Combining over 1.5 miles of prime Yampa River with diverse mountainous land, this unique 3,745± deeded acre ranch stands out for its big river trout fishing and big game hunting. Located below the confluence of the Elk and Yampa Rivers near Steamboat Springs, the stretch of river on the property is wide and features an abundance of quality fishable water. Prolific aquatic bug and baitfish populations produce hefty browns, rainbows and the occasional northern pike. The fish on this ranch are wild, colorful and surprisingly large.
Most big river trout properties are, by nature, situated in broad downstream valleys, and therefore lack the topographic variety and vegetation of ideal big game habitat. Ghost Ranch is rare in that it also encompasses mountainous land adjacent to the river, with 1,700± feet of elevation change spread over multiple drainages.
Diverse vegetation consisting of riparian, grass, sage, mountain oaks, aspen groves and dark timber results in extraordinary habitat for resident and migratory populations of elk, mule deer and black bear. An autumn evening on the Ghost Ranch realistically includes landing a 6-pound kype-jawed brown trout then glassing a bugling 6 x 6 bull elk from the river bank.
The ranch features paved road access with a private bridge over the river and a convenient location less than 20 minutes from downtown Steamboat Springs and 10 minutes from the regional airport in Hayden. Modest improvements consist of a caretaker’s house and large shop/hunting lodge. There are a number of excellent potential homesites overlooking the river valley and, without a conservation easement, no restrictions on future uses.
Just the Facts
- 3,745± acre cast-and-blast property in a great location
- Excellent brown, rainbow and pike fishing on the Yampa River
- River bottom is complemented by north-facing hills with grass, brush, oaks, aspen and dark timber
- Result is abundant wildlife habitat with great elk, deer and black bear hunting
- Located between Steamboat and the regional airport, with easy access to either
- Modest improvements, potential homesites and no conservation easement give flexibility to next owner
One of the greatest assets of the Ghost Ranch is its unusual combination of big river and mountainous topography. The location approximately 50 miles downstream of the Yampa’s high mountain headwaters means the river is wide and the trout fishing is outstanding. Unlike many big river properties which tend to have relatively flat terrain, Ghost Ranch also has mountains for wide-ranging outdoor recreation including superb big game hunting.
The Yampa River flows through the north end of the ranch for approximately 1.5 miles. To the south the ranch climbs 1,700± feet in elevation across a number of drainages. Elevations range from around 6,400± feet along the Yampa River to 8,100± feet at the highest elevations to the south.
Diverse vegetation combines with the varied topography of the ranch to provide excellent wildlife habitat for a variety of species. Cottonwoods, willows and grass pastures along the river and riparian areas transition to sage and oaks and then to aspen and conifers on the north and east facing slopes. The higher elevations of the ranch have spectacular views of the valley, including the ski runs of Steamboat Ski Resort and the distant peaks of the Elk Head and Park Range mountains.
The primary entrance to the ranch is through a remote controlled gate on US-40. A concrete and steel bridge provides access across the river and connects with an extensive network of roads and trails around the property. Three additional entrances provide “back door” access to the southern end of the property. Private internal roads link each of these access points with the primary or main ranch road. The main ranch road is fully graveled and built to a comparable quality of nearby county-roads. Some maps show the internal road as a public road; however, those are inaccurate. Except for US-40 along the north boundary, there is no public or neighbor road access into or through the ranch. Additionally, the river, private bridge, and locked southern gates create control points to restrict access to the ranch.
Ghost Ranch enjoys a prime location between Steamboat Springs and the commercial airport, making it very convenient to both. The ranch features paved road access with a gated entrance and private bridge over the river. It is only an 8 mile/10-minute drive from the Yampa Valley Regional Airport eastward to the front gate. Continuing east from the ranch it is only a 16 mile/20-minute drive to downtown Steamboat Springs.
Serving as the anchor for the valley, Steamboat Springs (pop. 12,100) is a dynamic community that balances its stature as a world-class destination resort along with a proud western heritage and character. The area provides a blend of working ranches, mountain retreats and world-class skiing along with a wide variety of complementary amenities and services. Regarded as a four-season resort town, Steamboat is home to a wide range of shopping and dining options, and boasts excellent public and private schools as well as modern health care facilities. To the west of the ranch near the airport, Hayden is a smaller town with all the basic services including local restaurants, fuel, convenience, banking and grocery.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
* Some of the outstanding photography herein was provided by Don Tudor. (Contact information is available upon request.)
Most recent property taxes are $4,033.20 for the 3,745± acre offering.
Well known as one of Colorado’s top fishing rivers, the Yampa River gets its start in the high elevations of the Flat Tops, Gore, Park and Elk Head mountain ranges surrounding Steamboat Springs. The river grows quickly as it gathers flows from a multitude of feeder streams and creeks. Just downstream of Steamboat, the Elk River joins in and nearly doubles the size of the Yampa. Now at its full size, the Yampa makes its way a short distance to the Ghost Ranch.
The Yampa River ranges from 80 to 200 feet across as it flows through the ranch. This stretch of the river exhibits a diverse character with both fast water and slow water, riffles, runs, deep pools, and side channels. Habitat improvements including in-stream structures and a bank stabilization project have recently been completed. This section of the Yampa is very healthy with strong biomass, aquatic insect, baitfish and crayfish populations.
The result of this combined big water and great habitat is truly outstanding trout fishing. The Ghost Ranch has become known for producing large wild fish. Big browns and rainbows are consistently caught and released on the ranch, as well as the occasional northern pike. As evidenced by the accompanying photos, these trout are above average in size, with many exceeding 24 inches.
"Ghost Ranch is blessed with an abundance of big brown and rainbow trout that are both wild and healthy."
The combination of location and the natural habitat found on Ghost Ranch result in excellent opportunities for viewing and hunting elk, mule deer and black bear. Fortunately, the game also tends to be on the ranch from early archery through the late rifle seasons. Additionally, resident animals are augmented by a large migration of elk and deer moving from summer range to winter range. The ranch has quantity as well as quality of animals and has produced mature bull elk, mule deer bucks, and the current Colorado state record archery black bear.
The topography of the upper drainages is well suited for spot and stalk hunting. There are numerous glassing and calling points to locate game from the next ridge while avoiding detection. An extensive network of roads and trails greatly facilitates getting around on the property for pursuit and game retrieval.
Ghost Ranch is located in Game Management Unit #13, where bull elk tags are available over-the-counter, without the need to go through the formal draw process. This means that the owner and any number of guests can purchase over-the-counter bull elk licenses for one of the 9-day rifle seasons or either-sex tags for the month-long archery season. It does not matter whether the hunters are residents of Colorado or non-residents. Mule deer, black bear and mountain lion licenses, as well as tags for the other elk seasons, are available for Unit #13 through the regular Colorado Parks and Wildlife draw process. The ranch qualifies for two mule deer voucher applications annually through the Landowner Preference Program.
"Talk about cast and blast! On my first morning at the Ghost Ranch last October, I harvested a 6x6 bull elk. That same afternoon, I was pulling rainbow trout from the Yampa River, including one measuring some 24 inches. The property is that incredible."
- Dr. Peter Brookes, Outdoor Writer, Brookes Outdoors
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