Big Creek Ranch is approximately 4,850 acres of pristine ranch land. This ranch checks off nearly every box a legacy ranch buyer has: prime big game hunting, outstanding fishing along Big Creek, public land boundary, smart improvements and close proximity to a major resort area. Over 80% of the boundary is shared with the Routt National Forest and the setting is nothing short of spectacular. Tucked in its own private valley, the house provides the ideal space for large family or corporate gatherings. The cold, high mountain and richly oxygenated waters of Big Creek flow through the ranch for over 6 miles; this is some of the best fishing you'll find in the Rocky Mountain west. Steamboat Springs, with its famous slopes, great dining and boutique shopping, is only a few minutes' drive. Big Creek Ranch is arguably the finest large acreage ranch within 10 miles of a major resort area on the market today.
Big Creek Ranch is in the northwest corner of Colorado and just a few miles north of the resort town of Steamboat Springs. It is easily accessed via year-round paved county roads. Scenic Routt County Road 129 follows open meadows north of town; it then parallels the Elk River that has carved its way through a narrow canyon. Big Creek meets the Elk River at the ranch’s southern boundary. Providing easy, year-round access to the private valley that is the heart of the ranch, a wide gravel road winds over the ridge that rises between the Elk River Valley and the Big Creek Valley. A primitive road at the southernmost point of the ranch follows Big Creek upstream through a steep valley lined by rock cliffs, massive boulders and thick pine forest; it is a wilderness scene at its best. The headwaters of Big Creek are located northwest of the ranch in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area and several perennial streams converge with Big Creek on the ranch. Nearly surrounded by the Routt National Forest, the deeded acreage comprises the Big Creek Valley to the northern boundary at Roaring Fork Creek.
Big Creek Ranch consists of nearly 5,000 acres; the variety of terrain and ecosystems provide a wide range of habitat for wildlife. The species native to the land, air and streams in this part of Colorado flourish on Big Creek Ranch. It is a wild and scenic setting that blends seamlessly with the surrounding National Forest land. With the exception of the irrigated meadows and the stream enhancement project near the headquarters, the majority of the land and water resources remain in their natural states, uninfluenced by human management. The irrigated meadows interrupt the pine and aspen forests that flank Big Creek and provide native grasses for healthy cattle and grazing for wildlife. South and west facing hillsides are loaded with aspens, Gambel oaks and brush while the north and east facing slopes are heavily treed with cool pine forests. Springs, streams and ponds are interspersed throughout the ranch, providing year-round water supplies for livestock and wildlife. Approximately 1,980 acres on the ridge between the Elk River Valley and the Big Creek Valley have been placed into a well-thought-out conservation easement that allows for reasonable development sites; the opportunity for further conservation is a natural fit.
Located at a comfortable 7,400 feet in elevation, the improvements on the ranch are in very good condition. The main home was constructed in 1999 and features comfortable living space, 8 bedroom suites, giant log beams and columns, a floor-to-ceiling fireplace in the great room, and the essential outdoor space necessary for soaking in the majesty of the surrounding Big Creek Valley. Older, functional improvements include several modest cabins scattered around the historic barn and corrals. All improvements are served by electric, propane and/or wood-burning stoves. The water source is a high mountain spring located on the north facing slope opposite the improvements; the water is fresh and cold. A 3,000 sq. ft. ranch manager home is located near the gated entry to the ranch just off of the paved county road. A shop, livestock shelter and corrals are also in this area. Most of the ranch is fenced and the majority of the Big Creek corridor is fenced.
The ranch supports summer grazing for livestock; its rich soil, lush forests and irrigated meadows put significant gains on yearlings and promote healthy cattle, horses and resident big game herds. The ranch has historically been used for a livestock, hunting and fishing ranch. The current owners enjoy the ranch for a recreational retreat for their family, friends and business associates.
Big Creek flows the entire length of the ranch; it originates on the Continental Divide near The Dome and Lost Ranger Peak and drains a vast amount of Rocky Mountain terrain until its termination at the Elk River on the south line of the ranch. Several small streams – Roaring Fork Creek, Rock Creek, Corral Creek, Ditch Creek and Cabin Creek – shuttle snowmelt and spring-fed flows into Big Creek, providing constant cold, fresh water for fish and wildlife. Livestock and irrigation water rights date back to the early 1900’s. The recreational and agricultural quality of the water itself is exceptional; unspoiled by fertilizers or heavy activity ranks this water among the most pristine in the West.
Steamboat Springs is located in northwest Colorado, approximately 160 miles northwest of Denver and about 40 miles south of the Wyoming state line. Known for its friendly, western hospitality, the area has preserved its deep agricultural roots while a world-renowned ski area emerged and prospered. The Steamboat Ski Area was acquired by KSL Capital Partners and Henry Crown and Company (parent company of Aspen Ski Co.) in 2017. This area of the state is served by a busy regional airport located 20 miles west of Steamboat. The Yampa Valley Regional Airport with daily flights to Denver International Airport is within a half hour of the ranch’s front gate. During the summer and winter seasons, direct flights are available from major cities all over the country on United, American, Delta, Alaska, Via and Jet Blue airlines. Steamboat Springs, with a population of about 12,000, is a resort community that features amenities and attractions only found in larger towns. The UC Health/Yampa Valley Medical Center is an award-winning, full service acute care hospital. The Bud Werner Memorial Library, constructed following an $11,000,000 voter-approved tax, is a 28,000 sq. ft. state of the art facility. Colorado Mountain College, an established community college, continues to experience growth and success and offers several 4-year degree programs. The small village of Clark, a small rural community near the northern end of the ranch, is home to several notable guest ranches and a quaint store/deli/post office, school and fire station. This area of the county is known for beautiful, protected landscapes, welcoming residents, and great year round outdoor recreation.
With 17 miles of the ranch bordering national forest, the big game hunting is outstanding. The ranch strikes a perfect balance between having enough deeded acres to manage and just enough public pressure to ensure successful hunts. The habitat on the ranch is ideal for elk; the bulls harvested on the ranch are among the biggest in the area. Located in GMU 14, the bulls are plentiful and regularly score 300 or more. Hunting for deer, bear, moose and lion is also excellent without leaving the ranch. Most corners of the ranch are accessible via two-track roads which put you in the middle of the remote areas that attract the wildlife. Because of the vast expanse of the ranch and adjoining public land coupled with the relatively unspoiled environment, wildlife patterns have not been affected and most species have been thriving for generations here. Healthy untouched ecosystems attract and support the big and small game, bird species and fish native to the area.
Trout fishing is thrilling along the 6 miles of Big Creek; 2 miles of the creek have been improved. Big Creek and its tributaries drain a huge territory from the Continental Divide west; the water is cold, clear and rich in oxygen. With no impact from fertilizers or heavy livestock grazing, the water is as pure as it gets. Trout thrive and strike fast. Much of the creek corridor is fenced, maintaining the pristine fishery.
For horseback riding and hiking, a lifetime can be spent discovering every corner of the ranch and the adjoining public land. The wide open meadows between the pine and aspen forests are blanketed with deep powder snow in the winter; it is snowmobiling, snow shoeing and cross country skiing nirvana.
Feasibly the most notable legacy ranch on the resort market today, Big Creek Ranch is 4,850 acres of alpine ranch land situated in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. It is unique among larger resort ranches with over 17 miles of National Forest boundary. 6 miles of Big Creek flow the length of the property; 2 miles have been enhanced to maximize angling opportunities. The improvements consist of a 10,000 sq. ft. lodge overlooking the irrigated meadows, a historic barn, guest cabins and outbuildings. Carrying with it numerous hold and exit strategies, the ranch is located in one of the most convenient and private settings you’ll find in the West. Straddling the wide and supremely secluded Big Creek Valley that drains water from the Continental Divide to the Elk River, the ranch is the largest privately owned tract of land within 10 miles of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.