The 4,300-acre Big Creek Ranch off Elk River Road includes an 11,000-square-foot lodge, a 100-year-old barn and the potential to develop many more ranch estates. Below: The ranch also contains four miles of private trout stream. Of a total 4,300 acres, about 2,000 acres are under a conservation easement.
One of the largest ranches in the Yampa Valley is on the market for $55 million, and the firm marketing the property is pointing out that it offers the potential for more than 70 estate building lots.
The 4,300 deeded-acre Big Creek Ranch is owned by Texas partnership Needmore Ranches. It is listed for sale by Ron Morris and Billy Long of Ranch Marketing Associates, with offices in Aspen, Johnstown and Sheridan, Wyo.
"It's one of a kind," Morris said. "Seventy percent of its boundary is on national forest, but it's only 15 minutes from a great resort town. And it has four miles of trophy trout fishing."
The ranch already has an 11,000-square-foot lodge, five additional houses, four utility buildings and a 100-year-old barn.
Susan Dorsey Otis, executive director of the Yampa Valley Land Trust, confirmed the nonprofit holds a conservation easement on about 2,000 acres of the ranch.
"Its highest conservation value is wildlife habitat," she said. "The second is agriculture, and there are some public scenic values."
The ranch is reached via Routt County Road 129 and a long private road. The ranch manager is longtime Steamboat Springs resident Don Vogel.
"You just go up the Elk River, make one turn, and when you drop over a ridge, you're in a private valley," Morris said.
The conservation easement allows for six new residential building sites of as many as 50 acres, Dorsey Otis said. But Morris and Long emphasize in their marketing materials that the balance of the acreage is not bound by the conservation easement and would allow almost 70, 35-acre parcels to be sold for more homes.
More likely, Long said, is the possibility that a development buyer would take the opportunity to cluster the building sites to achieve more home sites and leave large parcels of open space under Routt County's Land Preservation Subdivision Ordinance.
Long and Morris said their company has noticed a trend in the West toward buyers buying into large shared-amenity ranches, where they can enjoy large open spaces and amenity buildings without the responsibilities of mending fences. They cite Grand River Ranch near Kremmling, where they have listed eight smaller ranches from several hundred to a thousand acres. They don't mention Marabou Ranch preservation subdivision on the lower Elk River, but the characterization seems to fit.
Ranch Marketing Associates has shown the property to development entities and private individuals, Long said. Despite the price, the development potential can be attractive to a single buyer because it affords the potential for investment growth and an exit strategy, he said.
The property boasts four miles of trout fishing on Big Creek, a tributary of the Elk River. In addition to the improved trout habitat in the river, there are 15 ponds on the property, two of them containing trout.
The dimensions of the ranch are roughly 5 miles long by 2 miles wide, with narrower boundaries in some places along the creek.
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