Catron County New Mexico Ranches For Sale an Overview
Population estimate, 2013: 3,607 .51 persons/sq. mi.
Square miles: 6929
Approximate driving time from Santa Fe: 3 hours
Commercial Airport: None in county. General Aviation fields at Reserve and Glenwood.
Ski Areas: None Major Communities: Reserve (387)
Elevations: 5,000 to 10,000 feet
Major streams: San Francisco River, Gila River
Average ranch/farm size: 5,724 acres (NAICS, 2007) vs. New Mexico average 2,066 acres
Pros: Uncrowded rural landscape, world-class elk hunting, very large ranches.
Cons: Arid, remote.
Catron County boasts the largest land area of any county in New Mexico, but one of the smallest populations. The net result is plenty of elbow room favored by those who love an uncrowded Western landscape, abundant wildlife and room to explore. The nation’s first designated Wilderness Area, the Gila, is located in the southern part of the county, and much of the higher elevations of the rest of the county are managed by the Cibola National Forest. The landscape varies from mountainous to rolling hills, with extensive forests of ponderosa pine above 8000 feet, and a mix of pinon and juniper forests and grasslands at lower elevations. The northern part of the county is more arid than the south, and supports only intermittent streams. In the south, the San Francisco and Gila Rivers flow year-round and support good trout fishing.
Ranching and lumbering have long been the economic mainstays of Catron County. Lumbering has fallen on hard times, but ranching persists in the northern part of the county. Most Catron County ranches are very large, controlling many square miles of range and forest. Whereas much of the larger ranches elsewhere in the Rockies are being extensively subdivided, Catron County remains a bastion of large tracts of land. Many of these ranches are ideal for buyers interested in significant big game hunting properties.
Hunting: Catron County is home to some of the best trophy elk hunting in the world. A combination of significant tracts of undeveloped land, relatively mild winter, good genetics and careful management has produced large herds of elk worthy of the record books. 350- to 400-class bull elk are not uncommon at all. Many of the existing ranches are optimized for elk habitat, creating a “Catron County ecosystem” that benefits herds and hunters alike. Trophy mule deer hunting is excellent in the county as well. Antelope are hunted in the northern part of the county, and smaller game is found throughout the county.
Fishing: Most of the fishing in Catron County occurs on public land in the higher elevations of the Gila Mountains, in the watersheds of the San Francisco and Gila Rivers. Rainbow trout, brown trout and the rare Gila trout can be caught in these streams, but fish seldom exceed 14 inches in length. Private land adjoining live streams is rare in Catron County. Some springs could be developed into ponds that would support trout populations.