Jackson County Colorado Ranches For Sale: County Overview
- Population estimate, 2008: 1346 .83 persons/sq. mi.
- Square miles: 1621
- Approximate driving time from Denver: 3 hours
- Commercial Airport: None in county, Denver International within three hours, Laramie Regional within one hour. General Aviation field at Walden.
- Ski Areas: None in county
- Major Communities: Walden (621)
- Elevations: 8000 to 13,000 feet
- Major streams: North Platte River, North Fork of the North Platte River, Illinois River, Michigan River, Canadian River, Grizzly Creek
- Average ranch/farm size: 4917 acres (NAICS, 2002) vs. Colorado average 991 acres
- Pros: Undeveloped ranching area with very large cattle ranches. Superb mule deer, elk and moose hunting. Abundant streams support excellent trout fishing.
- Cons: Hard winters, fairly remote.
A fertile basin ringed with scenic mountains, Jackson County represents the epitome of high country cattle ranching in Colorado. Here, many tributaries of the North Platte River comprise its headwaters and support not only vast irrigated hay meadows, but a tremendous brown and rainbow trout fishery as well. Colorado’s largest moose herd lives here, and elk and mule deer thrive on both private lands and the surrounding Routt National Forest to the west and the Colorado State Forest to the east. The floor of the basin is vegetated largely with sagebrush and irrigated meadows, but extensive forests of lodgepole pine and aspen can be found in the surrounding high country.
Cattle ranching is king in Jackson County. Vast ranches were homesteaded in the 1880s, and many remain held by the families of that era. Logging was once a significant Jackson County industry as well, but is now diminishing in importance. Recreation in the form of hunting and fishing has always been a component of the county’s economy, but has been largely undeveloped until recently. Some larger acreages are being converted into recreational properties, but active cattle ranching still predominates. Land values are moderate compared with “ski country” prices, but are on the rise. As a whole, Jackson County is refreshingly undeveloped.
Hunting: Colorado’s best moose (shiras subspecies) hunting in found in Jackson County, on a license draw basis. Many of these animals populate private ranch land, but the herd has expanded into neighboring public forests as well. Elk and mule deer populations are strong here, too, with many ranches providing habitat refuge for these herds, both in summer and winter. The large size of Jackson County ranches have great potential of providing habitat integrity and improvement that could be of significant benefit to herds on private lands.
Fishing: The headwaters of the North Platte and its tributaries have long been home to some of the finest brown and rainbow trout fishing in Colorado. Since much of the stream mileage is on private land, the fish population has remained relatively unpressured, and trout grow to their full potential. Trout from 16 to 20 inches are not uncommon in North Park streams, particularly in the North Platte proper and the North Fork of the North Platte. Many smaller streams also support excellent fishing. Brook trout and cutthroat trout are more common on public lands in the surrounding mountains. The scud-filled Delaney Buttes Reservoirs and Lake John are excellent public stillwaters, well-known for catches of trophy brown and rainbow trout measured in pounds. The potential for excellent private land fishing is very high in Jackson County, but late-season irrigation draw-downs may limit the potential in some areas.