In the heart of Colorado’s Sawatch Range, Knapp Ranch is propelled by a vision to preserve the land, water, and wildlife in a rustic and timeless setting.
Design and Architecture
Building a dream home takes great care and attention to detail, but Knapp Ranch owners Betsy and Bud Knapp, former publishers of Architectural Digest and Bon Appetit magazines, wanted more than a picture-perfect dwelling in the Colorado Rockies — their ideal was an environment that would enhance the valley in which they lived with handcrafted structures that reflected the vernacular design and heritage of the region. Ultimately, the built five structures at the Ranch, each one a reflection of the building traditions and construction techniques that define the historic settlement patterns of the inner mountain West. “Every visitor reacts differently to this place. Some prefer the Main Lodge because they love a big view of the Rocky Mountains. Others love Silver Sal because they want to feel ‘tucked in.’ What we created here is based in the learning and the process of creating environments that are true to the evolution of the original settlement pattern of this region. How people experience it is based on their interpretation of this concept,” says Betsy Knapp.
Land Stewardship and Conservation
Located high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, not far from Vail, Knapp Ranch looks very different today than it did when Betsy and Bud Knapp first saw it in 1988. To the casual observer, it was a picture-perfect mountain valley, but closer inspection revealed decades of neglect and a host of land management dilemmas. Remnants of roads built to service a subdivision were still in evidence, and West Lake Creek was overgrown by invasive weeds and willows, its main channels clogged by vegetation and beaver dams. The ditch that conveyed water to the property from West Lake Creek, in place since the late 1800s, was in dire need of clearing, and the evergreen forests above the ranch had been all but decimated by armies of beetles. Where to begin? The answer, first and foremost, came from world renowned landscape architect Laurie Olin, a consultant on the project.
Many opportunities exist at Knapp Ranch for interdisciplinary scientific research, particularly when it comes to understanding high-altitude ecosystems, and the link between climate science and sustainability, including organic food production, biodiversity and water conservation. As a laboratory for learning about and demonstrating food production at nine thousand feet, The Farm at Knapp Ranch is dedicated to understanding and sharing the benefits of organic farming. As part of the healthy farm-to-table movement, The Farm’s educational outreach is focused on programs related to the benefits of eating with an eye to ecosystem health. As an entrepreneurial business, The Farm supplies fresh and nutritious seasonal produce, honey, eggs, and other agricultural products to regional markets, restaurants, and local chefs.