For Sale

Beartooth Mountain Ranch

$7,500,000 Fishtail, MT 1,138± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

This 1,138± deeded acre end-of-the-road mountain ranch with an adjacent State of Montana section adjoins the U.S. Forest Service and lies just over a mile from the wilderness boundary. The ranch consists of a series of mountain valleys characterized by aspen groves, open parks, patches of dark timber and bubbling mountain streams. Improvements include a massive 10,000± square foot log lodge with six+ comfortable bedrooms and huge common areas all designed to accommodate guests, a comfortable log caretaker’s house, a barn, and a shop/equipment storage building. An attractive front gate and views dominated by the imposing Beartooth Front – Montana’s highest mountains – truly set the stage for a rare offering adjacent to the Custer National Forest only 70 miles southwest of Billings and 35 miles west of Red Lodge near Fishtail. 

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Just the Facts

  • Location: 12 miles south of Fishtail, 70 miles southwest of Billings and 35 miles west of Red Lodge
  • Locale: Adjacent to national forest; just over one mile from wilderness boundary
  • Acreage: 1,138± deeded plus 640± acre State of Montana lease
  • Views: Exceptional - 12,000 foot Beartooth Front dominates western skyline
  • Wildlife: Prolific - Elk and deer, to bear, mountain lion and small mammals plus waterfowl, turkey, and sand hill cranes
  • Water: Springs, three lakes, multiple mountain streams
  • Terrain: Mosaic of timber, aspens, open parks and riparian zones 
  • Improvements: Large 6 bedroom, 6.5 bath lodge with impressive common area, caretaker’s house, steel shop and equipment storage building, metal-sided tack room and horse barn
  • Summary: Exceptional and very private end-of-the-road mountain ranch

General Description

The Beartooth Mountain Ranch is a quintessential mountain retreat ranch. It is three miles long from north to south, with the upper portions of the ranch adjoining the Custer National Forest. In fact, from the edge of the state lease, it is just over a mile across the national forest to the boundary of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. The entire ranch lies on the west slope of the Fiddler Creek Valley. Fiddler Creek itself rises just above the ranch flowing northerly through the state lease and runs just off the eastern boundary of the ranch actually crossing the ranch again at one point. Several unnamed tributaries of Fiddler Creek as well as the East Fork of Fiddler Creek pass through the ranch in an easterly direction. As one moves from north to south on the ranch one crosses a series of small valleys, each of which is characterized by a very pleasing mix of heavy timber, aspen groves, and well-sodded grass meadows. The main buildings are situated on the lower, northerly end of the property. They consist of a massive log lodge, a steel building housing a shop and equipment storage, a metal horse barn, and an attractive three-bedroom log home. The owners have also tapped into a prolific spring to create a beautiful pond in front of the buildings. There is virtually nowhere on the ranch where one is not aware of the Beartooth Front which literally towers over the ranch to the south. While this is a significant and awe-inspiring feature, the ranch, with its meadows and aspen groves, is quite beautiful in its own right and provides a very pleasing foreground for the high peaks that form the background.

Broker's Comments

Beartooth Mountain Ranch offers the classic beauty that everyone seeks in a mountain ranch. Aspen groves and dark timber interspersed with huge grassy meadows under a backdrop of 12,000-foot mountain peaks that are snowcapped most of the year is difficult to find – particularly on ranches that are completely private and actually adjoin the national forest. The ranch cries out to be protected with a conservation easement as it is currently unencumbered. This allows a conservation-minded buyer an opportunity to effectively reduce the price of the ranch through the tax savings derived from the donation of a conservation easement.  

Learn about the locale

Location

The Beartooth Mountain Ranch is located at the base of the Beartooth Mountains adjacent to the national forest approximately 12 miles south of Fishtail, Montana and 35 miles west of Red Lodge. This places it about 70 miles southwest of Billings, which is Montana’s largest city and busiest commercial airport. Commercial air service at Billings Logan Airport is provided by Delta, United, Alaska, and Allegiant. Many of these airlines offer multiple flights each day to Salt Lake City, Seattle, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Denver.

Access to the ranch is by paved highway to within about five miles of the ranch where the road turns to a county graveled road for about three miles, ending at an electric locked gate where there is a private road across a neighboring ranch that runs for about two miles to the ranch gate. This road is shared by two other nearby ranch owners.  The Beartooth Mountain Ranch is effectively at the “end of the road.” There is no access through the ranch’s deeded lands for any other parties. 

Locale

The Beartooth Front, bounded by Red Lodge and the Rock Creek Valley on the easterly end, and Nye and the Stillwater River Valley on the westerly end, is one of the most dramatically beautiful areas in Montana. The Beartooth Mountains dominate the views to the south, and the foothills and valleys that emanate from this massive granite range tend to be very lush and green, and the rivers and streams are loaded with trout. It is an area of medium-sized foothill/mountain ranches that was heavily settled over 100 years ago. Aside from traditional ranching, the area has doubled as a recreational outlet for Billings as well as nonresidents. Many smaller towns of varying sizes have grown over the years and provide wonderful outlets for the ranches in the area. Roscoe, Dean, Nye, and Absarokee are all within a short drive of the ranch and Red Lodge is about a 35- to 40-minute drive. Each of these towns has its own character and besides restaurants, shops, and other services they offer an employment base for employees that can commute to the ranch on a daily basis and not require on-ranch accommodation.

Essentially this area has a strong ranching base as well as clear dedication to maintaining the open space along the mountains. Many of the ranches have conservation easements and it is extremely unusual to find a property for sale along the mountain front that adjoins the national forest. Properties like Beartooth Mountain Ranch are rare to find and generally are held in strong hands for multiple generations. It is terrific cattle country so it is not difficult to keep the land in agriculture. Socially, it is an interesting area because it boasts such a diversity of residents from business and professional people from Billings, to local ranchers, trades people and retirees, to wealthy non-resident ranch owners who are dedicated to maintaining this wonderful balance. Red Lodge offers a touch of international sophistication because it has a long history of being both a gateway to Yellowstone Park and a destination ski resort. It attracts people from all over the world who have opted to choose a quieter lifestyle than one would find in the more internationally known resort towns. The area also offers excellent trout fishing and mountain recreation. It is unique in Montana and has its own special character.

As regards the immediately surrounding neighbors, one good-sized ranch borders to the north and east, and one of the area’s oldest and largest ranches that is protected from development by a conservation easement borders to the east and south. There are two smaller recreational retreat properties on the northwest boundary that share the access road. Because of the natural terrain, one is not really aware of these properties and they are considered to be in strong hands and unlikely to be subject to any additional development.

Climate

The climate is typical of mountain ranches in the 5,000 to 6,000 foot elevation range east of the continental divide – warm but not excessively hot summer days with cool nights. Winters tend to have good snow cover and temperatures that normally run around freezing during the days and in the teens or below at night. However, the area can also suffer from extremes of cold on one end, and on the other end the area is subject to Chinook winds which can bring some very warm temperatures up into the 50s Fahrenheit during the winter. The fall can be pleasant into November with occasional surprises in both directions, from a Labor Day snowstorm that quickly melts to shirtsleeve weather at Thanksgiving. The area is known for good precipitation in the spring and can be subject to heavy, wet snows during March and April. This, of course, contributes to the area’s reputation for having wonderful summer grazing.

Aesthetic Considerations

There is no question that Beartooth Mountain Ranch is one of the most beautiful ranches on the market today. It has the ingredients that everyone is looking for – dramatic mountain views, a pleasing mixture of rolling hills and valleys covered with open parks, aspen groves, small lakes, and heavier timber. 

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

Deeded Acres: 1,138±

State Leased Acres: 640±

Total Leased Acres: 640±

Total Acres: 1,778±

* All acreages are approximations.

Additional Information

The price includes equipment and furnishings that are currently on the ranch and owned by sellers. They plan to remove only their personal items and photos. A formal list will be provided for review and acceptance during the due diligence phase of an accepted offer.

Improvements

The Beartooth Mountain Ranch is well improved and the buildings are immaculate. The primary structures can be described as follows:

LODGE
This estimated 10,000± sq. ft. building is designed to accommodate and entertain guests. The great room at one end is built of logs that can only be described as “massive.” The towering stone fireplace, with a sunken conversation area at one end, is impressive to say the least. The room is fully two stories high and has a log staircase that services a mezzanine entertainment area that overlooks the main room. This area has a kitchen, dining area, bar and huge windows that enjoy the views of the Beartooths. Outside there is a patio with a beautifully designed stone barbecue and smoker. Between the great room area and the bedroom wing is an impressive entrance hall with an attractively decorated waterfall feature which is the first thing one sees when entering from the impressive portico with a circular driveway in front. The bedroom wing includes five private bedrooms and a bunkroom for children as well as six-and-one-half bathrooms. The lodge also boasts an oversize three-car garage. 

MANAGER’S HOUSE
This attractive home has been recently remodeled and has square log siding and extensive decks. Containing approximately 2,200± sq. ft., it has a large open area upstairs which includes the kitchen, living room and dining area with doors extending out onto a wide deck. The downstairs includes three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

FURNISHINGS
The buildings are beautifully and comfortably furnished, and the ranch is offered fully furnished and equipped.

SUPPORT BUILDING
Behind the lodge there is a 2,400± sq. ft. shop and equipment storage building. There is also a metal barn nearby with a heated tack room that is designed to accommodate the ranch’s riding horses. 

LANDSCAPING 
The entire area is beautifully landscaped, especially the areas in front of the lodge. All in all, it makes for a very impressive compound that is not found on most ranches.

Water Resources

There is no irrigated land on the ranch other than the lawn area surrounding the lodge. However, the property is blessed with miles of mountain streams and a number of springs. There are also wells and ponds. The owners have created a beautiful lake just a short distance from the lodge. There is potential for creating other lakes as well. One of the springs which flows around 40 GPM reportedly meets EPA standards for bottled water. 

Mineral Rights

All minerals owned by the current owners will be conveyed to the buyer.

Timber Resources

There is substantial timber on the ranch and the owners have undertaken a thinning process to improve forest health. 

Taxes

Taxes for Beartooth Mountain Ranch are approximately $26,310.

Learn about the recreational amenities

Fishery Resources

Fishing is limited to the small mountain streams and the private lake on the ranch. There is a lot of really excellent fishing in the immediate area on well-known rivers such as the Stillwater and the Yellowstone, not to mention the East and West Rosebud rivers and the many lakes in the Beartooths. There are two lakes - Lily Pad and Crater Lake - on the state land the ranch leases, which are reputed to be good fisheries as well.

Wildlife Resources

As one would expect from a ranch that abuts the national forest and lies within a short distance of a wilderness area, the Beartooth Mountain Ranch is loaded with wildlife. Moose, elk, whitetail and mule deer, and black bear all are either permanent residents or frequent visitors to the ranch. Bird and waterfowl species include grouse, eagles, geese, ducks, sandhill cranes, herons and turkeys. The ranch and its immediate environs definitely offer outstanding big game hunting for elk and deer. The fact that the ranch has not allowed hunting for many years has certainly enhanced the wildlife populations that currently make the ranch home. 

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

Beartooth Mountain Ranch has always been a sought-after summer home for livestock with its lush pastures and ample water. The resource needs to be grazed so we recommend making an arrangement with one of the ranchers in the area to bring cattle onto the ranch during the summer months. Grazing rates are currently at historic highs and while they would not be likely to create a profit on a property like this, one could certainly offset the taxes and insurance and some basic maintenance. The ranch would definitely lend itself to being leased out through VRBO or Air BNB. Many non-resident land owners who do not use their ranches full time have used this method to absorb many of their ranch’s operating expenses. 

Otherwise the property is best suited for a family or corporate retreat which can easily be looked after by one person who could bring in seasonal help when needed to take care of guests. The ranch is well set up for this with its attractive manager’s house. The proximity of many small towns should make it easy to get seasonal help by the day. 

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