3K Ranch

Property Map

3K Ranch

  • 3K Ranch

3K Ranch - Recently Sold

Great Falls, Montana

The 3K Ranch consists of 2 nearly adjacent parcels totaling 6,509± deeded acres located approximately 30 miles south of Great Falls along nearly 3 miles of the Smith River at the lower end of the famous Smith River Canyon. This unimproved property is accessed by way of easements across a neighboring ranch on primitive private roads. The north unit of 2,429± acres consists of high open bench lands which roll down through steep coulees and rolling foothills to the Smith River. The south unit of 4,080± acres is more dramatic as it includes the lower reaches of the Smith River Canyon and climbs up through steep timbered hills to an extraordinarily lush mountain basin where springs and seeps create ponds and brushy draws along with some of the finest livestock grazing to be found in Montana. It is truly an open canvas for the next owner. The wildlife resources and the Smith River fishery are unparalleled, offering a lifetime of enjoyment and the big views of the Smith River country will feed the soul forever.


Access is by paved highway for approximately 25 miles from Great Falls by way of Ulm. One then enters the McKamey Ranch on a private easement that includes 1.75 miles of the improved driveway to the McKamey headquarters and the balance is essentially 2-track ranch roads that lead to either the north or the south unit. There is also access to the north unit off of the Millegan Road by way of a private ranch road that passes through the north unit to service a neighboring ranch. This access is not a recorded easement but, since it mutually benefits both ranches, it offers practical historical access.

 Great Falls offers excellent commercial air service and a good fixed-base operation for owners coming to the ranch from out of state.



The Smith River Canyon, once a closely guarded secret amongst Montanans, has become world renown as one the wildest and most beautiful five-day river trips in the U.S. This is how Montana Angler Fly Fishing describes it:

“Montana's Smith River is one of the West's legendary fly fishing trips. The river winds through 60 miles of wilderness between public access points and is strictly regulated by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks to ensure the pristine beauty of the canyon is not overrun. The river corridor is comprised of towering limestone cliffs and heavily timbered forests broken only by a few small clusters of cabins on private land.

The river is home to a wild population of hungry trout that see relatively low fishing pressure. Fish up to 20 inches are frequently encountered. Despite the high quality of the trout fishery, the fishing often takes a back seat to the amazing beauty of the river and the enjoyment of spending several days camping at truly amazing remote riverside campsites.” (Author’s note: two of those campsites are located on the 3K Ranch).

This fragile stream has been placed on a draw system for permits to float during its abbreviated float season, which is often over by the 4th of July. The State of Montana maintains campsites along the river’s length and two of those campsites are actually located on the 3K, based on a year-to-year lease arrangement. While the canyon itself is extremely scenic with amazing rock formations and precipitous timbered slopes, the lands which adjoin it are considered to be some of the finest ranching country in Montana. As a result the neighboring properties to the 3K are large reputation ranches that have remained in the same family for generations.

The 3K is accessible to Great Falls and to Cascade, both of which would be within a 45-minute drive from the ranch boundary. Great Falls is one of Montana’s largest cities and features a full complement of services. In addition to its U.S. Air Force base, it is a thriving agricultural town and acts as the focal point for a huge farming and ranching region. It is also famous for its Charlie Russell roots and is home to the Russell Gallery and annual auction that brings collectors in from all over the world. Great Falls is large enough to support one of Montana’s most active commercial airports with daily service to Denver, Minneapolis and the west coast. 

General Description: 

The North Unit is most easily accessed from the McKamey headquarters on a private easement that is primarily a “two track” ranch road. One enters on the northwest corner where one encounters a heavily grassed bench that could easily have been farmed at one time. Essentially there are a series of these benches that are broken by narrow, partially timbered coulees that drop down to the river that flows along the westerly boundary of this unit. From a wildlife point of view, this unit appears to have some of the finest upland bird habitat we have seen anywhere.

The South Unit can be accessed from the North Unit by fording the river on an established easement and crossing a neighbor’s property for about one mile. This unit can also be reached from the McKamey headquarters on a separate established easement which crosses the McKamey property for just over three miles and enters on the northwest corner. The four-mile-long western edge of the property is a high, open ridge that creates something of a natural visual boundary.

The north half of this unit drops down and toward the river in a series of sloping benches and very tight coulees, with the northern facing slopes being timbered, and the lands along the river being quite steep in some places but more gentle in others. This is where the boat camps that are leased to the State of Montana are located. There are number of quite dramatic locations for a home that would overlook the river in a beautiful canyon setting.

The south half of the South Unit is actually quite different from the north half, as it is opens up into a very lush mountain basin formed by a series of wet brushy drainages dropping off the ridge that partially encircles it. There are two ponds, multiple flowing springs and a world of cover that make this an absolute haven for all manner of wildlife and birds. This would also be an ideal place for a home – perhaps overlooking a pond.

In summary, taking into account the variety of habitats offered on the two units, this represents a self-sustaining sporting property without equal. 


6509± deeded acres

There are approximately 80 acres that are seeded to dryland hay. The balance of the ranch is native rangeland or riparian where the river passes through. 

Leases & Permits: 

The 3K Ranch does not lease any additional federal or state land. However, as described elsewhere, the management and use of the grazing operation is leased to the McKamey family and the State of Montana leases two boat camp sites.


The 3K Ranch is basically unimproved other than perimeter and cross fencing.


The nearest reporting stations are in Great Falls and Cascade, both of which are some distance from 3K and at a lower altitude. 3K runs between around 3,600 and 5,400 feet above sea level. We are estimating a growing season in the range of 110 days and annual precipitation in excess of 16 inches. The major precipitation months are May and June. Prevailing winds during the winter months tend to bare off portions of the ranch but the upper portions do receive five feet or more of snow during the winter. High temperatures during the summer range in the eighties and lows during the coldest months range in the lower teens. 

General Operations: 

As mentioned earlier, the ranch is leased to the McKamey family through May of 2019 at just over $24,000 per year. There is no early cancellation provision. This is primarily an agricultural lease whereby the tenant is responsible for the maintenance of the property including fences. The landlords only financial responsibility is the payment of real estate taxes and any additional insurance that landlord might deem necessary. The boat camp lease brings in $500 per year. The McKameys have been exemplary stewards of the property and treat it as if it were their own.

3K offers exceptional grazing and a long season in one of the strongest ranching communities in the state. Based on an estimated carrying capacity of 2.5 acres per animal unit month (AUM) the resource should support just over 2,500 AUMs. Current grazing rates are running over $40 per AUM. These rates would only be achievable with a high level of management and the need to build some infrastructure. The relationship with the McKamey family has many benefits that are difficult to put into monetary terms and it goes without saying that they have operated the ranch for many generations.                                                      

Wildlife Resources: 

The 3K lies at the point where the terrain transitions from a mountain canyon to a foothill prairie landscape. It is also an area that has very little human habitation. As a result the cross section of wildlife to be found here is pretty amazing. One can see moose, black bear, mountain lion, elk, blue and ruffed grouse and both species of deer. Prairie species include antelope, Hungarian partridge and sharptail grouse. In fact the North Unit has some of the finest habitat we have seen for upland birds and we are told that bird hunting is quite good on the South Unit as well. Migratory water fowl in the form of mallard ducks and Canadian geese also pass through and can be found on the river in season.


Fishery Resources: 

With 2.9 miles of Smith River frontage, the trout fishing is exceptional. Essentially the only public access to this stretch of river is by boat as part of a five-day float through the Smith River Canyon which is available to only nine parties per day by draw. The water level generally ends the floating season in early July.

Owning a ranch on the Smith puts one in the rare position of accessing these hallowed waters at will. The Smith pretty much has it all - a good salmon-fly hatch in May, great morning and evening caddis hatches and terrific hopper activity later in the summer. It is known as a “big fly” river and does not require sophisticated “match the hatch” techniques. One catches lots of browns and rainbows in the 13 to 16 inch category with the potential to pull some big 20-inch-class browns out of the deeper pools. 


The 3K Ranch was originally part of the McKamey family ranch which was forced to divest the 3K as part of a family dissolution. The McKameys are long-time ranchers in the area. They continue to lease the property back and have been excellent stewards of the land for its current owners who are avid conservationists and love the area. They basically bought it to enjoy it and conserve it. They immediately protected it with a conservation easement and have held it as a long-term investment for their family. As their lives and plans have changed, they are finding that they do not have the time to enjoy the 3K and it is for that reason they have chosen to put it on the market. 


 Real estate taxes are estimated at $7,289 based upon past years. 

Water Rights: 

There are 22 water rights associated with the 3K including 13 natural springs and 2 reservoirs. They were all filed for stock water purposes. This is a testament to the quality of the grazing for both livestock and wildlife as these are all natural water sources that do not require any mechanical means of delivery and are available year around throughout the ranch. 

Additional Information: 

The two primary upstream neighbors worked together some years ago to permanently restrict development along an estimated ten miles of the river corridor above the 3K through the donation of conservation easements. As part of this legacy the seller has also donated a conservation easement on the 3K to the Montana Land Reliance. Essentially the easement restricts future development to the construction of two residential compounds plus any structures needed for the farming and ranching enterprise. Also the ranch may only be sold in two parcels. 

Broker Comments: 

A rare opportunity is presented to own over 6,500 deeded acres along the treasured 60 mile wilderness section of the Smith River Canyon. This is a totally private ranch untouched by any public road – a completely open canvas – waiting for the energy and imagination of new owners to create their own personal family retreat in some of Montana’s finest wildlife and ranching country. Alternatively, the 3K represents a self-sustaining, long-term investment in an exceptional piece of land.

The Facts: 
  • 6,509± deeded acres untouched by public roads
  • 30 miles south of Great Falls, one of Montana’s largest cities
  • Water resources: 13 springs, 2.9± miles of riverfront, ponds
  • Simple livestock operation with excellent long-term tenant
  • Completely unimproved
  • Highly diverse wildlife from elk, to upland birds, both deer species plus antelope, bear, lion etc.
  • Outstanding fishing on the world-renowned Smith River
  • Big country views plus canyon and river scenery
  • Protected by sensible Montana Land Reliance conservation easement
Additional Services: 

MANAGEMENT SERVICES – Hall and Hall’s Management Division has a very clear mission–to represent the owner and to ensure that his or her experience is a positive one. Services are customized to suit the owner’s needs. They often begin with the recruiting and hiring of a suitable ranch manager or caretaker and are followed by the development of a management or operating plan along with appropriate budgets. Ongoing services include bill paying, ranch oversight, and consulting services as needed. Even the most sophisticated and experienced ranch owners appreciate the value of a management firm representing them and providing advice on local area practices and costs. Wes Oja, Jerome Chvilicek, Dan Berstrom or Brant Marsh at (406) 656-7500 are available to describe and discuss these services in detail and welcome your call.

RESOURCE ENHANCEMENT SERVICES – Increasingly the value of a ranch is measured by the quality of each and every one of its resources. Coincidentally, the enhancement of a ranch’s resources also increases the pleasure that one derives from the ownership of a ranch. Our management services have included the assessment of everything from wildlife habitat to bird habitat to water resources and fisheries and the subsequent oversight of the process involved with the enhancement of these resources. Wes Oja, Jerome Chvilicek, Dan Bergstrom or Brant Marsh at (406) 656-7500 are available to describe and discuss these services in detail and welcome your call.

AUCTIONS - Hall and Hall Auctions offer “Another Solution” to create liquidity for the owners of Investment-Quality Rural Real Estate.  Our auction team has experience in marketing farmland, ranchland, timberland and recreational properties throughout the nation.  Extreme attention to detail and complete transparency coupled with Hall and Hall’s “Rolodex” of more than 40,000 targeted owners and buyers of rural real estate help assure that there are multiple bidders at each auction. In addition, the unique Hall and Hall partnership model creates a teamwork approach that helps to assure that we realize true market value on auction day.  For more information on our auction services contact Scott Shuman at (800) 829-8747.

APPRAISALS - Staying abreast of ancillary market influences in ever-changing economic conditions requires a broad professional network to tap into. Finding an appraiser who not only understands the numbers but also the differences in value from one area to another is a critical part of making an informed decision. The appraisal team at Hall and Hall, formed entirely of Accredited Members of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA), has that critical network of brokers and lending professionals. This professional network coupled with diverse experience across multiple regions and market segments allows our appraisal team to deliver a quality product in a reasonable timeframe.  For more information contact our appraisal team at (406) 656-7500.

SPECIALIZED LENDING - Since 1946 Hall and Hall has created a legacy by efficiently providing capital to landowners.  In addition to traditional farm and ranch loans, we specialize in understanding the unique aspects of placing loans on ranches where value may be influenced by recreational features, location and improvements and repayment may come from outside sources. Our extensive experience and efficient processing allows us to quickly tell you whether we can provide the required financing.

Competitive Pricing  |  Flexible Terms  |  Efficient Processing
Tina Hamm or Scott Moran • (406) 656-7500 
Mike Hall or Judy Chirila • (303) 861-8282
Monte Lyons • (806) 698-6882
J.T. Holt • (806) 698-6884


Following is a Montana law required disclosure.


Montana law requires that BUYER’s and SELLER’s be advised about the different types of agency relationships available to them (MCA § 37-51-102 & 37-51-321).  A real estate agent is qualified to advise only on real estate matters.  As the client or as the customer, please be advised that you have the option of hiring outside professional services on your own behalf (legal and tax counsel, home or building inspectors, accountant, environmental inspectors, range management or agricultural advisors, etc.) at any time during the course of a transaction to obtain additional information to make an informed decision.  Each and every agent has obligations to each other party to a transaction no matter whom the agent represents.  The various relationships are as follows:

SELLER's Agent:  exclusively represents the SELLER (or landlord).  This agency relationship is created when a listing is signed by a SELLER/owner and a real estate licensee.  The SELLER's agent represents the SELLER only, and works toward securing an offer in the best interest of the SELLER.  The SELLER agent still has obligations to the BUYER as enumerated herein.

BUYER's Agent:  exclusively represents the BUYER (or tenant).  This agency relationship is created when a BUYER signs a written BUYER-broker agreement with a real estate licensee.  The BUYER agent represents the BUYER only, and works towards securing a transaction under the terms and conditions established by the BUYER and in the best interest of the BUYER.  The BUYER agent has obligations to the SELLER as enumerated herein.

Dual Agent:  does not represent the interests of either the BUYER or SELLER exclusively.  This agency relationship is created when an agent is the SELLER's agent (or subagent) and enters into a BUYER-broker agreement with the BUYER.  This relationship must receive full informed consent by all parties before a "dual-agency" relationship can exist.  The "dual agent" does not work exclusively for the SELLER or the BUYER but works for both parties in securing a conclusion to the transaction.  If you want an agent to represent you exclusively, do not sign the "Dual Agency" Disclosure and Consent" form.

Statutory Broker:  is a licensee who assists one or more of the parties in a transaction, but does not represent any party as an agent.  A licensee is presumed to be acting as a “statutory broker” unless they have entered into a listing agreement with the SELLER, a BUYER-broker agreement with the BUYER, or a dual agency agreement with all parties.

In-House SELLER Agent Designate:   is a licensee designated by the broker- owner/manager (of the real estate brokerage) to be the exclusive agent for the SELLER for a specific transaction in which the brokerage has the property listed and the BUYER is working directly through the same brokerage also.  This agent may not act on behalf of any other member of the transaction and works for the benefit of the SELLER, but still is obligated to the BUYER as any SELLER's agent would be.

In-House BUYER Agent Designate:   is a licensee designated by the broker- owner/manager (of the real estate brokerage) to be the exclusive agent for the BUYER for a specific transaction in which the brokerage has the property listed and the BUYER is working directly through the same brokerage also.  This agent may not act on behalf of any other member of the transaction and works for the benefit of the BUYER, but still obligated to the SELLER as any BUYER's agent would be.

Subagent:   is an agent of the licensee already acting as an agent for either the SELLER or BUYER.  A "SELLER agent" can offer "subagency" to an agent to act on his behalf to show the property and solicit offers from BUYER’s.  A "BUYER agent can offer "subagency" to an agent to act on his behalf to locate and secure certain property meeting the BUYER's criteria. 

_____ of Hall and Hall is the exclusive agent of the Seller.

NOTICE: Offering is subject to errors, omissions, prior sale, change or withdrawal without notice, and approval of purchase by owner. Information regarding land classifications, acreages, carrying capacities, potential profits, etc., are intended only as general guidelines and have been provided by sources deemed reliable, but whose accuracy we cannot guarantee. Prospective buyers should verify all information to their satisfaction. Prospective buyers should also be aware that the photographs in this brochure may have been digitally enhanced.