Smith Fork Ranch
With private fishing and infinite recreation on the banks of the Smith Fork of the Gunnison River.
- Located in the majestic North Fork Valley equidistant between Aspen and Telluride and just west of Gunnison, Colorado
- Comfortable and rustically elegant, the interiors at Smith Fork Ranch reveal the owner’s appreciation for the great traditions of the American West
- Two miles of private fishing on the Smith Fork of the Gunnison River, an additional private stream, and several ponds
- Overlooking the West Elk Range of the Rocky Mountains, the property is surrounded by the Gunnison National Forest
- Needle Rock Natural Area can be viewed from the home which rests beneath the Ragged and West Elk Ranges to the east, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to the south, and the Grand Mesa to the north
- Luxurious improvements including one main residence, two guest residences, a lovingly restored lodge, three cabins, post and beam barn with apartments and stalls, and staff housing
- Custom-designed and hand-made pieces mix with American Primitive antiques, art, rugs, and accessories from leading western and Native American artisans
- Sporting clays/trap shooting facilities, archery range, wine cellar, spa, equestrian arena, barns and corrals
- Unlimited recreational opportunities including fishing, hunting, hiking, mountain biking, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, swimming, and horseback riding
- National Forest/Wilderness Area Special Use Permit for outfitting and guiding
- Year-round access via a County maintained road
- 1.2 hours from Montrose Regional Airport, 1.5 hours south of Carbondale
Situated along the banks of the Smith Fork of the Gunnison River in the majestic North Fork Valley south of Aspen, Colorado, is the renowned Smith Fork Ranch. Surrounded by the Gunnison National Forest and overlooking the West Elk Range of the Rocky Mountains, this luxury ranch is one of the finest offerings currently available in the American West. This private family retreat is an opportunity to own a beautifully secluded and intimate haven with exquisite improvements, private fishing, and infinite recreation.
The current owners invested millions to transform the historic property into an all-inclusive luxury guest ranch that Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report named a Top 100 Hideaway. The Hodgson family had each of the ranch’s buildings—most built between the 1920s and 1950s—disassembled, then numbered each log to ensure the structures would be restored to their original forms. Their reimagined interiors honor the ranch’s history and rustic character while incorporating lots of luxurious touches, from cozy fireplaces to down comforters and fine linens.
The 250-acre ranch encompasses one main residence, two guest residences, three cabins, manager and employee housing, and dining and kitchen areas known as Elk Lodge and Dinner Bell Cook House, and an open entertaining space known as Elk Lodge Pavilion, and multiple outbuildings with staff quarters. Comfortable and rustically elegant, the interior design of the cabins and houses reveal the owner’s appreciation for the great traditions of the American West. Most of the ranch is furnished and includes equipment, tack, mountain bikes, and fishing gear.
Smith Fork Ranch is set up as a private family retreat that can comfortably accommodate 30-35 people in its 4 houses and 3 cabins; plus housing for a full staff. A 250-foot equestrian arena, along with barns, corrals, pastures, and trails make the ranch complete for horses and horseback riding. The also ranch boasts an archery range, sporting clay center, wine cellar, and a spa.
First homesteaded in the 1800s, when Colorado was still a territory, Smith Fork Ranch became an actual ranch in 1928 when newlyweds Mamie and Grant Ferrier combined two pieces of property. Now owned by Marley Hodgson, the retired founder and designer of the Ghurka leather-goods company, and his wife, Linda, Smith Fork Ranch has most recently been operated as one of the country’s most lovingly restored guest ranches.
The Smith Fork Ranch is located on the upper portion of Smith Fork of the Gunnison River in the spectacular North Fork Valley of Western Colorado between Aspen and Telluride. The ranch sits at 7,100 feet in elevation at the foot of the West Elk Mountains. Surrounded by the Gunnison National Forest on three sides, the ranch lies within approximately one mile of the pristine 176,000-acre West Elk Wilderness, and 14 miles from the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness. Located only five miles to the east of the quaint ranching town of Crawford, the ranch is accessible year-round by a county maintained road.
Despite its isolation—the ranch is surrounded by the Gunnison National Forest—the property’s location is surprisingly convenient: just 2 hours from Aspen, 1 hour and 10 minutes from the Montrose airport, and a short drive away from the North Fork Valley’s orchards, vineyards, and wineries.
The lush North Fork Valley of the Gunnison River is incredibly scenic and is graced with a number of towns including the agricultural communities of Paonia, Hotchkiss, and Crawford.
The agricultural hub of the west slope of Colorado, this area includes award-winning wineries and a mixture of orchards, vineyards, and sustainable and organic farms and livestock operations, as well as historic ranches. A series of scenic irrigated mesas rise out from the river valley floor providing a unique patchwork of farm to table operations. All set in a picturesque setting at the base of the West Elk Mountains and the Grand Mesa.
The area is rich in history as it was originally settled in the 1880s for cattle and sheep grazing, and fruit growing. The area is well known for its remarkable fruit, with local orchards growing a wide variety of apples, peaches, cherries, and wine grapes, to name a few. The North Fork Valley has been referred to by many as the “Napa Valley” of Colorado, due to its high-quality vineyards and wineries that are surrounded by incredible natural beauty. The area is an artisans paradise and home to art studios, home workshops, fine artists, culinary artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers, inspired by the beautiful land that surrounds them. Paonia is also a state Certified Creative District boasting galleries, studios, boutiques, and restaurants.
The area is known for its mild climate, plentiful water, and fertile soils that create the perfect ecosystem for agriculture, wildlife, and “The Good Life.”
- 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 ranch and the surrounding National Forest and Wilderness Area offer excellent big game hunting opportunities, as well as a variety of bird hunting opportunities that include a healthy turkey population. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) identifies the entire Smith Fork watershed as mule deer and elk severe winter range.
The ranch lies within Game Management Unit 53 which offers unlimited over-the-counter either-sex elk licenses for archery season, as well as unlimited over-the-counter bull elk licenses for second and third rifle seasons. Mule deer hunting licenses are available by drawing, or could potentially be issued through the Landowner Preference Program. The ownership will also convey their USFS Special Use Permit for outfitting and guiding on several thousand acres of adjoining National Forest and Wilderness.
The Smith Fork of the Gunnison River flows through the heart of the ranch for two miles and provides for great brown and rainbow trout fishing. One-third of a mile of Second Creek, which is a tributary to the Smith Fork, flows into the ranch and contains the rare Native A-Strain Colorado Cutthroat trout. There are also ten additional ponds on the ranch, five of which are stocked with trout.
The nearby Gunnison River within the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gorge is a Gold Medal wild trout fishery that stretches over 40 miles from Crystal Reservoir to the town of Austin and provides many diverse wading and float fishing opportunities. The Gunnison River contains populations of brown trout, rainbow trout, and a few cutthroat may be found. The Gunnison River is managed primarily as a wild trout fishery.
Just south of Crawford is the Crawford Reservoir that has a water surface of 406 acres and about seven miles of shoreline. It provides recreational activities including fishing (for yellow perch, northern pike, black crappie, largemouth bass, trout, and channel catfish), hunting, boating, camping, and hiking. Crawford State Park rests on a peninsula on the northeastern shore of the lake.
A variety of recreational opportunities are available on the property and the surrounding public lands. The ranch has a 5-stand sporting clays/trap shooting center in a stunningly beautiful setting and also offers two archery ranges along the Smith Fork River. Horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking can be enjoyed on 150 miles of trails on Smith Fork Ranch and on the surrounding National Forest. In the winter, these same trails can be used for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
The ranch is currently being operated as a private family retreat generating its own farm to table produce from its organic garden and has been operated as a guest ranch in the past. There are barns, corrals, and irrigated pastures for horses and livestock.
The USFS Special Use Permit is currently being utilized by an outfitter for hunting, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, camping, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing.
The ranch owns an extensive portfolio of water rights for irrigation, as well as rights to pure mountain spring drinking water from the springs. The property also boasts ownership of both sides of the Smith Fork of the Gunnison River for approximately two miles.
The Smith Fork watershed drains approximately 167 square miles in the upper Colorado River Basin. The Smith Fork is a tributary of the Gunnison River. The headwaters of the Smith Fork are located in the Gunnison National Forest and are formed by the confluence of North and South Smith Fork Creeks just above the ranch at an elevation of 7,400 feet. The mean streamflow at this elevation is approximately 42 cfs.
The headwaters of the Smith Fork is a pristine, healthy stream system that originates in the high elevations of the protected West Elk Wilderness Area thus having very little human influence. The entire river runs approximately 24 miles from the West Elks through the scenic Smith Fork Canyon within distinctive towering sandstone cliffs and streamside cottonwood forest to its terminus within narrow canyon sections and waterfalls of the designated Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area.
The ranch is quite private surrounded on three sides by the Gunnison National Forest with only one other private property between it and the West Elk Wilderness Area.
This property is one of the finest turn-key private family retreats in the American West. A great location, year-round access, fantastic water resources, gorgeous mountain views, exquisite improvements, infinite recreational opportunities, and being surrounded by National Forest on three sides all make this rare offering a very compelling opportunity.