We are committed to preserving the pristine mountain wilderness and natural, untamed beauty of Cielo Vista Ranch, which spans 83,368 acres with elevations ranging from around 8,000 feet along the western boundary to 14,053 feet at the top of Culebra Peak.
As stewards of this land, we are dedicated to leaving a minimal human footprint upon it, and are constantly looking to implement best practices in terms of controlled burning, protecting natural habitats, monitoring wildlife and otherwise maintaining our delicate, rich ecosystems.
Cielo Vista enjoys an abundance of critical riparian habitat throughout its numerous high country lakes and 100+ miles of creeks and streams. A magnificent old-growth forest canopy covers approximately 80% of the property. Cielo Vista contains 130 square miles of diverse topography balanced between four distinct life zone ecosystems:
8,000’: Foothills/montane shrublands
This lowest, and westernmost zone of Cielo Vista Ranch rises from the semidesert shrublands of the San Luis Valley. This ecosystem is characterized by low rolling hills covered with Ponderosa and pinon pine, juniper woodlands, open sage/grassland flats, and gambel oak. This life zone offers critical winter habitat for a variety of mammals including elk and mule deer.
8,000’ – 10,000’: Montane forests
Cielo Vista’s montane forest ecosystem dominates the lower-middle quarter of the ranch and is characterized by dense mountain forests of aspen, fir, spruce and ponderosa pine interspersed with small ponds and grassy meadows. Cielo Vista is home to some of the largest aspen stands in the world. Extraordinary old-growth coniferous forests here include Colorado Spruce, Ponderosa Pine, white fir and Douglas Fir, many of which reach heights in excess of 200’ and age between 500 and 1,000 years. This ecosystem provides critical spring, summer, and fall habitat for a variety of large mammals, including elk, mule deer, bear, and mountain lion. Notable small mammals include lynx, bobcat, coyote, red fox, American Marten, and snowshoe hare.
10,000’ – 11,500’: Subalpine
Cielo Vista’s upper/middle quarter subalpine ecosystem stretches from the upper edge of the montane forest to the lower edge of the timberline, or alpine ecosystem. Summer in Cielo Vista’s subalpine zone is blessed with a beautiful canvas of wildflowers, including Rocky Mountain Columbine, Indian Paintbrush, Wild Iris, Larkspur, and Parry’s Primrose, among others. This life zone provides critical year-round range for healthy populations of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, and spring-fall range for a variety of other large mammals, including elk, mule deer, bear, and mountain lion. Notable small mammals include lynx, ermine, yellow-bellied marmot, and pine marten.
11,500’ – 14,053’: Alpine
One of the unique and most compelling aspects of Cielo Vista ranch is its abundance of deeded alpine country, including the imposing 14,053’ Culebra Peak. There are 18 peaks on the ranch with elevations in excess of 13,000’, and numerous 12,000’+ peaks. This imposing chain of rocky peaks, for which the ranch is aptly named Cielo Vista, or “view of heaven,” dominates the eastern quarter of the property. This is not a “backdrop.” This is the property itself.
Cielo Vista is located along the southeastern edge of the San Luis Valley in south Central Colorado. The San Luis Valley is one of the largest high altitude basins in the United States. The valley is over 120 miles long and 75 miles wide, and is flanked to the west by the San Juan Mountains and to the east by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
The primary land use is grazing and agriculture. Principal crops include potatoes, barley and alfalfa. The San Luis Valley is bisected by the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. The valley provides an important stop for migrating sandhill cranes, occasional whooping cranes, and a variety of other waterfowl.
The San Luis Valley and Cielo Vista Ranch are bordered on the east by the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The Sangre de Cristo (“Blood of Christ”) Mountains were so named in 1719 by the Spanish explorer Antonio Valverde y Cosio; the name was inspired by the reddish hue of the snowy peaks at sunrise and sunset. The Sangre de Cristos are the southernmost sub-range of the Rocky Mountains, stretching from Poncha Pass Colorado south to Glorieta Pass, NM just southeast of Santa Fe. There are several sub-ranges in the Sangres; Cielo Vista lies in the area known as the Culebra Range. The Culebras run from La Veta Pass south to the headwaters of Costilla Creek in northern New Mexico.
Five miles west of the ranch is San Luis – the oldest continuously occupied town in Colorado. On June 21, 1861, Hispanic settlers from the Taos valley built and dedicated a church at the settlement for Louis IX (San Luis), a devout catholic and only canonized king of France.