1.3 Miles of the Middle Fork
View property map of Santa Maria Ranch.
1.3 miles of the Middle Fork of the South Platte River at 8,800 feet elevation. Stream flows range from 30 to 300 cfs, and average about 70 cfs during the season.
PLEASE NOTE: We are sharing Santa Maria Ranch with Rocky Mountain Angling Club. As a result, it is available to our program on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (only) of each week. Likewise, it is reserved for RMAC members on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of each week.
$60.00 per angler; maximum of 3 anglers per day. No refunds once payments are made.
There is a discount of $30.00 when groups of 3 anglers reserve this property together.
ALL anglers must obtain a daily parking pass and sign a release form at South Park Mercantile on US Highway 24 in Hartsel (after 8:00AM) before proceeding to Santa Maria Ranch.
This 2,800-acre ranch is bisected by an idyllic section of the Middle Fork of the South Platte River. Extensive stream restoration work in 2006 included the construction of many new fish structures and erosion control measures. As a result, we have significantly increased the fish holding capacity of this property. However, we are not certain how many trout currently occupy the new, deep pools.
The lower section (below the bridge) heads downstream through a hay meadow where new fish structures have been placed at regular intervals. The middle section (above the bridge) is a combination of long runs, small pockets, and a few deep pools. The upper third is characterized by gentle meanders; fast riffles; and large, deep pools. Wild browns in the 8-13 inch range are distributed in the runs and pockets, with larger browns, rainbows and cuttbows in the deep pools. During August of each year, very large (18-30 inch) browns migrate up the Middle Fork from Spinney Mountain Reservoir to spawn here (and upstream). Because of the relatively large channel size and open banks, the Santa Maria Ranch is well suited to two or three anglers in the same group.
HISTORY & CONSERVATION
The Santa Maria Ranch was established in 1874 by Harry Epperson. A February 1880 article in the Rocky Mountain News noted that Epperson had “a fine residence elegantly furnished.” This and several other 19th-Century structures remain intact within this National Historic District. The ranch also contains a warm spring and rare wetland plant community. A conservation easement held by Colorado Open Lands now protects open space, habitat, water resources, and historic structures. Park County recently prepared a plan to restore the historic buildings and create other adaptive uses of the ranch.
Lightning is a real hazard and shelter is limited, especially below the Angler Outhouse (parking area). Fast riffles, slick rocks and deep pools can be dangerous, especially during periods of high water.
For liability reasons, all anglers must be off the property before dark. Otherwise the ranch manager will come looking for you!
The nearest drinking water, flush toilets and other services are found in the town of Hartsel. An outhouse (only) is provided for angler use on the ranch itself (see map). Please plan accordingly on the day of your arrival.
Santa Maria Ranch is located 3.1 miles north of Hartsel on County Road 439 (gravel road). Hartsel is 18 miles southeast of Fairplay on Colorado Highway 9. Contact the South Park Mercantile in Hartsel (719-836-2233) for further directions. Anglers must park in the designated area near the bridge...do not drive over the bridge!