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Steamboat Magazine

The Last Frontier

08/23/2021 01:32PM ● By Suzi Mitchell

Fourth-generation rancher Tyler Knott and his son, Collin, take a ride on the ranch, where nearly 2,000 acres have been protected by a conservation easement with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust. Photo courtesy the Knott family.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO – Tyler Knott comes strolling down a dirt path with an empty feeding bottle in his hand. The other hand tips the brim of his hat, which is protecting his face from the intense sun that warms his land beneath the Flat Tops at Trout Creek in South Routt County. Tyler, a fourth-generation rancher, has just finished hand-feeding lambs and comes to check in with his wife, Megan, and their two young children, Ella and Collin.

Megan and Tyler Knott, with their children Collin and Ella, started Trout Creek Meats to sell the beef and lamb they raise on their ranch beneath the Flat Tops in South Routt. Photo courtesy the Knott family.

The Knotts are a formidable duo in the ranching world. Megan, a transplant from New Jersey, swapped cityscapes for fields and forests after gaining a master’s degree in environmental management and forestry from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. She serves as the director of stewardship for the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, an organization she has worked for since 2008. Through it, she met her husband-to-be. “My parents are still perplexed how I ended up here,” Megan says, laughing.

Despite encouragement from his father to explore other career options, Tyler left home temporarily to get a bachelor’s degree in rangeland ecology and watershed management from the University of Wyoming. He quickly returned in 2006 to the lands his family has farmed since 1936, with plans for the future.

"We kind of do things backwards in our family,” he says. "The younger generation manages and plans, while the elder generation steps back and sticks with working on the land.” It’s a recipe that has ensured the ranch has evolved over time. When Tyler’s great grandfather, Courtney Ives, purchased the ranch in the 1930s, his sheep grazed on the former Storm Mountain each summer. Today the Knotts not only raise cattle and sheep, which they sell under their brand Trout Creek Meats, but they also have diversified into hunting and fishing.

Recreation is an area of potential diversification at the ranch, which has overcome drought, fire and changes in market demands over the decades. Stewardship remains at the forefront of any future plans. Almost 2,000 acres of the ranch are protected by a conservation easement held with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust. “This valley is the last frontier, as development pressure works its way out of Steamboat,” Tyler says. Other than gravel cyclists in the summer months, few people would have reason to pass through the remote landscape, which is flanked by aspen groves and tree-covered hillsides.

Five-year-old Ella pets one of the sheep being raised on the ranch that her family purchased in the 1930s. Photo courtesy the Knott family.


“We want to share what we have here, but at the same time, remain conscious of the ecology that is vital to sustaining the land,” Tyler says. “There has to be a way for recreation and ranching to find common ground, by respecting the land, the animals and those of us who depend on it for our livelihoods.”

Part of that balance will come from education, on which Megan spends a great deal of time working. The couple has served on the boards of the Community Agricultural Alliance, Routt County 4-H, Routt County Farm Bureau and the Routt County Cattlemen’s Association. Five-year-old Ella attends Steamboat Montessori School, and her parents have made a point of exposing students to ranch life by bringing baby lambs into the classroom and inviting families to come and experience the farm firsthand. “It’s important for people to know where their food comes from and to appreciate the strong ranching heritage we have here in the valley,” Tyler says.

Ella and Collin get to run in and out of the same wood barns their father and grandfather played in as children. They can feed lambs and sit next to their parents in the Ranger to scour the hillsides as they check on newborn calves. These children are the fifth generation of Knotts to grow up in a majestic piece of Colorado few ever get to experience. For the years ahead, their mother and father will take the reins until it is time to choose whether or not Ella and Collin will take over what will by then be a Centennial Ranch.