Lost Elk Ranch is a picturesque Colorado high country ranch nearly surrounded by national forest featuring excellent wildlife habitat, water resources and luxury improvements. The 1,378± acre property consists of 738± deeded acres plus adjacent 640± acres of state land controlled by the ranch. It is an exceptional wildlife property featuring trophy-caliber elk, mule deer, black bear and an occasional moose. A diverse landscape of aspen groves, dark timber, mountain meadows, sagebrush and creeks flow over multiple drainages, providing excellent habitat and attracting game from surrounding public lands. The ranch has abundant water with three streams, stocked fishing ponds, historic water rights and irrigated meadows. The recently constructed 5,700± square foot home incorporates the finest materials and a well-designed floor plan for guests and entertaining. Located less than 30 miles south of Steamboat Springs in the secluded upper Morrison Creek valley, the ranch is bordered by over 5 miles of national forest with the Gore Range and Sarvice Creek Wilderness to the east and Green Ridge to the west.
Just the Facts
- Located less than 30 miles south of Steamboat Springs in the secluded upper Morrison Creek valley, the ranch is bordered by over 5 miles of national forest
- 738± deeded acres plus adjacent 640± acres of state land controlled by the ranch
- A diverse landscape of aspen groves, dark timber, meadows, sage and willowed creek bottoms flow over multiple drainages, providing excellent habitat and attracting game from surrounding public lands
- The ranch has abundant water with three streams, stocked fishing ponds and historic water rights
- The recently constructed 5,700± square foot home incorporates the finest materials and a well-designed floor plan for guests and entertaining
A number of drainages flowing off the national forest come through the ranch on their way to Morrison Creek. The most significant of these, Clear Creek and Muddy Creek, are both year-round live water creeks. They add their flows to Morrison Creek which meanders through the State lease portion of the ranch for 2.5± miles. The lower elevations on the ranch are defined by the riparian corridors which are comprised of old growth spruce, willows and tall grasses. There are a number of springs and ponds located throughout the ranch, providing year-round sources of water.
The multiple side drainages flowing directly from the national forest onto the ranch result in a variety of slopes with many aspects. This geography provides for diverse ecology including aspen groves, riparian areas, sagebrush, secluded meadows and north slopes with dark timber. The majority of the trees on the ranch are aspen with smaller numbers of spruce, fir, lodgepole pine, willows and mountain oaks. There is an appealing blend of open meadows and areas of mixed grass with scattered trees throughout the ranch which are a huge attractant for big game.
Elevations range from just over 8,000 feet along Morrison Creek to near 8,600 feet at the highest elevations along the national forest boundaries. Beyond the ranch to the east and to the west, the mountains in the national forest lands rise to over 10,000 feet in elevation.
The ranch enjoys excellent access with two private ingress/egress points with locked gates along County Road 16. A graveled interior ranch road provides access to the various improvements locations and destinations throughout the ranch. From the main entrance gate, the ranch road crosses Muddy Creek and a pond as it climbs to the owner’s residence. The road then proceeds to the northwest, crossing a meadow to Clear Creek, where the ranch headquarters structures are located along with a pond, sporting-clay throwers, and a gate into the national forest. Beyond the headquarters the road splits, with one fork traveling through the State lease and connecting back to County Road 16, and the other providing access to the spotting cabin and a number of spur roads which lead to additional national forest access gates as well as ponds and the upper Beaver Creek drainage. The interior ranch roads have been well built and maintained, providing easy vehicular and foot access to nearly every corner of the property.
Like many areas of the Western United States, the Morrison Creek valley was recently impacted by the mountain pine beetle epidemic. During the 2000s, the combination of drought, overcrowding and old age led to stressed lodge pole pines which became susceptible to the beetles. Desiring to create healthier forests on the ranch and State lease land, current ownership has been engaged in an extensive timber management regimen including the selective harvest, thinning and removal of infested and dead pines. Over the course of nearly a decade, these efforts have resulted in the growth of high quality browse and beneficial undergrowth for wildlife as well as allowing immature generations of pine and aspens to thrive.
Formerly the beetle-infected areas consisted of a monoculture of lodgepole pines lacking variety in age class. The trees were so closely spaced that they were nearly impenetrable and with the thick canopy blocking sunlight there was little ground-level vegetation. This ongoing timber management has resulted in much broader diversity of tree species and age classes as well as more abundant grasses. Not only is the newly varied landscape more beautiful to look at today, but the regenerating habitat is significantly healthier and more beneficial to a wide range of wildlife species.
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. Oak Creek is a smaller town with all the basic services including local restaurants, fuel, convenience, banking and grocery stores. The Stagecoach area is a bedroom community for Steamboat and attracts residents and visitors with a variety of recreational opportunities. Formerly home to a small family ski resort, the area is now anchored by the 820-acre Stagecoach reservoir on the Yampa River.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Lost Elk Ranch holds the agricultural lease on 640± acres of adjoining state trust land, (Lease Number AG 45036). The lease grants usage of the land including the private access road traveling between County Road 16 and the ranch deeded lands. Access by the general public is prohibited March 1 through August 31 and thereafter only foot and horseback usage by the public is permitted. This lease may be assignable to the purchaser subject to the written approval of the State Land Board. The state trust land is not included in the purchase price nor is there any value in purchase price associated to the lease. The seller will relinquish its rights in the lease at closing. The application for the lease is the responsibility of the purchaser after closing and the assignment. The State Land Board may charge a fee for approval of the assignment.
From its stately setting on an elevated bench at the edge of an aspen grove, the owner’s residence overlooks a pond and meadow framed by the backdrop of timbered hillsides in the national forest rising up from the ranch. This location allows both intimate views of the immediate forest and local wildlife as well as expansive 360-degree views of the surrounding mountain landscape.
The ranch residence complements its magnificent natural surroundings. Constructed in 2007, the contemporary mountain home incorporates the finest in building materials and finishes. The well-designed floor plan creates ample space for both entertaining and comfortably accommodating guests. Featuring 5 bedrooms and 5.5 baths, the 5,705± square foot home features high-quality natural stone, granite slabs, timbers, flooring, systems, fixtures and finishes throughout.
With its soaring ceilings, towering rock fireplace and two-story window wall, the great room serves as the central gathering place. The adjacent gourmet kitchen is outfitted with top-of-the-line appliances, custom cabinetry and spacious granite countertops with plenty of room for prep and informal dining. The warm dining room is highlighted by its own fireplace and opens onto the expansive outdoor patio and entertainment area.
The home’s main-floor master wing includes an office with built-in cabinets and shelves, and a stone fireplace.
The spacious master bedroom is exquisitely finished and features an exceptional en-suite bath that is both modern and functional.
A large guest bedroom suite, powder room, foyer, laundry and mud room complete the main floor interior of the home. The upper level features a living area with fireplace, an exercise room and three additional guest suites.
An attached 936± square foot garage provides heated parking for three vehicles. Large outdoor patio areas compliment the interior living spaces and provide plenty of spaces for dining, entertaining and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Located to the west of the owner’s residence, the structures of the headquarters area of the ranch consist of a log building with two large sliding doors used for equipment storage, two small historic cabins, and two small wooden structures overlooking a pond which house remote-control clay target throwers. The ranch corrals with three pens incorporate a wagon-wheel design to facilitate sorting and shipping. Just past the headquarters, a private gate provides access directly into the national forest along the Clear Creek drainage.
Capping off a scenic ridge at the opposite end of the ranch from the main residence is a rustic cabin beloved by hunters and non-hunters alike. Nestled beneath two huge ponderosa pine trees, this historic cabin was relocated to this spot because it offers an excellent viewing platform for the western part of the ranch. From the cabin, the land slopes down to the Beaver Creek drainage and then back up again as it rises and undulates through the ranch and continues into the national forest on Green Ridge. A vast area of prime wildlife habitat can be viewed from this location and consequently many fall days begin and end at this cabin.
Morrison Creek is a fishable stream with populations of brook trout. The channel distance of Morrison Creek on the state lease portion of the ranch measures 2.5 miles. Additionally, three of the seven ponds have been previously stocked with brown or rainbow trout. The remaining ponds serve as reliable sources of water for both livestock and wildlife. The ranch holds all the rights in Muddy Ditch No. 1 out of Muddy Creek and for Muddy Ditch No. 2 out of Clear Creek, for a total of 9.7 cfs with appropriation dates in 1903 and decrees in 1916. In addition, there are three adjudicated springs with a total right of .09 cfs.
The gentle topography of the ranch also makes it a joy to hunt. It is easy to get around the ranch on vehicle or foot and there are a variety of good glassing points. A number of prime habitat locations with water are spread around the ranch. The multiple drainages allow a hunter to hunt one drainage and leave the others untouched. Because the hunting on the ranch has been carefully managed for many years, quality mature bulls are seen every year, including many who grew up on the ranch.
In fact, the Morrison Creek Valley, Green Ridge and the Sarvice Creek Wilderness areas surrounding Lost Elk Ranch have a long-standing history of producing trophy bull elk and mule deer. The habitat, water and protected nature of the ranch have consistently attracted mature bull elk and some exceptionally large trophy bull elk have been quietly taken in the area in the recent past. The ranch is also home to the occasional black bear, moose and Merriam’s turkey.
The ranch is located in Game Management Unit #15, which offers an unlimited either-sex elk archery license and unlimited bull tags for two of the four rifle seasons. 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 of Colorado or a non-resident. Moose, mule deer, antelope, black bear and mountain lion licenses are available for Unit #15 through the regular Colorado Parks and Wildlife draw process.
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