For Sale

Bitter Creek Ranch

$14,900,000 Rangely, CO 11,037± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

Bitter Creek Ranch is a generational ranch full of real western and Native American history. The ranch is an exceptional mix of recreation and cattle grazing opportunities. A hunter or cowboys dream, the contiguous ranch runs 800 AUs on 112,097± total acres with 11,037± deeded acres, 90,000± acres BLM lease, 5,080± acres leased Utah State land, and 5,980± acres open grazing land. An oasis entirely in trophy area Game Management Unit 21 where 200 inch bucks and 400 inch bulls are not uncommon. Truly a year-round ranch covering elevations of 5,200 feet up to 9,000 feet at the top. Over 300 acres of flood-irrigated pastures and a variety of sub-irrigated meadows along the seven miles of Bitter Creek which flows through the heart of the summer country, filling six fishponds. In the spring it is seasonally irrigated from Evacuation Creek and numerous free-flowing springs. The lower elevation portion of the ranch provides forage through the winter. The ranch has six homes of various sizes, three in the winter country and three nestled in the secluded mountains of the summer country. Additional improvements include a hunting outfitter’s bunkhouse and headquarters near the privately owned McAndrews Lake, various outbuildings and storage sheds, and strategically located corrals, working facilities, and holding pens. There are four water wells on the private land and three artesian wells on BLM land.

Just the Facts

  • 112,097± acres total with 11,037± acres deeded
  • Trophy mule deer and elk genetics
  • Additional hunting for black bear, mountain lion, and turkey 
  • Fishing for various types of trout in the numerous ponds
  • Owner rated carrying capacity of 800 mother cows year-round 
  • Great winter range ranch because of very good protection
  • Four sets of working facilities
  • Six homes on the ranch and various outbuildings
  • Strategically located corrals and working facilities

General Description

Bitter Creek Ranch is fully operational as a cattle ranch and has historically run 600-800 pairs year-round. The owners run a rotational grazing program that winters the cattle on the north end of the ranch and moves them to the south end for the summer and then back to the north end through the fall. The cows are turned out on the winter range and get most of their feed from the grass that grew all summer. The ranch does not put up any feed and occasionally, on very dry years, will supplement in the winter with hay and cake.

The ranch is truly a recreational paradise with tremendous hunting, fishing ponds, and multiple other recreational opportunities.

Broker's Comments

This is a rare, very large multigenerational ranch with tremendous hunting as well as a year-round grazing ranch. A ranch that offers legitimate trophy mule deer hunting and trophy elk hunting that is very hard to come by in Colorado. The diversity of the terrain and ecosystems on this property also makes it tremendously unique. As you travel through the ranch, you feel like you have been in multiple states that are all beautiful in their own right. Compared to other ranches with this kind of quality recreational opportunities on a dollar per acre basis, this ranch is a tremendous deal. Although remote, access is still good through Rangely, Grand Junction or Vernal, Utah. This is a great opportunity to own a truly multifaceted ranch full of real western and Native American history.

Learn about the locale

Location

Bitter Creek Ranch is located twenty miles south of Rangely, Colorado, one hour from Vernal, Utah, and one and a half hours from Grand Junction. Rangely provides the closest access for all goods and services to the winter range. From the summer range, Grand Junction and Rangely are similar distances.

Locale

Rangely is located in the White River Valley, nestled alongside the Book Cliffs mountains and the mesa of the high desert of Northwest Colorado. The largest elk herd in the world winters on the nearby Dinosaur National Monument land. This area of Colorado was home to Native American Ute and Fremont Tribes. As a result, the area is home to a lot of “rock art” or petroglyphs. The Indians used pigments from animals, plants, or minerals to create the paintings. The Rangely Wild Horse Loop is also a popular day trip for locals and visitors alike. In addition to Dinosaur National Monument, multiple parks are located in the area. The Rangely Outdoor Museum tells the history of the areas storied past. There are extensive recreational activities in the surrounding area from off-roading, ATV riding, fishing, boating, golf, scenic byway, rock crawling, hiking, and others.

Climate

Due to the diverse topography and sheer size of the ranch, the climate can vary greatly throughout the year from the north end near Rangely to the south end in the mountain country.

History

The ranch is deep in family tradition and history. Started in the 1880s with a herd of longhorns and a Ute Native trading post, it is currently in its 4th and 5th  generations of ownership and management. The ranch was originally homesteaded by C.P. Hill and he was temporarily displaced by Northern Ute Tribe Reservation. The Utes were subsequently removed from Colorado as a result of the Meeker Massacre.  The turn of the 20th Century saw small towns and a railroad running through what now makes up much of the ranch, leaving one to imagine what this remote location was like as a boomtown. Around 1900, the Uintah Railroad was being built from Mack, Colorado, to the gilsonite mines near Dragon and Watson, Utah. C.P. Hill worked on the construction and Caroline did some cooking for the crews.  The Uintah Railroad was a narrow-gauge steam train that operated between 1901 – 1940.  A good part of the old train right of way and some of the ghost towns that were there are located on what is the grazing allotment today. 

In around 1900, C.P. found a beautiful secluded canyon with good dependable running water in Bitter Creek. He built a trading post there and traded with the Utes, who would come to that area every summer. Today that remains a very important part of the ranch and serves as the summer range for the ranch.

Abandoned mining towns and cemeteries, Native American rock art dating back an estimated 1,000 years, and relics of the old west are found throughout the property. 

The size and shape of the ranch changed with the history of the years as the BLM was formed, the mines were tapped out, and the railroad left, leaving what is now a contiguous ranch with strategically placed deeded acreage. 

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

Acreage Breakdown
Deeded Acres: 11,037± Acres
BLM Permit: 90,000± Acres
State Lease: 5,080± Acres
Open Grazing: 5,980± Acres
Total Acres: 112,097± Acres

Deeded Acres: 11,037±
State Leased Acres: 5,080±
BLM Leased Acres: 90,000±
Total Leased Acres: 95,080±
Total Acres: 106,117±

Additional Information

CONSERVATION EASEMENTS
The ranch is unencumbered and might make a good candidate for a conservation easement.

Improvements

The ranch has a modest set of improvements throughout the property but is not over-improved. 

Bitter Creek – Summer Range
• Home #1 is a three bedroom one bath with two living spaces. New construction built in 2017. 
• Home #2 is a quaint historic home with three bedrooms and one bathroom.
• Home #3 is a one bedroom one bathroom cabin.
• 30’ X 30’ metal shop.
• Small working corral and saddle shed.
• Various outbuildings for storage.
• 1,000 gallon underground gas tank. 
• 300 gallon overhead diesel tank.
• All buildings have electricity and high-speed internet is available.  
• Houses get water from fresh spring.
• Bitter Creek is a year-round stream that provides all livestock water and irrigates approximately 80 acres.
• Six ponds on Bitter Creek that are all stocked with fish.

Park Canyon - Winter Range
• Home #1 is a three bedroom two bath modular on a full unfinished basement built in 2009.
• Home #2 is four bedroom three bath home with two living spaces and an office/den area. Originally built in 1975 and remodeled in 1998.
• Home #3 is a two bedroom one bath mobile home built in 1981.
• Full set of working corrals with squeeze chute and storage tank.
• 20’ X 60’ metal Quonset and various outbuildings.
• All buildings have electricity and satellite internet is available.
• 1,000 gallon underground fuel tank.
• 300 gallon overhead diesel tank.
• Two water wells supply house and corral.
• One water well for livestock only.
• Various stock ponds.

Windella Location
• Main house sleeps six with one bathroom. Primarily used for hunters.
• Bunkhouse sleeps ten with one full bathroom.
• Small horse corral.
• Hookups for multiple campers.
• 30’ X 30’ wood sided shop. 
• 1,000 gallon underground fuel tank.
• 300 gallon overhead diesel tank.
• House water comes from nearby spring.
• McAndrews Lake irrigates approximately 140 acres.
• All buildings have electricity and high-speed internet is available.

Whiskey Creek Location
• Various outbuildings and storage sheds.
• Horse corral.
• One water well. 
• 1,000 gallon underground fuel tank.
• 300 gallon overhead diesel tank.

There are two additional sets of working corrals in strategic locations, along with various small traps and holding pens.

Water Resources

The ranch currently has approximately 140 acres of improved irrigated pastures below the privately owned McAndrews Lake. It is possible to improve and build up the dam for significantly more water storage, which would allow irrigation of more pastures, or the possibility of putting up some hay. The ranch has good water rights that include surface water rights, streamflow, groundwater, ditch rights, storage rights, and stock pond rights. Detailed water rights will be provided to interested qualified buyers.

Learn about the recreational amenities

Wildlife Resources

The star of Bitter Creek Ranch is the hunting quality! The entire ranch is located in Game Management Unit 21, a well-known trophy mule deer area and sits adjacent to a Utah trophy bull elk hunting area. Elk tags are available over the counter and the ranch receives landowner deer vouchers each year to sell. The number of tags typically range from 10-12, with 18 possible applications across the seasons. Currently, the owners make approximately $130,000 annually selling landowner tags and leasing out part of the ranch. 

In recent years turkey hunting has become increasingly popular as well. The variety of terrain makes the ranch especially enticing to hunters, as the higher elevation summer acreage is prime archery and early season hunting. The lower, fall and winter ranges hold the wildlife well into the end of the hunting season and beyond. The summer range features picturesque mountains with dark timber, aspens, and sub-irrigated meadows that provide a tremendous attractant of food and habitat for big game.

The summer and winter acreages are easily locked off and kept quiet, making them a sanctuary for wildlife. In a typical year, harvesting 200 inch bucks and up to 400 inch bulls is not uncommon. Despite all of the BLM land surrounding the ranch, many areas are very hard to get to by the public land hunters. Additional hunting opportunities for black bear, mountain lion, and coyotes is available. 

For the fisherman, numerous stocked fish ponds provide fun for any age angler. Near Rangely, the White River and Kenney Reservoir also provide fishing and watersport activities.

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

A multigenerational operating cattle ranch that has traditionally carried up to 800 cows and calves in a year-round operation. In a normal moisture year, the cattle are turned out in the winter on the northern part of the ranch with no need to purchase supplemental feed other than mineral and occasionally cake. The ranch has several sets of strategically placed sets of working facilities throughout the property.

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