The Barr family purchased the dream property in 1999 as a family retreat so their children, grandchildren and future generations could experience the peace and magic of nature. Shortly after purchasing the property, Don Barr and his wife, Jeri, along with Don’s brother, Randy Barr wanted to share a piece of their beautiful property with children who would likely never experience the magic of nature on a Hill Country ranch. Together, they turned their mutual love of children and nature into a mission and started Candlelight Ranch.
Don and Randy grew up in the city, but were fortunate to spend a lot of time outdoors and their summers going to camp. As life-long outdoorsmen, Don and Randy are passionate about sharing their love for the outdoors by giving youth opportunities that instill respect for themselves and for the land. In addition to going to camp, Randy and Don spent time at their grandparent’s farm in Central Texas where they learned to hunt, fish and appreciate the gifts that nature provides and are dedicated to being good stewards of the land.
Randy and his wife, Melissa, continue to be the leading stewards and caretakers of the land and ranch property, spearheading a variety of ranch improvement and construction projects.
Both Don and Randy, and their families are very involved with the execution of their original vision for the Ranch. During a visit to the ranch, you are likely to see Don and Randy helping on our zip lines, with the horses and keeping the ranch safe and beautiful.
Read More about Don and Randy Here:
Austin American Statesman (January 2, 2018)
How We've Grown
Candlelight Ranch Established
November 11, 1999 – Don, Jeri and Randy Barr incorporate Candlelight Ranch into a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization as a retreat for special needs children and families.
First Group Visits the Ranch
Candlelight Ranch welcomes its first group from Austin Children’s Shelter for a day of exploring, horses, hiking and hayrides.
Don and Randy reconstructed the Fisher House, which serves as the ranch’s headquarters. Lago Vista ISD brings first school group out for a day of learning and exploring.
Travis Hamner Pavilion Completed
The Travis Hamner Pavilion is completed and serves as the meeting space and picnic area for the ranch. It is always shady and has the best breezes in the summer.
Tamers Trail Finished
With the help of the Central Texas Trail Tamers, Candlelight Ranch’s hiking trail is completed. The trail provides lake access for kayaking, canoeing and fishing.
The first wheelchair accessible treehouse in Texas is finished thanks to the hard work of Forever Young Treehouses from Vermont.
First Annual Rockin’ the Ranch
Annual concert and fundraiser featuring live music and family fun all benefiting Candlelight Ranch begins.
The accessible bathhouse is completed thanks to the generosity of the Alice Kleberg Reynolds Foundation.
Zip Lines 1 & 2 Installed
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, our first two accessible zip lines are installed allowing children of all abilities the opportunity to fly over our canyons.
First Special Needs Group Visits
We welcomed our first special needs group from Clay Madsen Recreation Center in Round Rock, Texas. The children enjoyed exploring the treehouse and soaring on the zip lines.
Treehouse dedicated in Reese Gray’s Honor and Carolyn’s Canyon Crawl completed and dedicated.
Candlelight Ranch and Camp Phoenix establish a partnership. Camp Phoenix begins facilitating trauma camps for children who are survivors of trauma during the summer.
Jeri’s Serenity Springs
Jeri’s Serenity Springs dedicated in memory of Jeri Barr who’s vision, spirit and love can be felt throughout the ranch.
Healing Hearts Stables
Thanks to the generosity of the Ninnie L. Baird Foundation, Candlelight Ranch built Healing Hearts Stables to conduct our ground-based horse activities.
Zip Line Circuit Complete
Our accessible zip line course is completed with the addition of our third zip line. Zip 3 is our longest zip line, with a great view of our canyon and Lake Travis.
Helping Hand Home for Children starts visiting bringing children who are currently in residential treatment and foster care to the ranch for nature activities.
Our teambuilding and low ropes course is installed providing additional opportunities for trust, communication and teamwork. Gerry’s Playground, a fun and accessible playground is built in memory of Gerry Nelson.
Our relationships with local nonprofits and schools continue to grow. Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired begins visiting and Camp Glimmer, in partnership with A Glimmer of Hope Foundation is established at Candlelight Ranch.
Horse Boy Family Retreats
Horse Boy Family Retreats at Candlelight Ranch specialize in helping families who have children with autism by using horses and movement to stimulate communication.
Thanks to the generosity of the Moody Foundation, Candlelight Ranch completes Chillville, an interactive, accessible water feature that helps children of all abilities learn about the water cycle while cooling down from the summer heat.
Family Day Programs
Candlelight Ranch begins quarterly Family Days for special needs and foster or adoptive families to learn and grow together in a safe and supportive environment.
Martin Food Forest
Thanks to Martin Instruments, our Martin Food Forest serves as a year-round accessible garden and classroom. Children delight at picking and tasting fresh vegetables and learning about how food is grown.
Camp Dreamcatcher Established
Our Camp Dreamcatcher program provides a summer camp opportunity for children who are survivors of trauma. Camp Dreamcatcher builds confidents and help children connect with others and nature.
Louise's Bird Sanctuary
Louise’s Bird Sanctuary helps children and families experience songbirds firsthand from our accessible viewing platform. Named in honor of Don & Randy Barr’s mother, Louise Fisher, who was a life-long bird lover.
Military Family Days
Our Military Family Day Program Begins. Our monthly Military Family Days are free for active duty and veteran families. Families build trust, communication and have fun together in nature.
Texas Materials Dock
Thanks to the generosity of Texas Materials, Candlelight Ranch received a new dock allowing us direct access to launch our kayaks and canoes. The dock serves as a great spot to fish as well.
Candlelight Ranch and the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge formally partner to increase access to nature-based programming for Central Texas Youth.
Candlelight Ranch added a new Development Director and Program Coordinator, growing our staff to six. We have come a long way from being an all-volunteer ran organization.
New High Ropes Tower
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Candlelight Ranch built a new climbing tower, power pole and team wall. These new elements challenge, inspire and are fun for children and families.
Thanks to the Young Men’s Service League our new accessible Gaga Pit is a favorite of campers. The Ninnie L. Baird Foundation help fund our Stable Shade Expansion, providing much needed shade and protection from the weather for our equine partners.
20th Anniversary Celebration
Light A Path with commemorate 20 years of creating joy and healing hearts at the Ranch. Join us on October 23rd, 2019 at the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs as we celebrate this milestone.
Candlelight Ranch developed Project HEAL to help alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress associated with the Covid-19 pandemic providing families the opportunity to engage in safe and accessible outdoor activities.
Colorado River Land Trust
In October 2021, the Barr families placed Candlelight Ranch into a conservation easement with the Colorado River Land Trust ensuring the land will be a preserved natural space in perpetuity.
Expanded Sustainability and Conservation
Candlelight Ranch expanded our nature curriculum to include additional lessons on recycling, sustainability, and climate change for children and families.