Everything about Cross Mountain Ranch southwest of Steamboat Springs is big — including the $100M asking price
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Cross Mountain Ranch is so big, the new owner could literally take years to get to know all of its aspen groves, meadows, streams and high desert chaparral well. The asking price is also big – $100 million big.
Cross Mountain Ranch, which contains significant stretches of the Yampa River and its tributary, the Williams Fork, comprises 56,050 deeded acres with another (estimated) 168,000 leased acres for grazing cattle and sheep. There are too many ponds, lakes and streams to list.
A way to grasp the staggering size of Cross Mountain Ranch is to compare it to Ted Turner’s legendary 113,613-acre Flying Diamond bison ranch in Montana’s “Big Sky Country.”
One of the most significant attributes of Cross Mountain Ranch isn’t on the ranch at all. The ranch is 20 minutes from the 10,000-foot runway at Routt County’s Yampa Valley Regional Airport, with regularly scheduled commercial flights year around, and a full-service base for aircraft owners.
The ranch’s lofting asking price matches what the owners of Eagle County’s Nottingham Ranch are asking for their 20,000-acre property.
Cross Mountain could be looked at in two ways, the summer pastures of the upper ranch on the flanks of the Flattops and the winter grazing country of the lower ranch, where alfalfa hay thrives.
One-hundred million dollars is such a round number, it’s realistic to ask listing broker Ken Mirr of the Mirr Ranch Group how he and his clients, the Boedekker family, arrived at the asking price.
“It’s hard to find comparables,” Mirr conceded. “You’re looking at how many irrigated acres do you have? “Do you have big game hunting? (yes, in spades) and do you have a river fishery (the trout are biting in autumn). What’s the value of the water rights?
“It’s understanding what an animal unit (cow/calf pair) can bring (in the sale barn) and on what people are looking to spend for a cattle or sheep operation. Comps vary broadly across the western landscape. And it’s harder to find these larger ranches. It comes down to the uniqueness of the availability of that property.”
The sprawling Cross Mountain spread stretches from the western end of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area in Routt County to the arid pinon-juniper forests of Moffat County’s canyon country. The ranch is right on the boundary of Dinosaur National Monument, where the Yampa disappears into the churning rapids Cross Mountain Canyon – a good warmup for paddlers and rafters preparing for a (permit only) float down Yampa Canyon. And it shouldn’t be overlooked that portions of the ranch are also in Rio Blanco and Garfield counties.
Mirr, a firm believer that suitable ranching practices can support the natural environment, said it would be desirable for the new owner to be inclined to conservation ranching and taking care of the remarkable natural resources on Cross Mountain.
“It’s ranching, it’s recreation, conservation values, ecology — you’re always looking for that next steward to step in,” he said. “It is a responsibility, and we’re finding more people looking to play a role in the history, culture and ecology of it. That’s the goal when we talk to people.”
On the other hand, it isn’t necessary that the next owner of Cross Mountain Ranch be an active large-scale rancher. The current owners, he said run fewer sheep and cows than they once did, creating opportunities for other ag operators to cut hay and run livestock on the ranch. There are numerous opportunities across Northwest Colorado to find ag lessees.
Circus Bella, out of San Francisco, is here through Sunday at Nottingham Park in Avon. The acts feature no animals, only human-powered entertainment.