Elk River Ranch

Property Map

Elk River Ranch

  • Elk River Ranch

Elk River Ranch

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Located in the heart of the pastoral Elk River Valley, this 801± acre ranch features panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, well-appointed accommodations, fertile irrigated meadows and cottonwood-lined river with trophy trout fishing. The finely crafted 7,937± square foot main home set on the bank of the river is complimented by an historic ranch compound with a variety of lodging and entertainment for guests. Excellent water rights supply productive hay meadows which balance the upland grazing pastures. A beautiful and private stretch of the Elk River meanders through the middle of the ranch providing outstanding fly fishing. Neighboring ranches with conservation easements provide protection on two sides, although the Elk River Ranch is unencumbered. The world class amenities of Steamboat Springs are only 10 miles down the valley via paved roads. 

Co-listed with Pam Vanatta, Steamboat Sotheby's
[email protected]


Famous landscape photographer and top-selling publisher John Fielder aptly describes the Elk River Valley in his book the Best of Colorado as “one of the most beautiful river valleys in Colorado.” Towering cottonwoods line the trout filled river as it meanders through verdant meadows and forested mountains surround the valley on all sides. The area is rich with recreational opportunities, including exceptional fly-fishing, big game hunting and skiing at Steamboat Resort located just 15 minutes from the ranch.

Extending north from Steamboat Springs, the Elk River valley lies on the west side of the Park Range and the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. The Elk River is a main tributary of the Yampa River, which drains the majority of Northwest Colorado. Elk River Ranch is situated in a quiet part of the valley, where the paved road (Highway 129) was constructed over a mile from the river and no trains travel the valley. A well-maintained county road provides access to the property entrance.

The ranch is located in northern Routt County, midway between Steamboat Springs and Steamboat Lake. The tiny town of Clark is just 7 miles to the north. Clark is home to the well-known Clark Store, a popular gathering place for locals and guests of several luxury guest ranches, including the Vista Verde and the Home Ranch. At the top of the valley, the Steamboat Lake area has become a recreation mecca with boating, fishing and snowmobiling. The four-season resort town of Steamboat Springs is situated 10 miles to the southeast and the local general aviation airport is located between the ranch and town, less than 10 minutes away. Commercial air service is also close by at the Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden, which is just over 30 minutes to the southwest.


While development has forever changed the landscape around most Rocky Mountain ski resorts, ranching still dominates the culture of the Steamboat Springs area. Despite its beauty and proximity to Steamboat Springs, the Elk River Valley in particular has been relatively sheltered from development. Working cattle and horse ranches dominate the countryside and many of the properties throughout the valley have been permanently protected with conservation easements.

Steamboat is a unique Colorado town, maintaining the perfect balance of a world-class destination resort with all the attendant amenities while at the same time embracing its western heritage and authentic small-town friendly character. The Steamboat ski area is world famous for its fluffy powder and epic tree skiing. A credit to the 100–year old Winter Sports Club and extraordinary local ski and snowboard training facilities, Steamboat has sent more athletes to the Winter Olympics than any other town in North America. With approximately 12,000 residents, the town boasts great schools and wonderful restaurants as well as the regional health care center. Routt County has attracted an increasing number of “location neutral” businesses and people who could live virtually anywhere but choose this area for the attractive quality of life found here.

General Description: 

At the core of the ranch is the magnificent Elk River. As it winds its way through the property, the river is the source of many of the attractive characteristics of the ranch. The river supplies the irrigation water for the fertile hay meadows and provides the flows for the streams and the ponds that cascade through the ranch headquarters. The bluffs that form much of the west bank of the river, providing a secluded and protected setting, were carved by the river. Water from the river system keeps the riparian area lush with a forest of cottonwood trees providing habitat for abundant wildlife and the perfect location for the owner’s home. The dynamic waters of the river are both soothing to look at and exciting to fish.

Elk River Ranch is a landmark property that people can’t help but notice as they drive through the valley. The pastoral setting and the manicured grounds of the ranch headquarters with its red-roofed buildings naturally catch the eye. The owner’s home, tucked amongst the ribbon of trees lining the river, is barely noticeable in the distance. Visitors to the ranch find it easily accessible just off Highway 129 on County Road 54. The entrance to the ranch headquarters is marked by a stately overhead gate which opens onto a private asphalt drive.

The ranch headquarters area snuggles up against several large, highly productive irrigated meadows. It is highlighted by a number of streams which wind through the compound and adjacent willow stands. The Elk River meanders through the center of the ranch, lined with enormous cottonwood and willow trees. The riparian area near the river is very rich and healthy consequently supporting a variety of wildlife. This streamside forested area creates the protected setting for the secluded owner’s compound. Beyond the river are bluffs overlooking the valley floor providing beautiful views of the ranch and the distant slopes of the Steamboat ski area. The property increases in elevation toward the western boundary, encompassing beautiful rolling hills and sage covered draws. Overall, approximately half of the 801± acre property is riverfront or irrigated meadow and the balance is upland pasture. Elevations range from 6,880 feet along the river to 7,225 feet in the northwest corner of the ranch.

Elk River Ranch features picturesque panoramic views in every direction. To the north, the towering summit of iconic Hanh’s Peak identifies the proximity of Steamboat Lake. The high mountains of the Park Range located in Routt National Forest and Mount Zirkel Wilderness lie just to the east of the ranch. In the distance to the southeast - towards town - the upper slopes of the Steamboat Ski Resort can be seen. To the south Elk Mountain rises up, commonly known as the Sleeping Giant due to its distinctive profile. Looking to the west are numerous mountains including Wolf Mountain, Pilot Knob and Sand Mountain.

Elk River Ranch is surrounded by a number of large private ranches that also continue to be operated agriculturally. Three key neighboring ranches have been protected in perpetuity with conservation easements. Elk River Ranch is not subject to a conservation easement and there are no unusual limitations on its potential for future conservation or subdivision.


801± Acres


The ranch improvements are usefully arranged in two locations with the main headquarters area and guest facilities set at the edge of the hay meadows and the owner’s home located a short distance away in a very private site amongst the cottonwoods lining the river. This makes it possible for the owners and guests to enjoy the ranch and each other’s company together while giving each some space and privacy.

It is readily apparent that the improvements at the ranch headquarters are loaded with character. Each of the custom buildings has been constructed using the same or complementary rustic materials. The improvements are connected by lighted asphalt drives and walkways. The manicured grounds are well-maintained and fed by an underground irrigation system. Two steams meander through the headquarters area and water flows through numerous ponds including one of approximately one acre in size located just off the back deck of the guest house.

The owner’s compound is located just down the drive from the ranch headquarters at the edge of the river. With manicured grounds set amongst the mature cottonwood and willow trees, it is a beautiful setting and is extraordinarily private. A circular asphalt drive connects the main house and the equestrian facility.

Owner’s Home:
The centerpiece of the owner’s compound is an exquisite four bedroom, six bath custom home. The style is mountain contemporary and the 7,937± sq. ft. floorplan is thoughtful and functional. The grand entry welcomes guests to an estate graced with custom hand-finished textured walls and gorgeous tumbled marble floors. The spacious great room features a massive moss-rock fireplace and a gallery of windows overlooking the river setting. An authentic wood-burning pizza oven is the perfect cooking accessory to all the top-grade appliances that make up the gourmet kitchen: two dishwashers, two sinks, two islands, a cooktop pot water faucet, large pantry and dining nook. In the dining room the floors are graced with 100-year-old rustic reclaimed barn wood while the textured walls tastefully display exotic wine labels. This is the perfect place to entertain with the warmth of a fire, a comfortable bar, wine refrigerator and wine storage. All four bedrooms, including the lavish master suite, are on the main level, and laundry rooms at either end of the house create ease in housekeeping. Upstairs is a multi-function room with full bath, perfect for a gym, recreation room or additional bedroom(s). Outdoor spaces are designed for entertaining or relaxing with a large covered patio, gazebo and built-in grilling station complete with outdoor sound system, all overlooking the landscaped riverbank setting. Finally, the oversize four-stall garage offers plenty of room for vehicle storage.

Equestrian Facility with Quarters:
Located near the main house in the owner’s compound is a horse barn, indoor and outdoor arenas, round pen and several horse pastures. The barn features five stalls with tack room, bath and living quarters for guests or a caretaker on the upper level.

Guest House:
Situated at the ranch headquarters, the 3,524+/- square foot guest house features a majestic two-story river rock fireplace as the focal point of the great room. High ceilings and large windows add to the spacious interior and well-framed views. Rich Brazilian Mahogany woodwork was used on the walls and floors throughout the house. The kitchen was recently remodeled and is fully equipped with top quality appliances. The home features 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, an office and a rooftop observation deck provides excellent views of the property and the surrounding mountains. Several porches are situated to enjoy the beautiful landscaping and peaceful views.

A favorite spot for parties and guests, the authentic western saloon is highlighted by a 21-foot custom oak bar, pool table and a variety of other gaming tables. From the swinging doors and chandeliers to the antique ceiling, the saloon is a step back in time. It is also very functional, with 2 guest bedrooms, 3 baths and an exercise room complete with steam room.

Homestead House:
The original log homestead was constructed in 1894 and has been rebuilt and remodeled. This charming 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath house features modern amenities and the same mahogany woodwork as the main house.

Honeymoon Cabin:
Perfectly set on the bank of one of the ponds is a cozy one bedroom and one bath cabin with an efficiency kitchen.

Manager’s House:
This 1,770± sq. ft. home was built specifically for the ranch manager in 2008 with three bedrooms and three baths.

Horse Barn:
The distinctive gambrel-roofed barn features six 12’ by 12’ stalls with rubber mats, a heated tack room with ½ bath, feed area and spacious hay loft.

Maintenance / Equipment Storage Building:
Features large heated mechanical and woodwork shops with a welding area and an office with toilet room. There is a garage and enclosed storage area and an additional open equipment storage area.

Carriage House:
There is additional storage for vehicles and toys in this four stall garage with concrete floors and automatic openers.

Hay & Machinery Shed:
Three-sided hay storage with 200-ton capacity and three-sided equipment storage.

The residential buildings are capable of hosting large groups for family get-togethers, corporate gatherings, and other social functions. The ranch offers a number of small-to-mid-size homes and cabins that allow guests the opportunity to escape. This creates flexibility and allows smaller spaces to be utilized when there are only a few guests or just the owners staying at the ranch. The ranch has also been issued a Special Use Permit by Routt County to operate as a guest facility offering overnight accommodations.


The Elk River Ranch boasts an attractive year-round mountain climate. The summers are moderate with cool nights and the winters are relatively mild for a ski resort location. The property is easily accessed every month of the year. The elevation of the property ranges from approximately 6,880 feet along the river to 7,225 feet at the highest point. Due to its location at the base of the west slope of the Continental Divide, the Steamboat Springs area receives more precipitation than the average for Colorado, enjoying 24 inches of average annual precipitation. Temperatures range from an average high of 82 degrees in July, the warmest month, to an average high of 27 degrees in January, the coldest month. The area also benefits from abundant sunshine and little wind.

General Operations: 

The aesthetic and recreational strengths of the ranch are nicely augmented by its agricultural production. Excellent water rights allow the irrigation of approximately 210 acres of highly productive hay meadows. Top quality Timothy hay is grown with an average production of 2.5 to 3 tons per acre. The property is fenced and cross-fenced, with fences in good condition. Additionally, alfalfa is grown on approximately 45 acres in the hills west of the river and large areas of sage were recently mowed to enhance grass production. The ranch is currently leased to a tenant who is responsible for the irrigating, haying, grazing and maintaining fences. The ranch is also well suited for equestrian use, with a roping arena, horse pastures and extensive riding opportunities on the ranch and in the nearby Routt National Forest. The ranch employs a caretaker who lives on the ranch with his wife, oversees the property and takes care of the grounds. 

Wildlife Resources: 

A wide variety of wildlife is found on Elk River Ranch, including elk, deer, waterfowl and upland birds. The rich habitat and protected nature of the property along with its location serve to attract elk and deer, especially to the meadows and the riparian area along the river. The abundance of water provides a healthy environment for various ducks, geese and other birds. In addition to the property itself, there are many nearby destinations for wildlife viewing. For the hunter, one of the best big game hunting areas in Colorado is located in the northwest part of the state surrounding Steamboat Springs and the Elk River valley.

Fishery Resources: 

The scenic beauty of the Elk River is complemented by its status as a superb trout fishery. As a main tributary of the Yampa River, the Elk drains to the west side of the Park Range and the Mount Zirkel Wilderness and portions of the Elkhead Mountains. The Elk River is a fertile, medium gradient, freestone river; a wild river without any main stem impoundments. The Elk flows through predominately private ranch land and is not heavily fished due to limited access.

Elk River Ranch features an outstanding stretch of the Elk River that is known for high quality trout fishing. Encompassing approximately 1.5 miles in total channel length, this part of the river is exceptionally diverse and features great trout habitat. There are many riffles, runs and deep pools and they all have their own character due to the river’s various meanders, islands, bends, shelves and S-curves. The streambed is predominantly medium size cobblestone and widths range from approximately 35 to 100 feet, resulting in a nice river for wade fishing. The ranch owns both sides of the river making this stretch one of the longest totally private reaches on the Elk River.

The trout species are primarily rainbows, with lesser numbers of brown, cutthroat, cut-bow and even an occasional brookie. The typical fish landed is a colorful 14 to 16 inch specimen and there is a healthy population of larger fish over 20 inches. The dry fly fishing can be outstanding while streamers and nymphs are always productive. The nearby hay meadows can make for an exciting grasshopper “hatch” in the late summer months.

It is useful to divide the river into three fishing beats, each about a half mile in length, which for the purposes of differentiation will be called upper, middle and lower:

The upper fishing beat is the most wild and raw. This stretch begins as the river flows onto the ranch at an island with several side channels, one of which is a tributary stream. This stream, named Deep Creek converges with the river right at the upstream boundary of the ranch. It is not unusual to encounter elk and deer while fishing this part of the ranch. After flowing through several riffle-pool sequences and gentle meanders, the river splits around another island with a great confluence pool and then flows into the middle reach.

The middle fishing beat begins with a long run followed by three consecutive big bends. The first bend turns right at the back yard of the owner’s home. The river then flows through several riffles and small pools and then cuts back the other way when it reaches the base of the bluff. A stretch of great dry fly water sets up before the third bend. This curve is the smallest, but culminates in a deep hole that is one of the best fishing spots on the whole ranch for big fish. This stretch features a gravel drive that parallels the river for excellent access.

The lower fishing beat begins with a long, slow straight nicknamed the Aquarium because the bluff that makes up the west bank of the river provides an elevated platform to view fish swimming below. This is also a great spot for a fishing buddy to help “spot and stalk” fish and watch hook-ups. Moving downstream, the river speeds up again after an irrigation diversion that has created another deep pool loaded with fish. One long sweeping bend is followed by a riffle and then another long bend in the other direction. Both bends have broad gravel bars on the inside and are great locations for less experienced anglers. The final stretch of this beat is a long riffle punctuated with areas of deeper water that always hold fish.

The quality of the fishing is confirmed by the fact that the ranch has been leased by the local Orvis-endorsed fly shop for years and is one of their premier guided fishing destinations. They have expressed strong interest in continuing a guiding and/or leasing relationship with a new owner.

Recreational Considerations: 

Elk River Ranch lies in the heart of an amazing recreational paradise. A multitude of outdoor opportunities are available within the boundaries of Elk River Ranch as well as in the immediate vicinity. The proximity of the ranch to the surrounding mountains, ski area, Steamboat Springs, Elk and Yampa River drainages, Routt National Forest and Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area make it very convenient to take advantage of the abundant nearby recreational opportunities. Summer activities include outstanding boating, floating, fishing, golfing, hiking, biking, riding and exploration of vast national forest and wilderness areas within a short distance of the ranch.

The focal points of winter recreation are the Steamboat ski area and extensive snowmobiling opportunities. With nearly 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, Steamboat is one of Colorado’s largest areas and most family friendly resorts. There is excellent backcountry powder skiing in the Park Range through Steamboat Powdercats or private snowmobile. For those more interested in motorized winter recreation, Northwest Colorado is the top destination in the state for snowmobiling, with groomed trail systems around Steamboat Lake, Buffalo Pass, Rabbit Ears Pass, the Elk Heads and the Flat Tops. Other winter activities include snowshoeing, ice skating and Nordic skiing. The flat meadows of the ranch are the perfect venue for a skate skiing trail system.


Recent taxes are estimated to be approximately $27,000 annually.

Water Rights: 

The hay meadows of Elk River Ranch are amply supplied by irrigation water from some of the oldest rights in the valley, dating back to the late 1800s. Additionally, the ranch has rights for six ponds and multiple springs and water wells. All water rights appurtenant to the property will transfer to the buyer at closing. A detailed summary of the water rights associated with the property has been completed by a water rights attorney and will be made available for review by qualified prospective buyers at the appropriate time. 

Mineral Rights: 

Seller is offering to convey any and all owned minerals appurtenant to the property. 

Broker Comments: 

Elk River Ranch is distinguished by its bucolic valley setting, high quality private fly fishing, outstanding accommodations, future land use flexibility and proximity to world-class amenities. Recognizing the value of creating this elusive combination, current ownership assembled the ranch by uniting three adjacent river properties into one, then making extensive improvements to the land and buildings. The result is an attractive offering that truly has no equal.

Additional Services: 

MANAGEMENT SERVICES – Hall and Hall’s Management Division has a very clear mission–to represent the owner and to ensure that his or her experience is a positive one. Services are customized to suit the owner’s needs. They often begin with the recruiting and hiring of a suitable ranch manager or caretaker and are followed by the development of a management or operating plan along with appropriate budgets. Ongoing services include bill paying, ranch oversight, and consulting services as needed. Even the most sophisticated and experienced ranch owners appreciate the value of a management firm representing them and providing advice on local area practices and costs. Wes Oja and Jerome Chvilicek at (406) 656-7500 or Justin Bryan at (325) 260-5883 are available to describe and discuss these services in detail and welcome your call.

RESOURCE ENHANCEMENT SERVICES – Increasingly the value of a ranch is measured by the quality of each and every one of its resources. Coincidentally, the enhancement of a ranch’s resources also increases the pleasure that one derives from the ownership of a ranch. Our management services have included the assessment of everything from wildlife habitat to bird habitat to water resources and fisheries and the subsequent oversight of the process involved with the enhancement of these resources.Wes Oja, Jerome Chvilicek or Dan Bergstrom at (406) 656-7500 or Justin Bryan in our Abilene office at (325) 260-5883 are available to describe and discuss these services in detail and welcome your call.

AUCTIONS - Hall and Hall Auctions offer “Another Solution” to create liquidity for the owners of Investment-Quality Rural Real Estate.  Our auction team has experience in marketing farmland, ranchland, timberland and recreational properties throughout the nation.  Extreme attention to detail and complete transparency coupled with Hall and Hall’s “Rolodex” of more than 40,000 targeted owners and buyers of rural real estate help assure that there are multiple bidders at each auction. In addition, the unique Hall and Hall partnership model creates a teamwork approach that helps to assure that we realize true market value on auction day.  For more information on our auction services contact Scott Shuman at (800) 829-8747.

APPRAISALS - Staying abreast of ancillary market influences in ever-changing economic conditions requires a broad professional network to tap into. Finding an appraiser who not only understands the numbers but also the differences in value from one area to another is a critical part of making an informed decision. The appraisal team at Hall and Hall, formed entirely of Accredited Members of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA), has that critical network of brokers and lending professionals. This professional network coupled with diverse experience across multiple regions and market segments allows our appraisal team to deliver a quality product in a reasonable timeframe.  For more information contact our appraisal team at (406) 656-7500.

SPECIALIZED LENDING - Since 1946 Hall and Hall has created a legacy by efficiently providing capital to landowners.  In addition to traditional farm and ranch loans, we specialize in understanding the unique aspects of placing loans on ranches where value may be influenced by recreational features, location and improvements and repayment may come from outside sources. Our extensive experience and efficient processing allows us to quickly tell you whether we can provide the required financing.

Competitive Pricing  |  Flexible Terms  |  Efficient Processing
Dave Roddy • (406) 656-7500  
Mike Hall or Judy Chirila • (303) 861-8282
Monte Lyons • (806) 698-6882 
J.T. Holt • (806) 698-6884


In Colorado, Buyers should be aware that different real estate brokerage relationships are available which include seller agency, buyer agency or transaction-brokerage.



Definitions of Working Relationships:

Seller’s Agent:
A seller’s agent (or listing agent) works solely on behalf of the seller to promote the interests of the seller with the utmost good faith, loyalty and fidelity. The agent negotiates on behalf of and acts as an advocate for the seller. The seller’s agent must disclose to potential buyers all adverse material facts actually known by the seller’s agent about the property. A separate written listing agreement is required which sets forth the duties and obligations of the broker and the seller.

Buyer’s Agent:
A buyer’s agent works solely on behalf of the buyer to promote the interests of the buyer with the utmost good faith, loyalty and fidelity. The agent negotiates on behalf of and acts as an advocate for the buyer. The buyer’s agent must disclose to potential sellers all adverse material facts actually known by the buyer’s agent including the buyer’s financial ability to perform the terms of the transaction and if a residential property, whether the buyer intends to occupy the property. A separate written buyer agency agreement is required which sets forth the duties and obligations of the broker and the buyer.

A transaction-broker assists the buyer or seller or both throughout a real estate transaction by performing terms of any written or oral agreement, fully informing the parties, presenting all offers and assisting the parties with any contracts, including the closing of the transaction without being an agent or advocate for any of the parties. A transaction-broker must use reasonable skill and care in the performance of any oral or written agreement, and must make the same disclosures as agents about all adverse material facts actually known by the transaction-broker concerning a property or a buyer’s financial ability to perform the terms of a transaction and if a residential property, whether the buyer intends to occupy the property. No written agreement is required.

A customer is a party to a real estate transaction with whom the broker has no brokerage relationship because such party has not engaged or employed the broker, either as the party’s agent or as the party’s transaction-broker.

Please contact one of the Hall and Hall brokers for a complete discussion of potential working relationships for this property.  A written relationship disclosure will be provided to a prospective buyer prior to engaging in brokerage activities as defined by the Colorado Real Estate Commission. 

NOTICE: Offering is subject to errors, omissions, prior sale, change or withdrawal without notice, and approval of purchase by owner. Information regarding land classifications, acreages, carrying capacities, potential profits, etc., are intended only as general guidelines and have been provided by sources deemed reliable, but whose accuracy we cannot guarantee. Prospective buyers should verify all information to their satisfaction. Prospective buyers should also be aware that the photographs in this brochure may have been digitally enhanced.