Diamond Peak Ranch is one of the largest ranching operations in Colorado. John Raftopoulos is an innovator, risk taker, entrepreneur, cowman, and a steward of the land, but the description he most closely associates with, the one he is most proud of, is father and husband. It is his family that he cherishes the most.
John and his two sons George and Angelo own and operate Diamond Peak Cattle Company, an operation that encompasses some 55,000 acres of deeded land and another 250,000 to 300,000 acres of BLM and state and private leases, making the ranch one of the larger holders of grazing rights on public lands. They run 2800 head of Angus and SimAngus cross cows, of which 1200+ are registered purebred cattle.
John grew up on a sheep operation. His parents, Georgia and George Raftopoulos, immigrated to the U.S. from Kaloscopie, Greece, a small mountain village in north central Greece. Georgia came to the U.S. as a young bride. Her first husband, Steve Simos, also from Koloscopie, came to the U.S. in the early 1920s.
Like many of the early Greeks, Simos was particularly attracted to the country in and around Steamboat Springs, primarily because this steep, rugged mountain terrain reminded him of his beloved homeland. It is here, at Milner, just east of Craig and west of Steamboat Springs, that Simos eventually homesteaded. He also established a winter range at Brown's Park northwest of Craig, and his lambing range was just south of Craig.
In 1934 Simos went back to Kaloscopie to find a bride. He married Georgia Vlahos. Simos was 26 years her senior, though that was common for the time. The newlyweds came back to the U.S. and Simos continued with his sheep operation until his death in 1948.
After her husband's death, Georgia tried mightily to hold the outfit together, but after a couple of years she leased it out and went back to Greece. She became reacquainted with a childhood friend, George Raftopoulos, and they married in December 1950. George and Georgia came back to the U.S. in 1951 and took over again the sheep outfit that Georgia and her first husband had established. Together they expanded the operation.
The cattle operation is largely to the west of Craig in Moffat County, though the northwestern corner extends over into Wyoming and Utah. The operation started with the purchase of a milk cow that was left behind by an employee. George and Georgia kept a 15-head herd around mainly to eat some of the slew grass hay that the sheep would not eat. After John graduated from Colorado State University in 1978 with a degree in veterinary medicine they then expanded the operation to a couple hundred cows, and then another couple of hundred, and so on and so forth. Each time they took on more country, they took on more cows.
In 2001 John bought 500 commercial Angus replacement heifers from the N Bar Ranch in Montana. It was decided that the quickest way to make genetic improvement was through an AI program. The 500 N Bar heifers became the core of the Diamond Peak commercial herd.
The offspring from the AI program were exactly what John thought the industry needed so he established and marketed his registered and commercial bulls to other producers. Initially the PAP test bulls were marketed by private treaty. As the demand for quality high altitude Angus bulls grew the Diamond Peak Cattle Company Annual bulls was established in 2008.
At the present time 2600 cows and heifers are synchronized and bred each year with as many as 450 cows being bred in one day. Only high accuracy sires that are moderate framed and positive for carcass traits are selected. Milk, fertility, disposition, and the ability to travel are all critically important. Diamond Peak Ranch is building a niche market for bulls suited for high altitude. PAP tested bulls are offered in the spring at their annual sale in Loma, Colorado, Riverton, Wyoming and La Junta, Colorado. Bulls are also offed by private treaty are through a lease program.
Today their registered cow herd stands at 1200 head. Only AI-sired heifers are kept for replacements. The replacement heifers are developed at the ranch in Craig and summered 7500 at feet near Hayden,Colorado.
Wildlife has become an important part of their operations mix and they have one of the most sought after trophy areas in the west. Read more about our outfitting operation on our web sitewww.Trophy-Elk-Hunting.com
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