× Close Contact Us

Meet Our Team

Create Positivity in the World

Our skilled team members are motivated by their daily opportunities to create positivity in the world. And a big part of that is helping people to realize their dreams to own beautiful, meaningful, functional, and safe shelters.

Our Team

John & Kelly Gibson – CEO/Owner

John Gibson had a career spanning over 30 years of leadership in the Lawn & Tree Care Industry when his life journey intersected with an opportunity to purchase Colorado Yurt Company in 2020. The Colorado Yurt Company was started in 1976 by Dan & Emma Kigar, where they manufacture yurts, tipis, and tents for individual consumers as ADU’s, parks, camp and campgrounds, ski resorts, schools, festivals, and outfitters, among many others. Inspiring outdoor connections through quality craftsmanship performed on the Western Slope of Colorado has brought together his passion for the outdoors and leadership skills to steward a world-class team creating outdoor structures that captivate. In June of 2022, the company was rebranded Secret Creek, makers of Colorado Yurts, Earthworks Tipis, Destination Tents and moved into our new building at Colorado Outdoors in Montrose, Colorado.


Joe Winkelmann – Director of Operations

Joe holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla. He has a wealth of experience spanning the apparel and fashion industry, consumer services, low and high-volume manufacturing, and highly technical engineering fields. His skill set includes business management, team building, safety, human resources, cost efficiency, engineering, strategic planning, business development, and business process improvement. Joe’s standout quality is his ability to think innovatively and find creative solutions to complex challenges.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford


Cliff Connaughton – Sales Guide

With 18 years of experience in all aspects of our business, Cliff is our senior Sales Guide. After growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, and graduating from Miami University in Ohio, he headed for the mountains of Vail, Colorado. With 20+ years of hospitality industry experience under his belt, Cliff finally found his way to Montrose, Colorado in the late 90’s where he continues to enjoy golfing, fishing, gardening, homebrewing, and spending time with his two children.

“I meet the most amazing people, and I really enjoy cultivating their yurt, tipi, and tent dreams.”


Susan Smilanic – Sales Guide

Susan’s career spans 25 years in customer experience, brand design, and sales & marketing. Her education includes Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design and additional coursework from MIT in user-centered design, the Design Thinking approach, business, artificial intelligence, and digital marketing strategy. Susan is a Colorado native with a love for the outdoors, which is what has drawn her to Secret Creek. Her passions are rock climbing, backcountry skiing, and spending time in nature.



Summer Armstrong – Sales Guide

Raised in the breathtaking San Juan mountains of Colorado, Summer developed a deep passion for nature and the great outdoors. In her spare time, you’ll often find her casting a line while fly fishing in the river or tearing through rugged mountain terrain on her dirt bike. Coming from a diverse background, Summer’s exposure to different cultures and nationalities fueled her interest in the sales industry. Growing up as the daughter of two accomplished business owners, she learned the essential principles of connecting with individuals and their atmospheres. With a solid integration of customer service and sales, Summer is committed to making a meaningful impact across various generations.


Megan Bretti – Sales Guide

Megan is a Colorado native with a degree in Business and Marketing from Colorado State University (2014). After joining the Secret Creek sales team in August of 2021, Megan made the move to Montrose in the fall. Megan has enjoyed growing into her multiple responsibilities, including generating new sales opportunities, providing customer service, and assisting in the company’s marketing efforts. In her free time, she enjoys big-game hunting, golfing, hiking, camping, and spending time with family and friends. She loves exploring new areas of the mountains and is excited to take advantage of all the outdoor experiences Colorado’s Western Slope has to offer!

“I  love talking to people from all around the world. Being able to support their desire to create an outdoor experience is a privilege.”


Charles R. “Buck” Andrews – Controller 

Growing up on the front range of Colorado just north of Denver, attending college with an education in accounting and finance, Buck kicked off a career in the manufacturing, mining, and legal services fields while nurturing a deep-seated love for the outdoors and Colorado high country.  After spanning a fairly long run of 40+ years of diverse financial and management focus, it’s great to be in southwest Colorado to enjoy the abundant fly fishing, hiking and off-road adventures the San Juans have to offer.

“After many reconnaissance missions, I found my Secret Creek, let us help you find yours”


Amy Alexander – Guest Experience Manager

Amy is our guest Experience Manger. Her welcoming nature and friendly personality make her a great tour guide and asset to our team.
Her experience in the hospitality industry shines through in her dedication to exceptional customer service. She has managed restaurants, lodges, luxury resorts and has owned her own event catering company.

She now manages our Secret Creek Village nestled by the Uncompahgre River. You can find her at our front desk eager to help you create your own unique experience at our Secret Creek Village. She’s happy to book your stay, group, event, business meeting or take you on a tour. In her words, “a tour is a must see while in Montrose!”

Amy thrives on living peacefully, harmoniously and in balance with the world around her. She maintains a deep respect for nature and all of its life forms. She enjoys the gifts of aroma, tranquility, beauty and adventure the outdoors provides.  On her days off, she’ll be hiking, skiing, biking or just being.

Learn More About Secret Creek

Why do we love building yurts, tipis and tents? Read about Secret Creek to learn more.

Learn More
yurt_badge-svg tents_badge-svg tipis_badge-svg

Contact Us

Feeling inspired? Contact us to learn how we can help you find your own Secret Creek.

Contact Us