One of the West’s premier wilderness retreats, the 104.77± acre Shepp Ranch is located within the Nez Perce National Forest at the heart of the Frank Church-River of No Return and the Gospel Hump Wilderness Areas. The acreage lies along Crooked Creek and fronts on the north bank of the Salmon River, designated as a National Wild and Scenic River. The recently renovated and immaculately maintained main lodge, cabins, barn, shop, and generator house are sited above the confluence of Crooked Creek and the Salmon River overlooking the majestic river canyon. The ranch may be accessed by jet boat, foot, horseback, or by private aircraft utilizing the ranch’s 2,000± foot airstrip. Enjoy excellent fly fishing for trout on Crooked Creek and smallmouth bass and spring and fall steelhead in the Salmon River. The 97,000± acre outfitting special use permit affords endless opportunities to big game hunt and explore the wilderness by horseback or hiking. The ranch is offered turnkey with furnishings and equipment, including three custom jet boats. Shepp Ranch is much more than a magnificent property; it is an experience that runs the gamut from full throttle exhilaration to utmost tranquility in a pristine setting unique to the largest contiguous wilderness in the Lower 48.
Just the Facts
- The 104.77± acre Shepp Ranch is located at the confluence of Crooked Creek and the Salmon River, designated as a National Wild and Scenic River
- Located within the Nez Perce National Forest at the heart of the Frank Church-River of No Return and the Gospel Hump Wilderness Areas
- 30 air miles from Riggins, Idaho and 40 air miles from McCall, Idaho
- Accessible by jet boat (approximately 30 minutes), aircraft, foot, or horseback
- Has one of the better private, wilderness airfields approximately 2,000 feet in length
- Tastefully renovated structures include the main lodge with dining area and apartment, eight cabins, shop, hay barn/tack shed, camp shed, and generator house
- Natural spring, gravity-fed domestic water system, five septic systems, and electrical power provided by diesel generator
- Typically accommodates about fifteen people with a maximum of thirty
- 97,000± acre outfitting special use permit within the Nez Perce National Forest and Gospel Hump Wilderness Area
- Turnkey with furnishings and equipment, including three jet boats
- Fly fishing for trout on Crooked Creek, spring and fall steelhead fishing, and summer smallmouth bass fishing on the Salmon River
Shepp Ranch is generally rectangular in shape and approximately a quarter of a mile wide and three-quarters of a mile in length. The elevation of the ranch is approximately 2,100 feet. The property is bordered by the Salmon River to the south and the Gospel Hump Wilderness to the north, east, and west. Crooked Creek bisects the ranch flowing through the deeded acreage for nearly a mile, and joins the Salmon River at the property’s southwest corner. Rising high in the mountains above the ranch, Crooked Creek is a beautiful freestone stream with a lush riparian area comprising a mosaic of cottonwood, aspen, willows, alder, and ponderosa pine. Ranch improvements are located on an elevated terrace east of Crooked Creek. The Salmon River is a quick walk from the lodge and offers a sandy beach that is ideal for relaxing and going for a swim on a hot day.
A visit to Shepp Ranch is such a memorable and remarkable experience. It offers excitement, tranquility, and inspiration. From white sandy beaches along the Salmon River to mountain lakes and snowcapped peaks within the Gospel Hump Wilderness, this is a place defined by its vastness and solitude where one can truly escape from the pressures of today’s world. Surrounded by an intact and undisturbed natural environment, there are few places in the country that offer the serenity and beauty of Shepp Ranch. Uniquely located to take maximum advantage of one of America’s largest and most expansive designated wilderness complexes and thoughtfully improved to augment the backcountry experience, Shepp Ranch is among the very best in its class.
Visit the SHEPP RANCH website for more information.
Shepp Ranch is located in Idaho County in remote west-central Idaho at the confluence of Crooked Creek and the Salmon River. This is also the point of convergence of the massive Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and the smaller yet equally awe-inspiring Gospel Hump Wilderness. The nearest communities are Riggins (30 air miles to the west), McCall (40 air miles to the southwest), and Grangeville (40 air miles to the northwest). Grangeville is the county seat for Idaho County, which is the state’s largest county covering just over 8,500 square miles with a population of 16,540.
Shepp Ranch owns three custom jet boats with attendant permits for operation on the Salmon River. These boats provide primary access to the ranch from Vinegar Creek Boat Ramp, which lies at the end of the Salmon River Road 25 miles east of Riggins and provides the nearest road access to the property. From there, the ranch is 12 miles and a half-hour jet boat ride upriver.
Alternate access to the ranch is by light aircraft utilizing the property’s private 2,000± foot airstrip or helicopter. There are several highly qualified wilderness charter companies that provide regular passenger and mail service to backcountry ranches in central Idaho, including Shepp Ranch.
Few places in the United States, and nowhere outside of Alaska, provide a wilderness experience to match the sheer magnitude of the contiguous block of wildlands found in central Idaho. Three federally designated wilderness areas -- the Frank Church, Selway-Bitterroot, and Gospel Hump -- come together here and encompass almost 3.5 million acres of clear rivers, deep canyons, and rugged mountain ranges, and Shepp Ranch lies at the heart of it all. The property and its outfitting area fall within the boundaries of the 206,000-acre Gospel Hump Wilderness, while the Salmon River, which forms the ranch’s southern boundary, is managed as a National Wild and Scenic River. This swath of Idaho remains remote and lightly traveled, and only a handful of deeded “inholding” properties exist there. Under federal wilderness regulations, the use of motorized vehicles is prohibited on public lands except for light aircraft utilizing authorized landing fields and permitted jet boats on the Salmon River. Shepp Ranch features both a private airfield and three jet boats, two of which are permitted commercially.
Known as the River of No Return, the Salmon River is one of Idaho’s defining natural features. The Salmon drains over 14,000 square miles and flows unimpeded for 425 miles through one of earth’s deepest canyons before joining the Snake River south of Lewiston, Idaho. The Salmon drops more than 7,000 feet over its length and is the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48. The river offers one of North America’s great whitewater and backcountry rafting experiences.
Sheepeater and Shoshone Indians were the original inhabitants of the Salmon River region and used the area around Shepp Ranch as a winter camp. In 1805, Lewis and Clark determined that the Salmon River canyon was too dangerous to navigate and abandoned the route in favor of the Clearwater River to the north. Miners, trappers, and a few hardy homesteaders eventually arrived in the late 19th century. Among these early few were Charlie Shepp and Pete Klinkhammer, who purchased a previous prospector’s claim in 1898 before founding Shepp Ranch and homesteading at the mouth of Crooked Creek in late 1909. In the mid-1930s, whitewater boaters started to navigate the Salmon, and bush pilots began landing on wilderness airstrips. Fortunately, for those looking to experience a unique and wild remnant of the American West, central Idaho is much the same today as it was then.
The area's climate is surprisingly mild, with the massive mountain ranges surrounding the ranch acting as a barrier to prevailing storms. Annual precipitation averages 15 inches. July is the warmest month, with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees, while January is the coolest month, with daytime highs often exceeding 40 degrees.
Charlie Shepp and Pete Klinkhammer began homesteading at the mouth of Crooked Creek during the winter of 1909-1910. They whipsawed logs to build the main ranch house, which is still used today. The two men, although very different in age, were well-suited partners. Shepp provided the building expertise and tended their extensive gardens and orchards, while Klinkhammer put up hay, ran trap lines, and packed their produce to sell to neighboring miners. In 1950, Klinkhammer sold the ranch to Paul and Marybelle Filer. Energetic and determined, the Filers built a sawmill, flume, and hydroelectric power plant and developed an airstrip on the west side of Crooked Creek. The Filers also constructed most of the buildings in existence today and started a successful commercial outfitting business that operated continuously for over 50 years.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Shepp Ranch is subject to a National Wild and Scenic River System easement deed granted to the US Forest Service in 1999 that ensures the property’s protection for future generations. A copy of the easement deed is available from Hall and Hall.
The main building improvements on the ranch are located on an elevated bench above the confluence of Crooked Creek and the Salmon River and surrounded by well-maintained lawns with mature shade trees and an orchard. Extensive renovations to the lodge and cabins have been completed in the last two years, creating an atmosphere that can be described simply as “rustic elegance.” Residential and ranch structures include the following:
Lodge and Dining Facility: Log and frame structure featuring a living room, dining room with 16-person dining table, kitchen, two pantries, a walk-in cooler, laundry room, and full bath on the main level. The kitchen appliances are all GE Monogram, as well as a commercial ice maker, cocktail ice maker, and wine cooler. Outside there are three different patios. The upstairs offers a lodge apartment with two bedrooms and one full bathroom. This building serves as the main gathering point for guests at the ranch.
Andrew’s Cabin: Master bedroom, bunkroom, living room, full bathroom, and full kitchen with a dining table for four.
Filer Cabin: Sleeps five with a master bedroom and bunkroom, one full bathroom, and a living room.
Klinkhammer: Duplex cabin with a one-bedroom, one-bath unit that sleeps four on the west side of the structure. The east side of the structure features two queen beds with an additional full bath.
Braxton Cabin: Divided into separate rooms by a locking, connecting door. Each side has one bedroom and a full bath. The south side sleeps two, while the north side sleeps four.
Shepp Cabin: Two bedrooms, one full bathroom, kitchenette, and dining table that seats four.
Pete’s Cabin: Ranch caretaker’s cabin with master bedroom, full bathroom, and full kitchen.
Buck and Doe Cabin: Employee housing unit with two bedrooms and one full bathroom.
Barnyard Bunkhouse: Employee housing unit with two bedrooms and one full bathroom.
Hay Barn/Tack Shed: Livestock feed and tack storage.
Shop: Includes carport, tool room, and work benches.
Generator House: Houses two 20kW diesel generators, a backup 20kW diesel generator, and a new, custom-built 1,000-gallon diesel tank.
Domestic water for the ranch is provided by diverting a spring into twin cisterns that are situated on a hill above the buildings. The difference in elevation creates sufficient water pressure for all culinary needs. Irrigation water for the ranch’s lawns and fields is diverted from Crooked Creek. Buildings are serviced by septic systems with tanks and drainage fields. Electrical power is provided by two diesel generators and a backup diesel generator. Interior roads and bridges provide access throughout the property. The ranch’s private airfield is 2,000± feet in length with a base comprised of gravel and decomposed granite. The runway is considered to be one of the better wilderness airfields in central Idaho.
Idaho County property taxes are approximately $4,189.40 annually.
With expansive public lands encompassing a rugged mountain landscape, the Salmon River region of central Idaho is literally an outdoor recreation paradise. All wildlife species common to the northern Rockies abound here, including elk, mule deer, moose, and bighorn sheep. Whitewater boating on the main Salmon River and its tributaries, including the well-known Middle Fork of the Salmon, is famous throughout the world and unrivaled in the West. Steelhead fishing on the Salmon River in the spring and fall can be outstanding, while Crooked Creek is a classic mountain stream that is home to abundant westslope cutthroat eager to take a dry fly. A trail network originating on the ranch leads to the high country of the Gospel Hump Wilderness, where one can enjoy trail riding, day hiking, and backpacking in complete solitude.
For additional hunting and fishing photos click HERE.
Shepp Ranch is operated primarily as a private family retreat. A full staff is maintained in the summer, sharing the duties of cooking, housekeeping, maintenance, wrangling, and boat driving. The caretaker resides on the ranch year-round and oversees the property during winter months.
The ranch has a 97,000± acre outfitting special use permit within the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and Gospel Hump Wilderness Area and offers non-guided drop camps along the Salmon River as well as five Forest Service-assigned hunting camps designated for guided services only. Shepp Ranch also has two coveted commercial jet boat permits.
The ranch comfortably accommodates 20-plus guests, depending on a particular group’s makeup. The spring steelhead season begins in February and runs through April, one of the best times for wildlife viewing on the ranch and along the slopes of the Salmon River canyon. Summer is the time to relax on the Salmon River’s sandy beaches, fish for smallmouth bass in the river and trout in Crooked Creek, and hike and horseback ride the mountain trails. Big game seasons begin in September, and the fall steelhead season begins in early October and runs through mid-November.
For over 50 years, Shepp Ranch enjoyed a reputation as one of the West’s premier wilderness guest lodges catering to big game hunters, anglers, rafters, and wilderness enthusiasts from around the world. Depending on the goals of the next owner, Shepp Ranch could once again be the base of operations for a commercial outfitting enterprise utilizing the Salmon River and the ranch’s exclusive guide block within the adjoining Gospel Hump Wilderness.
The asking price includes the land, furnishings, equipment, tools, and supplies, three jet boats and two commercial jet boat permits, outfitter’s license for the Gospel Hump Wilderness “guide block,” and the seller’s interest in the landing and fuel depot at the Vinegar Creek Boat Ramp. The owners will remove their personal items, such as clothing, saddles, fishing equipment, hunting rifles, and other items of a personal nature.
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