Big Springs Creek Ranch

Property Map

Big Springs Creek Ranch - Recently Sold

$1,250,000
May, Idaho

Each year, hundreds of wild Chinook salmon and steelhead swim nearly 1,000 miles up the Columbia, Snake and Salmon Rivers to the Pahsimeroi River in central Idaho to spawn in the clear waters of Big Springs Creek. Previously, irrigation diversions and unmanaged grazing prevented spawning in some of the most promising parts of the Pahsimeroi system. After purchasing the 1,395± acre Big Springs Creek Ranch, the owners removed barriers, reduced grazing in sensitive areas, restored creeks, and allowed substantially more water to remain in-stream. Spawning activity has increased from virtually none to 60± spawning beds over the past several years. Now, Big Springs Creek Ranch plays a critical role in the survival of these incredible ocean-going fish, making the ranch one of the most important wildlife properties in the region.


Two-thirds of the ranch encompasses riparian bottomland with many springs, several spring creeks – including Big Springs Creek – and over a half-mile of the spring-fed Pahsimeroi River. The bottomland areas are mostly sub-irrigated and highly productive, supporting robust populations of waterfowl and big game, including elk, whitetail deer, and mule deer. The upland portions of the ranch encompass 160± acres of irrigated pasture and cropland and offer a great combination of agricultural productivity and upland bird habitat.


A conservation easement on the ranch ensures that critical riparian habitat will be preserved for generations to come while offering the flexibility to pursue agricultural and residential activities. With the essential restoration complete, Big Springs Creek Ranch is ready for a new owner to write the next chapter of this important stewardship story.

Location: 

Big Springs Creek Ranch is located in the Pahsimeroi Valley next to the small ranching settlement of May approximately 10 miles upstream of the Pahsimeroi River’s confluence with the Salmon River. May is home to a post office, café, and state-owned 4,950’ x 200’ turf airstrip. The community of Challis (population 900) is the county seat for Custer County and situated approximately 30 miles west of the ranch. All general amenities and services can be found in Challis, including groceries, fuel, hardware supplies, and sporting goods. In addition, Challis offers a paved, lighted airport that is 4,600 feet in length at an elevation of 5,072 feet. A fixed-based operator, Middle Fork Aviation, serves the field, providing jet fuel and charter service. The well-known, year-round resort community of Ketchum/Sun Valley is approximately 2 hours southwest of the ranch and offers the nearest commercial air service through Delta, United, and Alaska/Horizon Airlines. Principle access to the property is via the Pahsimeroi Valley Road, a paved, all-season roadway, that links the ranch with US Highway 93. Estimated driving distances to other major regional communities are as follows: Salmon, Idaho, 50 miles to the north; Idaho Falls, 150 miles to the south; Boise, 350 miles to the southwest; Salt Lake City, 350 miles to the south; Missoula, Montana, 190 miles to the north, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 200 miles to the southeast. 

Locale: 

Big Springs Creek Ranch lies within the upper Salmon River basin, an area renowned for its rugged mountain scenery, abundant fish and wildlife, exceptional public lands, and almost endless outdoor recreation opportunities. Three of Idaho’s high country landmarks are within striking distance of the ranch – the 2.3 million-acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness (the largest federally designated wilderness in the lower 48 states), the 756,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area (considered by many as the “crown jewel of the USFS’s National Recreation Area system), and the 400,000-acre Boulder-White Cloud mountain range complex (which is currently being considered for designation as a National Monument). Not to be outdone, the two mountain ranges flanking the Pahsimeroi Valley and dominating the views from Big Springs Creek Ranch – the Lemhi and Lost River Ranges – are Idaho’s highest and among the state’s most visually stunning. The Pahsimeroi River is one of the upper Salmon’s principle tributaries and home to some of the region’s most important spawning grounds for wild salmon and steelhead. The Pahsimeroi also provides vital irrigation water for the valley’s farms and ranches, many of which have been under family ownership for generations.


The ranch crosses Custer and Lemhi Counties, which are among the state’s largest counties totaling over 4,500± square miles. Approximately 95 percent of the counties’ land base is in federal and state ownership. Despite their physical size, these are two of Idaho’s least populated counties with a combined population of less than 10,000 residents. The recorded history of the area began on August 12, 1805, when the Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass and entered what is now Lemhi County on their trek to the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. Pressure from the outside world remained light with only occasional trapping parties traversing the area until gold was discovered on Napias Creek in 1866 and the building of “Salmon City” (the county seat for Lemhi County) began. The counties’ primary industry is cattle ranching, while mining and logging have also played an important role over time. More recently, tourism and outdoor recreation have emerged as important components of the local economy by capitalizing on the area’s diverse wildlife, recreation, and river resources.

General Description: 

The ranch comprises a contiguous tract of land approximately 2 miles in length from north to south and 2.5 miles east to west. The majority of the property consists of a vast bottomland area that encompasses lush, sub-irrigated meadows, stands of willow, aspen, and river birch, perennial springs and wetland areas, and nearly 6 miles of stream frontage and riparian corridor. Big Springs Creek and the spring-fed Pahsimeroi River are the defining features here and parallel one another as they meander toward their confluence a mile north of the property. Numerous other springs and spring creeks rise on the ranch or flow through it. The volume of spring water on the ranch is truly remarkable and is the key reason for the abundance of elk, deer, waterfowl, upland birds, sandhill cranes, and other wildlife that converge on the property. An elevated terrace of approximately 300 acres lies east of this vast bottomland area and provides excellent building sites with incredible views across the valley to the peaks of the Lost River Range beyond. The current owners employ a year-round caretaker who resides in a manufactured home located at the entrance to the ranch next to May. A second entrance is located further east along the Pahsimeroi Valley Road. The terrace also encompasses 135± acres of alfalfa hay irrigated by two pivot sprinkler systems and 100± acres of irrigated and sub-irrigated meadow that provide pasture for horses and cattle and habitat for pheasants and partridge. A network of graveled roads provides access to the agricultural fields and links the ranch entrances with Big Springs Creek and the other bottomland portions of the property. The ranch controls multiple surface water rights for irrigation purposes. This water originates from several sources both on and off the ranch.

Climate: 

Big Springs Creek Ranch sits at an elevation of approximately 5,000 feet. The climate for the valley can be best described as semi-arid with an average humidity of only 30 percent and annual precipitation of less than 15 inches. Summers are warm with the temperatures occasionally reaching into the 90s and cooling to the 50s at night. Winters are generally cold, with an average maximum daily temperature from November through March of 38 degrees and an average minimum temperature during the same period of 13 degrees. 

Wildlife Resources: 

Wildlife experts have called the Pahsimeroi Valley a “virtual Serengeti” in reference to the sheer extent and diversity of wildlife found there. Big Springs Creek Ranch is home to a strong population of resident whitetail deer, while elk, mule deer, antelope, moose, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, wolves, black bears, mountain lions, wolverines, and a host of smaller species range across the area’s mountaintops, foothills, and grasslands as well as across the ranch itself. Pheasants and Hungarian partridge offer outstanding upland hunting opportunities on the ranch, and abundant spring water ensures excellent duck and goose hunting on the property until the end of January when the hunting seasons closes. To this point, many local Idaho Fish and Game officials consider the Pahsimeroi Valley to be the best pheasant and waterfowl hunting in central Idaho, and Big Springs Creek Ranch lies at the heart of it. With so much water on the ranch, anglers can enjoy the opportunity to catch wily rainbow and brook trout in a completely private setting. Casting with light rods and attractor patterns is a great way to spend a summer day on the ranch.


Of course, wild migratory fish are central to Big Springs Creek Ranch. The Pahsimeroi River along with the dozens of other streams in the Salmon River system once produced some of the largest salmon and steelhead runs in the Columbia River Basin. It is often heard that salmon were so plentiful one could cross the Salmon River on their backs. Over the last century, however, salmon runs throughout the Columbia basin have declined dramatically, and today only a fraction of their numbers return. The plight of these great fish has given rise to cooperative efforts involving private landowners, federal and state resource agencies, and conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and Trout Unlimited. Their focus is to enhance and restore aquatic habitat for salmon and steelhead as well as resident trout. Big Springs Creek Ranch and other local ranches have been at the center of these efforts, and the results have been transformative. On Big Springs Creek alone, Chinook spawning beds (referred to as “redds”) have increased from an average of zero to approximately 60 in just the past several years due to changes in grazing, water management and the completion of habitat enhancement projects. The opportunity to protect both migratory and resident fish was a fundamental reason behind the purchase of the ranch by current owners. With opportunities ongoing to participate in wild salmon and trout conservation, Big Springs Creek Ranch is ready for a new owner to write the next chapter of this important stewardship story.

Fishery Resources: 

Of course, wild migratory fish are central to Big Springs Creek Ranch. The Pahsimeroi River along with the dozens of other streams in the Salmon River system once produced some of the largest salmon and steelhead runs in the Columbia River Basin. It is often heard that salmon were so plentiful one could cross the Salmon River on their backs. Over the last century, however, salmon runs throughout the Columbia basin have declined dramatically, and today only a fraction of their numbers return. The plight of these great fish has given rise to cooperative efforts involving private landowners, federal and state resource agencies, and conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and Trout Unlimited. Their focus is to enhance and restore aquatic habitat for salmon and steelhead as well as resident trout. Big Springs Creek Ranch and other local ranches have been at the center of these efforts, and the results have been transformative. On Big Springs Creek alone, Chinook spawning beds (referred to as “redds”) have increased from an average of zero to approximately 60 in just the past several years due to changes in grazing, water management and the completion of habitat enhancement projects. The opportunity to protect both migratory and resident fish was a fundamental reason behind the purchase of the ranch by current owners. With opportunities ongoing to participate in wild salmon and trout conservation, Big Springs Creek Ranch is ready for a new owner to write the next chapter of this important stewardship story.

Taxes: 

Annual property taxes are approximately $2,600.

Broker Comments: 

Large valley bottom ranches with extensive spring water resources are not often on the market, and Big Springs Creek Ranch represents the chance to purchase one of the best in our region at very good value. Outstanding fly-fishing, big game hunting, and wingshooting opportunities are complimented by a productive hay operation and excellent year-round access.

Special Conditions: 

In 2009, the current owner conveyed a conservation easement to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) over 1,215± of the property’s 1,395± acres. The purpose of the easement is to protect the ranch’s significant open space features and important fish and wildlife habitat while still providing for residential, recreation, and agricultural uses of the property. A copy of the easement, along with a complete list of permitted and prohibited uses of the property, is available from Hall and Hall upon request.  

The Facts: 
  • 1,395± acre sporting ranch 30 miles from Challis, Idaho and 2.5 hours from Sun Valley and Idaho Falls
  • Multiple spring creeks that provide critical spawning and rearing habitat for wild Chinook salmon and steelhead
  • Frontage on the Pahsimeroi River and only minutes from the Salmon River
  • Hunting for whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, pheasant, and waterfowl on the ranch and nearby public lands. Opportunities for landowner tags.
  • Productive sprinkler irrigated cropland in a well-known ranching and hay producing valley
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 and Jerome Chvilicek at (406) 656-7500 or Justin Bryan at (325) 260-5883 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 or Dan Bergstrom at (406) 656-7500 or Justin Bryan in our Abilene office at (325) 260-5883 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
Dave Roddy • (406) 656-7500 
Mike Hall or Judy Chirila • (303) 861-8282
Monte Lyons • (806) 698-6882
J.T. Holt • (806) 698-6884

Disclaimer: 

Idaho brokerage disclosure

The law requires all real estate licensees to perform certain basic duties when dealing with any real estate buyer or seller.  You can expect any real estate licensee you deal with to provide the following “customer-level” services:

  • To perform necessary and customary acts to assist you in the purchase or sale of real estate;
  • To perform these acts in good faith and with reasonable care;
  • To properly account for money or other property you place in his or her care; an
  • To disclose “adverse material facts” which are, or should be, within that licensee’s knowledge.  These include facts that would significantly affect the desirability or value of the property to a reasonable person, and facts that would indicate to a reasonable person that one of the parties cannot, or will not, complete his obligations under the contract.  (Note:  Idaho law exempts “psychological” impacts from this disclosure requirement.  See Section 55-2701, Idaho Code)

Unless or until you enter a written agreement with the brokerage for agency representation, you are considered a “Customer” of the brokerage, and the brokerage will not act as your agent.  As a Customer, you should not expect the brokerage or its licensees to promote your best interest, or to keep your bargaining information confidential.

Whenever you speak to a licensee who represents a party on the other side of the transaction, (e.g., you are seeking to buy the property, and the licensee represents the seller), you should assume that any information you provide will be shared with the other party.  

If offered by the real estate brokerage, you may enter a written agreement for “Agency Representation,” requiring that the brokerage and its licensees act as an “Agent” on your behalf and promote your best interests as their “Client.”  Idaho law authorizes three types of Agency Representation. 

Single Agency:

If you enter a written agreement for Agency Representation, you, as a Client, can expect the real estate brokerage to provide the following services, in addition to the basic duties and obligations required of all licensees:

  • To perform the terms of your written agreement with skill and care;
  • To promote your best interest, in good faith, honest and fair dealing;
  • If you are the seller, this includes seeking a buyer to purchase your property at a price and under terms and conditions acceptable to you, and assisting in the negotiation thereof; and, upon your written request, asking for reasonable proof of a prospective buyer’s financial ability to purchase your property;
  • If you are the buyer, this includes seeking a property to purchase at an acceptable price, terms and conditions, and assisting in the negotiation thereof; and, when appropriate, advising you to obtain professional inspections of the property, or to seek appropriate tax, legal and other professional advice or counsel.
  • To maintain the confidentiality of specific client information, including bargaining information, even after the representation has ended.

Limited Dual Agency:

At a time you enter an agreement for Agency Representation, you may be asked to give written consent allowing the brokerage to represent both you and the other party in a transaction.  This “dual agency” situation can arise when, for example, the brokerage that represents you, the seller, also represents buyers who may be interested in purchasing your property.  When this occurs, it is necessary that the brokerage’s representation duties be “limited” because a buyer and seller have built-in conflicts of interest.  Most significantly, the buyer typically wants the property at the lowest price, while the seller wants top dollar.  As a “limited dual agent,” the brokerage and its licensees cannot advocate on behalf of one client over the other, and cannot disclose confidential client information concerning price negotiations, terms or factors motivation the client/buyer to buy or the client/seller to sell.  However, the brokerage must otherwise promote the best interests of both parties, perform the terms of the written representation agreement with skill and care, and perform all other duties required by law.

Buyers and sellers alike often find it desirable to consent to limited dual agency:  buyers do not want the brokerage to be restricted in the search for suitable properties, and sellers do not want the brokerage to be restricted in the search for suitable buyers.  Thus, when all parties agree in writing, a brokerage may legally represent both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction, but only as a “limited dual agent.”

Limited Dual Agency with Assigned Agents:

In some situations, a brokerage that has obtained consent to represent both parties as a limited dual agent may assign individual licensees (“sales associates”) to act soley on behalf of each party.  (The brokerage must have an office policy that ensures client confidences are protected.)  Where this is the case, the sales associate, or “assigned agent,” is not limited by the brokerage’s agency relationship with the other party, but instead has a duty to promote the best interest of the client that he or she is assigned to represent, including negotiating a price.  The designated broker (the licensee who supervises the sales associates in the brokerage firm) remains a limited dual agent for both clients, and ensures the assigned agents fulfill their duties to their respective clients.  

What to Look For in Any Agreement for Agency Representation:

Whatever type of representation you choose, your written Agency Representation Agreement should answer these questions:

  • How will the brokerage be paid?
  • When will this Agreement expire?
  • What happens when a transaction is completed?
  • Can I cancel the Agreement, and if so, how?
  • Can I work with other brokerages during the time of the Agreement?  And what happens if I sell or buy on my own?
  • Am I willing to allow this brokerage to represent me and the other party in the same transaction? 

Real Estate Licensees Are Not Inspectors:

Even if you have a written agreement for agency representation, you should not expect the brokerage or its licensees to conduct an independent inspection of the property, or to independently verify any statement or representation made by any party to the transaction or other reasonably reliable sources (such as a licensed appraiser, home inspector, or the county assessor’s office).  Real estate licensees are entitled to reasonably rely on the statements of their clients and other third-party sources.  If the condition of the property is important to you, you should hire an appropriate professional, such as a home inspector, surveyor, or engineer.

Idaho Real Estate Brokerage Representation Act:

The specific duties owed by the real estate brokerage and its licensees to a customer or client are defined by the “Idaho Real Estate Brokerage Representation Act,” located at Idaho Code Section 54-2052, et seq.

When you sign a real estate Purchase and Sale Agreement as a buyer or seller, you will be asked to confirm:

  1. that this disclosure was given to you and that you have read and understand its contents; and
  2. the agency relationship, if any, between you and the brokerage working with you. 

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.