Planting the seeds that sprout new ideas.
The history of the ranch is as long and winding as the road that leads here. Many remnants remain. Many traditions are upheld. And many innovations are consistently underway to ensure the land and the lore live on.
The Knapp Ranch area of Lake Creek had been abandoned for almost twenty-five years when, in 1990, Betsy and Bud Knapp took an interest in reviving it.
After learning the history, and with a love of nature, the Knapp’s created a life built on a vision of land stewardship, sustainability, and education. The Knapp’s learned the lore of the land from old-timers and got a clear timeline in the vast archives of the Eagle Valley Library District. Archaeologists theorized that prehistoric people inhabited the Eagle Valley year-round, traveling up East Lake Creek and West Lake Creek to hunt and gather in the summer months. Locally, the Ute Indians, Colorado’s longest continuous inhabitants, hunted, fished, and foraged for food in the Lake Creek Valley. In the mid 1800s, miners rushed to Colorado, hoping to strike gold high in the mountains. The discovery of the Leadville lode caused a flood of emigrant prospectors and subsequent extensions of the railway network in the mountains, including a line into the Eagle Valley. Seizing an opportunity, an entrepreneurial French florist-turned-miner named Joseph Brett settled in the valley just below Knapp Ranch and developed the region’s first recreational guest lodge, hosting businessmen and travelers. Eventually, a man named Joseph Vilda from Nebraska became the original homesteader. He trapped bear, grazed animals, and grew lettuce in the loamy soils of the upper West Lake Creek Valley at the turn of the century. After Vilda moved on in the 1930s local ranchers used the high country meadows for their sheep and cattle in the summer. In 1970, in anticipation of Olympic alpine events coming to Vail and Beaver Creek, a group of investors proposed 185 home-sites in the upper West Lake Creek valley. However, in 1972 voters rejected the Olympics and the developers retreated. What they left behind were the scars of deserted roads, until the Knapp’s revived it, rehabilitating it into the healthy, thriving environment it is today.
In the early 1990’s, Bud and Betsy Knapp purchased land in the Vail Valley now known as Knapp Ranch. As the publishers of Architectural Digest, Bon Appetit, and a host of lifestyle-oriented coffee-table books, Bud and Betsy had a natural interest in history, culture and art. Knapp Ranch represented a chance for them to nurture their passions, test their ideas about land management, and grow their own food. The Knapp’s worked with experts, including designers, craftspeople, and purveyors of specialty products, collaborating and inspiring one another, to ultimately bring the land back to its fullest potential. The Knapp’s background and experience lead them to a clear point-of-view about how location and one’s surroundings influences their lifestyle, establishing a high bar for setting, authenticity, and quality. This ideology directly translated to a business model that inspired the design and construction of the Knapp’s own home, as well as the development of the agricultural enterprises that now define Knapp Ranch. Bud Knapp is still involved in the ranch to this day. Sadly, Betsy passed away in 2017. She is greatly missed.
Knapp Ranch is set in the breathtaking alpine valley of Lake Creek, enveloped by the Sawatch Range, Knapp Ranch is propelled by a vision to preserve the land, water, and wildlife in a rustic and timeless setting. Betsy and Bud Knapp conceived and built the ranch as an informal country retreat
The Farm at Knapp Ranch
Digital Strategy Manager
Director of Knapp’s Nectar Operations
Director of Communications & Innovation
Farm Grower & Sales Coordinator
The Farm at Knapp Ranch
Knapp Garden Center
Director of Administrative Operations
Chief Operating Officer
Second Nature Gourmet