Tucked into the foothills at the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon, adjacent to the Roosevelt National Forest and just west of Loveland, CO, is Sylvan Dale Ranch. First homesteaded in 1864 by William Alexander, this “wooded valley” came to the Jessup family in 1946 after a 12-year love affair with the property.
Maurice Jessup first set foot on Sylvan Dale as a summer employee in 1934 at a time when the property was being used as a Depression-era youth camp. Maurice was so overwhelmed with its beauty that he told the camp director, J.B. Weldon, “You know, I just love this place. Someday I’m going to own Sylvan Dale.” Twelve years later, he and his wife Mayme “Tillie” Jessup, made that dream come true. Now, 65 years later, with the help of their two children, David and Susan, the Jessup family has grown that dream into a 3,200-acre working guest ranch.
Today the ranch is a diversified business that offers grass-fed, all natural beef, in addition to bed and breakfast stays, retreats, weddings, holiday events, and week-long dude-ranch vacations with fi shing, horseback riding, birding, and other outdoor recreation. The foothills valley where the main ranch is located is in an ecological transition zone. Habitats include a riparian corridor along the Big Thompson, foothills shrublands, ponderosa pine forest, and prairie wetlands. Birders and wildlife enthusiasts fi nd the ranch an ideal wildlife-watching site. Black bears, cougars, elk, deer migratory birds, bighorn sheep, wild turkeys, and other native species are frequently seen.
The Jessup family is committed to the preservation of land and wildlife habitat for future generations. Currently over 70% of Sylvan Dales’ 3,200 acres are under conservation easement. In 2008, Sylvan Dale was awarded the Environmental Business Award for its outstanding efforts to enhance environmental performance of the business and named “Conservationists of the Year” by the Big Thompson Conservation District. In 2011, David Jessup was selected as a Colorado State University Center for Collaborative Conservation Fellow for his work pioneering ecosystem services markets.