Stagecoach Mountain Ranch: Is Colorado’s Newest Ski Area Moving Forward?

 

1970 Stagecoach Mountain Trail Map

Stagecoach Ski Area Map, 1973

A new ski area 25 minutes outside of Steamboat Springs, CO, is heading full speed to development as a ski and golf resort called Stagecoach Mountain Ranch (SMR). Their first lift is a high-speed Doppelmayr gondola that is in production and being installed this summer. Read on—then you can decide what you think ...

We hear that single-family home lots start at over $3 million, and the development is expected to add nearby alternatives to the ski-in, ski-out homes in Steamboat Springs. They are currently showing the property and sharing pricing with interested buyers.  The partners have also purchased an adjacent 890 ranch with prime fishing access on the Yampa River. The lead developer on this project is Discovery Land Company—which has built multiple communities of this scale before—so the Stagecoach Mountain ski area is no longer just a dream.

What is Stagecoach Mountain Ranch?

  • Stagecoach Mountain, located 25 minutes outside of Steamboat Springs, CO, is a privately owned mountain that was originally developed in the early 1970s.
  • In the early 1970s, the Stagecoach Ski Area opened with three double chair lifts and a base lodge that was never finished. 
  • It will be a private club similar to the Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Montana, and Estancia in Scottsdale.
  • In clubs like this, the networking opportunities are nearly as important as the amenities.
  • The key amenities will be the private ski area, golf club, equestrian facilities, the chance to participate in a working ranch, likely Yampa River access, and the first-class facilities you'd expect from an exclusive private club.
  • Single-family home lots start at over $3 million, and the only way to ski and golf at SMR is to buy real estate in the development.

Key Points per Planning Documents and Other Reliable Sources

Ski Area Layout Submitted in February 2023 Planning Documents

Some of Stagecoach Mountain Ranch's anticipated highlights and amenities include:

  • Private ski mountain with a golf club and prime Yampa River fishing access.
  • 800 residential units, including 250 homes.
  • The developer estimated that the 250 homes would have an average value of $8 million and stated they are planning $200 million in commercial development, including the ski lifts. With lots starting at over $3 million, completed homes are likely to cost at least $9 million.
  • 80% of the residences are planned to be on the mountain and 20% on the golf course, providing alternatives to the golf course homes in Steamboat Springs.
  • The development proposal includes approximately 6,620 acres; Stagecoach Mountain comprises 6,230 acres, including the 390-acre golf course property that shares 2.5 miles of border with Stagecoach Lake State Park. There is uncertainty about how they are handling the 890-acre Stetson Ranch, which they have also purchased.
  • Significant mountain base area commercial development, including restaurants and amenities. Some public commercial spaces, including a gas station that will likely have a small food market, are planned.
  • Discovery Land Company has recently been listed as the developer in other pre-planning documents.
  • They expect to file a full development plan in May 2024, so we are likely to see updates to the designs and numbers they started with in February 2023.

Is Stagecoach Mountain Ranch Moving Forward?

After seeing the following pieces fall into place (and more I haven’t listed), it is pretty clear that Discovery Land Company and the land owners have decided to move forward with the development of Stagecoach Mountain Ranch. Indications that the development is moving forward include:

  • Clearing ski runs over the past few years.
  • Filing their Planning Application in February 2023 and continued interaction with planning. They are waiting for new planning regulations to be finalized before submitting their application in May 2024.
  • Review of their plans by Routt County and the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District. A significant amount of work has been invested in quantifying the needed road, wells, sewer, and firefighting plans in detailed documents from local entities.
  • Purchasing the 890-acre Stetson Ranch along with 2.1 miles of the Yampa River to give them prime fishing access, a key access road, and more senior water rights.
  • Local taxing entities see SMR as helping bridge the gap created by closing down the coal mines in the area by 2028.  The developer will need to provide funding for offsite road and water infrastructure, but the county has significant incentive to work with them given the gap in tax revenue they are facing from the coal mine closures.
  • A $5 million deposit on a Doppelmayr Gondola last fall.
  • Multiple contacts with contractors to prepare to install the gondola.
  • Reservations from July 1–November 15 to house the Doppelmayr workers, specifically to install the gondola at Stagecoach Mountain Resort.
  • The Routt County Master Plan is currently being updated with Stagecoach Mountain Ranch in mind.
  • Discovery Land Company bringing clients in to see the property this winter and sharing their plans and pricing for SMR.

It still needs approval from Routt County and all of the other entities that have a say, but the proposed development is much less dense than the previous entitlements for the ski area. The developers may still need to arrange the capital stack but Discovery Land Company has done many large developments like this. They clearly are confident in their ability to pull it off for the reasons above.

Who Owns the Land Stagecoach Mountain Ranch is Being Developed On?

  • The Whittemyer Family has owned Stagecoach Mountain since the early 1980s, and the Stahls bought the land where the golf course is slated to be around that same time.
  • We don’t know the specific owners of the SMV Stetson Ranch but they are likely to be similar. It is possible that they have taken on partners in these entities. They hold the key properties in the following entities: SMV Stagecoach Ski Mountain, LLC; SMV Stetson Ranch, LLC; Stahl Investments LP; and Acron Inc. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are others.
  • SMV Stetson Ranch wasn't in the documents filed in February 2023, but we may see it added to the full application this May. As you can see by the entity names above, it's clearly affiliated. 

Who is the Developer & Who Will Build All of These Residences?

  • Mike Meldman founded Discovery Land Company in 1994. He is one of the founders of Casamigos tequila along with George Clooney.
  • One of their most well-known private clubs is Yellowstone Club, which has notable members such as Bill Gates and Tom Brady.
  • Here is a link to other developments they have done
  • Discovery Land Company has its own in-house Discovery Builders & Creatives Companies
  • Our local construction workforce is stretched thin building new construction homes in Steamboat. Significant new developments like The Amble, Astrid, and a few others are starting or in the planning process. Steamboat's rental market is tight, so it will be interesting to see their plan to find enough workers to build out the ski mountain, golf course, and residences. 
  • They are very likely to need more construction workers than are available locally.
  • This means that with the 3–5 years it is expected to take to build the ski area and golf course, it may be 5–7 years before many residences are delivered. It's possible that some people will start building homes before the amenities are finished, so we will see how this plays out.
  • Some people are likely to choose a property in Steamboat in the meantime.  

Stagecoach Mountain Ranch Area History

In the early 1970’s, Stagecoach Ski Area opened with 3 double chair lifts and a base lodge that was never finished. Investors pulled funding in 1973 and the private ski area has been sitting nearly dormant for the last 50 years. I say nearly because the family that owns it has been using the mountain with a snowcat for skiing, hunting, camping, and other outdoor activities.

In 2016 and 2017, Don McLean put it under contract, made plans for a public ski area, and tried to get enough investors to purchase and then develop it. It was pretty clear that the funding they were seeking wouldn’t be enough to get a resort off the ground, and people wondered how many people would go out there to ski with Steamboat Springs' great ski resorts just 25 minutes away.

Potential Impacts on the Steamboat Real Estate Market

Large new developments generally come with a marketing budget to match. Discovery Land Company has a following of people who own homes in their other developments and who like what they do. When One Steamboat Place was being developed by Timbers Resorts, their marketing drew in a lot of people. Some of them purchased in OSP, but more purchased other properties that were either already available or else better suited to their needs.

We are already seeing people who are considering Stagecoach Mountain Ranch look at other options to use until the lots are ready. Discovery Land Company creates beautiful private clubs, but Steamboat's luxury homes provide great alternatives, and some people will be drawn to the charms of being in town or close by.

Alternatives to Stagecoach Mountain Ranch

  • Catamount Lake and Ranch that has a private golf club available to homeowners and members.
  • Alpine Mountain Ranch with stunning homesites, a private club at the Steamboat Ski area, and new spec homes available.
  • Marabou Ranch is a private ranch community with 2 miles of prime Elk River Fishing, five guest cabins, a private club at the ski area, trails, a beautiful lodge, and a horse barn.
  • Ski in Ski Out Luxury condos like One Steamboat Place and Edgemont.
  • Ranch properties with anything from private fly fishing on prime river, to mountains, forests, and big open spaces at Steamboat Springs Ranches.

Here is a photo I took this morning, 3-22-24, from my home in Steamboat, where you can clearly see the runs at Stagecoach Mountain Ranch.

If you have questions about Stagecoach Mountain Ranch, the market in Steamboat or anything else feel free to give me, Jon Wade, a call at 970-819-6930. My group and I can give you insights into the Steamboat Real Estate Market. We help more people with their real estate needs (including high end homes) than any team or agent in Steamboat. 

References:

https://cityview2.iharriscomputer.com/RouttCountyPortal/Planning/StatusReference?referenceNumber=PL20230003

https://www.yampavalleybugle.com/post/long-dormant-stagecoach-ski-area-has-plans-to-reawaken-as-private-club-south-of-steamboat-resort

https://acrobat.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3Ae3ce26c2-cecd-3ba9-8d18-c5f59f146481&viewer%21megaVerb=group-discover

https://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/routt-county-zoning-review-targets-growth-for-stagecoach-ski-area-brown-ranch/

https://www.yampavalleybugle.com/post/company-behind-montana-s-yellowstone-club-coming-to-colorado-with-similar-development-near-steamboat

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