A comfortable home flanked by acres of lush pastures and prime wildlife habitat doesn't have to be a million-dollar dream.
Buyers who yearn for a scenic piece of Northwest Colorado but can't justify Routt County prices may find what they are looking for in Bear Creek Ranch, a 90-acre oasis about 15 miles north of Craig.
"You drive another half-hour and you have what you'd have there for $2 million less," said Bill Trautman, who owns the property with his wife, Kathy Trautman.
Bear Creek Ranch, on Moffat County Road 18N off Colorado Highway 13, is being offered at $625,000.
The property includes two newly renovated homes, multiple barns and outbuildings as well as a tractor and hay-handling equipment, not to mention open views of the Flat Tops, California Park, Pinnacle Peak and nearby Black Mountain.
Nestled in the south side of the mountain, the Trautman property consists of rolling hills, sagebrush, meadows and cottonwoods.
Elk and deer migrate through a large draw on the ranch, on their way to the Routt National Forest, about three miles from the property.
"It's kind of a hunter's paradise," Bill Trautman said. "I do a lot of big-game hunting, and the elk and deer hunting (here) is outstanding."
Water, a hit-or-miss resource in the arid West, is plentiful on the property, which includes senior water rights dating to 1905. That water irrigates about 20 acres of hay pastures, which, together with 60 acres of dry-land alfalfa, produce about 75 to 80 tons of hay each year, he said.
The ranch also has a pond, which the Trautmans stock with trout each spring.
An aeration system could be built using nearby electricity, allowing for a year-round trout pond, and another pond could be formed with water from a live stream that runs through the ranch, Bill Trautman said.
The 2,670-square-foot main home on Bear Creek Ranch was remodeled by the Trautmans. The home includes a large great room with vaulted ceilings and a moss rock gas fireplace.
The couple knocked out walls to open up the kitchen, which has custom hickory cabinets and a tiled island.
The home has two regular bedrooms and a master suite. The Trautmans remodeled a fourth bedroom into an elegant master bathroom with a large, tiled shower and classic claw-foot tub and fixtures.
An unfinished basement has potential as a game room or additional bedroom. The home also includes a wrap-around cedar deck and oversized two-car garage.
The Trautmans also recently refurbished a 900-square-foot home on the ranch. They rent the home, but it also would be ideal as a guest or caretaker's house. Improvements there include new windows and a new heating system.
New roofs were built on both homes, as well as several outbuildings.
One of the five outbuildings is equipped for a dog kennel. The Trautman's bred and sold labradors through their business, Bear Creek Labradors, which they recently sold.
Other outbuildings include a horse barn with stalls and facilities to house hay, a tractor and other equipment.
Bill Trautman also participated in team cattle roping events and built a corral with a vinyl-covered, "horse safe" fence on the property.
The Trautmans moved to Bear Creek Ranch about 12 years ago from South Routt County, where they were overwhelmed by growth from Steamboat Springs, which was becoming a "little city," Bill Trautman said.
Surrounded by other ranches, Bear Creek Ranch is private and secluded, yet fairly close to conveniences such as Yampa Valley Regional Airport, about 22 miles away.
The Trautman's also enjoy the occasional dinner in Steamboat, which is still a reasonable distance at about 42 miles. Kathy Trautman is an ambassador at the Steamboat Ski Area and regularly makes the drive to the slopes, Bill Trautman said.
For more information about Bear Creek Ranch, call Vonnie Frentress at Mason & Morse Real Estate at 879-8101.
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