South Park Basin

Historic character and critical wetlands

The South Park Basin is a 1,000-square mile grassland basin in the geographic center of the state that harbors many biological treasures – globally rare wetlands, high concentrations of wildlife, recreational opportunities for over three million visitors a year, and three tributaries of the upper South Platte River. Designated a National Heritage Area in 2008, South Park represents one of the most unique and highly valued collections of natural, cultural, and recreational resources in the country, all set in a striking scenic, rural, and open landscape.

South Park includes tens of thousands of acres of protected private land, dozens of designated historic sites, and a promising economic development plan which is based upon showcasing the area’s natural, historic and recreational amenities. Colorado Open Lands’ work in this landscape has been defined by partnerships and a willingness to explore new approaches to conservation, including stream and habitat restoration and the preservation of historic resources.

Featured Projects:
Deer Valley Park Association
Park County, 720 Acres
Owned by the Deer Valley Park Association since 1883, now managed by the great-grandson of one of the founding members. Bounded by residential development to the north and south, and represents one of the last large intact working properties in the area.
DM Ranch
Park County, 612 Acres
Agricultural, riparian, ecological, open space, scenic, and wildlife values. Also contains important riparian corridor with attendant wetlands, providing substantial biodiversity, including a globally rare, extremely rich fen.
Park County Trust Fund, North American Wetlands Conservation Act
Wahl Coleman Ranch
Park County, 3,658 Acres
Permanent protection of water rights irrigating hay meadows along Highway 285. Ranch headquarters were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.


Puma Hills River Ranch

Parl County, 199 Acres
Adjacent to Pike National Forest Road and Park County Road 77, which accesses over 200,000 acres of public lands of the Pike National Forest, including five public campgrounds and eight trailheads.
Partners: GOCO, Park County Land and Water Trust Fund, Colorado Division of Wildlife, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Santa Maria Ranch

Park County, 2,560 acres
National Historic Landmark that contains 1.25 miles of the South Platte River, Contains over ten historic bulidings representing over 100 years of ranching heritage in South Park (1859-1959).
Partners: GOCO, the Park count Land and Water Trust Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Tarryall Creek Ranch
Park County, 4,270 Acres
Over 2.5 miles of Tarryall Creek, 200 acres of ripairan wetlands, and nearly 100 beaver ponds. Provides dramatic views of the Continental Divide from US Highway 285 and serves as critical elk calving ground.
Partners: Park County, GOCO


Hart Ranch

Hart Ranch
Park County, 1,042 Acres
Over a mile of Fourmile Creek, an exceedingly rare wetland community, and nearly 100 acres of breeding and nesting habitat for Mountain Plover, a declining grassland bird species. Protects views of Pikes Peak and the Mosquito Range along US 285.
Partners: GOCO, the Nature Conservancy, the Park Count Land and Water Trust Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Holmestead Ranch

Holmestead Ranch
Park County, 360 Acres
A mile-long stretch of the South Platte has undergone extensive habitat restoration by the landowner, enhancing the wildlife values of the property.

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