$15,500,000 • 21,034 acres
Consisting of 108,277± total acres (21,034± deeded acres), Three Springs Ranch is a historic cattle and big game hunting ranch notable for its large size, as well as its unique combination of multiple allocated hunting tags in a trophy unit where tags are difficult to draw. A common dilemma for hunting ranch buyers is whether to focus on areas with plentiful tags but few mature animals, or go for a trophy unit that has quality bulls and bucks, but limited hunting opportunities, even for landowners. Fortunately, Three Springs Ranch offers the best of both – a high-quality unit with a private tag allocation achieved through Colorado’s Ranching for Wildlife program. The result is a unique ranch with exceptional big game hunting complemented by a well-run livestock program and attractive western landscape. Additional features of the ranch include adjacency to the Dinosaur National Monument; accredited source of the popular Allosaurus skeletal mount at the Denver Museum of Natural Science; a televised Bill Moyers’ Journal documentary featuring the Ranch; and Native American petroglyphs.
Three Springs Ranch is located in Northwest Colorado along US Highway 40, midway between Vernal, Utah and Craig, Colorado. The ranch features year-round access on county-maintained roads. It is roughly an hour from ranch headquarters to Vernal, Craig, or Rangely, and two hours to the ski resort town of Steamboat Springs. The population of Vernal is 10,277, Craig is 9,217, Rangely is 2,285, and Dinosaur is 223. The two closest commercial airports are in Vernal and Hayden (90 minutes).
The Land -
The ranch stretches 18 miles from its northern boundary with Dinosaur National Monument to the White River Valley to the south. Along the way, it encompasses rolling and mountainous terrain within the Wolf Creek and Bear Valleys, as well as numerous side draws. The deeded lands range in elevation from 5,600 to 8,100 feet and are characterized by a variety of valleys, ridges, canyons, rock outcrops, meadows, and flats. Vegetation consists primarily of grass, sage, mountain shrub, pinon, and juniper, with some localized aspen trees. The ranch benefits from a variety of water sources including Wolf Creek, springs, reservoirs, stock ponds, and wells (both domestic and livestock).
Big Game Hunting -
In additional to the unique character of the land, one of the most appealing aspects of Three Springs Ranch is its trophy big game hunting. The ranch is located in GMU 10, one of four units in the northwest corner of the state that is managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife for quality status. Bulls over 300 inches are common, and many mature to the 350 to 400 inch range. To achieve this standard, the state is very restrictive with tags and hunting pressure is dramatically reduced. Many years of preference points are required to draw a bull or buck tag. For example, 2022 bull elk tags for GMU 10 were drawn at 22 to 30 preference points. Despite the high number of points required, there is high demand for GMU 10 tags because they offer the potential to reward the hunter with a once-in-a-lifetime bull.
With the aim of increasing the number of tags available to the ranch beyond what is available through the draw, Three Springs has been a long-time participant of Colorado’s Ranching for Wildlife (RFW) cooperative management program. This has historically entitled the ranch to three private bull tags annually. In exchange, the ranch has made habitat improvements to the land and allows a limited number of public hunters to have guided access to the ranch during select times. As a result of the blend of summer and winter range habitats and lack of pressure in the area, the local elk herd does not tend to migrate and many hundreds of elk are found on the ranch in the fall. With a bull-to-cow ratio of 40 to 100, there are plenty of opportunities for trophy-caliber elk. In addition to the Ranching for Wildlife private tags, Three Springs qualifies for seven landowner vouchers to participate in the landowner draw for the ranch acreage that is not enrolled in the RFW program. Although elk are the featured species, GMU 10 is also an excellent unit for mule deer. Three Springs historically has been allocated one private buck tag and allows one public buck hunter. Bucks in the 160-180+ inch range are typical every year.
Operation and Improvements -
The ranch supports a year-round cattle operation running 400 to 600 head. In addition to the deeded lands, the ranch holds grazing permits on adjacent BLM and State of Colorado lands. Total AUMs on the BLM and State leased lands is 7,423 (consisting of 6,897 Active AUMs on the BLM permit plus 526 AUMs on the State Ag Leases). Functional improvements consist of two owner’s homes, a hunting cabin, a manager’s home, and an employee house, plus a shop and all the requisite agricultural improvements.
• Acreage Breakdown:
- 21,034± Deeded
- 82,198± BLM Permit
- 5,045± State Lease
- 108,277± TOTAL
• Current ownership purchased the ranch in 1970. It has not been on the market in 52 years.
• An Allosaurus dinosaur fossil discovered on the ranch is on permanent display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, as featured by The Wall Street Journal in October 2022. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/cattle-roam-this-15-5-million-colorado-ranchbut-it-once-belonged-to-the-dinosaurs-11664903302)
• Well-preserved Native American petroglyphs.
• The ranch was featured in a Bill Moyers Journal documentary (https://vimeo.com/33300732).