The first time Ty Seufer made an offer to William Koch (yes, that William Koch, of the famously wealthy Koch dynasty) for the 805-acre property near the Royal Gorge, he offered him half of the $2.6 million asking price. Seufer didn’t hear back from the billionaire, but he expected as much. He’d try again if he had to. Seufer had something Koch didn’t: a vision for the property.
A vision of a world-class adventure community.
Koch had purchased the massive, beautiful desert property just after the economic recession in 2008—not because he wanted to move there, but because it had something he wanted on it. For years that property had been home to an old Western frontier town known as Buckskin Joe. It had been a historic piece of the Wild West, complete with noontime gunfight reenactments in the street, bar brawls, and authentic, period costumes and buildings. Koch wanted the town. He couldn’t have cared less for the dusty land it sat on.
So the billionaire Western-art fanatic bought the land and had the entire town dismantled piece by piece and shipped up to his massive ranch near Aspen, where it was reconstructed for his private enjoyment. The Royal Gorge property was put back up for sale shortly thereafter.
“When you’re a billionaire, you do whatever the hell you want,” Seufer says, chuckling.
The second time he made Koch an offer, he did hear back: with a definitive “No.”
But a year later, after Surfer’s third attempt to purchase the empty, roadless, waterless, structureless property, his phone actually rang.
“The real estate agent calls me back and says, ‘you better be serious,’” Seufer recalls. He had a moment of panic. Was he serious? Did he really want to buy that land for $1.6 million?
He wasn’t sure, but he said yes anyway.
“So I fell into owning one of the most gorgeous 810 acres on the planet,” he says, clearly proud of the property, and clearly excited to start building the adventure community of his dreams on it.
Seufer is a Boulder native, but says his real home has always been on the Royal Gorge River near Canyon City. He’s been raft guiding there since he was a teen, right out of high school, and eventually, many years later, ended up buying the same river business he used to work for. Royal Gorge Rafting has become the second largest rafting company in the state of Colorado under his ownership, he says—complete with a banging apres-raft BBQ joint attached to it.
“I always wanted a good restaurant with great chicken wings and I always wanted to have a rafting company that showed people a really great time, and that’s what we created down here,” he says.
Royal Gorge Rafting was the first dream that Seufer manifested. Now he’s got another one he’s working on that’s taking root on the 800-plus acres he bought from Koch: Royal Gorge Ranch & Resort.
“I want to build an eco-adventure community with a zero-carbon footprint. That’s my goal,” he says.
In order to accomplish that, he’s breaking the property up into 300 one-acre lots for purchase, which people will be able to outfit with pre-designed, fully customizable “mod villas” made by a company called Land Arc. The sleek black modular units will all be situated on an elevated deck, covered with a “super roof,” furnished with low-flow toilets, faucets, and shower heads, solar panels, and CFL light bulbs. The closest neighbors won’t even be visible, Seufer says.
“My desire is for somebody to work remotely, for people to have a vacation home, or for retirees to come and chill, but all in a 600 square foot compact, perfect, eco-friendly villa.” Seufer says. “It’s just classy, sexy, affordable, eco-friendly, green living.”
The one acre plots start at $100,000. Then there are six different Mod Villas for prospective home-owners to choose from, each offering different sizes and layouts, with addable features like bike garages and extra solar panels to customize the place.
That buy-in won’t just lock down one open acre of Royal Gorge Ranch & Resort, either. Seufer’s vision for this place goes well beyond “sexy” modular homes on wide open spaces. It also involves a veritable adventure amusement park for hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers, disc golfers, paddleboarders, music lovers, and more.
“There will be miles and miles of mountain biking trails, climbing areas with 50 named and bolted routes, two via ferratas, six different slacklines, our own private 180-step incline all in this setting where we have these epic home sites.”
There will also be a 27-hole disc golf course, Suefer says, along with a putting and chipping green, a clubhouse, wetlands, fishing ponds, and even a “mini-Red Rocks” amphitheater for movies, parties, and live music performances. A trailhead leading from every single home will connect to a main trail system—access to all of that will literally be right out the back door.
“It’s an epic eco-adventure golf course community,” Suefer says. “Just without the golfers,”
No other community of this nature or size exists in Colorado yet. It’s a new take on the “gated community” that not only reflects the nature of Colorado’s locals, but of Seufer himself. He admits the newness of this idea has made the processes of getting permits and municipal approval somewhat challenging. But he isn’t worried. He already has the land, he already has the vision and business plan, and he’s already turned one dream into a reality already. Municipal logistics aren’t going to stop him from doing it again.
“No one’s doing this anywhere . . . so our county doesn’t know what the hell just hit them,” he says. “I actually wish that somebody else had already planned something like this, so I could just try and recreate that. But it’s just not out there.”
That will make Royal Gorge Ranch and Resort the first community of its kind, once Seufer breaks ground. He’s hoping to do that sometime in the next year or two. Then he’s going to build this community of like-minded adventure lovers, nature lovers, and the eco-inclined, and he hopes to do it so people will get to enjoy this beautiful part of the state the way he’s always enjoyed it.
“I don’t want to rent any of these spots to anybody—they’re all for sale,” he says. “You’ll own a piece of this entire community. You’ll own your own incline. You’ll own your own via ferrata. You’ll own your own climbing area and your own 16 miles of mountain bike trails.”