Storm Mountain Ranch - History
For more specific history on Steamboat Springs and the Yampa Valley area, please refer to the following:
Storm Mountain Ranch
Hundreds of years before the first settlers arrived, the Yampatika Utes used this valley as their summer hunting grounds. The fertility of the land, like the hay meadows of Storm Mountain Ranch, first beckoned settlers to the Yampa Valley over a century ago. Ranching was the primary industry of the valley and to this day, cow and sheep ranching, hay and wheat farming, and coal mining are the main industries in this county, aside from tourism.
Evidence of this ranching heritage can be found throughout Storm Mountain Ranch and in the colorful stories of the folks of this valley. On hikes through our Canyon it may be possible to find artifacts of past ranching and perhaps even a carving on an old aspen tree left by Basque sheepherders years ago. A fine example of Basque tree art is displayed on the mantle of the Awapa lodge fireplace. Similar carvings are still found in the canyon today. To the north of Steamboat lies the scenic Browns Park area that is said to be a favored hideout for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. With the Hideout Lodge so aptly named deep in Walton Creek Canyon, it is easy to imagine that Butch and The Kid may have sought refuge here themselves. Rumor has it that somewhere out there on our property is a tell tale tree bearing the carved name, "Butch".
On November 23rd, 1897 at 3 PM in the afternoon, the Homestead Act granted Richard McKinnis the property, which is now Storm Mountain Ranch. McKinnis Creek and McKinnis Creek Road memorialize his name. The creek and road both are located at the base of Rabbit Ears Pass. McKinnis Creek flows through Fox Estates and into our property at its southwestern end. It is believed that Richard McKinnis first settled in the canyon area. During the same time the Phillips family homesteaded and worked the lower part and hay meadows as a cattle ranch. Audrey Light Temple, the mother of our developers Jamie and Jeff Temple, had always known this ranch as the Phillips Place. It is believed that the Phillips family built our favored horse trail named "Phillips Ditch" when they owned the ranch. Interestingly, Audrey's maiden name is Light, as in F. M. Light, who was the grandfather of Audrey Light Temple. If you haven't seen the signs, you have not been driving to and from Steamboat Springs!
Later, the Fox family acquired the property and other surrounding land and continued with the ranching tradition. Eventually, the parcel adjacent to the South of Storm Mountain Ranch was sold and developed into what is now called "The Fox Estates". When Sunwest Corporation bought the remaining land from Fox, the ranch operated as a large cattle company and was also utilized as a corporate retreat. Sunwest Corporation built our shop building, which was originally intended to be a stable for racehorses. In 1983 Tim Reynolds took over the reins from his uncle, and became the general manager of the ranch for Sunwest Corporation. Tim stayed on until 2004 and was also the first manager of Storm Mountain Ranch. To this day he provides his services as the farrier for our horses. You can also find Tim most weekends working at the Steamboat Springs Rodeo during the summer.
During 1992 and 1993, Jamie Temple, developer and homeowner of Storm Mountain Ranch, began his quest for a ranch property. After an intensive search through most of the West, Jamie found this magical place, known as Storm Mountain Ranch today. Jamie had the opportunity to see the ranch in all four seasons before he bought it from Sunwest Corporation in early 1994. When he saw the falls (later named "June Falls" for their peak season) at the end of the canyon, he knew that this was it and his decision to buy the ranch was initiated. Throughout his entire search, Jamie had not found any ranch more magical. None offered this kind of wildlife abundance and natural beauty in such a pristine and private setting.
The deal was struck in the "Old West Manner" on the back of a paper napkin, at the Holiday Inn Coffee Shop on I-25 near Ft. Collins, Colorado. Then Jamie and his brother Jeff teamed up to develop the property into a shared ranch community. Storm Mountain Ranch was only a stone throw away from where they had spent a good part of their childhood years with their family. During the summers, Jamie and Jeff helped on the Family Focus Ranch, located on the Little Snake River just 52 miles north of Steamboat Springs. Focus Ranch is a working cattle and guest ranch. Some of the original western character of Focus Ranch is reflected in the design of our barn, lodge and cabin compound at Awapa.
In the quest to name the ranch, Jamie was inspired by his father, Jim Temple, who had been the founder and developer of the new "Storm Mountain Ski Area". This project later became the Steamboat Ski Resort. His efforts to pioneer skiing in Northern Colorado under the name "Storm Mountain" stimulated Jamie and he began thinking of his new property as "Storm Mountain Ranch". Then, during one of the early meetings and brainstorming sessions with a marketing group, several names were considered for the project. When Jamie looked out the window and saw Storm Mountain and the canyon engulfed by a storm, no more discussion was needed. Storm Mountain Ranch was born. Later during a breakfast, Olympic Skier AJ Kitt developed the ranch's logo and brand on the other side of the napkin. Jamie and Jeff's dream to pioneer the concept of a shared ranch community and preservation of his family heritage had come together.
Jamie and Jeff developed this unique residential ranch community, with emphasis on preserving the pristine environment of Walton Creek Canyon and protecting the ranching heritage of the Yampa Valley. Their dedication for the conservation easement to the Yampa Valley Land Trust was an important part for assuring the permanent protection of wildlife and forests that make up the majority of the ranch property. This easement reduced the overall density allowed for one home site per 28 acres in a Routt county LPS subdivision, to one per 76 acres with only 14 home sites on our actual 1063 acres of land.
In 1998 construction commenced and in the same year Storm Mountain Ranch received the "Smart Growth" Award from Governor Romer. The main lodge and gathering place, Awapa was named and built. Awapa is the Ute Indian word for "the land of many waters" and had earlier been considered as the name for Storm Mountain Ranch. Now Awapa was more fitting for the main lodge surrounded by water and ponds. Then the romantic Hideout Cabin in the Canyon was built, and the enhancements of some of the finest habitat for wildlife and fish were constructed. In the year 2000 the first of the 14 home sites began groundbreaking and marked the start of this community.
Preservation of the values and character of Storm Mountain Ranch continues to be the priority in our operation and the way we utilize and enjoy the ranch. Cattle still graze the meadows during summer and our Paint horses are a beautiful sight to behold from the porches of our homes. We continue to manage and protect our resources through dedicated forestry and wildlife management practices. As a community of homeowners, we are committed to preserving the beauty and character of Storm Mountain Ranch the way it was conceived.