For Sale

Diamond Tail Ranch

$44,900,000 Larimer County, CO 17,656± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

Diamond Tail Ranch embodies the iconic image of an authentic Rocky Mountain ranch, encompassing a picturesque valley at the base of snow-capped peaks with a trout-filled river flowing through lush meadows and mountain pastures that are home to abundant wildlife and thriving livestock. This best-in-class property offers the optimal blend of scenery, accessibility, privacy, water, wildlife, recreation, and a sustainable agricultural operation that supports the entire ranch. Assembled over decades by a stewardship-minded family, this extraordinary ranch combines all these sought-after characteristics into one complete and balanced package.

Diamond Tail Ranch is a massive holding, with 17,656± deeded acres and 20,225± leased acres held by the ranch, combining for a total of 37,881± acres. This equates to over 59 square miles, and it is all in one single contiguous block, which is unusual for a ranch of this magnitude. Although the scale of the ranch is impressive, it is the abundance of water and the diverse landscape found within its boundaries, that truly make it stand out. The ranch encompasses a lush river valley at its heart, and rises up into the surrounding mountains, with copious amounts of water pouring onto it from all sides. An astonishing 27 miles of river and streams flow within its boundaries, highlighted by 11.5 miles of the Laramie River. All this water provides outstanding private fishing for wild trout, and an incredible 307.6± cfs of senior water rights used to irrigate expansive hay meadows. A wide variety of prime wildlife habitats are spread throughout the deeded lands, and together with the surrounding Wilderness, National Forest and BLM lands, result in prolific game populations, with huge herds of elk and pronghorn, plus moose and deer.

Complementing the scenic beauty and recreational attractions of Diamond Tail Ranch is its successful agricultural operation, well known for its commercial bison. Its 750± head bison herd is augmented by a ranch cattle herd of 350± head plus another 450± head that are brought in for the summer grazing season. A refined collection of quality improvements provide comfortable accommodations for the owners, their guests and staff. Despite its secluded mountain valley locale, Diamond Tail is easily accessible 45± minutes from all services in Laramie, Wyoming, including the commercial airport, and only 2-3 hours from the Fort Collins, Boulder and Denver metro areas.

Steeped in historical significance, natural resources and ecological importance, Diamond Tail Ranch is one of the most appealing and significant mountain ranches to become available in years. It is exceptionally rare to find such a diverse and well-watered ranch running on over 37,800 contiguous acres, spanning a beautiful river valley, and no existing conservation easement. Even more compelling is the optimal blend of a successful agricultural component that supports the ownership of the ranch, without interfering with its recreational attributes.

General Description

Uniquely encompassing a broad river basin ringed by mountains, Diamond Tail Ranch combines the best characteristics of a valley ranch with those of a mountain ranch, blending them into one single property endowed with incredible diversity. Within its boundaries are a rich mosaic of distinct biomes: riparian corridors, lush meadows, dense forests, mountain parks, scenic ridgelines, and rolling range. The terrain varies as much as the vegetation, with multiple basins interspersed with broad benches, timbered slopes and creek valleys. From every viewpoint, the ranch is scenic, wild and pristine. 

Diamond Tail’s 17,656± deeded acres span the five-mile width of the upper Laramie River Valley, with the Rawah Wilderness on one side and the Roosevelt National Forest on the other. It ranges in elevation from low riparian areas and grasslands at 7,920± feet, up into the surrounding mountainsides, topping off at 9,385± feet. The higher elevations include many aspen and conifer forested areas, interspersed with open parks and ridges. To the west and south of the ranch, these mountainsides stretch upward to the snow-capped summits of the Medicine Bow Mountain Range. To the east lie the more modest peaks of the Laramie Mountain Range. Located on the ranch itself, North Middle Mountain rises between the Laramie River and McIntyre Creek.

"The ranch is naturally endowed with nearly the entire range of landscapes that the Colorado mountains have to offer."

Such abundant natural elements and varying elevations create a picturesque mixture of topography and vegetation on the ranch. The river is at the core, flowing directly through the heart of the ranch, collecting water from many side drainages, and enriching expansive riparian areas. From the meadows surrounding this great and plentiful river, sage hillsides gently rise into steeper mountain forests of aspens and evergreens. This resource-rich and diverse landscape creates ideal habitat for wildlife and livestock and provides nearly endless opportunities for recreation.

An attractive characteristic of Diamond Tail is the balance of natural land types. Roughly one-third of the total deeded acreage is comprised of the watered areas, including the river and stream corridors, and all the irrigated lands. Another third is native range, encompassing the grass and sage areas essential for grazing of both livestock and wildlife. The final third consists of the many thousands of forested acres in the higher elevations around the property edges and on North Middle Mountain in the center of the ranch. Exhibiting a balanced combination of these land types is vitally important, but equally remarkable is the distributed nature of the resources, and how they transition across the entire deeded ranch. The result is that every part of the property has a blend of water, grazing and forest attributes. This is one of the key reasons that Diamond Tail is such a rich and productive ranch.

An extensive network of interior roads and trails provides access throughout the property, making all corners of the ranch accessible and usable. There are four private vehicle bridges that cross the Laramie River, and two more on McIntyre and LaGarde creeks. Dozens of lookout points scattered all over the ranch provide panoramic views and wildlife glassing points. The ranch also benefits from two county-maintained public roads that provide year-round access in four directions, all without impacting the privacy of the most important areas.

Rawah Wilderness

Bordering the ranch to the west, the Rawah Wilderness contains 73,868± acres of some of Colorado’s most rugged and beautiful mountain landscapes. "Rawah" is a Native American term meaning "wild place." The rugged high peaks of the Rawah Wilderness were carved by glaciers, resulting in spectacular cirque lakes and moraines. This high alpine area serves as the headwaters of the Laramie River, as well as dozens of tributary streams. The Medicine Bow Mountains within the wilderness have 18 peaks over 11,000 feet and nine over 12,000 feet, with the highest, Clark Peak, topping out at 12,951± feet. The cooler north-facing slopes of the highest peaks hold snow throughout of the year, providing a dramatic backdrop for the ranch.

ACREAGE BREAKDOWN

In addition to significant deeded lands, the ranch holds a total of 20,225± acres of grazing permits on adjacent public lands, equating to a grand total of 37,881± acres. This makes Diamond Tail one of the largest contiguous mountain valley ranches in the entire Rocky Mountain region. 

17,656± Deeded Acres (27.59± Square Miles)
9,905± USFS Grazing Allotment Acres
8,400± BLM Grazing Lease Acres
1,920± State of Colorado Grazing Lease Acres
37,881± Total Acres (59.19± Square Miles)­­

Broker's Comments

Diamond Tail Ranch is distinguished by its unique blend of highly desirable characteristics that are, frankly, difficult to find together in one property and rarely available for purchase.  The ranch is blessed with incredibly abundant natural resources, a wealth of water, thriving wildlife, and both mountain and valley habitats.  It features a stunningly diverse and balanced landscape that is wild and scenic, yet accessible and usable.  The epitome of an investment-grade ranch, Diamond Tail is also a well-oiled agricultural machine that is a proven performer for consistently operating in the black.  It benefits from experienced and capable employees, stands ready for immediate enjoyment, and is teed up for a smooth transition to the next legacy of ownership.

Learn about the locale

Location

Diamond Tail Ranch is located in the upper Laramie River valley of north-central Colorado, nestled between the Medicine Bow Mountains and Laramie Mountain.  The ranch lies just a few miles south of the Wyoming state line, and is situated entirely within Larimer County, CO.  From the ranch, it is only 45 minutes to Laramie, Wyoming and the Laramie Regional Airport (LAR).  Cheyenne, Wyoming is about an hour and a half, Fort Collins, Colorado is two hours, and Denver and Denver International Airport are roughly three hours.  The ranch is accessible year-round via well-maintained roads.

Though Wyoming and Colorado’s major metropolitan areas are within an easy drive of the property, the ranch itself is removed from the hustle and bustle of city life in a pristine, undeveloped portion of the upper Laramie River valley.  Here, wildlife and livestock vastly outnumber people.  This valley stretches from Colorado north into Wyoming and is home to working ranches, recreational retreats and historic guest ranches.

Locale

Larimer County is a prosperous area of Colorado, with a current population of approximately 350,000 people.  The majority of the population is densely concentrated in the Interstate-25 corridor between Loveland and Fort Collins, situated on the east end of the county.  The remainder of the county is less populous, and the western half is dominated by mountain ranges and rural valleys, including a portion of Rocky Mountain National Park.  Within the county are several protected wilderness areas, as well as two state parks, a national forest, several scenic byways, and plenty of hiking and biking trails within its mountains and the front range.

Fort Collins is the hub of Larimer County and is the fourth largest city in Colorado by population, with 170,000 people. Home to Colorado State University, it is a thriving college town with culture and recreation.  Fort Collins boasts a full suite of services, including government facilities and hospitals, parks and museums, dining and entertainment, dozens of breweries, an active cycling scene, and many opportunities to explore the rich history and recreational amenities of the area.

Laramie, the seat of Albany County in Wyoming, is the closest city to the ranch itself.  It has a population of approximately 32,000 residents and is also a college town, serving as the home of the University of Wyoming. Tourists and residents appreciate the city’s wide variety of outdoor recreation, which ranges from rock climbing and skiing to fishing and hunting.  Laramie features full services and accommodations, including dining and entertainment, museums and libraries, arts and culture, and the convenience of a commercial airport with an FBO and daily commuter jet service to Denver.

Climate

The location and elevation of the ranch give it the attractive characteristics of a four-season Colorado mountain climate – warm sunny days with low humidity and cool nights.  Average summer temperatures are in the mid to upper 70’s, with lows in the 40’s.  Winter brings temperatures averaging in the teens at night to 20’s during the day.  Periodic winter storms will result in some snow accumulation, especially in the hills and upper elevations, however the ranch is accessible and usable all year long.

History

A rich heritage dates back centuries, to a time when Native Americans were drawn to the Laramie River valley by its plentiful natural resources and thriving wildlife.  Evidence of their camps is written in rock Teepee rings lining the ridge overlooking the river’s meadows below.  In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the valley was settled by Homesteaders.  Many historic structures from this era have been preserved and are still used today.  Since 1979, Diamond Tail Ranch has been carefully stewarded by the Duncan family, owners of the well-known and highly-praised Silver Oak Cellars.  During their 40+ year tenure, the Duncans have enhanced the ranch with strategic acquisitions, negotiated significant grazing leases, managed a considerable agricultural component, and preserved historically important buildings and markers of past civilizations.  The sum of their efforts is this extraordinary property that has served as a gathering place for multiple generations of the family – a true legacy in every sense.  Additionally, there are no conservation easements on the ranch, leaving it unrestricted and preserving that option for the next owner.

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

Deeded Acres: 17,656±
State Leased Acres: 1,920±
BLM Leased Acres: 8,400±
Other Leased Acres: 9,905±
Total Leased Acres: 20,225±
Total Acres: 37,881±

Improvements

Diamond Tail Ranch features an appropriate scale of improvements to support operations and accommodate owners, employees, and guests.  A total of 45 bedrooms are distributed across all three categories (owner/employee/guest), with the ability to accommodate up to 85 people.  Ranch headquarters buildings are situated in an ideal spot next to the river and hay meadows, with excellent views of the Rawah Peaks.  Other clusters of buildings are dispersed around the ranch in several key locations.  All residential buildings are in protected sites that are convenient, yet hidden from view.  Highlights include: 

Gathering House
As the focal point at the ranch headquarters, the Gathering House is the ideal venue for hosting friends and family. Situated at the edge of the hay meadow with spectacular views, this 2,509± square foot structure features a large dining and entertaining area for meetings and gatherings, along with a commercial kitchen. Guests are impressed by the custom bar, expansive interior, river rock fireplace, rich woodwork, reclaimed wood floors and expansive covered porch stone patio with fire pit in the shape of the Diamond Tail brand.

Owner’s Home
Nearby, the comfortable 3,316± square foot owner’s home also takes advantage of the picturesque setting overlooking the hay meadows and distant mountain peaks.  In addition to large covered porches, features include hand hewn logs with dovetail joints, local river rock, and a clean and simple character flowing from the great room into the master suite and guest bedrooms.  In addition to this home, there are other residences that are primarily used by the owners.

Guest Home
Also at the headquarters, this 3,369± square foot 4-bedroom, 2.5 bath home is well suited for guest usage, features an open floor plan, large bedrooms and even a billiards room.  There are several other homes and cabins used to accommodate guests of the ranch.

Manager’s Home
Built in 2008, this newer home features 3,158± square feet with 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths.  There are several other homes that are used for employee housing or leased out for rental income.
 
Dagney Cabins
Tucked into the trees at the base of a hillside, the Dagney Cabins are two historic structures that were recently rebuilt into modern structures with rustic flair.  These cabins are loaded with character, combining hewn timbers and reclaimed barn wood complemented by modern fixtures and construction.

Hilltop Chapel 
An old schoolhouse building was relocated to an inspiring location overlooking the upper McIntyre Creek valley. The log and stone structure was painstakingly preserved and has been used as a place of worship and reflection. It is also a sublime location for an art studio. 

Agricultural Facilities and Ranch Infrastructure
Diamond Tail has been extensively improved with quality and supportive infrastructure and working facilities. Interior roads and trails permit vehicular access throughout the ranch.  For the agricultural operation, there is an assortment of well-maintained support buildings, livestock handling facilities, a 1,000-head feed yard with self-feeders and waterers, and high-tensile electric fencing for the deeded pastures.
 
Historic Barns  
Fortunately, several beautiful historic barns have been preserved, adding to the bucolic character of the ranch. These include the landmark Diamond Tail horse barn at the ranch headquarters, and the Githens barn which has been converted to host events.
 
Ranch Airstrip
Although the ranch is located only 45 minutes from the commercial airport in Laramie, Diamond Tail’s owner and guests have the option of using the ranch airstrip for private aviation.  This grass airfield has an ideal location on an elevated bench in the middle of the ranch, with suitable approach and departure corridors.  The main runway is roughly 6,150± feet in length and the secondary runway is 2,900± feet.  Historically it has seen light usage for single engine aircraft.  With some improvements it could be made suitable for larger aircraft.  Notably, the airfield is located near the ranch gravel pit.

Water Resources

As a result of its unique setting and topography, Diamond Tail Ranch is extremely well-watered. The snow-capped summits of the Medicine Bow Mountains above the ranch are the headwaters of the Laramie River. The ranch is located at the optimal point where the river spills out of the rugged mountains into a broad valley. The Laramie runs through the heart of the ranch, and sizable fishing streams and smaller creeks flow out of the mountains on either side of the ranch, adding their flows to the river. These lush waterways and their associated riparian areas are the keystones of Diamond Tail’s high-caliber trout fisheries, wildlife habitat and agricultural production.

In all, there are an astonishing 27± miles of river and streams on the deeded land alone. The prized Laramie River runs through the ranch for 11.56± miles. McIntyre Creek, a major tributary to the Laramie, flows through the ranch for 3.72± miles before its confluence with the river.

LaGarde, Jenkins and Little Jenkins Creeks combine for another 4.53± miles. Three additional year-round creeks, Jimmy, Trollop and Frenchwoman, bring the grand total to over 27 miles of year-round live water on the ranch. If that wasn’t enough, there are several seasonal streams that provide additional water during run-off, and a multitude of ponds, springs and tanks are scattered throughout the ranch.

"Not only is it rare to have such an abundance of live water, but to have such a length of private river, plus a variety of tributary streams, with outstanding trout fishing and substantial senior water rights, adds significant value and appeal."

Water Rights

Recognizing the worth of all this abundant water, early settlers of the valley acquired the necessary water rights and put it to productive use. Today Diamond Tail Ranch benefits from significant water rights including 307.662± cfs of irrigation water, highlighted by 176.15± cfs of senior water that was appropriated and adjudicated prior to 1896. This is an incredible amount of irrigation water, and very few ranches come anywhere close to having that much water. Approximately 3,000 deeded acres are irrigated hay meadow, irrigated pasture or sub-irrigated pasture. Typical production from the hayed areas is around 1,000 tons, without fertilizer. 

Trout Fishing

The Laramie River is well known as an outstanding wild brown trout fishery, and the extensive stretch that flows through Diamond Tail is some of the best water in the entire system. The ranch is situated at the confluence of the Laramie and a major tributary, McIntyre Creek, giving it a wide variety of flows, both above and below the confluence, as well as in the feeder streams. In addition to the self-sustaining population of healthy wild brown trout, it is not uncommon to catch sizable rainbows. The natural habitat of the fishing streams and river on the ranch are perfect for sustaining wild trout populations, with cobble beds and natural meanders, riffles, runs and pools. This stretch of the Laramie also tends to run cool and clear, even during runoff, for an extended fishing season. 

"The sheer amount of choice water, beautiful scenery, and the diversity of fishing opportunities make Diamond Tail unsurpassed for trout fishing."

Complementing the Laramie River’s 11.56± mile length, McIntyre Creek adds 3.72± miles, and LaGarde Creek another 2.13± miles. That puts the total river and stream distance of fishing water at an impressive 17.41± miles. There are also several trout-filled ponds that add yet another element to the fishing opportunities on the ranch. On top of the quality water and sheer quantity of fishery miles on Diamond Tail, is the fact that it is distributed across a major river, large stream, small creek and ponds, giving the ranch incredible diversity for fishing. Furthermore, the river and streams also feature totally private fishing – there is no public access to any water on the ranch.

Learn about the recreational amenities

Wildlife Resources

Rich natural resources endow Diamond Tail Ranch with prime habitat for bountiful wildlife populations. The aspen groves and timbered hillsides of the higher elevations provide bedding and shelter, while the varied vegetation, rolling sage pastures, rich riparian areas and irrigated lands provide ample food and water. At lower elevations, where the Laramie River, McIntyre Creek, LaGarde Creek, and multiple streams flow through the ranch, the protected willows and meadows draw game year-round. Large numbers of elk make daily movements back and forth across many of these meadows, moving from food and water to bedding areas, all within the boundaries of the ranch.

This perfectly balanced mixture attracts many species of wildlife from the surrounding Wilderness, National Forest and BLM lands. Resident species include elk, mule and white tail deer, moose, pronghorn antelope, black bear, cougar, grouse and a variety of waterfowl. Since the ranch encompasses both summer and winter range for elk, mule deer, moose and pronghorn antelope, many of these animals are ranch residents throughout the majority of the year.

Hunting

There are several factors that make Diamond Tail Ranch an excellent hunting property. First is purely its size and habitat quality. Because the ranch is so large, it qualifies for 19 annual landowner applications for the draw for hunting tags for elk, deer and pronghorn. The natural topography and lay of the land result in a number of distinct hunting zones, plus the capacity for each zone to be hunted without impacting the others.

In the southwest quarter of the ranch, North Middle Mountain rises over 700 feet from the river bottom between the Laramie River and McIntyre Creek. This mountain encompasses approximately 4.4 square miles loaded with prime habitat, combining timbered draws, aspen forests and sage covered hillsides. Elk and pronghorn are regularly encountered in this sanctuary, and often visible from the headquarters.

Similar ideal habitat is found along the western flank of the ranch around McIntyre, LaGarde and Jenkins Creeks. Elk regularly follow the drainages that spill out of the timbered hillsides of the Rawah Wilderness and State of Colorado land into the irrigated meadows on the deeded ranch. There are a number of great vantage points to watch them feed out in the evening and back in the morning.

Over on the northeastern side of the valley, Bull Mountain provides yet another wildlife haven, as it transitions from irrigated meadows along Jimmy Creek, up through rolling sage hillsides to aspen and conifer forests, and ultimately to adjacent BLM and Roosevelt National Forest lands. Springs here provide year-round water sources, and this area has exemplary habitat for elk and deer.

In addition to the many timbered areas, two other critical habitat types are found throughout Diamond Tail Ranch. These are the sage hillsides, and the willows and meadows along the river and creeks. Every morning and evening large herds of elk gather in these productive areas to feed, mingle and rut. The interconnections and transitions between all the various habitat types on the ranch are key to it supporting large numbers of animals. 

The final, and perhaps most important, facet of hunting at Diamond Tail is simply the considerable presence of these thriving game populations. It is not uncommon to encounter several hundred elk on the ranch every day. Pronghorn antelope are prolific as well. The abundance of game, combined with the landowner preference applications, size and diversity of the ranch make it a truly exceptional hunting property.

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

Agricultural Operation

Diamond Tail Ranch has a long history of productive agriculture, with the Diamond Tail brand itself dating back to 1915. The agricultural arm of the ranch is centered on year-round cow/calf operations of bison and cattle. Diamond Tail is home to one of the largest private bison herds in the United States, with roughly 750 head. The ranch has successfully run this highly regarded herd for over 30 years. Additionally, there is a ranch herd of 350± Corriente cattle, plus another 450± Angus cattle that come onto the ranch during the summer grazing season. The ranch’s hay meadows generally produce around 1,000 tons to sustain the stock during the winter months.

Diamond Tail is well known in the bison business for producing high-quality genetics and performance-tested animals. This is due in large part to the management team and their staff. The ranch manager has years of experience with livestock handling, nutrition and health. Additionally, the rich and well-watered land generates plentiful resources to support the operation. After all, this is the habitat that the bison herd has flourished in for centuries, and they continue to play an important role in the healthy natural landscape.

"As a symbol of American strength and prosperity, bison are befitting of Diamond Tail Ranch."

The ranch benefits from grazing leases for 1,976 AUM on approximately 20,225± acres of National Forest, BLM and State lands that are contiguous with the deeded ranch lands. The whole operation is able to maintain an efficient, low overhead operation by capitalizing on minimal outside inputs. The pastures on the deeded land are all fenced with high-tensile electric fencing and the operation includes a feed yard with self-feeders and waterers and a total capacity of 1,000± bison or 1,400± cows.

Diamond Tail Ranch is also home to more than 50 horses, including ranch horses for working and riding, and some retired or otherwise unemployed rodeo horses. With a stable of great horses and plenty of Corriente steers, a favorite pastime at the ranch involves friendly competitions at the roping arena.

Notably, Diamond Tail’s ample agricultural component does not interfere with recreation on the ranch. Instead they complement each other. Furthermore, the ranch generates enough income from its agricultural operation that it has consistently run in the black. Ag income supports the entire ranch, including the recreational component enjoyed by the owners and their guests. Thanks to its sustainable agricultural operation, the ranch does not need a large commercial hunting or fishing business to help cover expenses. Diamond Tail’s owners and guests appreciate being a part of a genuine ranching operation, while enjoying nature and recreation in harmony with that agricultural production.

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