As a broker working on some of the finest fishing and hunting ranches in six states for the past 16+ years one of the things I most enjoy learning is how our clients searched and found their ranches and hearing about their enjoyment during their time of ownership. When discussing these topics with the owners of the Dancing Pine Ranch, located outside of Durango, CO, they reflected on what brought them to the area and the special moments they have shared on the property during their time of ownership. For anyone considering a ranch purchase this summary details the owners’ collective interests and search parameters that ultimately led them to purchase this ranch for sale in Colorado.
We thought we’d share with you the many reasons that brought us to the Dancing Pine Ranch and the Durango area in the first place and how we have come to love it.
After deciding to sell our large ranch in Montana, my husband and I spent three years crisscrossing the Rocky Mountain West looking for the “perfect” place to live. We were both mostly retired. I had lived and worked in Monaco for over twenty years enjoying its culture, ballet, opera, and concerts while he was the retired CEO of a large mutual fund company in New York City and has a passion for the outdoors. We both love travel, culture, great food, fine wine, and the outdoors whether it was hiking, fishing, skiing, hunting, or photography.
We knew it would not be easy to find a place that would meet all our diverse criteria. The criteria included:
- Privacy. The property needed to be large enough to be private, but small enough that it wouldn’t be too much work, leaving us free to travel more.
- Great trout fishing. The property needed onsite fishing, with easy access from the house, as my husband is a fanatical fly fisherman.
- Good horse property. We wanted a barn, open meadows, and riding trails, as I love to ride.
- Less than a half hour to a commercial airport since we both love to travel.
- A variety of gourmet restaurants since we are serious foodies.
- High-quality hospital nearby. This becomes more important as we get older.
- Cultural opportunities such as museums, concerts, galleries, etc.
- Wide variety of shopping opportunities from box stores to boutiques.
- A myriad of outdoor activities such as hiking, rafting, skiing, snowmobiling, and wildlife viewing.
- Good weather. Not too hot or too cold and not too rainy.
- A house with a guest house having wonderful views and big enough for family and friends’ visits, home for a caretaker, or as an income-producing rental.
We knew it would be a tough search, but we just were not willing to compromise! It took us a while but after looking at over twenty properties we did finally find that very private “perfect” property.
Dancing Pine Ranch is a 182-acre end-of-the-road property that overlooks the Pine River, a totally private gold-medal trout stream with great fishing and some truly “big” fish. We are surrounded by a large ranch (the owners are here full time and are the nicest neighbors one could hope to have) on the north, south, and west and by the Pine River on the East.
The main house is a magnificent 8,000 sq. ft. home with four bedrooms, four full baths, and two half baths. The kitchen is a 120 sq. ft. gourmet kitchen (I love to cook) with an attached “breakfast” room and walk-in pantry. It is an “open landscape” design home with the kitchen, dining room, living room, and library all open to each other. This open space is great for parties yet intimate enough that it works well for just the two of us. There is a large entertainment deck with a hot tub connecting the kitchen, den, and breakfast room with the master bedroom. I love the views and the sounds of the river.
The sumptuous master bedroom suite has a log propane adobe fireplace opening onto the hot tub deck. The master bath has two quite large walk-in closets, two sinks, two toilet stalls, a glorious two-person shower, and a large soaking tub (luxury personified). They both have great views of the river and its peaceful sounds. In addition, there is a connected TV room/den enabling one of us to sleep (usually my husband) while I watch TV and cuddle with our dogs.
Just beyond the living room, there is a large entertainment room and a game room (pool and ping pong). Additionally, we have nearly finished a large in-law’s apartment.
Downstairs there are two bedrooms, two baths, a comfortable living room, and a small kitchen. A great place for children and grandchildren to stay when they visit! There is also a large (1,000 bottle humidified wine cellar).
The “piece de resistance” downstairs is a large recreation center highlighted by a heated 15-foot resistance pool with an underwater treadmill and adjustable water flow which is a great low-impact exercise. The ranch has a three-bedroom guest house at the entrance to the property plus a large barn and two loafing sheds for horses.
The variety of wildlife is stunning! Herds of elk, many mule deer, flocks of wild turkeys, and the occasional black bear and bobcat. We see deer and elk nearly every day from the house in the meadows to the west, in the same place we have gorgeous sunsets. It doesn’t get any better than seeing the fawns and calf elk frolicking or the bear cubs in our horse watering trough. The birdlife is tremendously varied and a joy to watch. From the Rufus Hummingbirds chasing each other around the feeders to the rare, brilliantly colored Lewis’s Woodpecker, to the magnificent Great Blue Heron nesting in an 80-foot Ponderosa Pine along the river.
We especially enjoy our gardens. Jon grows a large vegetable garden where he grows sweet corn, potatoes, watermelons, lettuce, and more. We fence them to keep the deer and elk from eating the fresh vegetables we enjoy eating. In addition, we have several highly productive apple and apricot trees.
Our spectacular flower gardens are a kaleidoscope of ever-changing colors from spring through fall. They start blooming in the early spring with daffodils, then out come the pink and white peonies, purple iris, Colorado columbines with their delicate flowers, and many more. They continue through the summer and into the fall. Since I lived in the south of France, I have a passion for lavender, so we have three different varieties. To attract the hummingbirds and butterflies we have a blanket, cone, and rudbeckia flowers. They are joined by salvia, hyssop, blue geranium, mock orange, Apache tears, and yucca later in July. In the fall the shrubs begin to take over with their burgundy foliage and candy pink coral berries. Since I grew up in the Midwest and love the brilliant red of maple trees, we have two that contrast with the big golden aspen trees in our front yard.
The Pine River is a trout fisherman’s dream! It is a wholly private tail-water fishery big enough to have a good population of trophy (over 20”) browns and rainbows, yet small enough and private enough that there is never a drift boat or another fisherman. Since it is a tail-water fishery it fishes well pretty much all year long. Jon loves fly-fishing and gets truly excited to watch a big brown or rainbow rise to his hopper imitation. While the average fish he catches is in the 16” to 18” range he frequently catches ones much larger. His biggest is a 27” brown and most days he will catch at least one that is 20” plus. Usually, a half day of fishing produces six to ten fish, mostly browns with a good number of hefty rainbows. Having the river down the hill from our house is tremendously convenient – no loading the car, attaching a trailer, and driving an hour or more to start fishing.
The nearest town of Bayfield is about a ten-minute drive from the Dancing Pine Ranch. Bayfield has all the essential small-town services plus a couple of quite good restaurants. If you want to join the locals for a hearty meal the western atmosphere of Brenda’s is the place to go. There are a couple of good restaurants serving Mexican, pizzas, and burgers with craft beers. Our favorite for dinner is the Mill Street Bistro, which serves three gourmet entrees, great starters, and the choice of some awesome cocktails. They are open Wednesday to Saturday evenings and will do catering to your home.
In Durango, only a half-hour drive from Dancing Pine Ranch, there are at least a dozen truly gourmet restaurants. Eating in the historic Strater Hotel is a must. You have the choice of the Diamond Belle, a western saloon, where the staff dresses in period dance hall costumes and has great food and drinks. The more romantic choice in the Strater is the gourmet Mahogany Grill. We are frequent diners at Seasons who have won the Best Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator, Eolus with their rooftop dining and incredible “Two Ways’ prime rib that Jon usually eats and the lobster burger that is my favorite. Other restaurants that we regularly dine at including Ore House (steak and seafood), Primus (wild game and seafood), and 636 Main (Fine dining and martinis). The wide range of choices includes American, French, Mexican, Italian, and even Himalayan. It is so close to such outstanding food choices that we are regular patrons.
Durango and its airport are each about a 30-minute drive from the ranch. The Durango/La Plata County Airport has frequent daily service by American and United to Denver, Dallas, and Phoenix.
Durango is a marvelous town. The weather in Durango and Bayfield is nearly perfect. With early springs, late falls, and comfortable summers. It was recently ranked by the Tourism Sentiment Index as the most loved tourist destination in Colorado and number seven in the United States. No wonder we love it so much! Its number of gourmet restaurants, a wide array of cultural opportunities and outdoor activities, and great shopping are what brought us here in the first place. The incredible cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park, the narrow-gauge steam-driven train up the near vertical Animas Canyon, the world-class hot springs at Pagosa Springs, the skiing at Wolf Creek and Purgatory, the 1.8-million-acre San Juan National Forest with its many hiking trails to high mountain lakes, wildflower meadows, and bugling elk, are all within an hour’s drive. Additionally, historic high mountain towns like Telluride, Ouray, and Crested Butte are only a day’s trip away. Sante Fe with its myriad of art galleries and fine restaurants is only about a three-hour drive away. You could live here for a lifetime and not have seen all the fascinating activities the area has to offer.
Friends ask us, “Why are you planning to leave the place you love so much?” Well, we are not leaving Durango we love it too much! We’re just downsizing a bit and buying a boat that will enable us to cruise the Bahamas, Nantucket, and other places for six months of the year.