The Little Snake River originates 6 miles upriver from Focus Ranch at the confluence of the North Fork, South Fork and Middle Fork branches. Focus Ranch always offered great fishing, especially early and late in the season. We now boast of excellent fishing throughout the season as the result of two completed river projects designed to stabilize the banks of the river and to improve the fish habitat.
The first restoration project began in 2000 on the portion of the river above our property and it included stretches of the Middle and South Fork tributaries. Upon completion Focus Ranch began a similar restoration project in 2008, working with several agencies including The Natural Resources Conservation Service, The Department of U.S. Fish and Game and the Colorado Fish and Game. With their assistance, a permit to do the work was obtained by the Corps of Engineers.
Over 75 tons of large boulders were used to build and secure 10 structures along 1.5 miles of river that flows through Focus Ranch. We refer to this as Phase 1 of the project as Phase 2 is scheduled for the future and will encompass another mile. In total our guests have 4 miles of river to enjoy fly fishing- catch and release -of Rainbow, Cutthroat and Cutbow trout.
Guides are available with advance scheduling and a fly fishing clinic is offered annually for both beginning and skilled “fishers”. There are also options for back country stream fishing as well as lake and reservoir fishing in the area. Colorado licenses are required for the Little Snake and Wyoming licenses will be required for back country and some of the reservoirs.
What makes Focus Ranch unique is the fact it is a ranch, not a resort. Yet, there are ample opportunities to enjoy activities other than riding and fishing – activities enhanced because the ranch is located in a secluded valley bordering the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests. You will not find traffic, either vehicle or foot in “our neighborhood”. Yes, there is a county road that provides you access to the ranch but it does not transect the ranch proper and there is never cause to worry about children playing in the half-mile driveway into the ranch. For those who have traveled in remote areas of the world, you will identify and appreciate the refreshing “under developed” qualities that set the ranch apart from others in the industry. Focus Ranch is a cattle ranch first and foremost and with the goal of preserving this heritage, invites guests for a real life experience.
During your stay, you might enjoy:
- Swimming….the Little Snake River on the ranch
- Museum Trip- Savery Museum has one of the best museums in the west
- Steamboat Springs for shopping and dining
- Rodeo-weekend evenings in Steamboat Springs and several in the Little Snake River Valley during the summer
Hiking: Wildlife is plentiful and can be seen on the many hikes beginning from the front gate. For those wishing to walk on more gentle trails, there are paths along the one track roads that intersect the ranch and forest. These vary from 1 mile to 15 miles, or more. Guides are available. For those wanting to go it alone, we have detailed maps and reassurance is given that while you might not find the exact trail you were looking for, you will not get lost!
Spring Creek Loop: you head up river until reaching Spring Creek. You hike up Spring Creek and where there are several options: 1) Bathtub Draw, thru West Cottonwood, into Upper Meadow and back to Headquarters (2.5 mi.); 2) Congo Draw Route: hike past Bathtub Draw and continue to Congo Draw. Go up Congo Draw until you meet Ethel’s Forest Pasture. Follow this trail into West Cottonwood and then proceed back to Ranch through the Upper Meadow (3mi.) 3) The Five Mile Loop: This route takes you up to the mesa, onward to Ethel’s Home Place. From there you will proceed through the Ralston Homestead into West Cottonwood. The route will then cut south, following a cattle trail before turning into a one track road. Proceeding for about 1.5 miles, you pick up the trails heading back to the ranch through the Upper Meadow (5mi.)
A typical longer hike is the Cottonwood Loop, beginning along the Little Snake River to Cottonwood Draw. Upon exiting the draw, the route continues along the rim of Cottonwood to Forest Road 807, through Ethel’s Forest Pasture, to Ethel’s Home Place and then back to the ranch from the mesa….about 8 miles.
Mountains to Hike: The altitude at the ranch headquarters is approximately 7000 feet. Sheep Mountain is located due west from our mesa and is a popular climb for our guests. It is 8300 feet in elevation and so this is roughly a 1000 ft. ascent. There are only game trails to follow or more often, climbers just choose the least vertical route. The view at the top is breath taking and often, you will see an active eagle’s nest on one of the faces. Unfortunately, there are no longer Bighorn Sheep, for which the mountain was named.
Battle Mountain: This is located about 10 miles from the ranch via the county road. It is about 9100 feet in elevation and another popular climb for our guests.
Hahn’s Peak: This is located about 25 miles from the ranch, on the way to Steamboat Springs. Hahn’s Peak sits at the north end of the Elk River Valley and is visible from the ranch in many areas when horseback riding. It is 1.5 miles up with a gain in elevation of 1700 feet. The steep trail switchbacks though aspens, blue spruce and wildflower on the west side of the peak. Atop the peak sits the old fire watch tower. The hike needs to be completed before lunch because of afternoon thunderstorms. You will love this view but then once you have made it to the top of a mountain, have you ever not liked the view!
King Solomon- these are located about 7 miles from the ranch. We drive there and then hike to them over a rugged trail, sometimes in the water over rocks. Once there, there are boulders to sit on and deep pools to swim. Recommended for those who are fit and able.
Useful Information: We pack lunches for those who plan to be gone for this meal. Guides are available for hiking. Reference books are available for birds, wildflowers, mammals, insects…just about anything you will need.
Activities that can be arranged with advanced notice and for an additional fee:
- Mountain Biking (on and off the ranch)
- White Water Rafting (off ranch)
- Hot Air Ballooning (off ranch)
Suggestion for the above activities: the white water rafting and hot air ballooning can be arranged prior to your stay here or upon departure. From our experience, most guests do not want to spend their time doing activities elsewhere except for short trips to the museum or a trip into Steamboat.
Every season, we need to spend a day in Fletcher Park, where our ditch begins that feeds the Focus Reservoir. We drive most of the way there and then hike into the area, where we begin the work of cleaning the ditch of fallen trees and branches. This allows for the water to run freely through draws and to fill ponds as well as our reservoir, thus providing water for wildlife as well as livestock. We pack a lunch and are gone for the day, including any guests who want to lend a hand or just hike while we are there in the wilderness area.
Other projects include clearing rocks from heavily used horse trails, clearing trails of fallen trees, cutting willows from the reservoir ditch….to name a few.