City-folk have been escaping to the mountains for decades. Fresh air, picturesque landscape, and regular wildlife sightings just can’t be bottled and sold in metros or suburbia. So, people come seeking relief and refuge from fast-paced life. They come to see what smaller communities and simpler living has to offer. And more recently, they’ve come to stay.

Now, with remote work as a more permanent option, Steamboat has become one of the hottest growing real estate commodities. But finding the perfect blend of community and spaciousness while protecting and enriching this valley’s agricultural and landscape attractions can be a challenge. 

In the early 1990’s a few of Steamboat’s most known conservation developments such as Sidney Peak, Catamount Ranch and Club, and Storm Mountain Ranch took the initiative to task. Each was established through voluntary legal agreements known as conservation easements. These covenants permanently limit the use of large lots of land in order to protect conservation values for future generations. At a lower cost to land trusts and public agencies, binding contracts like this ensure the landowner retains many private property rights and tax benefits while at the same time providing economic benefits to the area.

Since the first few conservation developments were completed however, the Yampa community discovered there were alternative ways to protect land while population growth and expansion was inevitable in the valley. Newer communities in Routt County such as Marabou Ranch on the River and a portion of the Murphy Larsen Ranch are examples of this method called Planned Unit Developments (PUDs). Both communities have built subdivision groups with varied compatible land uses such as housing, recreation, commercial centers, and industrial parks all within one contained development instead of zoning plots of land for single purposes.  

While Steamboat is always learning and applying more efficient and effective ways to protect its beautiful landscape, these luxury ranch developments are growing in popularity and look and feel just like the old west with recreation and views only the Yampa can provide. 

MURPHY LARSEN RANCH

The “Live Lightly on the Land” philosophy of the Murphy Larsen Ranch community is simple and consistent, and shared by like-minded neighbors who desire to continue the commitment to the preservation of the integrity of the Elk River Valley, one of the most beautiful and unspoiled alpine ranching valleys still existing in America. Just 20 miles north of Steamboat Springs, with a full Continental Divide view, the five remaining lots enjoy rolling aspens, meadows, and trails to 1500 acres leading to many recreational opportunities as well as the Routt National Forest, owner’s cabin, riding arena, and private water system.

Photo: Murphy Larsen Ranch

Marabou Ranch on the River

Five miles west of downtown Steamboat, this spectacular 1,717-acre ranch is nestled right in the Elk River Valley. Marabou was created in Routt County as a unique rural planning tool. Land Preservation Subdivision’s (LPS), allow homesites to be clustered on 5+/- acre parcels reducing infrastructure costs while allowing one extra home site for every 100 acres of open space. In Marabou’s case, this resulted in over 1,300 acres of open space for all owners to use and appreciate. With homesteads averaging between 5-7 acres, this luxury ranch and mountain cabin community offers views of many famous local landmarks such as Sleeping Giant, the Flattops, Hahn’s Peak, and Mt. Werner. Boasting highlights of a small luxury western town, this neighborhood not only protects the environment through architecture, landscape, and aesthetic standards, but also offers its residents an impressive list of amenities: private fly fishing on over two miles of the Elk River, with another 10 acres of interconnected ponds and a healthy population of hungry trout; 20-miles of trails for horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, and Nordic skiing; an exquisite equestrian barn and arena for riding, roping, and round-ups; access to The Owner’s Cabins allowing owners and their guests luxury accommodations for a minimum of 4-weeks per year; a community gathering hall; private spa, pool and fitness center; casting room theater, saloon, master guides, and if that’s not enough, a private Mountain Camp located at the base of Mount Werner next to Steamboat’s main gondola offering ski lockers with boot dryers, a fully stocked bar, a fireplace, and two big-screen TVs when you need a break from a hard day’s work on the mountain.

ALPINE MOUNTAIN RANCH

With a limited number of 5-acre authentic luxury homesites, buyers are getting more than just access to ski-in/ski-out private social club memberships. Residents building in this wildlife preserve get wide-open spaces with unlimited views and frequent animal sightings. Bordered by Steamboat Resort and connected by cart path to Catamount golf club, Alpine Mountain Ranch is the perfect place to build for those desperate to keep the tourist bustle out of range, but Mt. Werner in their peripheral.

Photo: Alpine Mountain Ranch

Creek Ranch

Routt County’s most environmentally sensitive and low-density ranch is definitely a place to consider building your home. With the largest private creek habitat enhancement program, three lakes, cross-country skiing, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and in designated areas hunting and riding snow machines, spacious homesteads range from 7.5-17 acres while dwellings currently are only per 43 acres. This 2,800-acre historic Colorado ranch takes care of its residents. Whether neighbors gather at the headquarters Ranch House, Lake Shelter or dock, or board their horses at the garrison style barn while waiting for their own barn to be built, additional amenities such as an arena, pastures, paddocks, round pens, and so much more make this community a perfect place for families to live out their American Cowboy dreams.

Photo: Meoli Digital Group-Colorado

Photo of Creek Ranch lake
Life at Creek Ranch often turns city-slickers into ranchers, talkers into star-gazers, and cowboys into painters,

Catamount Ranch and Club 

This world-class ranch and club is located just south east of Steamboat on 4,000 acres of recreational preserve. With a backdrop of 1.5 million acres of National Forest and 12,000-foot-high-mountains, members keep busy whether it be teeing-off at the Tom Weiskopf championship golf course, boating, fishing, or swimming at the 530-acre private lake, or taking advantage of the multitude of activities available year-round at The Outfitter’s Center, this is the place to call home if you want all the outdoor recreation and convenient adventures right outside your backdoor. 

Photo: Noah Wetzel

Photo of Catamount Lake
Being part of Catamount’s community and camaraderie automatically makes you part of something bigger and more beautiful.

Sidney Peak

One of the few gated communities in Routt County, this ranch is located 7-miles south of the Steamboat Ski Area and has unobstructed views on the over 1,500 acres of available lots. With it’s own private water system, paved roads, and professional ranch management, owners can feel like the entire valley is theirs. Whether it be enjoying the amenities of the community Bunkhouse, casting a line in the stocked fishing pond, or visiting the private 32-stall barn Equestrian Center, this is one of the best places to build a custom luxury home.

Photo: Rod Hanna

Photo of Sidney Peak Ranch
The good thing about living in Sidney Peak, is that the landscape hasn’t changed much since it was settled 125-years ago.

Storm Mountain Ranch

With limited home sites in this private 70-acre property, frequent wildlife sightings and exclusive land features allow residents to feel one with nature – without having to share space with tourists. Just three short miles from Steamboat and bordered by Routt National Forest’s groves of aspens, pines, ferns and wildflowers, new owners of this once-in-a-lifetime treasure will fall in love with the spacious 10,000 square foot home, additional Hideout Cabin, towering rock cliffs, private delights of June Falls, and nearly every other dream-feature and amenity included.

Photo of Storm Mountain Ranch
At Storm Mountain Ranch residents don’t just lead a legacy, they live and breathe it.

These stunning pockets are just a few of Steamboat’s most treasured neighborhoods. Offering wide arrays of amenities, varying prices, lot sizes, and views, each development has it’s own story – much like its residents. Wild and free from too close for comfort neighbors or smoggy air, these picturesque luxury ranch communities will leave readers awestruck for days, visitors envious for weeks, and buyers in heaven for years to come.