Overview of Park County Colorado Ranches For Sale
- Population estimate, 2007: 17,004, 7.7 persons/sq. mi.
- Square miles: 2211
- Approximate driving time from Denver: 2 hours
- Commercial Airport: None in county, Denver International and Colorado Springs Airports within two hours.
- Ski Areas: None in the county, Breckenridge in neighboring county
- Major Communities: Fairplay (600), Alma (200)
- Elevations: 8000 to 14,000 feet
- Major streams: Middle Fork of the South Platte, North Fork of the South Platte, Tarryall Creek
- Average ranch/farm size: 1518 acres (NAICS, 2002) vs. Colorado average 991 acres
- Pros: Not crowded, but relatively close to metro areas. Contains signficant private ranchland.
- Cons: Harsh winters in South Park.
Park County, southwest of Denver, derives its name from its dominant geographic feature, South Park, a vast grassland at 9000 feet that is surrounded by mountains up to 14,000 feet. Thus, many South Park ranches are characterized by wide open spaces and sweeping vistas. Forests primarily of Ponderosa pine cover the eastern and western edges of the county, where the Pike National Forest dominates. Access to the National Forest is generally good, and much of the public land in Park County receives heavy recreational use. Originally settled in the 1860s by gold miners, the area’s population now dwells in very small communities or dispersed development.
Cattle ranching, development and recreation are the present economic drivers in Park County. Historically, South Park has been home to many large ranches, and currently some of these tracts are being subdivided into lower-priced “summer cabin” developments. Larger ranch acreages still exist, some of which contain small- to mid-sized trout streams. Given its proximity to the metro areas of the Front Range, Park County remains relatively unspoiled (partly due to the absence of ski areas), but development pressure is increasing.
Hunting: Park County hunting is primarily for mule deer, bighorn sheep (in the Tarryall Mountains), elk and antelope. While the easily-accessed public land of the county receives strong hunting pressure, private land offers a higher-quality hunting experience. Parts of Park County are remarkably rugged and remote, too, offering hunters willing to put in the effort a chance at solitude and the opportunity to find larger-than-average animals. Many animals utilize portions of ranches year-round, especially if they contain water.
Fishing: Coldwater fishing opportunities are abundant in Park County, on both public and private lands. Much of the Middle Fork of the South Platte River is classified as a Gold Medal Water, a tribute to its ability to produce rainbow and brown trout measured in pounds instead of inches. Tarryall Creek is also an excellent trout stream controlled mostly by private ranches, and other smaller, trout-filled tributaries abound. Smaller streams contain mostly wild brown and brook trout. In addition, Elevenmile, Spinney Mountain and Antero Reservoirs in southern Park County are public reservoirs that grow large trout and attract thousands of anglers annually.