Cattle ranching in Colorado started in the early 1800s when Texan cowboys discovered the abundance of the grassy areas and began moving cattle into western Colorado. The migration is also closely aligned with the removal of Native American tribes onto reservations and the opening of the territory to white settlement.
Embracing the challenging terrain, the cattle and ranching industry in western Colorado continued to grow throughout the 1800s. The permanent abundance of highly nutritious grasses became the main driving factor for cattle ranchers.
Until the 1930’s, all of the land used by cattle ranchers was open-range land and branding cows became common practice as a way to distinguish the herds that often intermixed as they freely roamed the mountainous areas. Eventually, the open-range era ended as well as the very common fall and spring round-ups.
Today Colorado ranching is primarily structured as a private range in the eastern plains and a federal range in the mountains and in lower desert ranges of western Colorado.
Image source: https://trincheraranch.com/
1. Trinchera Blanca Ranch
The largest ranch in Colorado state can only be described as simply magnificent. Trinchera Ranch is located in the iconic San Luis Valley and its history dates back to 1968 when the land was purchased by Malcolm Forbes. The ranch was sold in 2007 to Louis Bacon.
The main focus of the operation is related to the conservation efforts. In 2012, Bacon donated more than half of the property to the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area. This donation is considered the largest conservation easement in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife History.
Trinchera Ranch offers its guests unique experiences of exploring the rolling hills, and grasslands during all seasons.
To learn more about the ranch visit Trinchera Ranch.
Image source: https://silverspurranches.com/
2. Silver Spur Ranches
Silver Spur Ranches is owned by John Malone, one of the largest private landowners in America. The Colorado ranch is comprised of two major areas.
There are four Silver Spur Ranch divisions in Walden Colorado. This high-altitude area brings opportunities for developing a more challenging genetics makeup and breed heifers that can survive the extreme weather
The second division of Silver Spur Ranches is located in Kiowa Creek and it is the home to the ranch’s show cattle. Covering 80,000 acres, this division is a provider of Angus, Red Angus and Charolais genetics.
To learn more visit: https://silverspurranches.com/
3. Chico Basin Ranch
The Chico Basin Ranch, located 45 minutes southeast of Colorado Springs, stretches close to 90,000 acres. Currently, the ranch is owned by the State Land Board, and since 2002 it has been managed by Ranchlands.
Chico’s main focus is raising seedstock Beefmaster cattle. This picturesque ranch offers extensive guest and education programs, ranch management training, arts programs, and ranch management services. The ranch delivers untouched shortgrass and sandsage prairies, which became crucial habitats for diverse populations of birds, pronghorn, deer, fish, insects, prairie dogs, and badgers.
To learn more visit Chico Basin Ranch.
Image source: https://www.diamondpeakcattle.com/
4. Diamond Peak Cattle
55,000 acres of deeded land
Diamond Peak Cattle ranch has been operating since 1924 and is currently managed by John Raftopoulos and his sons George and Angelo. The ranch had its start with a single milk cow left behind by one of the ranch hands. Established by Georgia and George Raftopoulos, Greek immigrants, the ranch currently manages a cow herd of 1200 head. Diamond Peak Cattle is focused on breeding bulls suited specifically for high altitude.
In addition, the ranch expanded to an outfitting operations offering some of the most sought-after trophies in the area.
To learn more visit Diamond Peak Cattle.
Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLW_Ranch
5. SLW Ranch
The SLW Ranch is a historic ranch located east of Greeley, Colorado and it originated as the Percheron-Norman Horse Ranch in 1880s.
In 1913 the ranch was purchased by Witwer and the SLW Ranch switched exclusively to a cattle operation. The ranch is home to one of the oldest, continuously operating Hereford ranches in the country. Harvey Witwer and his wife Bertha had two sons, Stow Lathrop and Harvey E. Jr. and a daughter, Mary Frances. The sons became actively involved with operating the ranch and looked for ways to increase the stability and profitability of a somewhat volatile business.
In the 1920s, at Stow Lathrop, Witwer’s son heavily involved in the operations, recommended the ranch became a dude ranch and deliver an opportunity for the guests to learn more about the western way of living.
The original home was converted to accommodations for guests and the generated income was sufficient to support and prevent foreclosure when the cattle operation failed. The dude ranch was converted back to a working cattle ranch in 1942.