Gunnison Basin

Peaks and protected species

Colorado’s Gunnison basin includes the North Fork of the Gunnison River, the Gunnison River, and the Uncompahgre River. These rivers and their tributaries have shaped a landscape that is home to unique and diverse land forms and communities: “adobe” badlands, river canyons, flat irrigated farm lands, and high mountain peaks. Elevations range from 4,750 feet in the Gunnison River Valley to well over 11,000 feet in the West Elk Mountains. This landscape is known for world class skiing, breathtaking scenery, outrageous wilderness recreation, first class hunting and fishing and the country’s most viable population of the threatened Gunnison sage grouse. This region is the heart of Colorado’s orchard lands and sweet corn production. It is also home to a third and fourth generation cattle ranching community deeply committed to maintaining the social and economic agricultural fabric that is the soul of the Gunnison and North Fork River valleys. Colorado Open Lands is a proud partner with the Gunnison Ranchland Conservation Legacy in Gunnison’s amazing conservation accomplishments.

Featured Projects:
Bar K Ranch

Bar K Ranch
Gunnison County, 1,041 Acres
Private inholding in the Gunnison National Forest along West Muddy Creek. Originally homesteaded as a school site for the children of settlers in 1922.
Partners: Gunnison Ranchland Conservation Legacy, Conservation Resource Center

Forest Hollow
Forest Hollow

Photo Credit: Xavier Fane

Gunnison County, 9 Acres
Provides critical trail connectivity. Owned by COL in fee.

Heller Ranch

Heller Ranch
Delta County, 179 Acres
Riparian and wetland acres are home to important wildlife habitat, including northern leopard frog, a Colorado species of concern.
Partners: Conservation Assistance Program


Hotchkiss Ranch
150813_Hotchkiss_PP04Gunnison County, 278 Acres
Surrounded by Gunnison National Forest, and provides scenic views from Kebler Pass, as well as agricultural land and wildlife habitat.
Partners: Gunnison Ranchland Conservation Legacy, Gunnison Valley Land Perservation Board
Klaseen Dairy

Delta County, 167 acres
One of the very few remaining active dairy operations in the North Fork Valley. Tremendous wildlife habitat for big game.
Partners: Conservation Assistance Program

The Plauché Family Conservation Easement (Lake San Cristobal)

Lake San Cristobal
Hinsdale County, 156 Acres
Protects prime lake shore real estate while limiting development on the adjacent 40 acres. Provides limited public access to over half a mile of the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River for fly fishing access.
Partners: Colorado Water Conservation Board, GOCO, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, through the US Fish and Wildife’s “Fishing is Fun” program, Lake Fork Valley Conservancy 


Lamborn Valley Farms

Lamborn Farm
Delta County, 91 Acres
An organic garden and orchard that offers educational programs for school children and college-age interns on organic crop production and livestock management. Also offers views from the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway.
Partners: Conservation Assistance Program

Ochs Ranch

Ochs Ranch
Gunnison County, 2,770 acres
Irrigated hay meadows and productive grazing uplands. Contains sage grouse leks, nesting areas, brood-rearing habitat, and winter range.
Partners: Gunnison Ranchland Conservation Legacy, GOCO, Gunnison Valley Land Preservaton Board, Division of Wildlife, Dept of Natuaral Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Todd DM
Delta and Montrose County, 282 Acres
Provides uninhibited views of the West Elk Scenic and Historic byway. The north rim of Red Canyon is within the property, which also provides necessary wildlife connectivity.


Trampe Ranch
Trampe Ranch

Photo Credit: John Fielder

Gunnison County, 978 Acres
Open ranchland that includes 1.5 miles of the East Fork of the Gunnison River. Open space and expansive wilderness vistas contribute significantly to the scenic beauty of the drive from Gunnison to Crested Butte from State Highway 135.
Partners: Gunnison Ranchland Conservation Legacy

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