Mark Wilson, along with his brother Doyle and his son Brady, know what it takes to build a quality sheep wagon. They are, after all, a family that has deep roots in Utah sheep ranching.
Based just outside of Heber City, Utah, the Wilson family has been sheep ranching for generations. In 1976 Mark decided to take his life savings and build just one functional, modern sheep wagon that was capable of traveling at highway speeds and maneuvering off-road through the Rocky Mountains. He may not have been aware that he was about to embark on not just making his own ranch life easier, but creating what would become the gold standard in modern sheep wagon design.
The word quickly spread and the demand for a Wilson Camp sheep wagon has grown to the point that the family builds between 10 and 14 wagons a year. Doyle retired in 2006, so now Mark and Brady, who graduated with an engineering degree, work as a father-son business team.
The vast majority of the Wilson Camp wagons are sold to ranchers and herders in the agricultural industry, however, hunters and sportsmen are also finding the wagons as useful off-road camper solutions.
Brady says that they have even sold a unit to a documentary filmmaker. The Wilson Camp wagons are primarily marketed for agricultural purposes because they have different standards and regulations than recreational RV trailers. He says,
“Our customers are amazing and continue to support our business and it allows us to stay a small family operated business without any employees, just my dad and myself. We sell our wagons primarily in the western US mountains and deliver our camps directly to our clients.”
While most of their clientele comes from word of mouth—“the best marketing tool there is,” says Mark—the Wilson family does one show each year: the sheep dog trials held in Meeker, Colorado. This five-day event held in early September showcases the history and culture (and of course dogs and sheep) of farmers and ranchers working together to humanely move livestock with their canine counterparts.
Over 130 handler/dog teams compete throughout the week, along with demonstrations in spinning, weaving, pottery, leatherwork, educational programs, craft fairs, art shows, and cultural programs.
The Wilson Camp wagons are renowned for their quality and longevity. They are custom built on a wagon-style chassis, which is higher off the ground, allowing for off-road capability not found in many traditional campers.
The wagon style also adds stability and allows for travel to any place a pickup truck can go. The wagon design does maneuver differently than a typical fixed-axle tandem style trailer and involves a bit of a learning curve to pull and back up. The towing weight is between 3,500 and 3,800 lbs, depending on style and custom options. “They will last through just about anything,” says Brady.
Based on what options and conveniences are included in the design, the base price for a 14-foot or 16-ft Wilson Camp wagon is around $25,000. That includes solar power, propane, a double bed, a basic water system, and a fridge. The most decked-out version will run $30,000. They are designed to be used throughout the year and can be maintained comfortably even at sub-zero winter temperatures.
The Wilson family prides itself on its ability to continue to improve on their designs and come up with innovative ways to make their wagons functional and comfortable.