Buffalo Trail Ranch

Property Map

Buffalo Trail Ranch - Recently Sold

Ovando, Montana

The Buffalo Trail Ranch occupies a proud position along one of the most scenic reaches of Montana’s famous Blackfoot River, adjacent to Scotty Brown Bridge. A spacious mix of wide-open meadows, scattered pockets of timber and over 1.5 miles of easy-access riverfront on 550± acres make this perhaps the finest Montana riverfront property available today.

The home has been lovingly restored from an early 20th century settler’s cabin. Complete with all the modern upgrades and at least two additions over time, the residence appears to literally have sprouted from the banks of this esteemed river. Occupying a choice bankside location that under today’s land use restrictions would be impossible to recreate, the home has commanding views up and down river, as well as a riverside deck from which one could literally cast a fly. Three architecturally restored guest cabins surround a bonfire pit alongside the main house, conjuring images of sparks flying into the summer night while enjoying the company of family and other loved ones. Additional features include extraordinary wildlife values, including an important elk calving area and easy year-round access from Highway 200 less than one hour from Missoula.


The Buffalo Trail Ranch is located directly downstream from Scotty Brown Bridge, a convenient river access point and about forty-five miles northeast of Missoula. Nearby Ovando is a classic small Montana town, with a post office, café and fly shop. The property is located approximately 80 and 50 miles respectively from commercial air services in Helena, the state capital, and Missoula where the University of Montana is located. Both Helena and Missoula provide good urban amenities, including fine dining, theater, extensive shopping and all other major services. The town of Lincoln is located 36 miles to the east and has a public airport with a 4200’ lighted runway.


The Buffalo Trail Ranch is in the hands of some of the most prominent and ardent conservationists in the world and, as a result, it has maintained its ecological integrity and rural character, an increasingly elusive feature in today’s western landscape. Numerous ranches in the valley have been placed under conservation easement, forever protecting them from development, while a majority of the remainder are in the hands of multi-generation families intent on maintaining an agricultural lifestyle. In fact this valley is the home of the very first donated conservation easement in the state and the valley has led the way in the conservation arena ever since. The Blackfoot Valley sits at the southern edge of the Bob Marshall/Scapegoat Wilderness complex, which gives backcountry enthusiasts immediate access to over 1,500,000 acres of wilderness. These two wilderness areas form a significant part of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, which sprawls to the north, offering one of the largest semi-intact ecosystems within the lower 48 states, right behind the Greater Yellowstone area.

The ranch is also located along an historical travelway and sits directly on the route followed eastward by Meriwether Lewis (William Clark took another route to maximize their new discoveries). But the name Buffalo Trail precedes Lewis and Clark and comes from the Salish and Kootenai history in the area. This was the traditional trail taken by west slope tribes when they ventured eastward over the Continental Divide into the land of the buffalo each year to resupply with food and hides. Native American history tells of the fierce defense of these hunting grounds by resident tribes and, in fact, the fearsome “Hellgate Canyon” near the confluence of the Blackfoot and Clark Fork rivers was a notorious ambush spot for travellers heading east. Other historical uses in the valley include a variety of pioneering cattle ranches, early and modern logging operations and more recently, a mecca for fly fisherman and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Landowners that have a substantial commitment to the area surround the property on all sides. From the immediate neighbor to the west that has a multi-generational history in the valley, to the large landowner across the river that placed a conservation easement on their land, there is a strong likelihood that the environs and ambiance of Buffalo Trail will remain unchanged for years to come.

General Description: 

The Buffalo Trail Ranch is entered on its northern boundary directly from US Highway 200, a major Montana highway that is the primary road between Missoula and Great Falls. The highway access granted by SH200 makes this a great year-round recreational retreat while the topography of Buffalo Trail renders the property incredibly private. Leaving the highway, one quickly crests a small rise and is immediately surrounded by the tranquil beauty of the middle Blackfoot Valley. Open, rolling meadows and timbered hillsides present an ideal mix of sought after Montana attributes. Winding past aspen groves and around a gentle hill that completely separates Buffalo Trail from the rest of the world, one gradually slopes toward the north bank of the Blackfoot and the rustic charm of the restored and expanded log home and its adjoining guest cabins. From here the property stretches along the river to the east approximately one-quarter of a mile, and west nearly a mile-and-a-half. To the east along the river, the owners have restored an historic barn and small round pen, continuing the architectural theme of a rustic homestead initiated at the main home.

The Buffalo Trail Ranch and its neighbor directly across the river are the western edge of over twelve miles of conserved riverfront acreage. This large assemblage of privately conserved river ensures that the heart of the river corridor will remain forever in a substantially natural state. The new owners of this property will reap the substantial rewards of this remarkable foresight.




The 4 bedroom, 5 bathroom (4,430 sq. ft., approximately) main home is primarily a log structure on a native stone base. Although there is a main entrance off the spacious circular drive, the mudroom is the practical entrance of daily choice. Entering off the kitchen, one passes a large common bathroom with dual showers and powder rooms, making for a convenient private area to refresh oneself after a day’s adventure. Continuing on, one passes into the formal dining area with the large, open kitchen overlooking the river to the right and one of three living areas directly ahead. The kitchen is equipped with a full complement of professional appliances and features the added luxury of the first living area. Nestled in a corner with windows on two sides and overlooking the river, this addition allows friends and family to engage during preparation of meals. 

Continuing through the house, rough hewn salvaged timber beams and an appropriately scaled stone fireplace surround the visitor in the second of the main living areas. With a picture window showing the large outdoor deck and dining area with the river beyond, this is the literal heart of the house. Fireside chats with the river flowing a few short yards away will make memories that last a lifetime. As one continues down an open hallway lined with windows facing north, one enters the back half of the house where the third living area, master suite and guest rooms are located.

A total of 4 bedrooms grace the eastern portion of the house, in addition to the three one-room guest cabins. The master suite is ideally positioned at the far eastern end of the house, where morning light provides the ideal motivation to rise up and greet the day. A guest room off the third living area provides opportunity for single level living under the same roof and also offers French doors leading out to a riverfront patio. Two upstairs bedrooms - one a queen bed and the second a bunk room - share a bath and provide overflow space for guest housing. A nearly 1,200 sq. ft. garage accompanies the house and makes equipment and vehicle storage a ready convenience.

Outside, curving graveled walkways lead picturesquely past three guest cabins. These three facilities share the large double bathroom in the main house, a few short steps away, and also have an available discreet outdoor shower for those who desire a more complete connection with nature.

The architectural firm headed by Nick Fullerton of Fullerton Architects, PC, was intimately involved in the restoration and expansion of the main home and its associated guest cabins. Interior design work was provided by Donna Stockton Hicks.


Average high temperatures in the summer ranges from 71° in June, 81° in July, and 81° in August, with average lows in the low 40s. June usually has the most rainfall with an average of 2.2 inches and an annual average of 18± inches. The average high temperature in the winter ranges from 31° in December, 30° in January, and 46° in February, with average lows in the low teens. The average snowfall per month in December and January is 19 inches.

Wildlife Resources: 

The Blackfoot River Valley is internationally famous for its wildlife and community-based conservation efforts. Through the foresight of local community leaders, landowners and various conservation organizations, the Blackfoot Valley has demonstrated some of the most successful landscape-scale conservation in the world today. Sitting at the southern boundary of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, the Valley is home to a full complement of native species, from grizzly bears to wolves, from wolverines to trumpeter swans. On any given morning on the Buffalo Trail Ranch, one can look out a window to see any one of the major mammals that reside in the lower 48 states today. Much of this legendary landscape is already protected through the voluntary actions of concerned landowners, and the vistas and scenery that surround the ranch will remain substantially the same as they are today.

But the star of this property is the river itself. With nearly two miles of the most coveted fishing water on the Blackfoot River, the fly fishing that is available directly on this property is the essence of the very experience that made Montana’s rivers famous as Brad Pitt took to the silver screen playing the talented younger brother and expert fly fisherman in A River Runs Through It. The Blackfoot River is bull trout country, a testimony to the purity of its cold waters. Although this endangered trout is a protected species, its size can reach over three feet, providing the ever-tantalizing prospect of an accidental hook-up. Large rainbows, however, are the mainstay of the Blackfoot River’s fishery. From Mother’s Day caddis to massive salmonflies, the aquatic insect populations along the length of the river are some of the most diverse and abundant in the west today.

Because of its elevation and the diverse mix of habitat types, including aspen, timbered hillsides and open meadows, the Buffalo Trail Ranch also provides exceptionally high quality habitat for big game, including elk, mule deer and whitetail. Elk use the area extensively throughout the year, while in the late spring they favor the area for calving due to the property’s open hillsides and early green-up that allows them to forage on nutritious native grasses. Further, dense cover on the northern slopes and long sight distances on the southern slopes provide security. A wide variety of other Montana native species also utilize the area, including bears, wolves, bald eagles and assorted small game.

Ovando and the surrounding area offer some of the best locations for the active outdoor enthusiast. The fall has some of the best big game hunting in Montana directly on the property and on the surrounding tens of thousands of acres of public land and wilderness areas. Winter provides an abundance of over-the-snow options ranging from snow machine trails covering hundreds of miles around the Lincoln and upper Blackfoot areas, while various alpine ski areas within one-and-a-half to two hours provide additional winter options.

The Buffalo Trail Ranch has a conservation easement in place on its riverfront acreage. The easement permits additional development for a new owner to customize the property to their needs. Copies of the easement document are available upon request.


Taxes are estimated to be $2,898 annually.

Broker Comments: 

The Buffalo Trail Ranch is the epitome of a western Montana fishing property. With approximately two miles of “big water” on the Blackfoot River, this is no dainty little spring creek. Big flies, big casts and lively action are assured against a backdrop of classic western scenery. Modern conveniences and rustic flavor combine to create the ideal setting for family memories. The Buffalo Trail Ranch with its riverfront setting is among the most desirable of properties on the market in western Montana today.


Cash at closing.

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.