Olsen Piney Ranch

Property Map

Olsen Piney Ranch - Recently Sold

Wolcott, Colorado

One of the last great ranches in the Vail Valley area, the historic Olsen Piney Ranch is blessed with an unequalled combination of privacy, recreation, wildlife and scenery.  Nestled in the secluded Piney River valley, this vast 2,715± acre retreat is a world apart but only minutes away from Vail, Beaver Creek and the Eagle County airport.  The ranch has been owned by the Olsen family since the 1940’s, at one time anchoring the largest ranch in the county.  Its tranquil and pastoral setting endures today, including a rustic western headquarters with two recently remodeled homes.  Highlighted by a diverse landscape of irrigated meadows, aspen groves, timbered hillsides, canyons and sage pastures, the ranch has excellent wildlife populations with trophy caliber mule deer and elk.  The Piney River and several ponds provide outstanding trout fishing opportunities.  An end-of-the-road location at the base of the Gore Mountain Range with 8.5 miles of boundary with White River National Forest and BLM results in extraordinary privacy, yet Vail, Beaver Creek and the Eagle County airport are less than 33 miles away. 


Olsen Piney Ranch is located in the Piney River Valley of Eagle County in the mountains of central Colorado. Eagle County is approximately 90 miles due west of Denver and is home to Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts. Known as the “Vail Valley,” the area is a narrow ribbon of development paralleling Interstate 70 and the Eagle River. I-70 provides excellent access to the ski areas from the Denver metro area and the commercial airport in the town of Eagle.

The Vail Valley is well known as one of the premier destinations for skiers and snowboarders from all over the world. Top-rated ski slopes are complimented by wide-ranging amenities and first-class services. The secluded Piney River Valley lies in sharp contrast to the hustle and bustle of the Vail Valley. It is the next valley over, only ten miles north, with all the scenic beauty but without any of the development.

Heading north from I-70 at Wolcott, the Piney River Valley is accessed via State Highway 131, which links the Vail Valley to another world class resort area, Steamboat Springs. The area along Highway 131 is often referred to as the “Vail-Steamboat corridor” and is a beautiful drive taking in a wide variety of scenery ranging from the Colorado River to pastoral ranchlands and distant mountain peaks. Not much of the Piney River Valley is visible from the highway, but after turning onto a nondescript county road and cresting a ridge that protects the valley beyond, the breathtaking scenery of the Piney basin comes into full view. After passing two huge landmark boulders, the county road descends into the valley and dead-ends at a private bridge that provides access across the river to the Olsen Piney Ranch.

From the front gate of the ranch, it is approximately 14 miles to Wolcott and I-70, 24 miles to Avon (Beaver Creek), 27 miles to the Eagle County Regional Airport and the Vail Valley Jet Center, 33 miles to Vail, 61 miles to Steamboat Springs, and about two hours to Denver and the Denver International Airport.


The Piney River Valley is a stunningly beautiful mountain valley located on the western flank of the Gore Mountain Range. It is situated between the Piney Ridge to the north, the highest peaks of the Gore Range to the east, and Olsen and Red and White Mountains to the south. The Piney River flows northwest from Upper Piney Lake in the Eagles Nest Wilderness to the confluence with the Colorado River a few miles northwest of the ranch at State Bridge.

Thousands of people catch a glimpse of the Piney River Valley as they drive by on Highway 131 between Steamboat Springs and the Vail Valley, but few know of its existence and even fewer have ever been in it. The Piney basin is one of very few river valleys in Colorado that does not have a road, highway or railroad following the river and providing access to the high country in the headwaters. Since the county road that descends into the valley only accesses private land and there is no access to any public land, the road is essentially only traveled by the owners and guests of the two ranches that encompass the private land of the valley. This unique circumstance creates an unusually private setting for the few fortunate landowners in this valley.

The nearest services are located 14 miles south of the ranch at Wolcott.  In addition to the eclectic Wolcott Yacht Club restaurant and historic 4 Eagle Ranch, Wolcott is home to the Vail Rod and Gun Club as well as Red Sky Ranch and Golf Club, a top-rated resort with both Tom Fazio and Greg Norman designed courses and multiple fine dining venues. 

General Description: 

Olsen Piney Ranch is located on the southwest slopes of Piney Ridge, encompassing the majority of the north and east portion of the valley situated between the Piney River and the White River National Forest. The ranch boundaries extend down to the Piney River in several locations, providing multiple river access points. Furthermore, adjacent BLM land provides additional fishing access, in particular on the downstream end of the ranch, where one could fish all the way to the Colorado River (2± miles).

Ranch elevations range from approximately 6,935 to 9,000 feet. The ranch headquarters is at 7,800 feet. For comparison, the town of Vail and Beaver Creek Village are both located at about 8,100 feet. Piney Ridge tops out above the ranch on Cottonwood Peak at 11,484 feet and Piney Peak at 11,573 feet. The diversity in elevation gives the ranch a variety in vegetation, transitioning from a pinyon, juniper and cedar ecosystem in the lower elevations to aspens, mountain oaks and conifers at the upper end.

The ranch is irregular in shape and 3 miles wide at its widest points, both east to west and north to south. As the ranch stretches for three miles along the side of Piney Ridge, there are ten creeks and drainages that bisect it. These are not only instrumental in providing water throughout the ranch, they help make it a more diverse landscape. There are two areas that encompass the majority of the irrigated lands: one surrounding the headquarters in the central part of the ranch, and the other on the southern end in an area known as the Bruner, after its original homesteader. Interspersed throughout the remainder of the ranch are a number of aspen groves, timbered slopes, canyons, rolling hills and sage pastures, giving it a wild yet bucolic feel.

The largest canyon on the ranch is particularly inspiring. Box Canyon begins as a small stream drainage in the national forest to the west of the ranch. The canyon increases in size as it flows through the ranch to the confluence with the Piney River in the adjacent BLM land. On the ranch it is about 200 feet deep, featuring an aspen-lined creek at the bottom and the heavily timbered north-facing hillside, which is a prime elk bedding area. In the BLM, the walls become steeper and rockier with striking striations on both sides of the canyon.
The ranch is adjacent to White River National Forest and BLM lands along its entire north and east boundaries. An additional block of BLM land located along the south and west boundaries increases the total boundary with public lands to 8.5 miles. There are no roads in these areas of forest and BLM, and only limited trails. This setting adds to the property’s scenery and solitude, yet gives it convenient back-door access to hundreds of thousands of acres in the national forest and the Eagles Nest Wilderness that are not heavily utilized by the public.

An important distinguishing characteristic of this ranch is its remarkable privacy. The ranch is end-of-the-road and does not have any public roads bisecting or adjoining it. There are no private properties located above this ranch which can look down into it. The ranch headquarters location has expansive views in every direction, yet no other buildings can be seen. Stargazing on a clear dark night is spectacular.


2,715± acres


The headquarters on this historical ranch consists of a number of original buildings as well as two remodeled homes.  The main home is set on the bank of one of the ponds.  This home was painstakingly remodeled and restored to a modern version of what it would have looked like in 1905.  The home has two bedrooms, one bath, and two enclosed porches.  Over the years the patent homestead had been added onto and now it has been restored all the way back to the original historic structure.  The second home is located on a knoll overlooking the headquarters.  It is currently undergoing renovation similar to the main house.  This home also has two bedrooms and one bath and will be well suited as a guest home or caretaker’s house.  An assortment of historic barns and equestrian buildings round out the headquarters area.  Another set of structures is located at the site of the Bruner homestead on the southern end of the ranch.  This serves as a hunting camp with several rustic cabins.  While modest, the improvements on the ranch have a lot of character and are suited for short-term usage or while a new owner’s home is constructed.  


The ranch features an attractive Colorado mountain climate with a pleasant combination of location and aspect.  It generally faces southwest, giving it a milder climate in the colder months.  Southwest-facing hillsides typically don’t hold a lot of snow and are a winter concentration area for elk and deer.  Often the trade off with most southwest-facing properties is that they tend to be dry, however, because Olsen Piney is located at the base of the Piney Ridge with its 11,000 foot peaks, the ranch benefits from a number of drainages that flow through it and provide numerous sources of surface and underground water.  

General Operations: 

The aesthetic and recreational strengths of the ranch are nicely complimented by its agricultural production. Historical water rights are used to irrigate several hundred acres of meadow and pasture. The ranch is currently leased to a tenant who is responsible for irrigating, haying and grazing a small herd of cows. This generates some income and keeps the property agricultural for property tax purposes. The ranch is also well suited for equestrian use, with horse pastures and extensive riding opportunities on site as well as in the adjacent national forest.

Water Resources: 

Fed by the high mountains of the Gore Range above, several creeks cascade through the ranch, providing water to irrigate meadows and fill ponds, then adding their flows to the Piney River.  Historic water rights are embodied in a number of irrigation ditches and reservoirs.  

Wildlife Resources: 

The Piney River Valley supports large herds of resident elk and mule deer, and provides an important migration corridor between the Eagles Nest Wilderness and the lower elevation ranges toward the Colorado River. The location of the ranch adjacent to the White River National Forest and its diverse topography and vegetation give it high quality wildlife habitat, especially for elk and mule deer. From the oak brush and sage to aspen groves and dark timber, elk and deer utilize the entire ranch and are likely to be seen on some part of the ranch every day of the year, often in close proximity to each other. Additionally, there are turkeys, ducks, geese and grouse that inhabit the ranch. Black bear, mountain lion and moose are seldom seen but also inhabit the valley.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife animal distribution maps, the entire ranch and surrounding area falls within the classifications for summer range and winter range for both elk and mule deer. Much of the ranch is identified as Winter Concentration Area for elk and mule deer. A large area in the national forest above the ranch is identified as Elk Summer Concentration Area. In addition, the entire ranch is classified as Turkey Overall Range and the lower elevations are labeled Turkey Winter Range.

The combination of excellent habitat, higher elevation grazing above the ranch and southwest-facing slopes with good winter browse on the lower parts of the ranch make Olsen Piney Ranch an excellent wildlife property throughout the year.

The extensive boundary shared with White River National Forest and BLM means that the wildlife can freely move back and forth throughout the year. Naturally as soon as hunting season nears and human activity increases on the public lands, many animals seek refuge on private lands where they are more or less left alone.

The ranch is located in Game Management Unit #36, which offers an unlimited either-sex elk license for two of the four rifle seasons and unlimited archery tags for private land only during the archery season. 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 or not a resident of Colorado.

Although no mule deer licenses are available over-the-counter in Colorado, large landowners such as Olsen Piney Ranch can receive priority preference to increase their chances of drawing tags through the license application process. Eagle County is known as one of the top mule deer areas in the state and has produced several of the top record book Boone and Crockett bucks in Colorado.

Fishery Resources: 

The Olsen Piney Ranch features outstanding river and stillwater trout fishing. The ranch boundaries incorporate portions of the Piney River, including a private stretch that is adjacent to BLM land that adds another 2± miles of river. In its entirety, the Piney River is a 28 mile-long tributary of the Colorado River. It is a beautiful mountain stream with rocky streambed and clear, cold water. In addition to the typical caddis and mayfly hatches, the Piney often has excellent green drake and salmon fly hatches. The Piney is home to rainbow, brown, brook and native Colorado River cutthroat trout, making a “Trout Grand Slam” an accomplishable challenge.

A number of ponds on the ranch offer an alternative trout fishing experience. The upper pond in particular has superb fishing for what appears to be an exclusive population of Colorado River cutthroat trout. These cutthroats have also been seen migrating up the feeder creek and in the irrigation ditch in the national forest. Cutthroat trout are the native species to this area, are very colorful fish, and tend to be aggressive feeders.

In addition to on-site fishing, the ranch is located within a short drive of two of Colorado’s top rivers, the Eagle and the Colorado, making for convenient day trips. Some of the best float-fishing trips on the Colorado River are within 30 minutes of the ranch.

Recreational Considerations: 

The combination of activities available on the ranch, in the nearby Vail Valley, and in the neighboring public lands of the BLM, White River National Forest, and Eagles Nest Wilderness provide unlimited recreational opportunities. 


Long before skiing came to Eagle County in the early 1960s, ranching was its main industry.  By the 1940s, a prominent rancher named J. Perry Olsen had assembled the largest ranch in Eagle County, totaling about 27,000 acres plus several hundred thousand acres of grazing leases.  Perry Olsen had purchased this particular 2,715± acre portion of the ranch from Charles A. Switzer in 1944.  Switzer had previously assembled the ranch by combining what was originally 13 different homestead parcels.  The homesteads were all acquired from the federal government in patents dating from the early 1900s.  After Perry’s death in 1988, the majority of the ranch was sold but the Olsen heirs kept this portion of the ranch for their continued enjoyment.  Over the 70 years that the Olsens have owned this ranch, the Vail Valley has become highly developed.  Thankfully during that time, this property has remained relatively unchanged.  The Olsens have been good stewards of the land and although they have considered conservation easements to preserve the pristine setting and protect its extraordinary wildlife habitat, no such encumbrances have been placed on the ranch.


Current property taxes for the entire ranch are $2,872.84.

Water Rights: 

The ranch owns significant water rights which will transfer with the sale of the real estate.   A more detailed analysis of these ditch and reservoir rights will be available to qualified buyers at the appropriate time.  

Mineral Rights: 

Any appurtenant minerals owned by the Seller will transfer with a sale.  It is known that some mineral rights were reserved by the federal government in the original patents and others are believed to be intact.  

Broker Comments: 

With good reason, Vail and Beaver Creek have consistently ranked as two of the top mountain resort destinations for visitors from all over the world.  Over the decades, the Vail Valley has experienced tremendous development pressures.  Today there are very few large retreat properties that offer a beautiful and pristine setting for a private sanctuary to enjoy wildlife, fishing and outdoor recreation activities, yet are only 30 minutes from the slopes or the finest restaurants.  The Olsen Piney Ranch is a rare opportunity to acquire one of the finest examples of such ranch.  

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, Jerome Chvilicek, Dan Berstrom or Brant Marsh at (406) 656-7500 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, Dan Bergstrom or Brant Marsh at (406) 656-7500 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
Tina Hamm or Scott Moran • (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.