Horse Prairie Ranch

Property Map

Horse Prairie Ranch - Recently Sold

Dillon, Montana

The Horse Prairie Ranch is a high quality investment. The income from this 750 head, 30,000 deeded and leased, cattle operation is significantly positive. It's irrigation water is secure as it is at the head of the stream -- first in position and early, with 1865 priority. The privacy of being at the end of the road, in a private valley, with virtually not a light in sight, reinforces its quality. A large, economic Montana mountain cattle ranch that is at the head of the stream and end of the road makes it high in investment quality.


The Horse Prairie Ranch is located in southwestern Montana in the Horse Prairie Valley 35 miles (40 minutes) southwest of Dillon. The Butte and Idaho Falls commercial airports are each approximately one hour and forty-five minutes from the ranch.

Dillon offers a complete range of services, including a hospital, numerous banks, grocers, restaurants, legal services, and even a Patagonia outlet store. Dillon is also a college town, with a jet capable airport, and several good “watering holes,” as well as equipment dealers and fly-fishing stores.


Southwestern Montana is a land of broad river valleys separated by islands of forested mountain ranges. There is documented evidence that its natural abundance has supported native peoples for 12,000 years. The landscape has changed little over the years. Horse Prairie Valley is a large undeveloped mountain valley with tremendous privacy and a feeling of expansiveness. There are only a handful of ranch owners in the entire valley, each owning thousands of acres. Lewis & Clark’s expedition west gave this valley its name as this is where Sacagawea obtained horses from her tribe to ascend the Great Divide. The expedition opened this area for western civilization. In the early 1800s, trappers found fortune in its animal riches. During the 1860s, prospectors discovered its wealth in gold. Pioneer settlers quickly discovered its capacity to raise livestock to feed miners and subsequent settlers.

Ranching dominates the economy in this region, as it has for generations. Beaverhead County is home to more cattle than any other county in the state. However, outdoor recreational activity has become another important economic industry. The trout streams in the region are legendary: Beaverhead, Madison, Ruby, Big Hole and Jefferson. These have long been destinations for a few dedicated anglers. However the explosion of interest in fly-fishing in the past decade has brought a surge of activity and many new businesses to the area.

Big-game hunting is another important focus. Some of the premier hunting in Montana is available on the Horse Prairie Ranch. Elk, moose, mule deer, whitetail deer, antelope and mountain lion are all found on the ranch.

Dillon is the largest city in the region with a population of 4,000 people. It is a classic cowboy town and the hub of this corner of Montana. It serves as an agricultural and educational center for a trade area spanning more than 15,000 square miles. It is home to the Western Montana College campus of the University of Montana, three full-service fly-fishing stores and a Patagonia Outlet — not to mention a full complement of banks, stores, restaurants, equipment dealers.

General Description: 

The Horse Prairie Ranch is huge, private, scenic and productive. It operates on 30,000 acres spanning 36 square miles — nine miles long and four miles wide. It comprises its own visually private valley that is at the head of two streams and the end of the road. It is almost entirely surrounded by public lands. The Horse Prairie Ranch is unique in its setting with the headquarters located in the valley, in the center of the ranch, and the private owner and guest cabins located at the upper end of the ranch next to the Beaverhead National Forest, which is the location of the ranch’s Forest Service Permit.


7,707± Deeded

Acreage Breakdown: 

The Horse Prairie Ranch is comprised of a combination of deeded, State, National Forest and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Lands.

Deeded Lands: 600± acres flood and sub-irrigated hay ground 200± acres flood irrigated pasture 400± acres sub irrigated pasture   6,507± acres range Total Deeded Land: 7,707± acres

Leased Lands: 9,497± acres (estimated) BLM 11,981± acres (estimated) USFS   1,240± acres State Total Leased Land: 22,718± acres Total Ranch Lands (deeded and leased): 30,425± acres Grazing Allotments: BLM: Five private allotments adjoin the ranch offering 1,207 AUM’s of grazing. Forest Service: One adjoining private allotment for 437 AUM’s of grazing. State of Montana: Three leases rated at 305 AUM’s of grazing.


The Horse Prairie Ranch has an ideal combination of working ranch and recreational improvements. These are located in three areas of the ranch based on the function they perform and are two to two and one-half miles from each other. The lower set of improvements functions as the livestock headquarters which is situated near the working corrals. It is known as Ranch HQ. A central set of improvements is clustered around a lake and aspen grove and is known as Lakeside. The buildings on the upper end of the ranch are at the edge of the national forest and are know as the Forest Lodge.

Ranch Headquarters: A complex of livestock working facilities and classic horse barn: Manager’s log home and wood framed hired-man’s home. Historic horse barn Two shops, three equipment storage sheds, two calving barns, cattle scale, lodge pole pine rail working corrals, gates, pens and miles of jack-leg fences.

Lakeside: A fully landscaped complex of cabins and barn located along Painter Creek and the fishing lake consisting of: Creekside Lodge - log gathering place with guest loft and commercial kitchen. Lakeview, Aspenview, Elkview, and Lewis and Clark log cabins, each accommodating up to eight guests in one to four bedrooms. Two are small and three are larger with kitchens. Horse barn, riding arena and three-car garage. 2½-acre lake and spawning creek stocked with westslope cutthroat trout, an Indian camp, office, riding arena, and bunk house for staff.

Forest Lodge: A secluded get-a-way home set along Browns Creek at the edge of the aspen and fir forests: Five bedroom, two-bath, two-story log lodge Storage shed and two historic homestead cabins (currently unusable) Gravel airplane landing strip


The climate is considered relatively mild for Montana, with an average precipitation in the valley of 12”-14.” This is not heavy snow country, which is probably why the Shoshone, Bannock and Flathead tribes all used the region before the arrival of Europeans. Average high temperatures reach 80 degrees in the summer and 28 degrees during the winter months. The elevation of the ranch ranges from a base elevation of 6,256 ft. to 8,263 ft. in the upper reaches. Typical of Montana, daily temperatures can have a huge fluctuation and although the winter snow can build substantially at times in the higher elevations, it tends to readily dissipate through all of the winter months. The humidity levels are always low providing a comfortable, dry, semi-arid environment.

General Operations: 

The Horse Prairie Ranch is an award-winning year-round cow/calf operation selling natural beef. The ranch has a 750 animal-unit carrying capacity on an average year. Currently there are 650 cows, 65 heifers, 34 bulls and 15 horses. The operation is self contained with all livestock being raised and fed on the ranch until they go across the ranch scales to be sold. The grazing is divided into 50 well-watered pastures. Hay is raised and harvested on around 600 flood and sub-irrigated acres. Another 600 or so flood and sub-irrigated acres is pastured. The majority of the herd spends the summer on the adjoining leased BLM lands, the balance of the herd on the adjoining leased National Forest lands.

The ranch has until recently (and could easily again) operated a commercial guest business. The Lakeside housing is ideal for it, complete with lodge, barn and five guest cabins. The unique real working ranch experience is appreciated by family and guests. Gentle rolling lands make horse riding for sight seeing or gathering cattle perfectly rider friendly. Overnight camping permits on the adjoining national forest and BLM lands allow for summer and fall pack trips. Elk hunting is integrated into the ranch and can also be done on adjoining public lands. The Horse Prairie Ranch has the only USFS overnight outfitting (e.g. elk hunting) permit on the Horse Prairie Valley side of the Beaverhead National Forest. The outfitting permit and business are available for purchase by the buyer of the Horse Prairie Ranch.

Water Resources: 

The ranch is very well watered for wildlife, cattle and fish. Painter and Browns Creeks each run through the ranch for four miles. There are developed springs and 15 wells. The irrigation water rights are among the oldest in Montana, dating back to 1865, and are at the head of the creeks, thereby being first in line. There are 68 water rights.

Wildlife Resources: 

The Horse Prairie Ranch is the winter home of 200-300 elk. On a year-round basis the ranch is home to 100+ antelope, mule and white tail deer as well as numerous moose. Sage grouse populations are up significantly. Brown’s and Painter Creeks each course through the ranch for four miles. These contain Montana’s purest strain of Westslope Cutthroat Trout, as does the two and one-half acre lake and spawning stream.

Recreational Considerations: 

Horse pastures, paddocks, stalls and barns provide an ideal base to explore on horseback this ranch, which spans nine miles in length and four miles in width. Cross-country skiing, hiking and biking complete the palate of quieter pursuits. Snowmobiles, ATVs and motorcycles are also ready ways to enjoy the ranch.


The 2008 property taxes were $21,281.

Broker Comments: 

The Horse Prairie Ranch is a classic operating mountain ranch with major recreational amenities, dramatic big sky views, and a thoughtfully designed and immaculate set of operating buildings complemented by extensive and attractive improvements designed for an owner and his or her guests.

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, Randy Clavel at (308) 534-9000 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.

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
In-House Appraisals  |  Common Sense Underwriting
Dave Roddy • (406) 656-7500  |  Mike Hall or Judy Chirila • (303) 861-8282
Randy Clavel • (308) 534-9000  |  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.