Steamboat Springs A historic South Routt ranch that spans much of Thorpe Mountain and includes Yampa River frontage is on the market for $23,342,000.
Cynthia Crawford and her husband, Todd Seabold, are selling the 2,122-acre C-Cross C ranch, consisting primarily of pastureland and dense forest on the 8,970-foot mountain that overlooks Stagecoach Reservoir and Phippsburg.
Of the total acreage, which is divided among three parcels, 568 acres were placed under conservation easements held by the Yampa Valley Land Trust in 2006. The Routt County Board of Commissioners approved using funds from the Purchase of Development Rights property tax used to help obtain the easements. They include 469 acres of pine, spruce and aspen forest near the top of the mountain and 99 acres in the riparian zone along one mile of the Yampa River upstream from Stagecoach.
Buildings on the property include a 1,700-square-foot home and several barns. There also is an old stagecoach stop shed, which was a waypoint on the old Wolcott to Hahn's Peak stage line.
The ranch is being co-listed by Donna Mae Hoots and Mark Fischer of Real Living Professional Group in Steamboat Springs. Hoots said she recently transferred her real estate license to Real Living, and was working her first day in the office when Crawford walked into the office looking for Fischer. Hoots, who grew up on the Monger family ranch in the lower Elk River Valley, and Crawford found they had a good deal in common, Hoots said.
"The more we talked, the more we realized we knew each other's families," she said. "I appreciate what ranching is, the love of the land and the desire to take care of the land and to use it to its best use."
Within a few days, the three of them were touring the sprawling ranch on all-terrain vehicles.
Hoots said they arrived at the asking price of approximately $11,000 per acre after undertaking a regional search of comparables.
Brian Smith, a Realtor and partner specializing in ranch properties with Hall and Hall Partners LLP in Steamboat Springs, said the market for ranch properties across the West has come on strong in the latter half of the year.
"The summer began more slowly than is typical," Smith said. "Just about the time the credit market fell apart, things really started picking up for ranches. It moved in the opposite direction of what you might have expected."
Smith doesn't see any cause and effect in that coincidence. The typical ranch buyer, he said, is immune to the ups and downs of the credit markets.
"It's the upper echelon" of buyers he said.
Smith said that, in general, the per-acre price of Western ranches is trending upward as the average size of available properties is decreasing steadily every year.
Hoots said the C-Cross C Ranch offers the ideal opportunity for a buyer seeking their own cattle kingdom, or perhaps someone seeking to develop a number of estate lots.
Crawford and her husband have a cow/calf operation on the ranch, but purchase all of their hay, Hoots said.
Most people in Routt County would recognize the views of Thorpe Mountain from the north, in the area known as the "South Valley" between Steamboat Springs and Blacktail Mountain. It's also visible to the west while driving over Yellow Jacket Pass on the way to Stagecoach. However, the C-Cross C is predominantly on the south slopes of the mountain, Hoots said.
"I've driven by that mountain all along and thinking how beautiful it might be" from its upper reaches, she said.
It has many access roads, extensive mineral rights and ample water rights, she added.
Hoots said the establishment of the conservation easements was intended to protect wildlife at the two extremes of the ranch - the elk herds that use the summit for summer range and the many species of birds that use the area along the river bottom.
Hoots, Fischer and Crawford all are taking a patient approach to marketing the property, Hoots said.
"We think it will be two years to find the right buyer and for them to do their due diligence," she said.