Vagabond Ranch

Granby, Colorado (Grand County)
$3,250,000Price Reduced
108 +/- Deeded Acres

In a private valley at the confluence of Bill and Willow Creeks and flanked by steeper topography and dense timber on the surrounding National Forest lands.

A Historic National Forest Inholding and Private Recreational Enclave
Introduction
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In the shadow of Colorado’s Never Summer Mountain Range and near the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park lies the Vagabond Ranch, a private inholding deep in the Arapaho National Forest. Vagabond Ranch enjoys a true wilderness setting and a storied history dating back to the 1890s. The ranch originally operated as a remote guest ranch and camp throughout most of the 20th century and is now managed as a private family enclave. The 108-acre property is situated in a private valley at the confluence of Bill and Willow Creeks and is flanked by steeper topography and dense timber on the surrounding National Forest lands, making the property feel infinitely larger than what falls within its boundaries. Vagabond Ranch is home to an abundance of wildlife including deer, elk, moose, marmot, bear, mountain lions, eagles, hawks, songbirds, beavers, and countless more. In a world all its own, Vagabond is secluded yet still only a 45-minute drive from the town of Granby. Surrounded by stunning mountain views in all directions the ranch sits at elevations ranging from 9,000 to 9,300 feet. Vagabond Ranch encompasses approximately ¾ mile of Willow Creek and ½ mile of Bill Creek providing a tranquil setting, lush riparian area, and trout habitat.

There are a number of historic and rustic structures on the ranch that facilitate year-round visitation and lodging. The main 2-story ranch house was built in 1955 and is the primary owner’s home with 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. The Cascade cabin was built in 1991 and accommodates guests comfortably with an additional 3 bedrooms and 3 baths. Many of the other cabins and structures are quite historic, albeit primitive, and will require work to be modernized but provide a wonderful restoration project for an incoming owner with a creative vision. The property is “off-grid” and serviced by an impressive solar electricity system, propane gas, and a domestic freshwater well.

Vagabond Ranch is a beloved mountain refuge and special Colorado property with deep roots. Private inholdings of this kind are exceptionally rare in today’s market. The current owner is seeking the right Buyer who appreciates the legacy of this distinctive landscape and the opportunity to carefully steward the ranch into the next generation.

Several photographs and video of Vagabond Ranch are taken by Camera Head Media.

Lay of the Land
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Vagabond Ranch is situated in a tight valley at the southern end of the Never Summer Range below Cascade Mountain near the Continental Divide. The property includes a mixture of open grassy meadows, lush riparian corridors surrounding four creeks (two year-round and two seasonal), as well as densely forested hillsides primarily consisting of lodgepole pine and aspen. The ranch is characterized by its seclusion and mountain views as well as its impeccable location in proximity to Grand Lake, a plethora of open wilderness, trail systems, Rocky Mountain National Park and infinite outdoor recreation.

Improvements

Vagabond Ranch includes historic improvements dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Through most of the 20th century the ranch was operated as a guest ranch or summer camp, and many of the older buildings reflect this usage. There are two main homes, a dining hall, six camp cabins, and other support structures. A summary and further details of each structure is below:

Ranch House

  • 3,096 square feet finished
  • 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
  • Built in 1955 (updated early 1990s)
  • Log frame, log siding, metal roof
  • 2 story (low ceiling upper level)
  • Mostly wood interior walls
  • Wood/tile/carpet flooring
  • Wood fireplace/stove and propane heat

Cascade Guest House

  • 2,424 square feet finished living area (main level with partial loft)
  • Built in 1991
  • 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
  • Walk-out finished basement garage/workshop
  • Carpet/tile interior flooring
  • Wood frame, log siding, metal roof
  • Wood stove/fireplace & propane heat
  • Detached 1,008 square foot garage
    • Concrete floor, wood siding, metal roof #10
    • Heated and insulated
    • 3 overhead garage doors

Overlook Cabin

  • 1,920 square feet
  • 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms
  • Built in 1974
  • Wood flooring and interior walls, concrete
  • Wood stove & propane heat
  • Log frame, log siding, metal roof
  • 2 story (finished upper level, unfinished wood storage lower level)

Dining Hall

  • 6,708 square feet
  • Built in 1940
  • Log frame, log siding, metal roof
  • Concrete floor on lower level, log interior walls
  • Partial 2 story layout
  • Partial low ceiling on main level
  • Commercial kitchen area not updated and not up to code
  • Outdated with several structural issues

Parkview Cabin – Historical

  • 648 square feet finished
  • Originally built in 1890s – 1920s
  • Log frame, log siding, metal roof
  • Wood & laminate flooring and interior walls
  • Fireplace/Stove
  • Some updates and preservation work
  • Electricity (no water/waste utilities)

Wranglers Cabin – Historical

  • 416 square feet finished
  • Originally built in 1890s (preservation updates)
  • Log frame, log siding, metal roof
  • Old wood floors over dirt floor
  • No electricity or water/waste utilities

Homestead Cabin – Historical

  • Originally known as the Hill Cabin
  • 440 square feet
  • Built in 1940s
  • Log frame, log siding, metal roof
  • Old wood flooring over dirt floor
  • Fireplace, no electricity or water/waste utilities

Riverview Cabin – Historical

  • 120 square feet
  • Built in 1940s
  • Log frame, log siding, metal roof
  • Concrete floor, updated windows and log chinking
  • Wood stove, no electricity or water/waste utilities

Trappers Cabin – Historical

  • Built in early 1900s
  • Old, dilapidated cabin structure

Gravel Cabin / Shop & Generator Shed

  • 1,456 square feet
  • Built in 1975
  • Concrete/wood flooring, metal roof
  • Shop, inverters, generators, batteries

Pump House

  • 16’ x 16’ (with covered porch overhang on side)
  • Concrete floor, wood siding, metal roof
  • Houses 2,500-gallon water tank storage and filter system

Tractor Shed

  • Built in 2018
  • Concrete floor, wood siding, metal roof
  • Lean-to type shed

Corral/Loafing Shed

  • 736 square foot lean-to type shed
  • Dirt floor, wood siding, metal roof
  • Some surrounding older wood corrals
  • Structural issues

Gazebo

  • Wood structure near the creek

Utilities

Off-grid infrastructure consists of a modern solar voltaic system with 48 large batteries and sixteen solar panels. The ranch also has three propane-powered Cummins generators that come to life automatically when the batteries need charging and the solar panels are unable to satisfy electrical demand. Five 1,000-gallon propane tanks provide fuel for heating, and a 300 ft deep domestic freshwater well provides 13 GPM of flow. Sewer service is provided by buried septic.

History

Beginning with its sacred significance as part of the Ute Indian Tribe’s territory, Vagabond Ranch is steeped in Rocky Mountain legacy. The confluence of Willow and Bill Creeks is a sacred site for the Native tribe who still return today with permission from the owner to conduct spiritual ceremonies. Around the turn of the century, the property was originally homesteaded by the superintendent of an old and now abandoned Gilsonite mine. A number of the ranch cabins were constructed to accommodate his family and other mine workers. Later, Vagabond was operated as an early guest ranch. By the 1950s Vagabond Ranch was owned and operated by Charlie Pavek as a camp retreat for youngsters from the east coast. Mr. Pavek restored much of the original camp cabins and improved infrastructure with the help of the campers who were affectionately known as Ranchers. Campers helped lay the foundation of local stones for what is now the main Ranch house. Later in its existence Vagabond shifted to more of a private family ownership and management, with preservation of the property’s long legacy at the forefront.

Location

Vagabond Ranch is located in Grand County, about two miles south of the Jackson County line. The property lies 10 miles as the crow flies west northwest of Grand Lake and 24 road miles north of Granby. The ranch lies east of Highway 125, just a few miles south of Willow Creek Pass which provides entry into North Park, Colorado. The ranch is about 2.5 hours from Denver. Nearby airports supporting private aircraft are located about 45 minutes away in Granby (KGNB, 5000 ft runway, FBO) and 1 hour away in Kremmling (20V, 5,540 ft runway, FBO).

Locale

Grand County is associated with Lake Granby, the largest natural lake in Colorado, a longtime recreational mountain haven of the central Rockies, and home to cultural amenities with tourism at its core. Much of Grand County is enveloped by the Arapaho National Forest and is known as the western entry to Rocky Mountain National Park. The area is also known for being relatively accessible from Denver, its suburbs, and other Front Range communities. The Upper Fraser River Valley, located to the south of Lake Granby, is home to Winter Park Ski Resort, a number of high-end golf courses, and luxury destination developments. Northern Grand County is home to the headwaters of the Colorado River and is more sparsely populated. Most of the private landscape is held in the hands of historic ranching families or private trophy recreational ranch owners. The current resident population in Grand County is around 15,000.

Climate

Summer climate is pleasant and mild with average high temperatures in the mid-70s and nighttime lows in the 40s. Winter can be extreme but also beautiful with 100-200 inches of snowfall and average highs in the 30s and lows in the single digits.

Sporting Features
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Hunting

Vagabond Ranch is located in Colorado GMU 18 and is known for trophy elk and mule deer. There are over-the-counter elk tags available for archery and second and third rifle seasons. Muzzeloader and first rifle season elk tags are limited licenses available through the draw. Mule deer tags are also available through the draw system. Other hunting consists of upland birds, bears, and moose (draw only). Vagabond Ranch does not qualify for Colorado’s Landowner Preference Program.

Fishing

Willow Creek and Bill Creek provide an on-site high-mountain private fishery of primarily brook and cutthroat trout ranging from 5-9 inches in size. Bill Creek flows into Willow Creek on the property. Each of these streams are a few CFS in flow and average 1-3 feet deep and 10-15 feet wide. These streams are both great candidates for further enhancement to improve trout habitat and fishing.

The surrounding area is rich with additional fishing resources like the Colorado River, Fraser River, Williams Fork River, North Platte, and Michigan Rivers, as well as Lost Lake, Grand Lake, Williams Fork Reservoir, and numerous mountain streams and alpine lakes.

Recreation

Mountain biking, hiking, rafting, camping, ATVing, and countless other outdoor activities abound in this area. In the winter Vagabond Ranch is a great place for cross-country and backcountry skiing as well as snowmobiling.

Horses

Vagabond Ranch could easily support horses seasonally and there are numerous trails nearby for trail riding.

Ranch Attributes
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Ranch Operations

Vagabond Ranch is fully operational as a year-round private residence and retreat. The property is fenced and supports limited livestock grazing during the summer months. The ranch may be adjusted to accommodate a range of different operations like a commercial guest ranch, outfitting, non-profit retreat center, private family compound, etc.

Equipment & Personal Property

Due to the remote nature and distinct design of the ranch, it is necessary to have equipment on site for ongoing maintenance and operation. An inventory list of equipment, tools, and other personal property that will convey along with the property is available upon request. Certain home furnishings are also available to the right buyer.

Taxes

2021 real estate property taxes were $4,250.12.

Water Rights

Vagabond Ranch has historic and valuable water rights supporting irrigation, storage, and domestic use. Vagabond Ranch maintains water rights for a small recreational pond, several flood irrigated acres, and conditional rights for hydroelectric development should a future owner wishes to establish the necessary infrastructure. The appurtenant water rights have been fully adjudicated and professionally managed by qualified water counsel. A summary of water rights is below:

Vagabond Ranch Pond

  • 1.27 acre feet absolute from Bill Creek. Appropriated 1955, adjudicated 1994.
  • 1.27 acre feet conditional from Bill Creek. Appropriated 1991, adjudicated 1994.
  • 0.614 acre feet absolute from Bill Creek (refill right). Appropriated 1991, adjudicated 2007.
  • 2.396 acre feet conditional from Bill Creek (refill right). Appropriated 1991, adjudicated 1994.

Irrigation Diversion

  • .036 CFS (16.15 GPM) absolute from Bill Creek. Appropriated 1991, adjudicated 2007.
  • .074 CFS (33.21 GPM) absolute from Bill Creek. Appropriated 1991, adjudicated 1994.

Allotment from Middle Park Water Conservancy District

  • 2.0 acre feet augmentation credit water right

Vagabond Ranch Hydro Diversion

  • 6 CFS conditional non-consumptive right for hydroelectric power generation. Appropriated 2009, adjudicated 2011.

Well Permit # 122522

  • Domestic and household use.
  • Permit issued 1982, well depth 305 feet, flow 13 GPM.

Mineral Rights

The subsurface mineral estate owned by the seller will convey to a buyer, however, there are some minerals that were previously reserved. There is no oil and gas production or active leasing on the property or anywhere in the vicinity and development is highly unlikely. Market evidence signifies there are no significant mineral values in the area.

Aesthetic Value

Vagabond Ranch lies in a scenic mountainous corridor with spectacular views of Cascade Mountain, Porphyry Peaks, Gravel Mountain, and Parkview Mountain. The private nature of the property affords a totally exclusive viewshed free from light pollution or sightline disturbances.

* A Note about the East Troublesome Fire

It should be noted that the aesthetic values of the ranch have been impacted by the East Troublesome FIre that burned much of the surrounding area in the fall of 2020. This was Colorado’s second-largest wildfire in history with approximately 200,000 acres in total burned. Miraculously Vagabond Ranch was spared from any direct damage or destruction, however, burn scarring is visible on surrounding forest lands from the property. The fire was especially devastating due to the high volume of beetle-kill pine trees distributed through the region, which still exist today in unburned areas.

Conservation Value

Given its status as a rare inholding and historic nature, Vagabond Ranch would be an excellent candidate for a Conservation Easement.

Investment Value

Vagabond Ranch offers tremendous upside potential when considering the numerous opportunities to increase the value of both land resources and improvements as well as income generation through thoughtful commercial operations.

More information and photos are available on the owner’s website: www.VagabondRanch.info.

Contact Broker

Daniel's Thoughts on Vagabond Ranch

Vagabond Ranch provides an incredible opportunity to own the ultimate backcountry ranch retreat or family hideout. The deep history and recreational resources of this ranch await the next owner who can truly make it their own, carrying forward the significant legacy and stewardship into the next generation.

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