Books Come to Buffalo Peaks Ranch

Many of you are aware of the Rocky Mountain Land Library’s plans to establish a residential land-study center at Buffalo Peaks Ranch, an unused historic ranch set in the high mountain grasslands of Colorado’s South Park. Over the next few months we hope to write more on our progress at the ranch. The University of Colorado’s School of Architecture is into its second year of design work at Buffalo Peaks Ranch, and we’ve also hosted a number of volunteer days, full of fun and hard work, all the while surrounded by a one-of-a-kind Western landscape. We’ll be reporting on all of this, and more!

But for now, here’s a quick “slide show” marking the arrival of the first few Land Library books to Buffalo Peaks. More than 20,000 volumes will follow, but for a recent public tour we lined the main house’s porch with less than a hundred books (pictured above) — all representative of the Land Library’s diverse collection.

Please take a quick glimpse, and we hope you enjoy. And you can click to enlarge, which will get you up close to all the titles on the shelves!

A tiny cluster, but containing books on Mountain Men, Platte River ecology, trout biology, three volumes of Thoreau’s Journals, along with The Lost Pathfinder: Zebulon Montgomery Pike by W. Eugene Hollon (Pikes Peak rises directly east of South Park!), and Cutthroat: Native Trout of the West by Patrick Trotter.

Dignity and beauty and meaning are given to our lives when we see far enough and wide enough, when we see the forces that minister to us, and the natural order of which we form a part.John Burroughs

A loose coalition of raptors, beavers, A Literary History of the American West, The Ecology of Running Waters, prairie dogs, cowboy poetry, the Southern Cheyenne, The Voice of the Coyote, and Forest Fires (Buffalo Peaks Ranch is just west of the Hayman Fire site — the largest wildfire in Colorado’s history).

Not to mention, Trout at Ten Thousand Feet. Why so many books on trout? Well, Buffalo Peaks Ranch lies on the banks of the South Platte River, critical headwaters for the Front Range, and home to many miles of Gold Medal trout streams. A wonderful spot for anglers, and freshwater biologists too!


A porch potpourri, featuring books on frontier literature, The History of the U.S. Forest Service, Snow Ecology, Navajo weavers, and a truly inspirational book from the Trust for Public Land, Groundswell: Stories of Saving Place, Finding Community by Alix W. Hopkins.

Three touchstone books from the Land Library: Artists Land Nature by Mel Gooding & William Furlong (featuring the land art of Herman de vries, Chris Drury, Richard Long, and many others), Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness by Lisa M. Hamilton, Rivers & Birds by Merrill Gilfillan (a wonderful collection of essays from a great poet of the American grasslands).

A mix of agrarian essays, John McPhee on geology, mining in the west, Native American ethnobotany, Peattie’s Natural History of North American Trees, and Peter Wild’s Different Travellers, Different Eyes: Artists’ Narratives of the American West, 1820-1920.

For each home ground we need new maps, living maps, stories and poems, photographs and paintings, essays and songs.Scott Russell Sanders

We hope Buffalo Peaks Ranch provides people a warm and vibrant space to slow down a notch, and find the opportunity to pursue the creative work of their own design.

To that end, we set out a small antique desk on the ranch house porch. A still-life of sorts, featuring books such as George Miksch Sutton’s inspirational To a Young Bird Artist, along with an open page from the published journals of one of the greatest young nature artists we know — Sherrie York.

Two Books & a Bowl of Jolly Ranchers: Maybe that says it all, but we should add, the Land Library loves the fact that pronghorn roam throughout South Park (check out our earlier post on pronghorn!), plus the fact that Buffalo Peaks Ranch is a short trek away from the world-class fossil site at Florissant National Monument. The natural & cultural heritage of central Colorado is incredibly rich!

And so the day ended, as all good days do, with plenty of melons and lots of good books. But stay tuned for more updates on Buffalo Peaks Ranch!

Buffalo Peaks Ranch, along the Middle Fork of the South Platte River, with the long valley leading to Mount Silverheels.

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