Large ranches in the Aspen/Vail/Grand Junction triangle do not often come up for sale, but the Porter Ranch, located just a few miles south of the town of New Castle, is now on the market. The ranch has excellent assets, including 3,526 deeded acres, superior water rights, beautiful year-round climate, irrigated hay meadows, world-class hunting, easy access to I-70 and airports, and a blank slate for future development.
The Porter Ranch is one of the most historic ranches on the Western Slope, as the forebears of the Porter family gathered up a herd of cattle near Denver in 1880 and drove the herd all the way across the mountains to the Grand Valley on a 3-month cattle drive. It was one of the earliest settled ranches on the Western Slope. The Porter Family has held the ranch for the past 5 generations, raising hay, running cattle, and outfitting hunters on the ranch.
The Porter Ranch is easily accessed from Exit 105 on I-70, which parallels the Colorado River as it flows through New Castle and then down to Rifle and Grand Junction. From I-70, it is a short 11-minute drive up Alkali Creek, or County Road 312, to the ranch gate. Glenwood Springs, with its famous Hot Springs Pool, Fairy Caves, and tourist attractions, is just 15 minutes further up I-70, and Aspen is a total of 1:15 from the ranch. Vail is 1:17 from the ranch. Grand Junction, with its regional airport, Colorado Mesa University, Country Jam, world-class hospitals, and excellent concert venues, is about 1:25 down I-70 from the ranch gate. There are four different airports in fairly close proximity, including Aspen, Vail (which is actually Gypsum, under an hour from the ranch); Grand Junction; and Rifle airport, which doesn’t have connecting flights, but can land large jets. Rifle airport is less than half an hour from the Porter Ranch.
Many Western ranches are located at high elevation, where heavy snowfall can make life difficult. Winters are long and frozen, involving feeding hay to hungry animals, plowing snow, and waiting for spring. Fall comes too quickly and it’s winter again. With the Porter Ranch headquarters at 6,000 feet in elevation, the ranch has an enjoyable year-round climate. Spring comes earlier, fall arrives later, and the ranch enjoys a long growing season. The upper reaches of the ranch top out at 7,800 feet, so there are zones that have a longer winter, but generally speaking the weather is pleasant on the Porter Ranch.
As the saying goes in the West, “whiskey’s for drinking; water’s for fighting,” because water is such a precious resource. The Porter Ranch has several different diversion points from local creeks to water the ranch, as well as a large reservoir situated on the top of a ridge overlooking the basin below. Fed by mountain snowmelt, the reservoir holds 1,175 acre feet of water that is entirely dedicated to the ranch. Further, the Porter family installed a network of underground water pipelines to irrigate close to 800 acres of the ranch with gravity-fed pressurized sprinklers, which makes for an easy job of irrigating and results in quality hay production. There are four (4) large center pivots and an array of big gun sprinklers to reach the best areas on the ranch for hay production.
Serous big game hunters will love the hunting opportunities on the Porter Ranch, which is famous for outstanding hunting for elk, trophy mule deer, and bear, as well as turkey and grouse. The ranch is in the heart of Colorado GMU 42, which has been known as one of the top producers of trophy mule deer bucks since the Boone & Crockett club was organized in the late 1880’s by Teddy Roosevelt and his cohorts. In fact, TR stayed in the famous Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs and his guides took him up Alkali Creek to hunt on the Porter Ranch and adjacent properties for mule deer and bear in 1905. The ranch is classic mule deer and elk habitat, with sagebrush and pinyon-juniper forests in the lower elevations and oak brush mixed with aspens at the higher elevations. The ranch provides critical wildlife habitat, as numerous does and fawns can be spotted while touring the ranch, and herds of elk live on the ranch year-round. Bulls scoring up to 360” have been taken on the property, and many bucks scoring 180”-200” have been harvested on the Porter Ranch, including several Boone & Crockett record-book entries.
Growth and development has accelerated in the Aspen corridor and property values are high. The average home price in Carbondale, just 25 miles to the southeast, is over $1,600,000, and Aspen home prices averaged $14 million in 2022. This ranch is basically a blank canvas for development, with high demand in the I-70 corridor for new homesites, especially in a private ranch setting. The ranch has more than adequate water to serve new development, and Garfield County is receptive to new projects. There are literally hundreds of gorgeous homesites on the Porter Ranch, from which there are only a handful of other homes within eyesight.
Many Western ranches have been highly improved over the years with improvements that are not necessarily to the taste or function of new ownership. The Porter Ranch has few improvements and those structures on the ranch are utilitarian. Aside from the small historic ranch home, there is a 4-bedroom, 2-bath modular home (built in 2015) that would serve well as a ranch manager’s home; a 40 x 80 machine shop; a 50 x 120 hay barn; and a set of cattle pens. There is no grand lodge or set of cabins or trophy custom home. It is basically a blank slate for a new owner to come in and design the next role for the property.
With its unique combination of assets, the Porter Ranch offers a wise investor a very good buy-and-hold strategy for land banking. Every investor knows that the stock market may not be the best place for their money, and land has appreciated steadily in value over the decades. The development potential of the Porter Ranch cannot be overlooked—it will only appreciate in value. Its water rights alone are worth millions. However, the ranch can serve as a legacy family property for decades to come, hosting family and visitors for vacations, big game hunting, and learning about agriculture, while the development potential is always there.
The Porter Ranch is offered as a team effort by the brokers and agents of United Country Colorado Brokers (UCCB), UC Ranch Properties, and UC Hunting Properties. Loren Williams, Jake Hubbell, ALC, Brooke Snyder, and Gary Hubbell, ALC, are the listing agents for the Porter Ranch. Gary Hubbell is the managing broker, auctioneer, founding member, and Accredited Land Consultant with UCCB. Jake Hubbell, ALC, is a top agent within the United Country franchise system, having sold ranches, hunting land, wineries and vineyards, and farms all across Colorado and Wyoming. Loren Williams is an active hunting outfitter and specializes in selling hunting land, ranches, and outfitting businesses on the Western Slope of Colorado. Brooke Snyder is a granddaughter of the Porter family and is emerging as a top agent in her own right, listing and selling ranches, mountain property, hunting land, and custom homes in Western Colorado. She runs her own herd of Angus cattle with her father, famed outfitter Trent Snyder, and she has guided many hunters on successful elk and mule deer hunts.