In 1999, Ninia Ritchie, the owner of JA Ranch, had the foresight to place her ranch in a conservation easement. The easement was originally conveyed to The Conservation Fund and Douglas County. The easement transferred to CCALT in 2023, 24 years to the date of the original conveyance. The Ritchie family and the JA Ranch have a long and rich history in the west. The JA Ranch’s roots date back to 1876 when partners Charles Goodnight and John Adair founded the original ranch in the panhandle region of Texas. The JA Ranch is the oldest cattle ranching operation in the Texas Panhandle and the ranch headquarters was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960, the same year it expanded operations to Colorado.  

Less than five miles from the city limits of Castle Rock, Colorado, JA Ranch resides in an area surrounded by significant Front Range development. JA Ranch is part of a large block of conserved lands in the county and shares a boundary with the Greenland Ranch, another conservation easement held by CCALT. JA Ranch and CCALT carry an important partnership forward that will continue to preserve this working Colorado landscape that offers views of open spaces and agricultural lands to daily commuters and travelers on Interstate 25.

“The JA Ranch is a symbol of Colorado’s past and present agricultural heritage and will continue to feature prominently for the many thousands of people that travel I-25 every day.

John Gioia, CCALT Director of Transactions

JA Ranch is a visually spectacular property. A mosaic of habitats from Douglas fir and ponderosa pine forests to mixed grass prairie along two riparian zones make this property very appealing to wildlife. JA Ranch serves as an important wildlife habitat and migration route for a number of game species including elk, pronghorn, and mule deer, along with smaller animals and birds that occupy this landscape during different times of the year.

The ranch also has a rich agricultural history, with irrigated hay meadows and pastures first grazed in the 1870s. Several structures still exist on the property, dating back to the late 1800s. The Hunt Cabin, which housed Governor Alexander Hunt of the Colorado Territory before it became a state, is the oldest structure on the property.

Hunt Cabin Historical Area

The original JA Ranch is steeped in history. While it is the oldest privately owned cattle operation in the Texas Panhandle, it has Colorado origins. In 1876, Charles Goodnight drove 1,600 longhorn cattle from Pueblo, Colorado to southwestern Armstrong County, Texas where he established his “Home Ranch.” Upon returning to Colorado to move his family, he met John G. Adair, an English aristocrat interested in the cattle business. Adair helped finance the establishment of the JA Ranch and began a partnership with Goodnight, who suggested the ranch be named JA after Adair’s initials. By the 1880s, the original ranch occupied more than 1,300,000 acres spread across six Texas counties. Since founding, the Texas and Colorado ranches have been passed down the generations of John Adair’s family.

Learn more about JA Ranch’s fascinating recorded history and see historical photos here:
History of the JA, the Ritchie Family and the JA Family
Texas State Historical Association – JA Ranch
JA Ranch est. 1876
The JA Ranch and Montie Ritchie