The 718-acre Balcony Farm is a beautifully sited mountain hay property located in North Fork of the Gunnison Valley between the towns of Paonia (4 miles east) and Hotchkiss, CO (5 miles west). Situated on the south slope of the Grand Mesa at an average elevation of ~ 7,000 ft. (6,800-7,500), this former polo-horse farm borders U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and offers end-of-the-road privacy on a low-traffic county serviced road. With spectacular views, senior adjudicated water rights, and unique agricultural and conservation values, the property represents an attractive long-term investment opportunity in one of the state’s last affordable mountain corridors.
The ranch includes a 1,800 sq. ft. 4-bedroom, 3-bath modular home that currently serves as the manager’s residence and headquarters for the ranch. A second 1,500 sq. ft. clear story loft style residence (originally designed as a painter’s studio) located on the upper, north end of the property serves as a guest house. Both homes are served by the local domestic water service and separate septic systems. The other miscellaneous out-buildings on the ranch include two open-sided hay barns/sheds, an open-ended quonset hut serves as a shop, a historic guest cabin, and a remote 200 sq. ft. hunting cabin with electric service, but no plumbing.
Balcony Farm is located in western Colorado atop Stucker Mesa in the North Fork of the Gunnison River Valley between the small farming towns of Paonia (4 miles east) and Hotchkiss, CO (5 miles west). Situated on the south slope of the Grand Mesa at an average elevation of ~ 7,000 ft. (6,800-7,500), the ranch borders U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land on two sides.
- Rainfall (in.): 14.4
- Snowfall (in): 47.4
- Avg Annual Precip.: 15.7 inches (rain equivalent)
- Sunny Days: 295
- Avg. July High: 87°
- Avg. Jan High: 42°
The North Fork of the Gunnison is spectacularly scenic country that is graced with a number of quiet towns including the agricultural communities of Paonia and Hotchkiss.
The area is rich in history, originally settled for coal, cattle, and fruit when in 1902 the railroad was extended into the valley, with huge impacts for all three industries. Though coal has struggled in recent years, the area is well known for its remarkable fruit with local orchards growing a wide variety, including apples, peaches, cherries, and wine grapes, to name a few.
Balcony Farm is located at the foot of the Grand Mesa and the West Elk Mountains with the wild North Fork of the Gunnison running through the heart of it. The Gunnison National Forest and West Elk Wilderness are nearby.
The regional office of the Bureau of Land Management also offers an unlimited amount of public resources.
Balcony Farm offers superb mule deer and elk hunting opportunities. The ranch borders U.S. BLM land and offers world-class mule deer and elk habitat in one of the state’s most productive Game Management Units (GMU #421). This year (2019) the ranch qualified for as many as five Landowner Preference tags, and in previous years, has conducted a robust commercial hunting operation for a property of its size. While there is no hunting production data from the ranch, suffice it to say the area is highly productive and produces a number of trophy bucks every season.
While there is currently no fishing on the property, there is ample opportunity for trout fishing in the high mountain lakes and streams of the Gunnison National Forest. The North Fork and main stem of the Gunnison River are well know fisheries with a world renown Memorial Day salmon fly hatches that draw anglers from all over.
As indicated in the “Locale” section, Balcony Farm is located at the foot of the Grand Mesa and the West Elk Mountains with the wild North Fork of the Gunnison running through the heart of it. The North Fork Valley is an ideal locale for outdoor enthusiasts, offering an incredible array of activities with easy/immediate access to the mountains and hundreds of miles of National Forest and BLM lands in all directions. Numerous trailheads for hiking, world-class mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking and white water rafting, cross country skiing, hunting, and fishing are all part of the vibrant activities available in and around Paonia and Hotchkiss. The famous Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a short hour’s drive from the ranch over what many argue is one of Colorado’s most scenic highways.
Balcony Farm was originally used/intended as a polo horse summer facility, but the ranch has most recently been used for grazing cattle. There are approximately 240 acres of irrigated hay ground and pasture on the ranch, and while the previous manager did not elect to put up hay in recent years, the pastures are capable of producing (~300-350 tons). The pipes and ditches on 140 acres of the main meadow were all reworked and repaired this summer (2019) with successful ample delivery of water over the full span of the acreage. The ranch is serviced by the county road and two-track interior roads, providing easy access to all of the residences, ranch buildings, and pastures. The main work area, sheds, and former pens are served with domestic water and electrical service.
A rare opportunity exists to include Balcony Farm in the regenerative agricultural practices of the area. The neighboring ranches have been managed as organic grass-fed cattle operations for 50 years and would enthusiastically welcome a Balcony Farm addition.
Given its remarkable resources and unique location adjacent to Federal lands (BLM) and important wildlife habitat, the Balcony Farm would be an excellent candidate to consider the investment returns provided by a conservation easement. The regional land trust is an ideal source for understanding the significant investment opportunity a conservation easement affords landowners of Balcony Farm.
Balcony Farm holds excellent senior rights in the following three ditch companies:
- West Reservoir and Canal Co. (400 of 1200 shares delivered via the Wakefield Ditch)
- Oak Mesa Ditch Co. (1643.5 of 2609 shares delivered via Oak Mesa Ditch)
- Overland Ditch & Reservoir Company (100 of 133 Wakefield Mesa shares delivered via Overland Ditch, West Roatcap Creek, and Oak Mesa Ditch)
While the ranch no longer services all 240 decreed acres for hay production, the delivery lines and gated-pipe on 140 acres of the lower (west) hay fields have been recently repaired, and the remainder of the above-described water still flows across the property and is utilized for irrigated pasture.
Domestic drinking and stock water are delivered to both upper and lower residence by the Stucker Mesa Domestic Water Company (SMDWC) via Balcony Farm’s controlling interests in Vought Springs No.s 1, 2, and 3 (located above and on the property).
There are six stock ponds on the property fed by natural seasonal run-off and irrigation return flows.