Nestled against the Absaroka Wilderness, Strawberry Creek Ranch consists of 1,061± deeded acres on Paradise Valley’s coveted and spectacularly beautiful east slope just 13 paved miles south of Livingston. This extremely private, all-deeded ranch borders a remote stretch of national forest and is a mecca for wildlife including elk, deer, bear and mountain lion. It lies between Strawberry Creek and MacDonald Creek, two scenic mountain streams that flow out of the wilderness area. The ranch is anchored by 126± acres of irrigated meadows and a building compound that includes a circa 1881 fully remodeled two-story home, and multiple well-maintained and useful historic outbuildings. Further embellishing this compound is a nearly new two-story 4,586± square foot 4-bedroom hand-hewn log home with over 1,200± square feet of porches which enjoy dramatic views of the Yellowstone River valley and its glorious sunsets. The property climbs from the East River Road through a series of benches, parks and timbered slopes to an alpine valley with a hunting cabin where the ranch offers unique private access to the nearby wilderness area. A hydroelectric plant generates around $20,000 per year and the ranch has supported a balanced 125 animal unit ranching operation currently leased out to a neighbor. It is a short mile walk from the Yellowstone River, offers hours of private hiking and is within a few minutes’ drive of world-class fly fishing in the valley’s famous spring creeks. Strawberry Creek Ranch represents a rare opportunity to own a very private but easily accessible all-deeded ranch in the most sought-after section of Montana’s aptly named Paradise Valley.
Strawberry Creek Ranch is located 13 miles south of Livingston and is accessed off the paved East River Road. The ranch lies in a contiguous block of deeded land running easterly from the highway to inside the national forest boundary. This location places it along the coveted east side of the most spectacular section of the appropriately named Paradise Valley. While very private, the ranch is an easy drive from Livingston with Bozeman lying an additional 22 miles to the west of Livingston. Bozeman offers extensive commercial air service to cities throughout the U.S. from Montana’s busiest airport. All private aircraft can land at Livingston’s airport. This combination of privacy and easy access is rare and sets Strawberry Creek apart from other offerings.
The Paradise Valley, which is the section of the Yellowstone River Valley that lies between Livingston and Yellowstone Park, is well known and sought after for many reasons. First of all it is arguably Montana’s most scenically beautiful river valley with the towering jagged peaks of the Absaroka Range forming its eastern border. It is known for its year-round spring creek fishing – Nelson’s, DePuy and Armstrong - and of course the Blue Ribbon quality fishing in the river itself. It is also the only year-round access point to Yellowstone National Park and is home to Mountain Sky Guest Ranch and world famous Chico Hot Springs – a hot springs spa and gourmet restaurant that is a quintessential Montana institution hosting world leaders, Hollywood glitterati, itinerant tourists as well as a cross section of Montana and more local area residents. Chico offers something for everyone and makes no distinction between its famous visitors and the average Montana family enjoying the hot pools and the more modestly priced accommodations.
Livingston, 13 miles to the north, offers a full complement of services including galleries, restaurants, specialty shops, book stores and of course world-renowned fly-fishing shops such as Dan Bailey’s, George Anderson’s Yellowstone Angler and Sweetwater. Over the years Livingston and the valley have attracted artists, actors, and wealthy individuals and their families from the worlds of business and finance. This has given the area a more sophisticated ambiance which combines nicely with the many strong Montana ranching families that live a more traditional agriculturally based life in the valley.
Strawberry Creek itself has strong neighbors to the north and south that control good-sized properties which, in most cases, have been in the hands of the same families for generations. The easterly neighbor of course is the national forest.
One enters the ranch from East River Road where Strawberry Creek crosses the highway while making its way to its confluence with the Yellowstone River just below the ranch. The private access road immediately climbs up to the first bench above the valley floor which is the operational center of the ranch. This expansive plateau includes the building compound and the ranch’s expansive irrigated meadows. It serves as a launching pad, as it were, for the rest of the ranch which climbs up into the mountains from that point. One is completely unaware of this part of the ranch from the valley below and it commands a private vantage point to overlook the big bend in the Yellowstone River that lies to the west of the property*.
*Most of the land in this ‘ox bow’ is perpetually preserved in conservation easement in favor of the Montana Land Reliance.
Strawberry Creek Ranch is entirely made up of the most desirable land classes from its irrigated meadows, to its extensive riparian corridors, to its pleasing combination of timbered grazing lands and open parks that ascend up into the Strawberry Creek and MacDonald Creek basins within the national forest above the ranch. These areas, while part of the Public Domain, are not easily accessible to the public and are shared essentially by the two or three private ranches, of which Strawberry Creek Ranch is the central one, that adjoin this rugged part of the mountain chain. This area, including the upper reaches of the ranch, is home to an elk herd that boasts several world-class bulls. The ranch includes direct access into both MacDonald and Strawberry Creek drainages. Both are relatively long, rugged mountain valleys that run east to west, rising above the tree line to the east and reaching their apex at the 11,200 foot Mount Cowan which is one of the pinnacles of the range. At this point the mountains literally fall to the east into the West Boulder River drainage. These drainages are large and in addition to providing a sanctuary for big horn sheep, mountain goats, grizzly bear and giant bull elk, the elevation and vastness of the valleys are consumed by winter snow at the higher elevations which typically provides dependable summer water. The adjoining Beartooth-Absaroka Wilderness complex is a dramatically beautiful and very scenic area that extends all the way to Yellowstone Park to the south and east and provides a lifetime of exploration from the ranch.
A good mountain two-track road takes one from the headquarters area up through the ranch following the Strawberry Creek drainage to the national forest boundary. There the valley opens up but is more timbered and access to the balance of the ranch in the Strawberry and MacDonald Creek drainages is by foot or horseback. At this point one does encounter an open south-facing ridge that is a mecca for the local elk herd.
Strawberry Creek on balance is one of the most beautiful and private ranches in what is arguably Montana’s most beautiful valley. The views to the peaks above the ranch and from the home site are truly awe-inspiring, particularly as one watches the sun set across the valley to the west. The owner’s house is perfectly sited to capture the mountain vistas, yet one is completely unaware of the residence’s existence from the valley floor.
The ranch consists of approximately 1,061 deeded acres of which approximately 126 acres are subject to irrigation for hay. The balance consists of narrow riparian corridors along the fast-flowing Strawberry and MacDonald Creek drainages, and open and timbered mountain grazing lands between the two creeks.
Tucked against a backdrop of pines, the historic Strawberry Creek Ranch centers around classic barns and outbuildings - some dating back to the late 1880s - that were essential to a ranching way of life in those days. Adding to this traditional ranch feel, the owners have built a spacious and tasteful modern family home. The original ranch home is also a fully functioning, “homey” guest cottage. The main improvements are described as follows:
Located on the first bench a short distance north of the headquarters compound, this hand-hewn log home appears to be of the same vintage as many of the historic structures. Designed by Faure Halverson architects and crafted by Battle Ridge Construction, this high-quality custom home was completed in 2006 and includes two stories plus a finished basement. It is distinguished from the outside by its extensive cover and open decks and patios that nearly surround the house totaling over 1,200± square feet of seasonal living space.
The 2,521± square foot main floor is dominated by the “great room” which lies on the north end of the structure with towering ceilings and a stacked-rock fireplace on the north wall which is the focal point of the comfortable sitting area. The dining area lies between it and the expansive open kitchen with its comfortable height counters and lots of space and cupboards for multiple cooks to prepare meals and clean up afterwards. A small dining nook to the east of the kitchen makes a comfortable spot to have breakfast and watch the sun rise over the mountains. There is a good mud room area with lots of storage and a half bathroom for people visiting or returning from outdoor activities.
The south end of the house includes a library/guest bedroom with a full bathroom and its own fireplace and outside entrance. There is also a good-sized bedroom with a large bathroom.
Upstairs (1,036± sq. ft.) there is the large master bedroom and bath and another bedroom and bathroom as well as a cozy office on the corner with nice views to the west and south. The basement (1,036± sq. ft.) is primarily used for storage and includes a large room and a second smaller room which houses the utilities. The house is fully heated and air conditioned.
Located in the main headquarters area, this circa 1881 stucco two-story home has been remodeled and updated put retains its old world charm with its spring house just outside the back door. Just over 1,000± sq. ft. on the main floor and 790± sq. ft. on the second floor, it includes 3 bedrooms, a nice living room with the bathroom on the main floor, and a good-sized kitchen. There is a half bath in the partially finished basement.
Other useful historic structures include a 2-story sleeping cabin with 163± square feet on each level, an enclosed shed/barn with concrete floor used for smaller equipment storage or as a shop, two small one-room cabins used for storage as well as a newer 24’ X 50’ metal building with a dirt floor used primarily for livestock or feed storage.
Located in the very upper reaches of the ranch adjacent to a flowing spring and accessible primarily by foot or horseback, this comfortable but primitive cabin is used for hunting trips and occasional overnight camping trips during the summer months. It provides the perfect “jump-off” point from the far reaches of the ranch into the depths of the high mountain valleys.
In general the ranch is very adequately improved for its current use. The owner’s home is lovely and the historic improvement compound which includes an apple orchard gives one a real sense of history as one drives up to the headquarters.
Strawberry Creek Ranch is located on the wet side of the valley which gets good, consistent annual precipitation estimated in the 16- to 20-inch range. The lower end of the ranch at 4,700 feet would come in at the low end of this range and the upper end of the ranch at 7,400 feet might well exceed the upper end. This is advantageous because one enjoys a dry mountain valley climate where the buildings are located and a decidedly alpine climate on the upper parts of the ranch.
Under the Allen ownership the ranch ran a 125 animal unit cow/calf operation. It does represent a nicely balanced small operating ranch should a new owner choose to go down that road. The fact that the sprinkler systems are operated off gravity makes this a low cost operation. The current arrangement whereby the ranch is leased out has the benefit of an assured annual income – albeit a small one – and it provides a good source of income for a hard-working local ranching family. They graze the ranch and put up hay and grain as part of their overall operation. The owners estimate that this operation, after deducting expenses related to it, brings in around $10,000 per year. The income from the hydro plant can bring in as much as $20,000 per year. Looking at recent years one could look at an average of around $15,000 for this source. If one were to buy one’s own livestock and equipment and operate the ranch privately, one could look at gross income in excess of $100,000 but operating costs would consume much if not all of this and one would have a considerable additional capital investment.
The ranch has an unusual variety of water resources beginning with a hydro plant from which the ranch receives approximately $20,000 per year depending upon annual water flows and occasional maintenance requirements. The ranch is not responsible for the management of this resource and simply receives a “royalty” payment. The buried pipeline which feeds the penstock has a series of offline tanks for livestock watering which keeps the cattle out of the streambed and allows for good pasture utilization.
The ranch has stock water rights on both streams and the largest irrigation right out of Strawberry Creek, the oldest of which dates back to 1882. There is also a 10 GPM domestic right out of Strawberry Creek as well as a two good wells for residential use.
Interviews with the owners and neighbors indicate that there is a significant elk herd located behind Strawberry Creek and its neighbors to the north and south. Bulls estimated to be in the 350 to 390 class are reported to be a part of this herd. The ranch – particularly in its upper reaches where the hunting cabin is located – offers both shelter and open grazing for elk. Whitetail and mule deer can also be found throughout the ranch. Black bears often visit the century-old apple orchard viewable from both houses. As well, mountain lion, bear, moose and even bighorn sheep are often found on the ranch and its immediate environs. It is also home to a variety of raptors and smaller mammals such as coyotes. Wildlife populations are enhanced by the protection of the adjacent wilderness which adjoins Yellowstone National Park. Because of this, on any given day one never knows what one might encounter on the Strawberry Creek Ranch.
The ranch does not harbor a fishery of any consequence due to the fast-flowing mountain streams that pass through it, but it is situated within a short walk of the Yellowstone River and within a short drive of multiple world-renowned spring creeks giving it an enviable location for an avid fisherman. Given the ranches water rights, there should be good potential to create a pond or ponds on the property for fishing. A former owner started down this road but never completed the project. The legendary waters of Yellowstone Park are just 35 minutes to the south. For the adventurous, several mountain lakes are perched in the cirques of MacDonald and Strawberry Creek drainages and are rarely visited by humans.
While fishing does not exist on the ranch, any angler will be completely satisfied by the opportunities that exist just outside the gates of Strawberry Creek Ranch on some of Montana’s finest trout waters.
Homesteaded by the Allen family, the current owners are the second owners of the ranch since the Allen family sold it in the late 1980s. Two members of the Allen family still live on a small acreage by the ranch entrance and another descendant is the neighbor on the south side of Strawberry Creek. The buildings date back to the 1880s when this area was still a part of the Crow Indian territory and before Montana became a state. The Crows jealously guarded these traditional hunting grounds against all other tribes.
Real estate taxes are estimated to be approximately $7,565 per year based on past years’ history.
The sellers will transfer all the mineral rights that they own to the new owner.
There are no conservation easements on the Strawberry Creek Ranch. This is unusual in this day and age when many critical areas of Montana’s major valleys have been protected from development by conservation easements. It goes without saying that Strawberry Creek would be a prime candidate and a conservation easement would yield significant tax benefits to a new owner.
For anyone interested in a turnkey purchase of the ranch, the sellers will negotiate separately for the sale of any equipment and most furnishings. No personal property is included in the offering price.
Strawberry Creek Ranch is an idyllic and very private ranch in the prime part of Montana’s aptly named Paradise Valley, literally minutes from Livingston. It is very nicely but not overly improved with an extremely well-designed and attractive owner’s home as well as classic historic structures. A wildlife mecca with some of the best elk hunting in the valley, it is almost impossible to find fault with this picture-perfect Montana mountain ranch.
- Location: 13 miles south of Livingston just off the paved East River Road
- Acreage: 1,061± deeded, blocked and contiguous acres
- Acreage breakdown: 126± acres irrigated with over 40 percent of the balance being timbered rangeland
- Water: miles of Strawberry Creek and MacDonald Creek plus domestic wells and good irrigation water rights
- Operational considerations: approximately $20K per year from hydroelectric plant lease and good income potential from 125 animal unit livestock operation
- Wildlife: excellent hunting for deer and elk as well as grouse; other wildlife abounds
- Improvements: tasteful 4,600± sq. ft. hand-hewn log home and 1,800± square foot remodeled circa 1881 two-story homestead house, plus multiple barns and outbuildings, and a high mountain hunting cabin
- Conservation easement: none, but terrific potential
- Key features: adjoins wilderness with good private access to dramatic mountain country behind; outstanding views and very private location but near town on paved roads
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 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 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.
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Tina Hamm • (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.
UNDERSTANDING WHOM REAL ESTATE AGENTS REPRESENT
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.