Sweetwater Lake Ranch

  • $9,300,000
  • Fishing, Hunting, Horse Riding, Mountain Biking, Skiing, Snowmobiling, Snowshoeing
  • 488 Acres
  • Dotsero, CO
  • Colorado
  • Garfield
  • Gypsum


Bordered by the White River National Forest and the Flattops Wilderness Area, Sweetwater Lake Ranch is 488 acres of stunning scenery in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Known locally for its outstanding fishing in a dramatic setting, the ranch has been operated as a small resort and base camp for a high country outfitting business. Its 77-acre natural lake is tucked between tall limestone cliffs and is a destination for brook, brown and rainbow trout and kokanee salmon fishing. Historic pictographs are accessed via trails on the west side of the ranch. Located near the end of the year-round maintained county road, the ranch is convenient to the I-70 corridor and a short drive to several Colorado ski resorts.


  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Horse Riding
  • Mountain Biking
  • Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing

Ranch Location

Sweetwater Lake Ranch is located in a scenic draw flanked by tall, steep cliffs that rise up to lush, irrigated pastures bordered by the White River National Forest. Only 17 miles to I-70, the ranch is easily accessed in all seasons via county maintained roads. The Eagle County Regional Airport with private and commercial air service is 26 miles south of the ranch. The million-plus acre White River National Forest and Flattops Wilderness Area borders on three sides providing unlimited hiking and riding from the ranch. Denver is an easy 2.5 hour drive and Grand Junction is a 2 hour drive to the west.


The ranch headquarters is located on the southwestern end of Sweetwater Lake. Most of the improvements are situated near the lake’s edge. Several prime building sites on the higher reaches of the ranch overlook the lake and have long views to the snow-covered Continental Divide. The acreage consists of the 77 acre lake, approximately 30 acres of irrigated meadows, about 70 acres of sub-irrigated pasture along Sweetwater Creek and the balance in improvements, forested canyons and upland grazing land.

Ranch Improvements

The lakeside improvements on Sweetwater Lake Ranch consist of three historic cabins with a storied past, several mid-century cabins and restaurant, employee houses and a barn. A small, primitive and seasonal Forest Service campground is located on the south end of the lake. Two-track ranch roads connect the improvements to the upper reaches of the ranch and the public ground beyond. Previous owners of the ranch have done extensive land planning; plans for a golf course, housing development, resort and a natural water bottling enterprise have been considered.

Recreational Amenities

Sweetwater Lake Ranch is located near the end of a county road that terminates at the White River National Forest. This particular forest encompasses 2.3 million acres and is home to the largest elk herd in North America. The ranch is located in Game Management Unit 25, which offers over-the-counter bull tags in several seasons. It is only 1 mile from the Wilderness Boundary which limits all traffic to trails via non-mechanical modes. Big game hunting attracts sportsmen from all over the world to this rugged area of Colorado and there is convenient access from the ranch deep in to the adjoining public land via several USFS trails.

A variety of fishing opportunities are available on Sweetwater Lake and the half-mile of private Sweetwater Creek frontage. The lake is stocked with brook, brown and rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. Several high mountain lakes and streams are in the surrounding public lands offering unlimited angling both on and off of the ranch.

Ranch Operations

The ranch has been leased to a local outfitter who operates fall hunting trips. The operator oversees the grazing lease and the irrigation of the pastures. The lease can terminate upon the sale of the ranch.

Water Rights

Over 18 c.f.s. of absolute water rights provide irrigation and domestic water to the ranch. An additional 40 c.f.s. plus 274 AF of conditional rights for domestic, irrigation, augmentation, piscatorial and municipal are decreed. Extensive legal and engineering work has been completed for the water rights.


The ranch is 17 miles north of the Dotsero exit on I-70. Eagle, 14 miles east along I-70 is the closest population center and has typical services. Vail is another 29 miles east. Glenwood Springs, with a 4 year college, local restaurants, and famous natural hot springs, is 19 miles west of Dotsero along one of the most scenic stretches of I-70 in the nation. Aspen is 76 miles from the ranch and Steamboat Springs is 88 miles north of the ranch. The adjoining White River National Forest encompasses 8 wilderness areas, 12 ski resorts, 4 major reservoirs, and 2,500 miles of trails. There are 10 peaks higher than 14,000 feet in this forest, a world renowned recreation destination. With more than half of Colorado’s western slope consisting of public land and considering the west’s semi-arid climate, private lakes of this size are a rarity. A scenic drive along the Colorado River and Sweetwater Creek culminates at Sweetwater Lake, very near the end of the county road. A multitude of services are available in the towns along the interstate corridor; Vail Valley Medical Center has locations from Vail to Gypsum; Colorado Mountain College, offering 2 and 4-year programs is located in Glenwood. There are several golf courses and two major ski resorts within an hour’s drive of the ranch.


All seller owned mineral rights will convey.

Brokers Comments

Sweetwater Lake Ranch is one of the few ranches in Colorado encompassing a large, natural lake. The convenience to the I-70 corridor and several surrounding ski resorts and the extensive prior planning and engineering for the water rights make this an attractive offering with numerous hold and exit strategies. The spectacular setting of the ranch combined with the adjacent national forest, year-round access and end of the road privacy are attractive qualities not easily found in the West. Sweetwater Lake Ranch, priced at appraised value, is well positioned in its category and represents an excellent value for a notable ranch.

Interesting Facts

    Sweetwater Lake Ranch and the local area have a rich history of outlaws and gangsters. The most notorious holder of the ranch, “Diamond” Jack Alterie was a product of the Chicago underworld. He purchased the ranch in the 1920’s from the Denver Post cartoonist Paul Gregg. He eventually wore out his welcome in Colorado, returned to his menacing roots in Chicago and was killed in 1935 in a gang shooting. Diamond Jack’s small cabin still stands today along the shores of the lake. By Rocky Mountain standards, Sweetwater Lake Ranch at 7,700 feet in elevation, enjoys relatively mild temperatures. Annual precipitation is over 10 inches, much of which comes in the form of snow.

Ranch Resort Realty