Rambling along a rough two-track road overlooking Trout Creek, Brent Romick points to meadows ripe for hay production, upland grazing areas and views spanning to the Flat Tops and Wyoming.
He has become well-acquainted with the land, painstakingly planning properties that use resources while accommodating wildlife patterns and buyers' demands for mid-size ranches and privacy.
The result is Trout Creek Ranches, a 4,600-acre project offering properties ranging from 40 to 705 acres for ranchers, hunters, anglers, potential developers and buyers just looking for a quiet place to unwind.
The land is about 13 miles west of Steamboat Springs on Routt County Road 33. It also may be accessed from C.R. 179 or C.R. 29.
The parcel is part of about 20,000 acres Peabody Energy acquired with its purchase of the Twentymile Coal Company in 2004.
Peabody partnered with Romick and Associates to help liquidate the first phase of land, the vast majority of which has not been touched by mining operations.
Peabody was receptive to Romick's efforts to configure lots around water, wildlife and agricultural assets, said Romick, who was managing partner of the nearby Creek Ranch development.
That project, which is sold out and entering its resale phase, involved an ambitious restoration of Trout Creek and similar planning of lots around geography.
"Look at the production of the land," Romick said, pointing to lush vegetation along the stream and waist-high hay near Creek Ranch headquarters. "That's what you want to get back to."
At Trout Creek Ranches, Romick saw an opportunity to meet a growing demand for acreage between the standard 35-acre lots and large ranches.
"We're taking large brush strokes," he said.
Sixteen properties in Trout Creek Ranches recently were listed for sale. Prices range from about $227,000 for 57 acres to about $1.6 million for more than 400 acres.
The lands consist of rolling, sagebrush-covered hills and meadows, high ridges and areas along Trout, Foidel and Middle creeks. Peabody will negotiate long-term water leases in irrigated areas.
A 360-acre property, the former LCL Ranch, contains an improved ranch compound ready for a budding rancher.
In addition to agricultural and recreational opportunities, the larger parcels also offer the possibility of development. For the most part, Romick wanted to leave that vision up to the buyer.
The exception is Vista Ridge at Trout Creek Ranches, a 560-acre stand-alone project that will be split into 40-acre lots with wells, underground utilities and shared open space. The lots will offer buyers solitude as well as expansive views of the surrounding valley.
Romick plans to begin building the road in the development in about a month. Lots should be available in August, he said.
For more information about Trout Creek Ranches or Vista Ridge, call Romick or Joan Shenfield at 879-3618.