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10 Impressive Ranches with Valuable Water Rights

As we have noted in the past, water rights can be one of the most valuable components of your ranch. Operating throughout the Rocky Mountain region, we run into water rights stemming from several different river basins. Here’s our round-up of impressive properties with valuable water rights across some of these key basins:

 

Colorado River Basin

The Colorado River system, including the Colorado River, its tributaries, and the lands that these waters drain, is called the Colorado River Basin. It drains an area of 637,000 square kilometers (246,000 square miles), including parts of seven western U.S. states (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, California) and Mexico. The basin is a crucial resource supplying water to about 40 million people and irrigating close to 4 million acres of farm and ranch land each year. To address diminishing flows and greater demand for water from the Colorado River, agricultural producers in Colorado’s west slope are participating in a voluntary pilot program that compensates them for temporarily fallowing their crops and letting the water run down the river.

 

Strawberry Creek Ranch | Meeker, Colorado – $4,800,000

With the worsening drought in the American Southwest, ranches like Strawberry Creek in the Meeker area with their dependable, senior, upper basin water, will likely be exporting hay to those hard-hit areas, and getting top dollar for it. With 9.125 shares of Niblock Ditch water – that’s approximately 22 cfs – for irrigating around 400 acres, one can produce in the neighborhood of 800 tons of hay at this ranch.

Strawberry Creek Ranch | Senior Water Right

 

K-T Ranch | Meeker, Colorado – Recently Reduced to $6,500,000

Also in Meeker, K-T Ranch is all about water. Whether focused on fishing or hay production, K-T offers ample water for both. The ranch includes approximately 370 irrigated acres and 23 cfs of historic water rights dating back to the 1880s.

K-T Ranch | Historic Water Rights & Fly-fishing

 

Porcupine Ridge Ranch | Toponas, Colorado – $16,700,000

Containing an empire of water, Porcupine Ridge has some of the most significant water rights on any ranch in western Colorado. For 2018 alone, the ranch will produce $421,000 in income by voluntarily participating in a pilot program that compensates the owners for fallowing their fields.

Porcupine Ridge Ranch | A Water Empire

 

The Cottonwood | Daniel, Wyoming – $30,000,000

With extensive riverine and riparian corridors and frontage on almost 40 miles of rivers, streams and creeks, the Cottonwood has significant water resources with 76.9 cfs of senior water rights irrigating/sub-irrigating over 6,310 acres, and 24 reservoirs and 11 springs.

The Cottonwood | Significant Water Resources

 

Cross Mountain Ranch | Hayden, Colorado – $100,000,000

Water is king on Cross Mountain Ranch and its water rights represent a long-term investment opportunity. Offering 12 miles of the Yampa River, 6 miles of the Little Snake River, and 2.5 miles of the Williams Fork River, the ranch is blessed with valuable and historic water rights (102 individually identified rights!) that irrigate hundreds of acres of meadows and pastures that rest alongside the rivers.

Cross Mountain Ranch | Historic and valuable water rights

 

North Platte River Basin

The North Platte Basin is located in north central Colorado in Jackson County and a small portion of Larimer County. The basin covers an area of roughly 2,050 square miles and has a population of 1,491. The largest town in the basin is Walden with a population of 727 people.

 

Double R Ranch | Walden, Colorado – $13,600,000

With over 10 miles of river frontage, Double R Ranch has substantial and valuable water rights consisting of approximately 251 cfs that date back to the 1880s and 936 acre feet of storage rights. These rights irrigate 3,150 acres of hay meadows and 1,808 acres of pasture, making this a substantial cow-calf operation.

Double R Ranch | Substantial Water Rights and River Frontage
 

Arkansas River Basin

Heading further south in Colorado, the Arkansas Basin has seen robust growth over the past few years. Home to two large cities – Colorado Springs and Pueblo – the Arkansas Basin has seen an increase in competition for the same scarce water resources. As a result of this urban growth, there has been an increase in the transfer of water from agricultural use to municipal and industrial uses.

 

Indian Hills Farm | Fowler, Colorado – $1,400,000

Indian Hills Farm is a well rounded property situated on the banks of the Arkansas River. The farm includes a very historic and significant “direct flow” water right out of the river that pre-dates the irrigation ditch companies in the area and guarantees water to irrigate 40 productive acres before downstream ditch users.

Indian Hills Farm | Senior Water Rights

 

Seven Diamonds Ranch | Westcliffe, Colorado – $2,950,000

Not only does Seven Diamonds hold the oldest adjudicated right in the Valley (Voris Swift Creek #1 1869 priority date), it is said Seven Diamonds will make hay even in the driest years when no other ranch in the valley can. The ~558 acre ranch is the last private ground along the banks of Grape Creek, the Valley’s primary stream before it enters DeWessee Reservoir, after which it leaves the valley, plunging down Grape Creek Canyon to the Arkansas River. As both the most senior right and the last user above the reservoir, the ranch serves as a keystone to much of the rest of the water in the valley.

Seven Diamonds Ranch | Most Senior Water Right

 

Kaess Ranch | Salida, Colorado – $4,200,000

By controlling both conventional senior deeded rights (Kennedy ditch) as well as a shared interest in the non-tributary spring-fed waters flowing year round down the Harrington Gulch (Harrington ditch), the Kaess Ranch always has a robust source of water outside conventional seasonal flows, even in the driest years, and can get as many as three seasonal hay cuttings.  This unique combination of location and hydrolic flexibility, has drawn the attention of the Kaess Ranch to many burgeoning non-conventional agricultural entrepreneurs with interests in hemp, hops, grapes, and the unique quality of life available in Salida.

Kaess Ranch | Unique Water

 

Rio Grande River Basin

Rising as a clear, snow-fed mountain stream more than 12,000 feet (3,700 metres) above sea level in the Rocky Mountains, the Rio Grande descends across steppes and deserts, watering rich agricultural regions as it flows on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. The total length of the river is about 1,900 miles (3,060 km).

 

North San Luis Valley Portfolio | Moffat, Colorado – $24,300,000

The North San Luis Valley Portfolio properties are blessed with an incredible amount of water, with over 20,000 acre feet of senior water rights,1,400 acres irrigated under sprinkler, and thousands of acres sub and flood irrigated pasture.

North San Luis Valley Portfolio | Empire of Water

 

For your convenience, here’s a video recap:

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