie R.

    Debbie R.

  7. dawndi Post author

    Hi Katie:
    This is Dawn from Horse and Man. I am the one who had the pleasure of
    interviewing your Dad and creating the video that inspired these comments.
    —Do you need the email addresses of any of the people who commented?
    I can provide them for you so you can speak to them personally.


  8. Katie Fischer

    Hey Lloyd, this is Katie Fischer again, Ron Clayton’s daughter. I will not go into too much detail because my father is too good of a man to say anything and he would not like me to promote what a increditaly horrible thing that the company did to him. I just want you to know he didn’t want to leave, it’s all about an issue of politics and my fathers incredible integrity .

  9. Loyd Freeman

    Where did RON CLAYTON go ? I went down in the canyon on the mules 14 times and looked forward to seeing Ron,then he was gone, I ask everyone associated with the mules and no one would say anything. Sounds like every body was scared to even say his name. Is this what this country is coming to ? Some one please email me the answers.

  10. John Williams

    long lost cousin should get together some time, my mother is Jo Beth we miss ya

  11. Sharon Zeman

    So,…that’s my Brother. And, yes, I know him to be so kind and good to people (and mules/horses/dogs/small children,)….he’s just a fine and giving person. And he could not be so without the lovely woman who became part of our family when they married–Susan, I did finally get a sister! That would have been 40 years ago, right?? I love you both.

  12. Katie fischer

    I have never seen this video before! Thank you so much for posting it. My father has touched a lot of peoples lives

  13. Anne

    hi and what a wonderful video: so great to see the Mules actually “teaming up on the trail; Pack Mules I think they call them

    remember the “20 Mule Team Borax ads? Mules Rule the Canyon !

    Burros Rule the Deserts ! Wild Mustangs Rule the Plains + Mts. ~!

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