Large ranch currently on market reflects Steamboat’s western edge, history

Strawberry Park Ranch (Hall & Hall/courtesy)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — One of the last available addresses for a large, undeveloped property in the Strawberry Park area is currently up for sale.

Strawberry Park Ranch was put on the market last year, temporarily postponed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and remains available for $18.5 million. The 562-acre property has never been developed, with only a non-permanent yurt standing on it right now.

“It’s very unusual to find a property of that size all in one piece that’s within a couple of miles of a ski town that hasn’t been developed and could be purchased,” said Brian Smith of Hall & Hall in Steamboat Springs. Smith listed the property along with Pam Vanatta of Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty.

In addition to its unique feature of being so close to Steamboat yet remote enough to be completely private is the property’s history.

Originally called the Perry Ranch, the parcel of land was formerly owned by Marjorie Perry, sister of Charlotte Perry, the co-founder of Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.

“When she owned it, I think it was about 470 acres,” Smith said.

Arianthé Stettner, a local historian, completed a nomination for the Perry Cabins to receive a local historic designation in 2018. Now listed on the Routt County Historic Register, the cabins were originally part of the Perry Ranch but were acquired by Perry-Mansfield in 2009.

Stettner’s application for the designation shined light onto the property and the historic figure of Marjorie Perry.

The two Perry Cabins, Upper and Lower, were built by Samuel M. Perry as summer cabins for himself and his daughter Marjorie in the 1920s. After her father died, Marjorie inherited both cabins and continued to increase the size of her ranch, the Perry Ranch, over the years.

Strawberry Park Ranch (Hall & Hall/courtesy)

While her sister, Charlotte, developed Perry-Mansfield, Marjorie was also involved in its early years as the first director of its equestrian program.

“Marjorie had a lasting influence on Steamboat Springs and Colorado history,” Stettner said.

Among Marjorie’s contributions, she showed that skiing could be a viable form of winter recreation, and she brought Carl Howelsen and his world of ski jumping and winter carnivals to Steamboat, Stettner said.

Strawberry Park Ranch (Hall & Hall/courtesy)

“Leading by example, she encouraged the young women campers of Perry-Mansfield and the community to connect with nature, experience the wilderness on multi-day horse pack trips and to enjoy life,” she said.

Marjorie also enriched Routt County’s cultural heritage by inspiring Eleanor Bliss to move to Colorado, where Bliss became a tireless advocate for the arts and historic preservation both in Steamboat and throughout the state.

Marjorie would spend summers at her cabins where she tended to her horses, cattle, chickens and milk cows and provided milk to the camp.

Strawberry Park Ranch (Hall & Hall/courtesy)

Today, the entrance to Strawberry Park Ranch is the next driveway after the entrance to Perry-Mansfield off Routt County Road 36. The property is located behind the camp and goes up onto Copper Ridge.

Despite the Perry family’s conservation legacy, there are no conservation easements adjoined to the property, which means future buyers can really do anything they want with the land.

“The current owners purchased it in 2009, and they added onto it, improved the access, built the driveway, bridge across Soda Creek, pond, and improved the land,” Smith said.

Strawberry Park Ranch (Hall & Hall/courtesy)

Interest in the property has come from developers, Smith said, but even more from people looking to create a family retreat.

“And they would probably conserve part of it or all of it themselves,” Smith suggested. “Maybe build a cabin or house on it, not develop it, keep what’s special about it in existence — a legacy type property.”

Lush vegetation, with seemingly endless Aspen, pine and oak trees, along with a vast amount of water — portions of Gunn and Soda creeks — add to the property.

Something like Strawberry Park Ranch wouldn’t be found in Vail or Aspen, according to Smith.

“Vail especially, because that valley is so narrow and so heavily developed,” he said. “You get outside of Aspen, and there a few larger acreage properties that are still in existence around there, but you’d be talking about $100 million as opposed to $18 million for something like this.”

Smith said the $18 million price is largely based on comparable properties — though no two ranches are the same, he said, unlike, say, a condo.

Another indicator of price comes from what the seller has invested into it. For Strawberry Park Ranch, the current owners — who paid about $11 million for the property in 2009, a significantly worse time in the real estate market — spent a few more million dollars with the addition of two properties to the ranch and spent about another $4 million acquiring the access and building the road, bridge and lake.

Typically on properties like this, buyers are looking for something that’s got a lot of nature — with water, vegetation and abundant wildlife being important factors. This time of year, people going out to view the property will largely see trees without leaves and a lot of white, but that, too, is important, according to Smith, as they want to get a sense of what the property is like in the winter months.

Judging from the interest and the market, Smith expects the property to be sold this year.

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