A 30-acre property north of Williams, previously known as Flintstones Bedrock City, was officially purchased Jan. 31 and will be replaced with Raptor Ranch: Birds of Prey park.
Raptor Ranch co-founder Ron Brown declined to give specific figures, but said the property was purchased for less than Bedrock City's $2 million listing price from 2015.
Brown and Troy Morris, Raptor Ranch's other co-founder, met through falconry about 20 years ago and partnered to make Morris’ dream a reality 10 years ago. Falconry is the sport of hunting wild animals, such as squirrels and rabbits, in their natural habitat using a trained predator bird.
“Our idea was not only to entertain people, but also use the sport of falconry and our knowledge of nature and natural habitats to educate people on our natural world,” Brown said. “Tourists that are coming here [are] looking to explore nature -- they’re not coming here to ride a roller coaster ride.”
Morris said they are planning to open the campground with some bird demonstrations during the summer. However, building the site will take 24 months to complete. Brown said the goal is to have 30 new jobs when construction is finished.
The original Flintstones structures are still intact and on display. Brown said they want to be sensitive and give the public one more opportunity to see Bedrock City.
“Some of those things are going to ultimately remain, like the brontosaurus slide is going to be incorporated around the children’s playground,” Morris said. “There’s a few small pieces that will be encapsulated in time here, but most of it will go away.”
Approximately 30 miles south of Raptor Ranch is the Bearizona Wildlife Park, another animal-based attraction. While Raptor Ranch and Bearizona are close in proximity, Morris and Brown are not concerned about visitor competition.
“I think there is plenty of business here, so that doesn’t bother me too much,” Morris said. “There’s plenty of people going through here and much like having three or four restaurants clustered together, it kind of builds promise.”
Raptor Ranch is a predator bird park for visitors to view birds such as falcons, eagles and owls. Instead of showing birds fly from one spot to the next, Brown said Raptor Ranch will focus on demonstrating how predator birds hunt in the wild using artificial lures.
“The birds are trained and handled in such a manner that they are very safe. They are not wild birds,” Brown said. “These are birds that have almost all been bred in captivity.”
According to an Arizona Republic article, former owner Linda Speckels and her deceased husband, Francis, originally purchased the property in 1972. It officially closed in January. Bedrock City was a Flintstones-themed amusement park and campground that included a restaurant, gift shop, RV park and statues of cartoon characters.
Although Bedrock City was open for 47 years, it hasn’t been a sought-out location compared to other destinations in the area. Williams marketing representative Heather Hermen said via email that the visitor center had received requests for information and occasional directions, but Bedrock City wasn’t a draw for tourism.
“We would anticipate there will be some increased interest in Raptor Ranch and look forward to it joining the ranks as a location for people to visit in northern Arizona,” Hermen said.
The Raptor Ranch property is located at the intersection of State Route 64 and Highway 180, about 30 miles south of the Grand Canyon.