A truly extraordinary place, Cascabel encompasses three miles of the San Miguel River and some of the most coveted private trout waters in southwestern Colorado. To local anglers, Cascabel is, quite simply, the “Crown Jewel of the San Miguel,” known so for the beauty of its land and the quality of its fishery.
Cascabel includes 318± acres that spread along the San Miguel Valley floor, following the course of the river, including both banks, for almost the entire length of the property.
The current owners thoughtfully developed Cascabel over almost 30 years as a retreat for their own families and as a private fishing club. Noted Denver architect Peter Dominick created the master plan and designed most of the buildings, including two exquisite custom homes, four guest cabins, and a clubhouse with a commercial-grade kitchen and dining room for 30 people. The buildings, which also include a spectacular pavilion, pool and spa, are clustered around manicured lawns at the center of the property to preserve the natural habitat and fishing experience at the upper and lower ends of the river.
Cascabel is versatile and equally suited for use as a private family compound, or a corporate or sporting retreat. The property is a manageable size and not overbuilt. Every improvement is of the highest quality, meticulously maintained and updated. The acreage is divided into eight tracts, suitable for development with buried electricity, telephone services, and well permits. Surrounded by national forests and federal land, and secluded by high canyon walls, Cascabel is very private and yet only 30 minutes from the ski slopes, shops, and restaurants of Telluride. The property is easily accessible year round via a county-maintained road off Highway 145.
Click below for an interactive and immersionary tour:
Just the Facts
- 318 deeded acres, adjacent to the Uncompahgre National Forest.
- Located on Sanborn Park Road, less than 3 miles off Highway 145
- Encompasses 3+ miles of the Lower San Miguel River
- 8 miles north of Norwood, CO
- 28 miles northwest of Telluride, CO
- 61 miles southwest of Montrose, CO, and the Montrose Regional Airport
- Situated in San Miguel and Montrose Counties
- Elevation 6,400 feet above sea level
- 2,377-s.f. custom-built, 3 bed/3bath Lodgepole pine log home
- 3,451-s.f. custom-built, 3 bed/3bath Norwegian-style wood home.
- 800-s.f. artist’s studio
- 4 guest cabins
- Day house with commercial kitchen, indoor/outdoor dining for 30+
- Pool pavilion and spa, club house, manager’s house and office
- Sleeping capacity for 30
- Adjudicated water rights for expansion
- 2 stocked fishing ponds
- 2 miles of year-round maintained road access
- T1 Internet access
From every corner of Cascabel you can hear the rush of the river, and nowhere are you more than 1,000 feet from it. Hillsides studded with native junipers, pinions and Ponderosa pine rise sharply from the valley floor to meet steep sandstone cliffs beneath the canyon rim. To the northeast is the Uncompahgre Plateau and to the southwest is Wright’s Mesa.
At the base of this wild, natural canyon, Cascabel is a beautiful strip of lush green land nourished by the river and sheltered by the steep walls that rise 800 feet above it. The river twists and turns through Cascabel like a serpent slipping through tall grass. Hence the name. In Spanish, Cascabel means rattler.
Morning light reveals the canyon by degrees until the river sparkles in the sun. As evening falls, shadows crawl back up the walls and then, with a spectacular last hurrah, rays from the setting sun fan across the gloaming sky, like searchlights to herald the coming attractions.
In the utter darkness of a night without light pollution, the Milky Way spills across inky velvet and the constellations speak their names.
Norwood (pop. 532) on Wright’s Mesa above the San Miguel River Valley is the closest community, about three miles southwest as the crow flies or eight miles by road.
The ski slopes, shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions of Telluride are about 30 minutes away on Highway 145.
During the summer when Sanborn Park Road is open at the higher elevations, Montrose also is less than an hour drive from the property through the Uncompahgre National Forest. Via state and U.S. highways open year round, Montrose is 65 miles from Cascabel.
Cascabel is surrounded entirely by federal BLM land and the Uncompahgre National Forest. Because of the rugged topography and limited road access, the public lands near Cascabel are almost inaccessible and protect the property from commercial encroachment.
The Montrose Regional Airport has daily flights year round by major carriers to Denver as well as other western and southern cities, depending upon the season.The Telluride Regional Airport serves general aviation flights and has a single jet-capable runway.
Former mining towns – Telluride, Durango, Silverton and Ouray among them – attract tourists in the summer and skiers in the winter. Montrose (pop. 19,132), the county seat of Montrose County and the largest town in the area, is a regional center for agriculture, shopping, and health care.
San Miguel County (pop. 7,678) and Montrose County (pop. 40,713) extend from the western slope of the San Juans to the Utah border in a geological transition zone between the mountains and the high desert. Elevations fall rapidly from the San Miguel county seat of Telluride at 8,750 feet above sea level to Cascabel at 6,400 feet above sea level in the San Miguel valley. Cascabel’s terrain and vegetation combine the best of both the mountains and high desert with a mix of pinion and Ponderosa pine, scrub oaks and willows on the banks of the river.
In the late nineteenth century, miners came to the San Miguel in search of gold after John Fallon filed the first claim on the legendary Smuggler vein in the Marshal Basin above what is today Telluride. Placer mining boomed for 75 miles along the river downstream from Telluride between 1875 and 1890, as hundreds rush to stake claims that mostly proved less productive than their promise.
Cascabel itself is comprised of three patented placer mining claims signed in 1887 by President Benjamin Harrison’s secretary, though there is little evidence that much gold mining ever occurred here. A former gravel pit is now the pond. The remnants of an old stone wall were preserved as part of the natural retaining wall for the Pavilion pool. There is a tumbled-down sheepherder’s cabin, and occasionally someone finds a weathered timber or the fragment of a rusted tool.
A family place
In 1987, when Robert Sinclair and his sister Emily Sinclair purchased 318± acres in the San Miguel Valley, there was the river, an abandoned gravel pit, and little else. The land was wild and studded with scrub oak, juniper, cedars, pinion and Ponderosa pines with willows along the river. The Sinclairs wanted to keep as much of the property in its natural state as possible.
“There was always a sense of magic and wonder at finding surprises in the natural world. The children had a kind of independence at Cascabel that they didn’t have the rest of the year back in the city. Once they got to a certain age, they ran out the door and you didn’t see them until they were hungry.” – Emily Sinclair
Over the next two decades, working with the late Peter Dominick, a noted Denver architect, the Sinclairs built their family compound and private fishing club at the center of Cascabel. Dominick designed a custom, log home for Emily and her family and a Norwegian-style chalet with a grass roof for Robert and his family, which he located at either end of the compound and apart from the guest cabins and Day House in the middle of the enclave.
The gravel pit became a lovely two-acre pond where the Sinclair children and their friends learned to fish and canoe. On the banks of the pond, they built boats of scrap lumber to launch upon the water.
“At the end of the day, we’d all circle up in the Day House and have dinner at the large community table. And everybody would be talking about what they did that day. To me, that’s what it was all about.”- Robert Sinclair
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Facts at a glance
Acreage: 318± deeded
Address: 45045 Sanborn Park Road, Norwood, CO 81423
Lower San Miguel River: 3+ miles, including both banks.
Elevation: 6,400 feet above sea level
Area towns: 8 miles north of Norwood, CO; 28 miles northwest of Telluride, CO; 61 miles southwest of Montrose, CO
Airports: Montrose Regional Airport, daily flights on major carriers to Denver, Dallas, other points; Telluride Regional Airport, general aviation with jet-capable runway
Counties: San Miguel and Montrose
Elevation: 6,400 feet above sea level
Property division: Eight tracts, including seven 35-acre± tracts and one 72-acre± tract
Bluff View: 2,377± sq. ft. custom-built, 3-bed/3-bath lodgepole pine log home with pool
Woodbine: 3,451± sq. ft. custom-built, 3-bed/3-bath Norwegian-style wood home on pond
Artist’s Studio: 800± sq. ft. structureGuest Cabins: Four, including one duplex
Day House: 1,528± sq. ft. clubhouse with commercial kitchen, indoor/outdoor dining for 30+
Pool Pavilion: 1,712± sq. ft. two-story building with upper-level open-air dining room, food prep areas, changing rooms, bathrooms, spa and outdoor pool
Manager’s House: 1,288± sq. ft., 3-bed/2-bath, with attached two-car garage, a mudroom/office, and game room above the garage
Office, utility buildings
Sleeping capacity: 30 people
Water rights: Three wells; wells permitted for undeveloped tracts
Ponds: Two stocked
Roads: Two miles maintained
Internet: T1 Internet access
Historic and happening, Telluride is home to superb winter skiing, a thriving cultural arts scene, world-class restaurants and more than a few artists, writers and actors. A former mining town named after tellurium, a metalloid element never actually found here, Telluride is today at the center of southwestern Colorado’s cultural and winter sports scene. A free gondola connects Telluride to Mountain Village at the base of the ski area.
Ouray likes to call itself the “Switzerland of America” and in fact, this former mining town nestled in a valley surrounded on three sides by steep peaks is as quaintly beautiful as it is historic. Two-thirds of the town’s original Victorian buildings have been preserved. People come to Ouray for ice-climbing and for the natural hot springs. Though only 10 miles northeast of Telluride, because of the mountainous terrain, the drive between the two towns is more than 50 miles.
Home to two of America’s most famous national parks, Moab is less than two hours west of Cascabel through the Paradox Valley and over the La Sal mountains.
Arches National Park, located just five miles north of Moab, boasts the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches—more than 2,000 in all—along with an awe-inspiring variety of natural geological formations.
The vastness and amazing diversity of Canyonlands National Park, 32 miles from Moab, boggle the mind and offer endless opportunities for hiking, camping and whitewater rafting through Cataract Canyon.
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison near Montrose is, as the National Park Service notes, “big enough to be overwhelming and still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time.” With its steep cliffs and rock spires, the canyon tests hikers while fishermen, boaters, and kayakers find challenges on the river.
Websites and Resources
Montrose County Government
San Miguel County Government
Montrose Regional Airport
Discover Moab, Utah
Colorado Parks & Wildlife
Even though Cascabel has always been a family retreat, the Sinclairs also operated Cascabel Club, a private fishing club, on the property for about 18 years. The Day House, guest cabins, Pavilion and pool formed the core of the Cascabel Club. Since 2008, the Sinclairs have used those facilities and accommodations exclusively for family and friends.
Woodbine, a Norwegian-style chalet, was built into a cut in the hillside high above the river. It has an authentic grass roof with a pitch so perfectly calculated that from a distance, the home appears to be part of the hill itself. The roof keeps the home warm in the winter and cool in the summer – and is a great place for gazing at the stars.
Located in Tract 8, Woodbine is the largest of the homes with three bedrooms and three baths in 3,451± square feet. Built for entertaining, the home has a large great room that opens onto a dining area and gourmet kitchen. Ceiling beams were salvaged from abandoned mines.
An enormous, stacked-stone retaining wall extends from the hill through the center of the house. The home’s three fireplaces – including one on the patio – are built into this wall.
“The driveway ends at the garage and there is no road through the rest of the property downstream or in the canyon for another 6 miles. We really are at the end of the road. It’s very private and quiet, except, of course, for the ever present sound of the river.” - Robert Sinclair
The master bedroom upstairs has a luxurious bathroom with a shower with a glass wall and a door to the outside. From a porch off the master bedroom, it’s possible to walk onto the roof. The house also has a large outdoor living room with a fireplace, a hot tub, and a two-car garage. In all, there are three fireplaces, including one gas and two wood burning.
Tract 8, which has 72± acres, also includes the downstream mile of the river and a half-acre fishing pond.
The Artist’s Studio, located near Woodbine, is a charming one-room, 800± sq. ft. building with large windows and a great work space. The space is also ideal for a home gym.
On Tract 6, Bluff View, as its name suggests, sits atop a 40-foot rock bluff overlooking the San Miguel River and one of the finest and largest fishing pools in the river. This custom 2,377± lodgepole pine log home is built around a large, covered outdoor living room with a massive stone fireplace and glass roof. With three bedrooms and three baths, the home is built for entertaining with a layout that provides maximum privacy for the owners and their guests. A large living and dining area with a massive stone fireplace opens onto the kitchen. The master suite is on one side of the house while two other bedrooms flank a small living area on the opposite side. The home has gorgeous true divided-light windows that frame views of the San Miguel valley, and glass ceilings that fill the rooms with light. There is also a detached two-car garage.
“We wanted the house to feel as though it were part of the landscape and yet also have a kind of elegance. On the covered patio, you can sit outside and yet be protected from the elements – roast marshmallows in the snow, read a book in the rain. Inside the house, you felt protected and yet, you could see all the way up and down the canyon.”- Emily Sinclair
The pool and a hot tub have a flagstone surround and overlook the river.
Tract 7 includes the Day House, guest cabins, pool and Pool Pavilion, a manager’s house, office and utility buildings. The property can comfortably accommodate 30 people at one time in the guest cabins and two private homes. The configuration of the buildings works for both large and small groups—with central gathering and dining spaces and private accommodations in the cabins for families or individuals.
The Day House was built as a gathering place for families and friends with a large commercial kitchen, dining areas that can comfortably seat 30 people, and a living room for conversation by the fireplace. A large porch overlooks a pond, the lawn and the river.
“ We would spend the entire summer at Cascabel and every week, friends would pull up in a mini-van and the kids would spill out and run across the lawn. It was great to have the cabins because you could spend as much time together as you wanted and then go off and have some private time.”- Emily Sinclair
The two-story Pool Pavilion, designed by Gerald Ross Architects, is open and airy with timber and beam construction reminiscent of a 19th Century mineshaft. The upper level has a wood-burning fireplace, food preparation areas, and a large dining area with views of the sky above the canyon rim. The lower enclosed areas include changing rooms, bathrooms, a sauna, and a spa treatment room. The swimming pool and hot tub are surrounded by a large stone patio.
Each of the charming Guest Cabins has been updated and remodeled and is in excellent condition. Two cabins are stand-alone and two share a duplex. The two smaller guest cabins have a single large room with a bath. The other guest cabins have two and three bedrooms, respectively. All guest cabins have small, hotel-style kitchenettes with refrigerators, sinks and microwaves.
“The best three miles of fishing (on the San Miguel) are the three miles on the Cascabel property. This is by far the largest section of private land on the river, so it’s protected. And equally important, the natural features of the streambed on Cascabel provide the best trout habitat in the river.”– John Duncan, general manager and co-owner of Telluride Outside
The San Miguel River begins high in the San Juan Mountains southeast of Telluride and falls rapidly along a steep and rocky course to the valley below on its 81-mile run northwest to the Dolores River. The water is still snow-melt cold when it reaches Cascabel, where on warm summer days great clouds of hatching caddis, stone flies, and mayflies rise from the river. This is trout heaven — clear, cold water and plenty to eat.
The San Miguel flows through Cascabel and the gradient levels out. The river contains an abundance of trout habitat and structures with riffles, pools, large boulders, and great pocket water. Rainbows, browns, and cutthroat like to hang out at Cascabel, and some grow very large. The largest trout caught here measured 24 inches; fish 12 to 16 inches long are common. These trout are known fighters with muscles well developed in the swift currents.
The strong fish and the variety of trout water create great opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. Depending upon the angler’s skill, catch rates can average a dozen or more trout per hour. “The fishing,” says Duncan, “is so fundamentally good that beginners have a high rate of success. More experienced anglers can fish all day and never do the same cast twice.”
The San Miguel is a freestone river, wild, natural, and one of the few large free-flowing and undammed rivers remaining in Colorado. Mother Nature controls the volume of water, which rises in late spring with the snow melt and slows in mid-summer. Kayakers and rafters love the river when it’s running high in May and June, and in summer and fall the water is perfect for wading anglers hunting for hungry trout. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing.
“The river through Cascabel has a lot of character. It’s got structure. It’s got beautiful scenes and fast water and slow water and areas with greater depth. It has varying characteristics, and each one poses different challenges, and you have to fish them all a little differently.”—Mark Gudmens, Telluride Outside fishing guide
Unlike so many Colorado rivers, this stretch of the Lower San Miguel does not have a road or a railroad track running alongside it. Cascabel land surrounds the river, including both banks, for almost the entire length of the property. For one short stretch where one bank crosses BLM land, the river is still only accessible from Cascabel because of the steep terrain. In short, Cascabel’s stretch of the San Miguel is very, very private.
Cascabel is in Game Management Unit (GMU) 61 on the north side of the river and GMU 70 on the south side of the river. GMU 61 is regarded by some as one of the best areas in Colorado for hunting trophy-size elk.
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