Lovely alpine vistas, a marvelous trout stream, four-season recreation and one of the nation's last operating narrow gauge railroads all make the Los Pinos Ranch a rare treasure west of Antonito in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado. Anglers, hunters, history buffs and solitude lovers all will appreciate the unique draw of the Rio de Los Pinos Ranch, just waiting for the construction of a very special high-country retreat. The centerpiece of this 287.7 acre ranch is the Rio de Los Pinos itself, an enchanting clear water river, about 20 feet wide, that flows from Trujillo Meadows Reservoir about five miles to the west. On the ranch, it traverses for almost 3/4 of a mile in a series of lovely riffles and oxbow bends through natural grasslands. The river is a productive aquatic insect factory, with strong populations of mayfly, caddisfly and stonefly nymphs, which in turn, feed its wild trout population. Once the native range of Rio Grande Cutthroat trout (some of which populate nearby tributaries) this section of the Los Pinos now supports brown and rainbow trout that run in the 10- 12-inch range, with some reaching 16 inches or so in the deeper pools at the oxbow bends. Best of all, these fish love to take a fly, and the river offers brush-free, dry fly fishing at its finest in the summer months. Beginning fly fishers will find this water perfect for learning the sport, while veteran anglers will enjoy a season's worth of challenges as well. Located at approximately 9800 feet, the Rio de Los Pinos Ranch is a crisp-air retreat throughout the summer months, particularly attractive to wildlife lovers and photographers. Pines, spruce and aspen populate the eastern half of the property, and the river with its meadows the western half. In the fall, the aspen blaze and create a photographer's dream. Wildlife photographers should keep an eye out for elk, mule deer, black bear and mountain lions, which are drawn to the creek for water on a daily basis. Although this is a true mountain property, it is accessible twelve months of the year via Colorado State Highway 17, a year-round paved road over Cumbres and La Manga Passes. Snowmobiling on the property and nearby is accessible, as this section of the San Juans generally receives a heavy snowpack. Downhill skiers will find world-class skiing at Taos, New Mexico or Wolf Creek in Colorado, each less than two hours distant. The Rio de Los Pinos Ranch also boasts part of the right of way of the world-famous Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad that connects Antoni
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