Copper Basin Ranch

$2,950,000 Mackay, ID 124± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

The 124± acre Copper Basin Ranch is an undeveloped national forest inholding located approximately 25 miles northeast of the resort community of Ketchum/Sun Valley over Trail Creek Pass and 40 miles from Mackay via Trail Creek Road and US Highway 93. The East Fork of the Big Lost River, a beautiful mid-sized freestone stream, flows for over a mile through the property providing outstanding trout fishing throughout its length. Star Hope and Wildhorse Creeks (two of the East Fork's main tributaries), along with the North Fork of the Big Lost and main stem Big Lost, are only a short distance away from the property and offer additional high-quality, easily accessible fishing opportunities. The remnant structures of a former homestead are the only improvements on the ranch. With a level, valley bottom topography, there are excellent building sites that offer enchanting views of the river and the surrounding peaks of the Pioneer and White Knob Mountains. Big Rocky Canyon opens onto the north side of the ranch and provides private access to the adjacent high country. The Salmon-Challis National Forest surrounds the ranch and offers miles of hiking, horseback riding, and big game hunting. Wildlife in the East Fork Valley includes elk, mule deer, moose, antelope, mountain goats, and upland game birds.

Just the Facts

  • 124± acre retreat surrounded by the Salmon-Challis National Forest
  • Over one mile of the East Fork of the Big Lost with excellent trout fishing plus abundant fishing opportunities nearby
  • One of just a few private holdings along the East Fork in the coveted Trail Creek/Copper Basin area
  • 25 miles from Ketchum/Sun Valley over Trail Creek Pass
  • Year-round access from Mackay via Trail Creek Road and US Highway 93
  • Undeveloped with excellent building sites plus power to the ranch
  • Miles of hiking, trail riding, and ATV touring right from the property
  • Located in hunt unit 50 and the Pioneer Elk Zone
  • Irrigation rights for 107 acres from the East Fork and a large spring on the property
  • 7,100± feet in elevation
  • Annual property taxes are approximately $825

General Description

Surrounded by federal lands managed by the Salmon-Challis National Forest, Copper Basin Ranch is one of only a handful of deeded properties along the East Fork of the Big Lost River. The willow-lined East Fork flows through the ranch for over a mile from east to west and provides excellent trout fishing and a refuge for moose, mule deer, beavers, waterfowl, and songbirds. Big Rocky Canyon opens onto the north side of the ranch and offers private access into the adjacent high country and national forest lands. Near the main entrance to the ranch are several older, unmaintained wooden buildings, including a longstanding homestead cabin from the 1930s. These remnant structures are the only building improvements on the ranch. Along with the property’s generally level topography, there are excellent building sites that offer views of the river and the surrounding peaks of the Pioneer and White Knob Mountains. A railcar bridge situated just downstream from the homestead cabin provides access to the north side of the river. A local power line managed by Lost River Electric Cooperative crosses the ranch and provides electrical service to the property and to the neighbors upstream. There is fencing around the perimeter of the property as well as interior fencing along the East Fork corridor to control livestock access to the river. Copper Basin Road, a gravel road maintained by Custer County and the Forest Service provides access to the ranch and parallels the south boundary of the property. 

Broker's Comments

Copper Basin Ranch is a beautiful mountain retreat in a secluded setting approximately 25 miles from Ketchum/Sun Valley offering top-notch trout fishing and unlimited access to some of Idaho’s best backcountry. There are very few deeded properties situated along the East Fork of the Big Lost, and it is rare for a property of this caliber in this location to come onto the market. 

Learn about the locale


Copper Basin Ranch lies in the upper Lost River Valley, approximately 25 miles northeast of the well-known all-season resort community of Ketchum/Sun Valley and 40 miles northwest of the ranching community of Mackay. Access from Sun Valley is a 45-minute drive via Trail Creek Pass and Copper Basin Road (both gravel roads) from May through November. As mountain snowfall begins to accumulate late in the year, Trail Creek Pass closes until spring, and access to the property is from Mackay and US Highway 93.

Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) in Hailey, 15 miles south of Ketchum/Sun Valley, is the nearest commercial airport and offers regular air service on Delta, United, and Horizon Airlines. Idaho Falls, approximately two hours southeast of the property, provides alternate commercial air service out of Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) on American, Delta, and United. Mackay is home to a 4,400’ by 60’ asphalt airstrip capable of accommodating larger twin-engine aircraft. 

Of interest to backcountry pilots, the property is equidistant from two state-owned airstrips – the 4,450’ by 100’ Twin Bridges Airport and the 4,700’ by 100’ Copper Basin Airport – each located on public lands less than 10 miles from the ranch. These turf runways feature windsocks, perimeter markings, and airplane tie-downs.


The Lost River drainage is considered one of Idaho’s most scenic areas and is among the state’s top regions for outdoor recreation. Spanning over 70 miles, the massive Lost River Range flanks the east side of the Lost River Valley and claims seven of Idaho’s ten peaks over 12,000 feet, including Mt. Borah, the state’s highest peak at 12,662 feet. Copper Basin, the namesake of the ranch, is a glacially-carved, high elevation, oval-shaped valley located in the upper part of the East Fork drainage just a few minutes east of the property. Two formidable mountain ranges, the Pioneers and White Knobs, encircle Copper Basin and extend westward to Sun Valley, offering incredible vistas and miles of roadless backcountry to explore. The Big Lost River originates from high mountain tributaries and meanders east and then south, providing irrigation water for farms and ranches around Mackay as well as outstanding trout fishing opportunities along its length.  

Sun Valley, Ketchum, and the other Wood River Valley communities of Hailey and Bellevue are an easy drive from the property and offer a multiplicity of summer and winter activities, including golf, hiking, fly fishing, mountain bike riding, and world-class downhill and Nordic skiing. One also finds numerous gourmet restaurants, art galleries, shopping opportunities, and cultural events to enjoy.

Mackay, population 565, lies at the heart of the Lost River Valley and serves as the local service and social center. It is an agriculturally based community, although its roots go back to the mining days in the early 20th century. All general amenities can be found in Mackay, including groceries, fuel, restaurants, and ranch and hardware providers.  


The elevation of the ranch is approximately 7,100 feet. The climate is best described as semi-arid with annual precipitation from 10 to 14 inches and over 300 sunny days per year. Summer temperatures at this altitude are close to ideal, with highs reaching the 80s and then cooling to the mid-40s at night. Winters are cold with snowfall varying depending on annual moisture patterns. 

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

Deeded Acres: 124±
Total Leased Acres:
Total Acres: 124±

Water Rights

Copper Basin Ranch holds two irrigation rights (34-625 and 34-10168) to irrigate up to 107 acres of the property utilizing water from the East Fork and a large spring on the property. There is also a domestic water right associated with the spring which historically provided potable water to the homestead cabin.

Mineral Rights

All minerals owned by the seller will transfer to the new owner at closing. It is believed that the property’s mineral estate is owned in full by the seller, subject to verification.


Annual Custer County property taxes are approximately $760.

Learn about the recreational amenities

Fishery Resources

Rivaling its better-known neighbor to the west, Sun Valley, the upper Lost River Valley offers stunning scenery and a variety of high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities. Trout fishing, wingshooting, big game hunting, horseback riding, mountain bike riding, backcountry skiing, hiking, and wildlife viewing can all be outstanding and enjoyed either on or minutes away from Copper Basin Ranch. 

Trout fishing is among the most highly pursued activities in the area. From its spring creek-like beginning in an area called “the Swamps” upstream of the ranch to its convergence with the North Fork to become the Big Lost River, the East Fork is a gem of a mid-sized freestone stream that offers a variety of fishing scenarios in a relatively short distance. Rainbows, Snake River fine-spotted cutthroats, and brook trout are the quarry and are found in abundance throughout the East Fork and upper Big Lost. Blue-winged olives, green drakes, golden stones, and caddis are standard hatch fare during summer months; however, matching the hatch isn’t required to take fish, as day in and day out high floating attractor patterns are reliable producers. Copper Basin Ranch features an outstanding reach of the East Fork as riffles, deeper runs, and undercut banks within this stretch all hold fish. Beyond the ranch, one finds excellent access to the East Fork across Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service lands. There is also outstanding access across public lands to the East Fork’s main tributaries, Star Hope and Wildhorse creeks, as well as to the North Fork and the main stem Big Lost just a few miles west of the ranch. 

Wildlife Resources

All of Idaho’s big game species can be found in the area, while elk, moose, and mule deer are commonly seen on the ranch. For the upland hunter, chukar partridge are abundant on rocky slopes, and blue grouse are common on the higher elevation Forest Service lands. The ranch is located in hunt unit 50 and the Pioneer Elk Zone.

Recreational Considerations

For the hiker or horseback rider, the upper Big Lost area, including nearby Copper Basin, enjoys some of the state’s most spectacular high country. In addition to unlimited cross-country hiking and riding opportunities, an extensive public lands trail network provides access to the area’s vast alpine riches. 

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