Legacy Ranches and Fine Sporting Properties

Top 3 Things to Look for in a Gentleman’s Ranch

The term “Gentleman’s Ranch” has been around for a while. Defined as a smaller ranch in which its main purpose is to provide a certain lifestyle for its owner, it typically is characterized by the following:

  • Can offer any combination of recreational, production or sporting opportunities;
  • Increases in cost and decreases in size the closer they are located to resort areas or desirable amenities;
  • Owners of these ranches primarily value the lifestyle that the ranch provides for them, with revenue generation typically being a secondary focus. 

An antiquated and masculine term, this kind of ranch is definitely not limited to men only. Plenty of our female clients own and enjoy this type of ranch as well. In fact, we could rename them Lifestyle Ranches, since the ultimate purpose of these properties is to provide a way of life. 

Burnt River Ranch | Gentleman's Ranch
Burnt River Ranch, a Gentleman’s Ranch in Beulah, Colorado

Why would someone want a Gentleman’s Ranch or Lifestyle Ranch?

Lifestyle Ranches tend to attract those who want to live the rural lifestyle, while still being close to great amenities. Many people like the idea of owning and living on a ranch, but do not have the desire, time and/or resources to devote to operating one on a full-time basis. Owning a Lifestyle  Ranch could be the solution for many people who fall into this category.

A word of caution to anyone who has not owned a Lifestyle Ranch before. Regardless of size, these ranches can require a lot of work that consumes large amounts of time. Please be sure to consider this fact and how you will manage it, so that the joy of ownership doesn’t become burdensome.


Top 3 Things to Look for in a Gentleman’s Ranch or Lifestyle Ranch:

1) Location

Location is one of the very first and most important considerations one must make in the search process. Many people have purchased the “wrong” ranch as a result of a lack of emphasis in this area, only to arrive at that conclusion when it is too late.

Proximity to basic amenities such as air service, recreation, medical care, grocery stores and restaurants are very important to most people and should certainly be considered for potential resale purposes. Ranches located near resort areas and/or close to desirable amenities command much higher prices and tend to be a more liquid asset than comparable ranches in more remote areas.

Adjacency to public land such as National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, wilderness areas or state land can greatly enhance the enjoyment and value of most ranches. Adjacency to properties with limited development potential, such as properties encumbered by conservation easements, can also enhance value.

Lifestyle ranches in premier locations are generally in higher demand, shorter supply, and more compelling investments. A good example of this type of ranch is the Burnt River Ranch in Beulah, Colorado.

Some questions you may want to honestly ask yourself regarding location are: 

  • How long do I plan to own the ranch? 
  • Will I be content with living in a remote location in the long-term? 
  • How often will I be going to town? 
  • Will I still enjoy the drive to town when the initial thrill of owning the ranch wears off or when the weather is bad?
Eagle's Nest Ranch | Gentleman's Ranch in Vail
Eagle’s Nest Ranch is at the top of the Lake Creek community in the Vail Valley

2) Water and Mineral Rights

Water and mineral rights are extremely important things to factor into your ranch search and should be considered based upon your intended use of the ranch. These rights, or lack thereof, can limit how a ranch can be utilized for recreational or agricultural purposes and can also significantly add or detract from value.

A thorough understanding of water rights on any ranch is essential. Water rights in many states are not always owned by the person who owns the land, as they can be sold, leased or encumbered by others. Certain situations exist where there may be a stream flowing through a ranch where the landowner does not have a legal right to use the water, not even for livestock.

Mineral Rights are also a very important consideration, as they can also be sold, leased or encumbered by others. A landowner can own the surface estate, while someone else may own or lease the minerals beneath it. Mineral rights can add value to a ranch, especially if the ranch is in an area where mineral production is feasible. Ownership of mineral rights can also provide security to the owner of the surface estate by way of having control of potential mineral production in the future.  

A thorough understanding of both water and mineral rights is essential, as it varies from state to state. Please make certain that you consult with professional legal counsel regarding water and mineral rights as part of your due diligence.

Ute Ranch
Ute Ranch near La Veta, Colorado offers senior water rights

3) Access

Access is also a very important consideration one must make in the search process, as it can greatly impact your enjoyment of the ranch, or lack thereof. 

Access to ranches can vary greatly and should be carefully evaluated and thoroughly understood. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Is it possible to reasonably access the ranch in the winter months?
  • Where does the county road maintenance end in the winter months?
  • Am I willing to plow that much snow or pay someone else to do so?
  • Do neighboring landowners have a legal right to go through the ranch and can I live with that?
  • Is the access deeded or permitted?

A thorough understanding of access is an essential part of the due diligence process. Please make certain that you consult with professional legal counsel.

Gore Canyon Ranch
Roads are plowed all the way up to the property line at Gore Canyon Ranch during the snowy winter months.

Gentleman’s Ranches, or as we like to call them, Lifestyle Ranches, have been a popular choice for many ranch buyers for years, and that trend will continue for the foreseeable future. We recommend connecting with your favorite ranch broker who can help determine if this type of ranch is right for you. 

For your convenience, we recap this article in the following video:

A big thank you to Mike McGarry for contributing to this article!

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