Located a short distance north of Dillon, Montana along the banks of the Beaverhead River, the 775± acre 3 Hanging 3 Ranch presents an opportunity for an owner to center themselves in some of the most diverse recreational opportunities in the state and maintain a small farming and livestock operation. Small grains and hay crops are raised under 293 acres of pivot irrigation with an additional 160 acres of irrigated and pasture on the adjacent private lease. The ranch offers a great degree of privacy and is highlighted by a newly constructed compound of greater quality including a residence, guest house, shops, barn and an exceptional equestrian facility inclusive of indoor and outdoor riding arenas, eight stalls, vet, tack, and an office, all used for the owner’s breeding and training of cutting horses. Snowcapped peaks on five mountain ranges completely surround the valley providing panoramic views in all directions. This is an outstanding gentleman’s ranch appropriately improved and decadent in sporting and equestrian opportunities in this fabled riverbottom setting of southwest Montana.
Just the Facts
- Located in SW Montana 15 minutes north of Dillon near Twin Bridges
- 775+ deeded acres
- 293 acres under pivot irrigation systems
- One mile on both banks of the Beaverhead River
- Strong populations of whitetail deer, upland birds and waterfowl
- Custom-built, rustic improvements including main residence, guest house, two shops & an old restored barn
- Eight-stall horse barn with attached indoor riding arena
A unique attribute of the 3 Hanging 3 Ranch is that it is very difficult for the general public to see the headquarters from any public road. One enters the ranch from State Highway 41 and heads easterly down a graveled ranch lane through the adjacent private lands. California Slough courses across the neighboring property flowing northerly through a large stand of cottonwood trees and willows, which create a natural visual barrier for the ranch from the highway. The ranch lane continues easterly through the trees and across an open pasture entering the ranch’s western boundary along the Seidensticker Ditch. The headquarters compound is located at this point. The lane then becomes an unimproved ranch road as it leaves the buildings and continues across the ranch heading towards the Beaverhead River.
The lands to the east of the compound are mostly irrigated grasslands which then transition into small wetlands, a pond and riparian areas along the river. A long berm also runs along the west bank of the river for flood control. The river passes through the ranch flowing northerly for approximately one mile and generally makes up the eastern boundary. The ranch follows the river for this distance, and then the eastern boundary follows a northwesterly line adjacent to some of the irrigated ground and through a low-lying wetland complex, which is interspersed with short woody vegetation and grass. The boundary then adjoins another significant private holding and runs westerly towards State Highway 41, encompassing a section of California Slough and West Baker Slough.
Because of the screen of vegetation on its eastern and western boundaries, the ranch feels very private despite its enormous panoramic views of multiple mountain ranges. The Tobacco Root, Ruby, Pioneer, Blacktail and Highland ranges are all within clear view from anywhere on the ranch with a couple of other distant ranges looming on the horizon. The topography is very flat across the ranch. The lands between the eastern and western riparian areas are mostly irrigated and sub-irrigated fields.
The 3 Hanging 3 Ranch represents the quintessential sporting/equestrian ranch with an agricultural component. It is rich in resources in a scenic valley whose residents have a deep history in family ranching. It is a great opportunity to immerse oneself into this culture while enjoying the outstanding recreational opportunities that exist in the surrounding area and on the ranch. In addition, one has the ability to have an ongoing agricultural operation benefitting both the land and the wildlife. The ranch is quite private yet easily accessible and conveniently located close to Dillon and commercial air services.
The 3 Hanging 3 Ranch is located 20 miles northeast of Dillon, Montana and 8 miles south of the community of Twin Bridges. The ranch is accessed off State Highway 41 by way of a recorded easement. Dillon, the county seat of Beaverhead County (pop 4,035), has a public 6,500 ft. airstrip capable of handling most private aircraft. Commercial flights are available an hour plus north of the ranch at Bozeman or Butte, serviced by Horizon, Delta and United Airlines. Access to I-15 is at Dillon and I-90 is 40 miles north at Whitehall.
The ranch lies in the Beaverhead Valley in southwest Montana, boasting expansive views of five separate mountain ranges. The ranch lies in the widest part where the Big Hole, Ruby and Beaverhead Rivers merge at Twin Bridges to form the Jefferson River. This area has abundant water resources in combination with fertile bottomland soils, dense riparian vegetation and limited winter snow (elevation 4,700 feet), which has always worked very well for the area ranchers for summer hay production and winter cattle operations. For these very reasons, this area is highly sought after by sportsmen who travel the globe to explore these famous trout-rich fisheries and pursue the abundance of game that thrives in this region. This creates an interesting cultural environment where ranchers and sporting enthusiasts contribute substantially to the local economy.
This region was once Shoshone tribal lands. During the 1805 Lewis and Clark Expedition, Beaverhead Rock was the landmark recognized by Sacajawea as she was entering her tribal lands, and the monument is the namesake of Beaverhead County. The Rock is within clear view of the ranch just a few short miles to the south. Gold miners were the first white men to settle in this region in the 1860s, which then brought ranchers to the area to service the mining communities. They continued to homestead the area through the turn of the century. Many of the early homesteader families, generations later, still operate large holdings in this renowned ranching country.
Dillon is a nice, mid-sized community with a wide variety of services including a hospital, grocers and dining. It has a charming downtown and even a Patagonia outlet store. The University of Montana-Western is also located there adding a college town flavor to the community. As the county seat, Dillon is where the residents of the outlying areas gather for supplies, dinner, high school and college sporting events as well as rodeos.
Twin Bridges (pop 432) is a smaller community just 8 miles north of the ranch. It has most basic services – and some not so basic. It is a place where one can buy a custom-made cowboy hat, eat a good meal at the Old Hotel, find a fishing guide or buy a fine fly rod at the Winston Rod Factory. Twin Bridges also has a small public airfield.
By Montana standards, the Beaverhead Valley is a very comfortable place to live year-round. The low relative humidity ensures that being outdoors most any time of the year is pleasant. Average winter temperatures are in the mid-thirties with summer temperatures holding around eighty. However, this is Montana and wild fluctuations in the temperatures are common, as they can fall well below zero in the winter and reach 100 degrees in August. These extremes are generally short-lived. Annual precipitation is around ten to twelve inches, mostly coming by way of rainfall in May and June. Snow rarely accumulates in this area and when it does, it generally will melt quickly.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
The 3 Hanging 3 Ranch has been recently improved to a high level.
It is complete with custom-built houses, shops, high quality outdoor pens and arenas. The design phase included Centre Sky Architects out of Big Sky with the construction undertaking implemented by Yellowstone Traditions, both of whom are renowned in their respective fields.
There are essentially three living structures that are included in a compound located near the entrance of the ranch. This includes a 2,200 SF three-bedroom, two-bath home with round log exterior. The residence is appointed with rough-sawn fir flooring, granite countertops, old fir and pine ceilings and trim, and custom cabinetry along with a covered, screened-in porch.
A 900 SF guest house was also constructed within the compound. This two-bedroom, one-bath structure also has the same customized finishes and rustic design as the main residence. This building was one of the original ranch buildings that was moved onto a new foundation in a new location and completely renovated.
A 2,300 SF two-story barn has existed within the compound for nearly a century. This building has been lifted onto a new concrete foundation, squared, roofed and made substantially sound. It is at a point where the drafted plans to convert into a main residence could be implemented or the structure could be made into more of a “recreational” building used as a bar or game room.
Two buildings are used for storage and operations. A 30’x50’ log shop is heated, insulated and has a concrete floor. Also a steel framed 40’x80’ building was completely remodeled and converted into a storage and shop facility. This structure is Corten sided and roofed with a rusted patina to match all of the other roofing material within the compound. Internally the building is divided to include an office, open shop area, and lockable enclosed storage area.
Considerable thought was put into the design of the equestrian facility.
A 24’ X 168’ eight stall barn complete with storage and a wash bay lead into eight 14’ X 60’outdoor runs. An adjacent 24’ X 42’ wing with an office, tack room, and a laundry/vet/bath room lies on the east side of the stalls while a 24’ X 42’ wing with breeding facilities and storage resides to the west. The entire building is insulated, and very well ventilated.
Outside there are 11 large horse pens along with five additional pens used for other livestock. This area has outdoor lighting and each pen has access to geothermal waterers. For outdoor training there is a 160’ octagonal pen constructed of full logs and steel. Lastly there is an 84’ X 252’ cattle handling facility with a large gathering pen and multiple sorting pens. All outdoor pens are constructed of continuous metal pipe designed to stand up to abuse and to be exceptionally long lasting.
Claim Number Priority Date Volume
41B 20779 00 1868 3.75 CFS
41B 20780 00 1875 2.50 CFS
41B 20781 00 1880 1.88 CFS
41B 20782 00 1880 2.50 CFS
41B 20783 00 1886 5.00 CFS
41B 20784 00 1886 2.00 CFS
All water rights are subject to an ongoing statewide adjudication process by the Montana Department of Natural Resources.
Anually property taxes are estimated to be $11,183
Many consider Twin Bridges to be the epicenter of trout fishing in Montana. As stated earlier, the Beaverhead, Ruby and Big Hole Rivers merge at Twin Bridges forming the Jefferson River, which provides some of the best fly fishing in the entire country. Less than 45 minutes from the ranch an angler can also be fishing the Upper Madison River near Ennis. Within a two-hour radius one can add the Yellowstone and Gallatin Rivers to the east, the Bitterroot and Clark Fork Rivers to the west, and even the Henry’s Fork and Yellowstone Park to the southeast. For the adventurous, one can hike or ride horseback into the Tobacco Root and Pioneer Mountain Ranges, which have a number of high mountain lakes full of unsuspecting brook and cutthroat trout. In addition, if one enjoys stillwater fishing, Clark Canyon Reservoir and Ennis Lake are both within an easy 45-minute to one-hour drive of the ranch.
The Beaverhead itself is a tailwater fishery emerging from Clark Canyon Reservoir. The fabled first twelve miles of the river, with its cool water temperatures, creates an outstanding fishery for brown and rainbow trout, some of which are huge. Since the reservoir was created for an irrigation district, the river diverts large amounts of water though the East Bench canal system. Consequently, the river has decreased flows as water is utilized for irrigation during the summer months. It also suffers from thermal gain as it slows on its way north.
As the river reaches its confluence with the Ruby, the fish numbers decline and then increase as the two rivers combine flows. The section of river that flows through the ranch harbors a fishable population of trout that seems to increase in the spring and early summer as flows are up and the water temperature is relatively cool. As summer progresses, fish migrate, finding relief from the thermal gain to other reaches of the river. Although the population of fish is not overly abundant, the fish that do reside in this stretch of river are generally very large, carnivorous trout.
Historically this property was part of a larger ranching operation, as are many of the ranches in this valley that serve as a hay base for mountain ranches. 1,472 acre feet of irrigation water is delivered to the ranch via a ditch with the point of diversion on the Beaverhead River south of the ranch and is a conveyance of water stored in Clark Canyon Reservoir south of Dillon.
There are 293 acres irrigated via four pivots, three of which were installed in 2012. Typically ranches throughout the valley are producing 4-5 tons of hay per acre with alfalfa mixed into the grass, and a rotation of small grains such as spring wheat and barley crops through the fields in five- to seven-year rotations. An additional 160 acres are leased from a neighbor. Of this land, 100 acres are utilized under irrigation provided by a fourth pivot, which is owned by the neighbor but leased to the ranch, and services 50 of the 293 total irrigated acres on the deeded lands. Several of the pastures are quite suitable for grazing horses and portions of the irrigated fields can produce hay more suitable to their dietary needs. There are four large rubber tire tanks for additional livestock water year round. The balance of the lands include tame dryland pasture and riparian lands that extend along the river, California Slough, and West Baker Slough. The water table is high across the ranch and the unirrigated grasses grow well throughout the summer. Outside the compound the ranch is divided into five pastures, each of which have stock water.
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