Music Meadows Ranch

Music Meadows Ranch, Wet Mountain Valley Colorado

Situated in the southern Wet Mountain Valley abutting the dramatic Sangre de Cristo Mountains is the beautiful Music Meadows Ranch. This 3,800 acre working cattle and horse operation was originally homesteaded in the late 1800’s by the Beck family, a German colonist family whose heirs owned the property until the 1960’s when Bill Parker purchased it.

The property and surrounding region abound in scenic value and provide views with uniquely sharp contrasts due to its location as the interface between the forested slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the open meadows of the Wet Mountain Valley. Highly visible to the public from CR 119 which accesses Music Pass and the Rainbow Trail, the open prairie lands provide important wildlife habitat to pronghorn, mule deer and elk. The headwaters of Grape Creek, the primary drainage of the southern Wet Mountain Valley, enters Music Meadows Ranch along the southern boundary and then bisects the western third of the ranch from south to north. Crystal Falls Creek enters the property from the west joining with Grape Creek. This important watershed supplies irrigation water to the ranch and the associated riparian areas serve as key wildlife corridors and habitat.

The Parker family began thinking about the ranch and its legacy in the Wet Mountain Valley several years ago. They began to explore the idea of putting a conservation easement on the property to protect it from development, and soon realized that it would give the family, now grown to eighteen members, a number of benefits.

They understood that a conservation easement is an exercise in private property rights and they would retain ownership of the land. As landowners who donated an easement, they in turn would gain the personal satisfaction of protecting the conservation values found on their land. They would also receive a partner, San Isabel Land Protection Trust, who would share land stewardship responsibility and assurance that conservation values protected by the easement will be maintained by future landowners. The family would also be eligible for certain tax benefits, and for them this was important. Their ranch, protected by the conservation easement, can always be sold, thus providing income if they or future generations choose to or need to sell the land.

Today the ranch remains in ownership with the Parker Family and is managed by third-generation family rancher and ranch manager, Elin Parker Ganschow. Music Meadows is home to Sangres Best Grass Finished Beef and Music Meadows horseback riding and vacation adventures.

Elin said, “The family was interested in seeing the ranch preserved, and found the perfect tool, a conservation easement, and a great organization to partner with, San Isabel Land Protection Trust, allowing them to do just that. Because San Isabel is pro-agriculture, we were able to work closely with them to craft the contract we felt comfortable with which allows us to capture revenue off of the land while still living on it and maintaining full autonomy of ownership”
To learn more about Music Meadows Ranch, home to Sangres Best Grass Finished beef, read the “Good Grass Makes Great Beef” article by Hal Water in Colorado Central Magazine or visit: www.musicmeadows.com and www.sangresbest.com.

  • “Placing a conservation easement on our family ranch assures us of what WON'T happen to the land and water when we're gone.”

    – Bill Donley, fourth-generation rancher