Upper Sawmill Creek Ranch is a “jewel in the crown” among Idaho’s collection of wilderness ranches. Located in its own valley, the ranch consists of 146± deeded acres surrounded by the Salmon-Challis National Forest. Access is either from the air utilizing the property’s private 2,500± foot grass airstrip or by seasonal gravel road. Sawmill Creek flows for approximately one mile through the property and supports a robust wild rainbow trout fishery. The ranch is immaculately maintained and features a comfortable set of residential improvements, including six cabins, ideal for off-the-grid living and hosting large gatherings. The adjacent national forest lands provide miles of hiking, horseback riding, big game hunting, ATV riding, and other backcountry pursuits. The area is rich in wildlife and home to elk, mule deer, mountain goat, moose, antelope, and upland game birds. The ranch is situated between Sun Valley, Idaho and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, within easy reach of either community. Idaho Falls and its commercial airport lie approximately two hours southeast of the property, while Salt Lake City is four hours to the south.
Upper Sawmill Creek Ranch was originally homesteaded by a local settler in 1919 and represents one of only two private parcels in the Sawmill Creek Valley. The balance of the valley is in federal ownership and managed almost entirely by the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The property lies on the northeast side of Bear Mountain, a sprawling series of ridgelines and canyons that rise to almost 11,000 feet and separate Sawmill Canyon from the upper Little Lost Valley. Sawmill Canyon Road lies along the east boundary the property and continues up the canyon until culminating in a series of unimproved logging roads and mining trails. The granite peaks of the Lemhi Range lie east of the ranch and provide a spectacular backdrop. The ranch features a wonderful mix of open meadow, stands of aspen and cottonwood, and rafts of willow and river birch through which Sawmill Creek flows. The property also enjoys stands of Douglas fir that extend from Bear Mountain into the valley bottom. The ranch is perimeter fenced and suitable for pasturing horses and cattle.
Idaho is known for the quality of its wilderness ranches, and Upper Sawmill Creek Ranch is among the best. The property is highlighted by its exceptional mountain valley setting and a mile of a classic freestone stream supporting a rainbow trout fishery that anglers of all skill levels will find enjoyable and rewarding. The ranch is maintained with attention to detail and features an excellent set of residential improvements that allow for comfortable, off-the-grid living and hosting family and guests for extended stays. The ranch’s private runway affords quick, easy access from around the region.
Upper Sawmill Creek Ranch is located within Sawmill Canyon in central Idaho’s upper Little Lost Valley approximately two hours west of the popular resort community of Sun Valley and two hours north of the city of Idaho Falls. Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, 15 miles south of Sun Valley, offers regular commercial air service on Delta, United, and Alaska Airlines. Idaho Falls provides alternate commercial air service out of Idaho Falls Regional Airport on Delta and United. Vehicular access to the property is via the Little Lost Road, an all-season, gravel county road that bisects the valley, and Sawmill Canyon Road, a seasonal, secondary road that links the ranch and Sawmill Canyon with the rest of the valley. As mountain snowfall begins to accumulate late in the year, Sawmill Canyon Road closes until spring and access to the property is limited to snow machine. The town of Mackay, 40 miles west of the ranch, offers a runway capable of handling larger twin-engine aircraft, while the community of Arco, 65 miles southwest of the property, is home to a lighted runway suitable for most jet aircraft. The ranch also features its own 2,500± foot grass airstrip allowing for convenient fly-in access by small plane.
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 before 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 further south on the Snake River Plain. The majority of the land base in the valley is in federal and state ownership with the largest percentage of private lands situated around the small agricultural hamlet of Howe, 45 miles south of the ranch.
The property spans Custer and Lemhi Counties, which are among Idaho’s largest counties covering an area of nearly 10,000 square miles. Despite their size, they are two of the state’s least populated counties with a combined population of around 12,500 residents. The recorded history of the area begins with fur traders and pathfinders traveling through the region as early as 1824, and prospectors and miners arriving in the 1860s and 1870s. The principle industry is cattle ranching with livestock operations often stretching back multiple generations. The mining and timber industries have also played important roles 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, diverse recreation resources, and low-key lifestyle.
The elevation of the property is approximately 7,000 feet. Summer temperatures at this altitude are idyllic 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.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Upper Sawmill Creek Ranch encompasses 146 deeded acres, more or less, according to the original federal Homestead Entry Survey No. 265.
The ranch is wonderfully improved and capable of accommodating groups and hosting family gatherings. The primary buildings lie in a private setting tucked against an aspen-covered hillside with excellent views across the ranch toward Bear Mountain. The main cabin serves as the property’s central gathering place and features a master bedroom and bathroom, large kitchen, dining area, living room with river rock fireplace, four-season enclosed porch, and wrap-around deck. Two smaller, “duplex” cabins, each with two bedrooms and en suite bathrooms, are located near the main cabin and provide additional guest accommodations. Adjacent to the main cabin is a two-car garage with utility and laundry rooms plus a storage shed.
Two additional guest cabins are located west of the primary buildings near Sawmill Creek on the west side of the landing strip. The first cabin features a single bedroom with bathroom plus a living room and full kitchen, while the second has two separate bedroom suites with private bathrooms. A rustic, one-bedroom log cabin with screened porch is nestled in the trees alongside the creek downstream from the other buildings. All of the dwellings on the ranch are serviced by domestic wells, septic systems, and reliable, easy-to-use solar-powered electrical systems with back-up propane generators. The dwellings are being offered furnished.
The ranch holds a single water right (No. 33-107) to irrigate up to 84 acres from Sawmill Creek.
All mineral and subsurface rights owned by the Seller will transfer to the new owner at closing
Annual property taxes are approximately $3,200.
Sawmill Canyon and the upper Little Lost Valley offer a variety of high-quality recreation opportunities. Trout fishing, wingshooting, big game hunting, horseback riding, ATV riding, cycling, hiking, ski touring, and wildlife viewing can all be outstanding and enjoyed either on or minutes away from Upper Sawmill Creek Ranch.
The cold, clean waters of Sawmill Creek originate high in the mountains above the ranch and flow for approximately two miles through the property and a lush riparian corridor of aspen, willow, and Douglas fir. Sawmill Creek is home to a lively trout fishery with wild rainbow as well as an isolated population of native bull trout that thrives in the creek’s upper reaches. Perfect for fly anglers of all skill levels, Sawmill Creek is an intimate and inviting freestone stream that offers a trout-filled pool, riffle, or undercut bank around every turn. In addition, Sawmill Creek is one of the main tributaries to the Little Lost River, and expanded fishing opportunities exist a short distance from the ranch on the Little Lost as well as on other key tributaries such as Summit Creek and Wet Creek.
An abundance of wildlife uses the surrounding mountains, foothills, forests, and grasslands throughout the year. Elk, mule deer, and antelope can be found browsing and grazing on the hillsides, while moose wander creek drainages and riparian areas. Chukar partridge are plentiful on ridgelines and rock outcroppings, and blue grouse and sage grouse utilize the area’s springs and abundant sage steppe habitat. Ducks and geese remain in the area until frozen water pushes birds further south, although numerous warm springs and spring creeks often remain open through the winter, providing year-round open water. A multitude of non-game birds and mammals are found in the valley as well. The ranch is located in Idaho hunt unit 51 and the Lemhi elk zone.
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