In 1978, Curly and Gale Carswell started Pooku Stables which offered horseback riding adventures, bringing riders to majestic Kalihiwai Falls. Horeseback riding was one of the first adventures offered on the entire north shore of Kaua’i and the Waterfall Picnic Ride started in 1978 is still one of our most popular tours today. Curly and Gale also started the Hanalei Stampede, a statewide rodeo that ran for 11 years. It was one of the biggest rodeos in the state. Horses were barged in from the other islands so that cowboys and cowgirls from all over Hawai’i could participate.Most of Curly and Gale’s four children took to riding and grew up around the stables, guiding trail rides, participating in 4-H, and riding in local rodeos. After going off to college, son David returned home in the early 1990’s to manage the stables operation. David brought with him the concept of natural horsemanship. He enhanced the horseback experience by creating smaller group sizes as well as education in horsemanship. David also started offering horsemanship clinics around the state of Hawai’i and continued to travel to the mainland to hone his horsemanship skills with various trainers. In 1992, sister Karin returned from college to help run the stables operation with David. They worked together and were integral in helping to rebuild the stables after Hurricane Iniki that year.In 1994, the family took over the cattle ranching operation and the entire lease of the Princeville Ranch lands. This created more area for trail riding and eventually other activities as well. At this time, the Carswell’s changed the stables name from Pooku Stables to Princeville Ranch Stables. They brought the eldest sibling Kelley in to manage the stables operation and take it to a new level. Their business now included 300 head of Brangus cattle, in addition to the trail riding operation. They started selling natural grass finished beef under the label “Princeville Pride” to local restaurants and markets. In 2009, “Princeville Pride” turned into “North Shore Kauai Beef”, after partnering with neighboring ranch Jurassic Kahili Ranch to increase supply of the extremely popular product.
Gale Carswell, the matriarch of the family, is a direct descendant of Abner and Lucy Wilcox, missionaries who traveled to Hawaii in the mid 1800’s. Although cattle ranching on Princeville Ranch began in 1831, A.S. Wilcox, son to Abner and Lucy, took over Princeville Ranch and used the upper lands for cattle ranching starting in 1895. Wilcox used a W with a cross on the top as his brand for the cattle. When the Carswell’s took over the cattle operations in 1994 they revitalized this brand, which is the primary brand used today.
In 1999, David and his wife Denise branched off on their own to start hiking tours. Kayaking and zipline adventures soon followed, under the name Princeville Ranch Adventures (PRA). Denise managed the company, while David scouted the ranch discovering new waterfalls and trails to expand their adventures. With both of their hard work and expertise, the company grew into what it is today.
Siblings David and Karin continued to work side by side in the cattle and horseback operations and in 2010 all operations were merged together, including horseback, cattle operations, and ziplining. Then in 2011, Karin and her husband Jeff Guest purchased full ownership of PRA and currently run it together. Since then, they have opened a Kids Adventure Center and continue to explore new ways to enhance existing adventures on the ranch. PRA now welcomes over 200 guests per day during the busy summer months, with a staff of approximately 70.
The Carswell family recently received the prestigious “Family-Owned Business of The Year Award” for 2012 from the Small Business Administration. This is a yearly award selected by The SBA in search of businesses, entrepreneurs, and advocates that show the importance of the small business. In addition to PRA being a family run business, siblings Kelley and David started Kaua’i Backcountry Adventures that run tubing and zipline tours on old sugarcane lands on the East side of the Island. And remaining brother Chris and his wife Jackie own Kaua’i Tent and Party Rentals, providing high quality tents and party needs for events on Kaua’i.
Curly and Gale’s vision in 1978 was to offer a one of a kind horseback adventure to visitors and locals alike. It provided a unique and beautiful way to see the amazing north shore of Kaua’i and was delivered with the true sense of The Aloha Spirit. Today, Princeville Ranch Adventures strives to offer world-class adventures with that same Aloha Spirit. Whether it be horseback riding or fast and fun ziplines, PRA is dedicated to providing adventures to last a lifetime. Other goals include providing quality animal care, providing sustainable grass finished beef for the local community, and being good stewards of the land to keep it in open space for generations to come. E Ku Paniolo, or Cowboy Up, and join the ‘Ohana, or family, on one of their exhilarating adventures!