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Woodchuck Mountain Ranch

$5,950,000 Steamboat Springs, CO 2,204± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

Woodchuck Mountain Ranch offers the rare combination of exceptional hunting, a fishing stream, diverse landscape, and adjacency to a wilderness area, along with year-round access and 30-minute proximity to a major ski resort town.  Comprised of 2,204± deeded acres, the ranch also holds the grazing lease on 880± acres of adjacent BLM lands bringing the total to 3,084± acres.  The property is situated on Morrison Creek near the confluence with the Yampa River, and one mile of the stream flows through the middle of the ranch.  East of the creek, the ranch shares three miles of boundary with the Sarvis Creek Wilderness and encompasses several drainages descending to the creek.  The land on the west side of the creek is highlighted by a local landmark, 8,971 foot Woodchuck Mountain.  The ranch includes all sides of this flat-topped mountain, with very diverse vegetation ranging from nearly impenetrable dark timber on the north slope to mixed aspen stands, oaks, sage and open meadows on the south slope.  In addition to the creek, there are a number of ponds, springs and wallows scattered throughout the property. 

The property’s excellent wildlife habitat and its location next to the wilderness area, BLM and surrounding national forest make this ranch really stand out for its elk hunting.  The ranch has become a sanctuary for big game, and autumn brings even more elk to the ranch including mature herd bulls with their harems of cows.  Other wildlife seen and photographed on the ranch include mule deer, black bear, mountain lion and grouse.  With no existing residence, the ranch is a blank canvas and is well suited for a buyer who would like to build their own improvements or one who would like to keep the property unimproved and just utilize it for low-maintenance recreation.  The location near Stagecoach Reservoir results in easy access to the lake as well as the broader amenities of Steamboat Springs just 21 miles to the north.

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General Description

The ranch is irregular in shape, stretching approximately 2.75 miles from east to west and 2.5 miles north to south. The general elevation profile of the ranch viewedfrom the side is similar to a tilde (~). In other words, the outline starting from the west boundary rises up and over Woodchuck Mountain, then descends down to Morrison Creek and then climbs back up again along the slope of the Gore Range mountains to the east boundary line.

On the east side of Morrison Creek, the ranch climbs up over 1,000 feet to border the Sarvis Creek Wilderness. The ranch shares three miles of boundary with SCW and has the distinction of being the largest privately-owned property bordering the 44,556± acre wilderness area. This part of the ranch is characterized by one main drainage with a small creek and several smaller drainages that flow westward to Morrison Creek. The slopes are predominantly aspen forests interspersed with open areas, timber pockets, and huge boulders. Formerly part of the Routt National Forest and owned by the federal government until the 1980s, this part of the ranch has been intentionally kept in a wild state with no roads and only primitive trails.

The west side of Morrison Creek is dominated by Woodchuck Mountain, and the property encompasses all sides of it. This lone 8,971 foot mountain is a local landmark which prominently overlooks Stagecoach Reservoir. The mountain is dome-shaped with relatively flat topography on top and steeper sides on all sides. This unique geography creates ideal elk habitat with a wide variety of vegetation, from nearly impenetrable dark timber on the north slope transitioning to mixed aspen stands, oaks, sage, and more open meadows around the sides and the south slope. There are a number of spring-fed ponds which provide water for wildlife and stock.

Woodchuck Mountain Ranch has a gated entrance off County Road 16, which is open year round and maintained by the county. Past the private gate, the lower ranch road provides access from the gate to the southern base of Woodchuck Mountain and a finger of land extending to the east. The upper ranch road is a spur which provides higher access along the east flank of Woodchuck Mountain and then descends into the Morrison Creek valley to the banks of the stream. There are a multitude of trails extending from the roads into the other parts of the ranch.

Broker's Comments

It is rare to find a beautiful mountain ranch of this size that has exceptional hunting and live water, is adjacent to wilderness and is located within 30 minutes of a major ski resort.  Other than a few ponds and an internal road, the ranch is wild and undeveloped, yet is easily accessible and close to ski-town amenities.  It may be the perfect contrast for someone who wants to get back to nature but still be close to civilization.

Learn about the locale

Location

Woodchuck Mountain Ranch is located near the confluence of the Morrison Creek and Yampa River valleys of Routt County in northwest Colorado.  The ranch is approximately 21 miles south of Steamboat Springs, 10 miles southeast of Oak Creek and 3 miles southeast of Stagecoach Reservoir.  The property is accessed by County Road 16, a gravel road maintained throughout the year.  County Road 16 connects to paved County Road 14 at Stagecoach Reservoir, and CR 14 then connects with paved State Highway 131, the main artery between Interstate 70 in the Vail Valley and Steamboat Springs.  The scenic 21-mile drive from the ranch to Steamboat Springs and Steamboat Ski Resort is driven in just under 30 minutes.  The local general aviation airport is located on the northern edge of Steamboat with commercial air service available at the nearby Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden (60± minutes), the Eagle County Regional Airport serving the Vail Valley (1.75± hours) or at the Denver International Airport (3 to 3.5 hours).  

Locale

The deeded and leased lands which make up the ranch lie between Stagecoach Reservoir and the Sarvis Creek Wilderness. The property sits above 1,641-acre Stagecoach State Park, and Woodchuck Mountain itself serves as a scenic backdrop for the reservoir. The area around Stagecoach Reservoir is a hub for a wide variety of recreation throughout the year. Originally built around the former Stagecoach ski area, the area is now a bedroom community for Steamboat Springs and gateway for recreation in the Yampa and Morrison Creek valleys. The area is easily accessible on well-maintained roads from the Steamboat Springs resort area throughout the year.

Steamboat Springs (pop. 12,100) is a dynamic community that balances its stature as a world-class destination resort along with a proud western heritage and character. The area provides a blend of working ranches, mountain retreats, world-class skiing, and a wide variety of complementary amenities and services. Regarded as a four-season resort town, Steamboat is home to a wide range of shopping and dining options, and boasts excellent public and private schools as well as modern health care facilities. Oak Creek is a smaller town with all the basic services including local restaurants, fuel, convenience, banking and grocery.

Climate

The ranch exhibits the attractive characteristics of the Colorado mountain climate – warm sunny days with low humidity and cool nights.  Average summer temperatures are in the upper 70s and 80s, with lows in the 40s and 50s.  Winter typically means temperatures ranging from the teens at night to 20s and 30s during the day.  Snow will accumulate during the winter months, though County Road 16 is well maintained so access to the ranch is good throughout the year.  

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Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

  • Deeded acres (surveyed) 2,203.84±
  • BLM leased acres (approx.) 880.00±
  • 3,083.84± total acres

Deeded Acres: 2,204±

BLM Leased Acres: 880±

Total Leased Acres: 880±

Total Acres: 3,084±

Lowest Elevation: 7,600

Highest Elevation: 9,320

* All acreages are approximations.

Taxes

Property taxes are estimated to be $1,503 per year, based upon past years’ history.

Learn about the recreational amenities

Fishery Resources

Complementing the terrestrial wildlife attraction of the ranch is the private trout fishery. Morrison Creek flows through the heart of the property for slightly less than one mile. About one-and-one-half miles above the property, Morrison Creek and Silver Creek converge to double the streamflow, making it a beautifully sized trout stream. On the ranch, the creek is generally 20 to 40 feet in width and fun to fish with a lightweight rod.

Morrison Creek is characterized by medium gradient and a gentle meander. The streambed consists of medium-sized cobble with a number of larger boulders which create deeper pools and casting platforms. The trout are predominantly brook but an occasional rainbow or brown is not unusual. There is limited beaver activity along the creek and their dams will come and go with the seasons. The creek is in its natural state and while currently a fine fishery, it could benefit from stream improvements should a future owner desire.

Wildlife Resources

For all its rugged scenic beauty, Woodchuck Mountain Ranch really stands out for its wildlife and big game hunting opportunities, especially for Rocky Mountain elk. The ranch is naturally endowed with the right habitat, topography and location to rank high for both quality and quantity of elk. Combined with the size of the property and the availability of over-the-counter tags for the unit, the owner of the ranch is provided with abundant hunting opportunities for their family and guests.

The varied geography of the ranch provides for diverse ecology including aspen groves, mountain oaks, open hillsides, riparian areas, sagebrush, secluded meadows, and north slopes with dark timber. This diversity gives the ranch a large number of “transition zones” where one habitat type borders another. These edge areas are very desirable for wildlife populations and for wildlife watchers and hunters.

The combination of the relatively flat area on top with steeper sides of Woodchuck Mountain creates a protected and secure refuge for the elk. The daily routine for numerous elk herds is to spend the warmer hours of the day bedded in the cool north-facing timber, then feed on either side or over the top of the mountain in the evening, and reversing the route in the morning. These movements create numerous places to get ahead of the elk, depending on the time of day and wind direction. The herds that inhabit this part of the ranch will generally stay resident until the late fall when snow levels ultimately push them to lower elevations.

During the late summer and fall, the changing seasons and hunting pressure in the large blocks of Routt National Forest and Sarvis Creek Wilderness to the east of the ranch get the elk on the move and many seek refuge on this ranch. The numbers of elk that congregate on the ranch during the hunting seasons is a testament to this. The ranch has everything the elk need – cover, water, plenty of feed, and refuges of cool, dark timber. The eastern drainages flowing off the wilderness area funnel elk onto the property. Some herds stay east of Morrison Creek and others will cross over to the west side to Woodchuck Mountain. The elk activity culminates in spectacular form during the fall rut when there are multiple mature bulls bugling to keep the attention of their harems and hold off the multitude of eagerly watching satellite bulls.

Over the last several years, a number of game cameras have been placed around the ranch to record images and track wildlife species, numbers and movements. These photos reveal that the property is consistently home to large numbers of elk as well as mule deer, black bear, and an occasional mountain lion. The game cam photos demonstrate that a number of mature bulls will typically be found on the ranch from the summer months through the snows in late October and November, with numbers peaking during the rut in September and early October.

The ranch is located in Game Management Unit #15, which offers an unlimited either-sex elk archery license and unlimited bull tags for two of the four rifle seasons. This means that an elk hunter can purchase an over-the-counter license for either of the 9-day rifle seasons or the month-long archery season. It does not matter whether the hunter is a resident of Colorado or a non-resident. Licenses for moose, mule deer, antelope, black bear, mountain lion, and for the other elk seasons are available for Unit #15 through the regular Colorado Parks and Wildlife draw process.

Recreational Considerations

In addition to the exclusive big game hunting, trout fishing and private trails found on the ranch, there are even more recreation opportunities available in the surrounding area.  Outstanding lake and river fishing for trout and northern pike is available at Stagecoach Reservoir and the Yampa River tailwater below the dam.  An abundance of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding exist in the adjacent Sarvis Creek Wilderness and Routt National Forest lands.  World-class skiing, golf and resort amenities are within 30 minutes at Steamboat Springs.  

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

The deeded and permitted lands have historically been leased to a local sheep operator for light grazing during the summer months.  The ranch is well-suited for low overhead operation for an owner seeking a property with minimal expenses. 

Leases and Permits

Current ranch ownership holds the agricultural lease on the adjoining BLM land to the north, (N Wood Hill Allotment #04181).  The term of the current permit is through February 2027 and it allows for 220 sheep AUMs.  The lease may be assignable to the purchaser subject to the written approval of the BLM.  For the purposes of this real estate offering, there is no value in the price associated with the lease.  The seller will relinquish its rights in the lease at closing and the application for the lease going forward is the responsibility of the purchaser after closing.  There is an annual fee for the permit and the BLM may charge a transfer fee for approval of the assignment to buyer. 

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