The 4,743± acre Little Lost River Valley Ranch is located in east central Idaho’s upper Little Lost River Valley surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Lemhi and Lost River ranges. With wide open views and no residential structures visible, the majesty of this “Old West” landscape is breathtaking. Summit Creek, a year-round spring creek that originates on adjoining federal lands, meanders through stands of alder and willow for more than three miles through the ranch and is home to robust populations of spirited rainbow and brook trout.
Bordered by lands managed by the Salmon/Challis National Forest, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and State of Idaho, the ranch’s views and natural setting are almost entirely protected from the intrusion of development. A conservation easement covering 1,950± acres of the property enhances this effect by protecting habitat for elk, deer, pronghorn, sage grouse, raptors, wading birds, and waterfowl.
A custom-designed 600± square foot log cabin constructed in 2008 is perched above Summit Creek overlooking the creek and nearby wetlands. Every window of the cabin frames an extraordinary view, and the porch is the perfect spot to relax and watch the day begin and end. The cabin and its remarkable setting were featured on the cover of Mountain Living magazine in August 2012 and in Country Living in the fall of 2013.
The ranch is accessible all year and situated midway between Sun Valley, Idaho and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, within easy reach from either community. Idaho Falls, Idaho and its commercial airport lie approximately two hours southeast of the property, while Salt Lake City, Utah is located just over four hours to the south.
The ranch comprises a large, nearly contiguous block of land approximately six miles in length from north to south and four miles in width east to west. Elevation of the property ranges from approximately 6,300 feet along Summit Creek to 7,200 feet at the ranch’s upper end along the southern flank of Bear Mountain. The property features diverse topography and habitat, including rolling native rangelands, meadows, perennial wetlands, springs, and riparian areas. In addition, four streams traverse the ranch –Summit Creek, Cub Creek, Mud Creek, and Moffett Creek.
Summit Creek, the largest watercourse on the property, is a spring-fed stream originating northwest of the ranch and flowing year-round through lush stands of willow and alder for over three miles. At its midway point through the property, Summit Creek slows and widens as it enters the remnants of a reservoir that once impounded the creek. This section of the stream is especially popular with waterfowl and shorebirds because of the saturated meadows on either side of the stream.
At the lower end of the old reservoir site, the owner has installed a vehicular bridge that links both sides of Summit Creek and provides access to the cabin that overlooks the stream. As Summit Creek exits the reservoir site, it narrows and begins to meander once again on its way toward the property’s southern boundary. Brook and rainbow trout in the 8 to 13 inch size are prolific, with the possibility of larger fish inhabiting the deeper pools.
Mud Creek rises from springs on the north end of the ranch and flows south for over a mile before joining Summit Creek. In spite of its name, Mud Creek runs crystal clear through its length and is a haven for small wild trout. Cub Creek is a seasonal stream originating on national forest lands north of Mud Creek and flowing through the northern end of the ranch for almost a mile through willows and aspen stands. Matching Mud Creek in size, Moffett Creek is the third spring creek on the ranch. The creek originates on BLM lands just west of the ranch and flows for approximately a mile through the property south of Summit Creek providing additional wetland habitat along its reach.
Little Lost River Valley Ranch is bordered almost entirely by lands managed by the Salmon/Challis National Forest, BLM, and State of Idaho. The ranch encompasses 120 acres of BLM land, which are virtually inaccessible to the public and add to the overall size of the ranch. The only non-contiguous portion of the ranch is a 320-acre parcel located at the south end of the ranch and separated by a half-mile of BLM land. Access to the ranch is direct from the Little Lost Road where a private, graveled ranch road leads to the interior of the property and the cabin on Summit Creek. Additional access to the property is provided by various ranch roads crossing BLM land and linking to county roads.
Little Lost River Valley Ranch represents an exceptional opportunity to own a large deeded property bordering federal lands in a classic “big sky” setting just two hours from the resort community of Ketchum/Sun Valley and the regional commercial center of Idaho Falls. Extensive natural water features, including over three miles of a trout-filled spring creek, support diverse wildlife. A beautifully designed cabin overlooks the valley and is an ideal base of operation from which to experience the ranch and the surrounding landscape.
Little Lost River Valley Ranch lies in the upper Little Lost Valley approximately 35 miles north of the small farming and ranching community of Howe, Idaho. Access to the property is via the Little Lost Road, an all-season, gravel county road bisecting the valley and linking it to the adjoining Pahsimeroi Valley to the north. Idaho Falls, two hours southeast of the ranch, is the principal trade center for the region and home to Idaho Falls Regional Airport, which offers regular commercial air service on Delta, United, Allegiant, and Frontier Airlines. The resort community of Ketchum/Sun Valley is located two hours west of the property and provides alternate commercial air service from Friedman Memorial Field on Delta, United, and Horizon Airlines. The town of Mackay, 35 miles west of the ranch, offers a runway capable of handling twin-engine aircraft, while the community of Arco, 55 miles southwest of the ranch, features a lighted runway suitable for most jet aircraft. In addition, Jackson Hole is three hours from the ranch, while Salt Lake City is just over four hours.
The Little Lost Valley lies in the heart of Idaho’s “big sky” country and encompasses one of the state’s most scenic areas. The massive Lemhi and Lost River ranges – Idaho’s highest mountain chains – flank the valley and run for over 75 miles ending near the Salmon River to the north. These two ranges boast eight of Idaho’s ten peaks over 12,000 feet, including Mt. Borah, the state’s highest at 12,662 feet, and provide spectacular views along with numerous backcountry recreation opportunities. The Little Lost River flows the length of the valley and provides irrigation water for the valley’s many farms and ranches, along with wildlife habitat and trout fishing opportunities, before disappearing into the basalt lava flows below Howe. The majority of the public land in the valley is in federal ownership with the largest percentage of private lands situated around Howe.
The ranch lies in Custer County, which is among the state’s largest counties at nearly 5,000 square miles. Over 95 percent of the county is in federal and state ownership. In spite of its size, Custer County is one of Idaho’s least populated counties with a current population of 4,245. The recorded history of Custer County begins with fur traders and pathfinders traveling through the region as early as 1824 and prospectors and miners arriving in the 1860s and 1870s. Named for the General Custer Mine, Custer County was established in 1881. The county’s principal industry is cattle ranching with livestock operations often stretching back multiple generations. The mining and timber industries have also played an important role over time. More recently, tourism and outdoor recreation have emerged as important components to the local economy by capitalizing on the area’s natural beauty and recreational resources.
The climate for the Little Lost River Valley is best described as semi-arid with over 300 sunny days a year and annual precipitation of approximately 10 inches. Summers are warm with temperatures occasionally reaching the low 90s and cooling to the mid-50s at night. Winters can be cold, although the series of mountains to the west often create a moisture barrier, resulting in relatively open winters as compared with other mountain valleys in the northern Rockies.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Little Lost River Valley Ranch consists of approximately 4,743 deeded acres. The property also encompasses 120 acres of BLM land within its boundaries.
In 2008, the current owner of the ranch donated a conservation easement to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) covering 1,950± acres of the ranch. The purpose of the easement is to protect the property’s significant open space features and wildlife habitat while still providing for residential, recreation, and agricultural uses of the ranch. 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.
A 600± square foot, squared-log cabin built in 2008 sits above Summit Creek and offers dramatic views of the surrounding peaks and creek below. The cabin comes furnished and features one bedroom and bath with a 90± square foot sleeping loft plus an 8’X20’ covered porch area and a 4’X8’ entry porch. The innovative design incorporates extensive view glass, allowing for excellent natural ventilation and optimal solar performance, as well as an open floor plan so that light and views can fill the entire space. Usable year-round, the cabin is powered by a propane generator (and is ready for the owner to install a solar and/or wind turbine system) and heated by a propane heater. In addition, the entire cabin is constructed on a steel frame, allowing the structure to be easily moved to another location if an owner chooses to do so. The cabin and its remarkable setting were featured on the cover of Mountain Living Magazine in 2012 and in Country Living Magazine in the fall of 2013.
Annual Custer County property taxes are approximately $2,500.
The Little Lost Valley offers a variety of high-quality recreation opportunities. Trout fishing, wingshooting, big game hunting, horseback riding, hiking, and wildlife viewing can all be outstanding and enjoyed either on or minutes away from Little Lost River Valley Ranch.
Summit Creek offers excellent small stream fishing for eager rainbows and brookies in the 8 to 13 inch range with virtually no fishing pressure from the public. Expanded trout fishing opportunities exist on the Little Lost River downstream of the ranch as well as on key tributaries such as Sawmill Creek and Wet Creek. In addition, some of central Idaho’s best trout fishing is just an hour’s drive to the west on the Big Lost River near Mackay. Trout Unlimited has identified the Little Lost system as an important project area and is engaged with local landowners to improve habitat for resident trout, including an isolated population of bull trout that reside in the valley. With this focus from landowners and conservation organizations, the future for trout and anglers alike looks bright. In addition to stream fishing, the area offers over 100 alpine lakes, many of which are home to wild trout. Most of these mountain lakes are found at elevations between 9,000 and 10,500 feet and provide exceptional views as well as hiking and horse-packing opportunities.
A variety of wildlife utilizes the surrounding mountains, foothills, and grasslands throughout the year. Elk, mule deer, and antelope can be found browsing and grazing on the grasslands and hillsides, while moose wander the riparian areas. Chukar partridge are plentiful on the ridgelines, hillsides, and rock outcropping, and forest and sage grouse utilize the area’s springs and abundant sage steppe habitat. Ducks and geese remain in the valley until frozen water pushes birds further south, although warm springs and spring creeks often remain open in the area through the winter, providing year-round open water.
Because the ranch consists of at least 640 acres, the owner of Summit Springs is eligible for a landowner appreciation permit from Idaho Fish and Game to hunt elk and antelope on the ranch or other areas within hunt unit 51. This is an advantageous situation for the big game hunter given the uncertainty of receiving controlled hunt tags through the regular lottery system. Unit 51 is a haven for elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, and antelope and offers diverse hunting opportunities throughout the unit.
Little Lost River Valley Ranch offers excellent seasonal cattle grazing with stock water available from live creeks, springs, and catch ponds. The majority of the ranch’s perimeter is fenced, and large interior pastures have been created through cross-fencing. There are several sets of older wooden corrals with loading chutes on the property.
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