Located along the Utah and Colorado border adjoining Dinosaur National Monument and 5 miles of the Green River, lies an unrivaled trophy hunting property and major hay producing ranch at the base of Split Mountain. This 36,200 +/- acre Utah ranch has an incredible diversity of wildlife with elk, mule deer, antelope, wild turkeys, waterfowl, and sandhill cranes. The headquarters unit, situated in Jensen, Utah with over 2,000 acres of lush irrigated hay fields, serves as an oasis and private reserve, attracting game from miles around. With historic water rights (over 40 cfs), the ranch directly pumps out of the river, feeding underground pipes connected to 17 large pivots that annually produce an average of 8,000 tons of high protein alfalfa hay and a substantial income.
With its direct access to Utah’s Green River, one can re-trace the Powell expedition or fish the gold medal trout waters below Flaming Gorge, just minutes away. The area is also steeped in ancient history with numerous caves, petroglyphs and fossils found nearby. The ranch is truly a remarkable and rare combination of world-class hunting, recreation, significant farm income, cattle operation, history, and scenic landscapes, all within 15 minutes of a commercial jet airport and all the other amenities of the city of Vernal, Utah.
Thunder Ranch consists of approximately 36,200 acres with 8,170 deeded acres and 28,030 leased BLM and utah State lands. The deeded acreage consists of 3,450 acres in Utah near Jensen along the Green River (the “Headquarters Unit”) and 4,720 acres in Colorado just over the border along Blue Mountain (the “Blue Mountain Tract”).
The Headquarters Unit is just north of Jensen, Utah near the entrance to Dinosaur National Monument and is less than 15 miles east of Vernal Utah. The Colorado state line is approximately 12 mile east of the property. This parcel is known as one of the top hay producing ranches in this particular region of Utah and is comprised of 2,145 acres of sprinkler irrigated farmland (alfalfa and corn) and 1,000 acres of natural riverbottom land. The riverbottom land is characterized by numerous large cottonwoods and willows. The Utah topography is generally flat, river lowland with an elevation of 5,200 feet. The property is bordered on three sides and is almost completely surrounded by 5 miles of the famed Green River. The river provides a natural boundary, enhancing the feeling of privacy and seclusion. The gentle, pastoral nature of the property is starkly contrasted by the 2,000+ foot sheer red sandstone cliffs of the Dinosaur National Monument across the river to the north and east. Because it is a designated National Monument operated by the National Park Service, this stunning backdrop will remain for all time – as it has for millennia – rugged, wild and undeveloped.
The Headquarters Unit has historic water rights of over 40 cfs. This Utah ranch has three pumping stations situated along the river and water is pumped directly to 17 pivots on the ranch. Directly adjoining the ranch is the Jensen grazing allotment which consists of approximately 6,844 acres of BLM and Utah State lands. Just south of the Headquarters Unit is the Walker Hollow allotment that provides an additional 10,491 acres of BLM and Utah State lands and a small 26 acre deeded parcel along the Green River.
Just 15 miles east of the Headquarters Unit is the Blue Mountain Tract. This 5,020 deeded acre parcel situated in Moffat County is typical of northwest Colorado country, with gently rolling grass and sage rangeland coupled with natural cedar and pinions with small stands of aspen and pine interspersed. There are several small streams, springs and natural ponds. The elevation ranges from 5,500 to 8,000 feet with the average of about 7,500 feet. This parcel is approximately 10 miles due north of US Highway 40 at Dinosaur, Colorado and is accessed by the Harper’s Corner Road, a paved Park Service Road which is also the Colorado access into Dinosaur National Monument. This parcel is surrounded by other larger ranches and federal lands. Most of ranches in this area of Utah are cattle operations that provide summer range.
Utah’s Blue Mountain Tract adjoins two contiguous BLM allotments: the Basin Springs Allotment located in Colorado with 5,332 acres of BLM and 700 acres of Colorado State land, and directly adjoining to the west in Utah is the Miners Gulch Allotment with an additional 4,380 acres of BLM land and 282 acres of Utah State lands. The Blue Mountain deeded parcel has power to the old cabin near the Park Service Road.
- The Headquarters Unit contains many improvements including six homes all in excellent working condition. The majority of the homes are near the main ranch compound and adjoin the barns and operational improvements. There is a 4-bedroom owner’s home that rests on a bluff just above the nature reserve and Utah’s Green River. The ranch includes a 5-bedroom manager’s home/office, a bunkhouse/lodge, and three other homes ranging in size from 1,000 to 2,000 sq. ft. The ranch can very comfortably sleep up to 30 people at a time.
- In addition to the homes, the property is fabulously endowed with new or newer-condition operations improvements including: Quonset buildings, equipment shops, garages, hay sheds, storage sheds, dryer bins, scales, corrals, fencing, and extensive irrigation equipment including pump houses, pumps, pivot systems and irrigation lines. The Headquarters Parcel has electrical and phone service, wells and septic systems.
- Utah’s Blue Mountain Tract has an old cabin, some 56 miles of barbed wire fencing, an 8’x 12’ cattle scale and several steel pipe corrals.
- A comprehensive list of improvements is available upon request.
In 1869, Explorer John Wesley Powell led the famous Powell Geographic Expedition to explore the Green and Colorado rivers. He set out in May from present day Green River, Wyoming accompanied by 10 seasoned mountain men. Along the Green River, Powell was especially impressed by the canyons formed by Utah’s Split Mountain anticline just a few miles upriver from Thunder Ranch. He penned this foreboding chasm stretch the “Gates of Lodore.” Today whitewater enthusiasts revere the Gates of Lodore for their Class 3 rapids and canyon beauty. One can imagine Powell’s relief as he emerged from the dangerous Utah’s canyon waters and onto the kinder gentler waters and topography of present day Thunder Ranch.
Before Powell’s time, the area was inhabited by the nomadic Freemont Indians. The Freemont people lived in the canyons and were famous for their rock art pictographs and petroglyphs. Many of these drawings can be viewed via a short walk on the adjoining National Monument and BLM lands.
Within a couple miles of the ranch within the Dinosaur National Monument lies the historic Josie Bassett cabin and homestead. Josie Bassett Morris was a hardy Utah woman who lived alone in the small remote cabin she built, with no plumbing, water, or electricity from 1924 until she left in 1963 at age 89.
One of the major benefits of this property is that it is only 15 minutes from Vernal, Utah. Vernal (pop. 7,900) is the Uintah County seat and has all the modern conveniences of the city including: hospital, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, grocery stores, numerous restaurants and hotels, and a commercial jet airport with daily non-stop service to Denver, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah.
The ranch is adjacent to Dinosaur National Monument. Dinosaur National Monument consists of 210,000 acres of sandstone rock containing some of the world’s best dinosaur fossil beds and dramatic canyon scenery. The park visitor center is less than 5 minutes from the ranch headquarters.
Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area and lake are 40 miles north of the ranch.
Thunder Ranch enjoys a typical high desert, semi-arid climate with low humidity and abundant sunshine year-round. Average annual moisture is around 10 inches, with average summertime highs in the 80s and wintertime lows in the teens. Annual snowfall is around 16 inches.
- Bull elk up to 380” have been killed on both the Headquarters Unit in Utah and the Blue Mountain Tract in Colorado. Utah rifle and archery tags are available over the counter.
- While hunting the Headquarters Unit in October 2009, we averaged seeing 300 elk per day (80+ bulls). Currently the ranch is harvesting up to 20 bulls per year, and up to 50 cows per year.
- Archers have the opportunity to hunt in the natural reserve along Utah’s Green River. There is a bull elk rifle season in early October, affording the unique opportunity to hunt during the rut with rifles.
- While these are absolutely wild, free ranging elk, they simply do not want to leave the ranch because of the abundance of feed, cover, and water. Because of the gentle Utah topography, this ranch presents an ideal hunting scenario for those who have little interest in chasing elk in steep terrain at 12,000 feet.
- Mule deer and antelope inhabit the ranch as well. In 2009, a 180” mule deer was killed here.
- There is also fabulous turkey and waterfowl hunting on the property.
- The owner operates a commercial hunting business, charging $7,900 for bull elk hunts and $900 for cow elk hunts (Thunder Ranch, LLC).
- The Blue Mountain tract affords the opportunity for the owner to hunt in two states. This property sits in the famous Colorado game management unit 10, known as one of the best big bull and big buck units in Utah. A 390” bull was killed on this property in 2008. Deer and Elk tags are available through a landowner draw program, and a landowner should be able to draw archery tags every 3 to 4 years and rifle tags every 6 to 7 years. These landowner tags are transferable. Every year other landowners are offering them for sale, which would enable one to hunt every year on the Colorado tract so long as they’re willing to seek out and purchase landowner tags.
- Flaming Gorge Reservoir and its tailwaters are located 40 miles north of the ranch. Flaming Gorge Reservoir is known as perhaps the finest Mackinaw fishery in the lower 48. The Utah State Record Mackinaw, 51 pounds, was caught here; and 30 plus pound fish are common.
- The Green River tailwater stretch just below Utah’s Flaming Gorge is known as one of the best trout fisheries in the world. In 1996, a 30 pound brown trout was caught here, and 18” browns are common. Browns self-reproduce and are the main attraction, but the river is stocked with rainbows and cutthroats too. This stretch is easily waded or floated, and remains open and fishable year-round.
- Dinosaur National Monument offers wonderful horseback, hiking and biking opportunities, with hundreds of miles of improved trails. The Colorado parcel, with its wide open range expanses, is ideal country for riding horseback or atv-ing.
Thunder Ranch is blessed with a great quantity of deeded water, exceptionally high yielding fertile farm ground, and an abundance of hard grass grazing land combining for a highly productive year-round farm and ranch operation.
There are approximately 2,145 acres of sprinkler pivot irrigated farmland at Thunder Ranch. The primary crop is high-protein alfalfa hay with some corn and small grain rotated through. During Utah’s May-September growing season, the ranch produces four cuttings with annual yields of 6-7 tons per acre.
Thunder Ranch produces extraordinarily high-quality hay. The hay is sold primarily to dairy and thoroughbred horse operations, and averages 22% protein and Relative Feed Values (RFV) of 170, with some tested as high as 240.
The ranch irrigates with over 40 cfs of water pumped directly out of Utah’s Green River at 3 stations with a total of 12 electric pumps. The ranch utilizes 6 pump houses to distribute the water through 12 miles of pipeline to 17 pivots and 142 towers. The irrigated fields range from 25 acres to an astonishing 350 acres.
Ranching in the 21st Century requires cutting edge technology, and the investments in technology at Thunder Ranch are second to none. In addition to owning state-of-the-art farm equipment and implementing the latest science in agriculture, Thunder Ranch has installed wireless technology and real time remote control surveillance cameras to further streamline its operations, reduce demands on its manpower, and provide a high level of comfort and assurance to the off-site owner.
An industrial strength wireless network (Wi-Fi) blankets the entire 3,450 acre Headquarters Unit. The Wi-Fi network provides access to a high speed DSL internet connection, the ranch’s local area network (LAN) and surveillance cameras located across the ranch. Additionally, the Wi-Fi network has been designed to accommodate future automation of all irrigation pumps and pivots. Both the high speed internet and the surveillance system are accessible via secure wireless hotspots and hardwired connections located throughout the Ranch.
Seventeen high-tech surveillance cameras, manufactured by Panasonic, are located throughout the Headquarters Unit. These cameras provide real-time monitoring of wildlife, crops, weather conditions, equipment, personnel and visitors for both ranch management and security. Each camera is controlled via an internet browser which allows pan, tilt and zoom controls for the user to see virtually every portion of the ranch property. The camera’s powerful 220x zoom capability allows users to view objects thousands of feet away with great detail. Each camera is recorded on a centrally located network digital video recorder which allows playback and review of archived video footage should the need arise. Remote access to each camera and the recorder is available 24/7 anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
Thunder Ranch runs a year-round cow/calf operation with a current annual capacity of approximately 500 head. Cattle graze and are fed through the winter at the Jensen Headquarters Unit and the Walker Hollow (UT) BLM allotments. From May 1st through November 15th, the cattle are summer pasturing at the Blue Mountain Tract, with combined deeded and contiguous BLM allotments in Colorado and Utah consisting of over 11,000 acres.
455 acres of the Headquarters Unit along Utah’s Green River has a conservation easement on it. This easement with the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation was established in order to provide breeding grounds for two endangered fish species, the Razorback Sucker and the Colorado Pike minnow. This provides for diversions from Utah’s Green River to accentuate the area as breeding grounds for the fish. This area of Utah has also become a natural reserve for the elk that migrate to and reside on the ranch.