Standing in the East River on a warm summer day. I feel the cool river flowing past me, I listen to the sound of the rushing water. The scent of the wildflowers is in the air. I scan the river and detect the slight change in the water color noting the deep dark runs that hold large trout. Behind nearly every rock there is smooth water and a trout waiting for their next meal. There is an afternoon hatch, and I see rising trout break the surface.
I search my fly box and select a dry fly—small tan caddis that matches the hatch, and I tie it onto my 5x tippet. I measure the distance with a few false casts, and land my fly just upstream from the rising trout. I mend my line to reduce the drag of the current on the line, and watch my little fly float right over my target. There is a rise, a take, and I react. The water erupts as a wild brown trout breaks the surface, then runs upstream. The fight is strong, I keep the line taught, as I slowly retrieve my catch. Soon I have this beautiful fish in my net, and marvel at the neon orange spots on the buttery brown body and the blue coloration around the gills and head. As I gently release this trout I watch as he swims away and blends into the surrounding and disappears back to the depths of his river.
The majority of the high-altitude rivers and streams are frozen over for months at a time—yet, the trout survive and flourish in this environment. At the peak of the Spring run-off the waters rise to fill the banks and flows increase nearly ten-fold, yet the trout hold their positions in the river finding cover down low and behind structure. In late summer, I have caught large trout in the shallows as they seek the oxygen that the tumbling water provides. I have caught trout at night when it was pitch black, slowly retrieving a wooly bugger through the water. There is a serenity in this experience, and in this creation.
I watched for nearly an hour one afternoon as neon blue dragonflies were swarming above the surface of one of The Reserve home site’s private lakes. I approached the water’s edge to get a closer look. The flight pattern of a dragonfly is erratic as they zig and zag above the water. Every few minutes a brown trout would leap completely out of the water and catch one of these dragonflies. The skill of the trout to be able to focus in on one dragonfly from beneath the water, track the movement and launch into the air and then snatch the dragonfly in mid-flight is an amazing spectacle.
The four main trout species are found here in the Crested Butte area along with a number of local variants—rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook trout (actually a member of the char family).
The East River starts as a trickle out of Emerald Lake high in the Elk Mountains at over 10,400 feet in elevation. Many small creeks and drainages flow into the East River including Rustlers Gulch Copper Creek, Deer Creek, Perry Creek, and Brush Creek. The water meanders through meadows, and tumbles down sheer cliffs including a section below the historic town of Gothic nicknamed “stupid falls” (even the crazy creek-boating kayakers don’t dare to challenge this section of the river). After flowing 20 miles behind the back side of Crested Butte Mountain, the East meets the Slate River, and the confluence doubles the volume of water. A few miles downstream from the confluence, the East gently flows for two miles through The Reserve on the East River.
Local guide and long-time owner of Dragonfly Angler Rod Cessario has told me: “There is a wide variety of special water in the Crested Butte area, but some of my best days have been fishing or guiding clients on the East River at The Reserve.”
The Reserve on the East River is a discreet development intent on providing a retreat for those who cherish nature. In addition to the two miles of private access to crystal-clear East River, small streams, and lakes holding trophy trout, this coveted ranchland includes aspen groves, wildflower meadows, mountain panoramas, miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, and is adjacent to thousands of acres of national forest. This land has full-time ranch and property management for the owners. There is a lodge for socializing, a guest house, an equestrian facility, and some beautiful mountain homes that have been built.
For owners at The Reserve, the day may start waking early to a crisp morning ready to make some hard decisions… which section of this crystalline river to fish, whether to tie a #12 Elk Hair Caddis, or a “Bob Kray special” at the end of their 5x or 6x tippet? Whether to cast into a deep pool just shy of the overhanging bank to the waiting wild brown trout, or the seam of the faster water where the rainbow trout rise from the deep to sip the dancing bugs from the surface? How long to fish before joining the rest of the family on the deck of the lodge for lunch, then a hike or horseback ride…? Yes, these are some tough decisions.
The 1,500+ acres of land at The Reserve could support 45 home sites. But instead with a focus on environmental stewardship, there are only 24 secluded home sites nestled among the wilderness. These home sites offer the opportunity for the dream luxury mountain vacation home to be built and where years of family memories can be created.
The home sites could have been located close together to reduce the cost of infrastructure and road work, but instead each has its own private meadow of wildflowers or exclusive private lake complete with cascading water, blue dragonflies, and rising trophy Rocky Mountain trout.
This shared ranch includes a conservation easement with hundreds of acres of a hay meadow, an aspen forest home to a migrating herd of elk, deer, moose, bear, fox, grouse, wild turkey and soaring eagles.
There could have been homes that lined the banks of the East River on both sides, but the vision was to protect the serenity of the fly-fishing experience and preserve the natural unspoiled river environment for all.
The Reserve on the East river presents a rare opportunity to own a piece of paradise, or like owning a piece of your own private, Yellowstone National Park. There is a peace of mind, and serenity when being surrounded by nature and an abundance of wildlife. There is the luxury of having a managed ranch, lodge, guesthouse and equestrian facility. Owners understand the benefit of two miles of private pristine fly fishing, and the close proximity to downtown Crested Butte.
The Reserve on the East River is a special place—within a special place (Crested Butte). The Reserve on the East River is 25 miles North of the Gunnison airport, and 10 minutes South of historical downtown Crested Butte with access to a host of quality restaurants, shopping, the arts, events, a championship Robert Trent Jones II golf course at The Club at Crested Butte, tennis, fitness and more. The winter offers unmatched alpine skiing, over 30 miles of groomed Nordic skiing and all this is wrapped in a vibe that is uniquely Crested Butte.
Most who are familiar with champagne powder and extreme skiing are also aware of the reputation of Crested Butte as “The last great Colorado Ski Town.” In January 2017, Crested Butte was blessed with more than fifteen feet of snow in fifteen days—and the ski area closed because there was too much snow!
Crested Butte was originally a coal mining town and has been a ski resort town since the early 1960s. Crested Butte has a vibe all its own as a quaint mountain town, filled with happy people excited to be here. Crested Butte is set high in the Elk Mountain range and with tall peaks and a wide valley floor provides spectacular panorama mountain views, and endless recreational opportunities. If you spend any time in the Crested Butte area you will hear many permanent residents, second-homeowners and visitors say that they found Crested Butte in the winter, but fell in love in the summer.
I have had the opportunity to speak with many of the existing owners in The Reserve and the common thread that seems to run through this diverse group of families is their love of nature, the preservation of their land, and their giddiness about the opportunity of a ride or a hike that is rewarded with a herd of elk, or experiencing a trout rise to their perfectly presented fly. Couple this with the proximity to Crested Butte and all the surrounding adventures and the result are the experiences that become part of the best family memories and stories that will be shared for generations.
To arrange a private showing and experience the magic of Crested Butte and The Reserve on the East River, contact Chris Kopf at (970) 209-5405 and ChrisKopf@BighornRealty.com. www.chriskopf.com/reserve/