Upscale ranch advertised for May 2 auction |

Upscale ranch advertised for May 2 auction

SUMMIT COUNTY – A nearly 6,000-acre ranch on which lots were once offered for $5.5 million each is facing foreclosure.

Summit County Treasurer Larry Gilliland this week began the process that likely will lead to the sale of Shadow Creek Ranch, located on the Summit and Grand county border northwest of Heeney.

The entire 5,800-acre ranch is also dedicated as a conservation easement, but that designation isn’t expected to change with the foreclosure.

Lender Shadow Creek Partners says the ranch owner, a group called Elk Dance Colorado, failed to make a $6.5 million payment due Jan. 11.

Elk Dance Colorado had a lofty vision for the property as something of a private, greatly expanded version of a dude ranch.

A 1999 sales brochure advertised 22 single-family lots on the ranch, each a minimum of 70 acres. All homeowners would share use of the entire 6,000 acres of working ranch. The ranch was then home to more than 700 head of cattle, a haying operation and equestrian facility. Homeowners would also have had access to 25 ponds and lakes, the Blue River, hiking, camping, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and a concierge service to shuttle them to and from the Kremmling airport and nearby ski areas.

Two lots sold, and those are protected from the foreclosure, Gilliland said.

“This is a development they made a real big deal out of,” he said. “I think this says something about the economy and about the market for ($5.5 million) ranchettes. That is a very large commitment for people.”

The property has operated as a working cattle and hay ranch for more than 100 years, ranch workers said in 2000.

Gilliland has set a 10 a.m. May 2 time for the sale of the property. The sale will be held at the Summit County Courthouse in Breckenridge.

“We will sell this property to the best and highest bidder,” he said, adding that lender Shadow Creek Partners is a likely buyer.

By press time Friday, representatives of the ranch had not returned calls requesting comment.

Getting an open space designation on the ranch was a major coup for the county’s open space program. It was approved by the county in 2000, and county open space director Todd Robertson said language in the conservation easement agreement should keep the designation in place.

“In essence, the conservation easement is at the top of the line versus the bottom,” he said. “It should survive any foreclosure, bankruptcy or default that ever occurs.”

Under the conservation easement, ranch owners are allowed to develop about 1,500 acres into 20 single-family home lots. The easement also restricts the 625-acre ranch headquarters area to ranching and agricultural activities, which allows for the ranch manager’s house, the foreman’s home, employee units, barns, a riding area and cabins.

According to the conservation easement agreement, no building of any kind is allowed on the remaining 3,780 acres of Shadow Creek Ranch, which is designated open space.

Gilliland said it’s possible Elk Dance Colorado could file for bankruptcy in an effort to gets its financial affairs in order.

“We see a number of bankruptcies filed between the start of foreclosure and the date of sale,” he said.

In addition to the loan involved in the ongoing foreclosure, Gilliland said there is another $10 million note on the ranch.

Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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