Ranching In Nature's ImageHolistic Range Management
Revitalizing The Ranch
The revival of the ranchland
Since its inception in 1980, the Home Ranch has been distinguished by the incomparable beauty of its setting amidst 580 acres of stunning Western vistas in the breathtaking Elk River Valley, one of the last true Alpine ranching valleys in the American West. Under the original stewardship of Steve Stranahan and his family, the Home Ranch and its neighboring ranch owners worked together to place over 8,000 acres of the Upper Elk River Valley in a permanent conservation easement, ensuring that most of this extraordinary agricultural landscape and way of life will remain unchanged. Now under the new ownership of the McFarlane family, with a mission to further the Stranahan’s legacy of conservation and stewardship, the Home Ranch is currently operating under holistic ranch management principles as practiced by ranch manager Michael Moon.
Ranch Manager ~
About Michael Moon
Michael Moon, Ranch Manager has been involved in the Ranch in various capacities for a span of nearly 30 years – off and on. He met his wife of 26 years when both were employed at Home Ranch. He’s been a ski guide, a wrangler and an entertainer who played his guitar for hundreds of guests over the years. Michael now oversees all the day to day operational aspects of the Home Ranch. In addition to land and livestock management, he is involved in the fly fishing program, horticulture, maintenance and oversight of some of the construction that’s bringing infrastructure of the ranch and its land up to date. With the ‘McFarlane Era’ beginning at Home Ranch, Michael is practicing the philosophy of holistic range management for the ranch land – and the ranch’s small herd of cattle and 50 horses. Utilizing rotational grazing to improving the condition of the land, he free-ranges the cattle and teaches them to work closely with the horses. He uses the herd of ranch horses to help manage the cattle, which exercises the horses and keeps them healthy and happy. This approach mimics the movement of ancient wild herds in a manner that helps to heal degraded soils, improve ecosystem function, and build biodiversity in the grasslands. It’s an ecologically sound and symbiotic relationship which allows for humans, horses and cattle to work together for the mutual benefit of each other – and the land itself, ensuring that conservation and general happiness flourish in the valley.
Landscape and Setting
The Home Ranch is located in Northwestern Colorado, in North Routt County, 18 miles north of Steamboat Springs, in what is referred to as the upper Elk River Valley. Clark is a small, sparsely populated, yet still-thriving ranching community, completely surrounded by one million acres of roadless, undeveloped public lands. Western scenes of cattle, horses, and ranches dominate the valley floor, while stunning Alpine scenery dominates the skyline in every direction. The pristine Elk River flows through the heart of the valley it has sculpted towards its confluence with the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs.
The Mt. Zirkel Wilderness and the dramatic Western Slope of the Continental Divide can be seen from the valley road as one enters The Home Ranch. The view is spectacular. The elevation at the Home Ranch is about 7,000 feet rising to 12,180 feet at the peak of Mt. Zirkel, where the headwaters of the Elk River begin. The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest makes up the remainder of the surrounding acreage and contains the unique geological formation of the Elkhead Mountain range, of which Sand Mountain to the west, and the iconic Hahn’s Peak to the north, are the towering symbols. The vastness and wildness of the area, with its rivers, lakes and mountain trails, creates endless recreation opportunities, in every season of the year. It is one of Colorado’s favorite wild playgrounds, and is especially renowned for its consistent, and abundant snow, (an average of about 300 inches a year), which is almost always sparkling dry powder.