The C/N Ranch is a highly productive, working cattle ranch loaded with wildlife. It is scenic, well-watered and well improved. It is also well located, just nine miles from a U.S. highway and 15 miles from the town of Ryegate. Two larger towns are within 60 minutes and Montana’s largest city, Billings an hour and a half drive. It is currently supporting 250 animal units year-round on 5,071± total acres, including 4,431± deeded acres and 640± acres of private state lease. There are 1,000± dryland tillable acres, including 500± acres in alfalfa-grass hay. The ranch is fully improved with two large and unusually well-improved homes, at opposite ends of the ranch. There are two sets of corrals -- one is new and state of the art. There are one and a half miles of live creek, perimeter fencing and cross-fencing with multiple water sources. Its 20 pastures would lend themselves especially well to single-sire pastures and a purebred operation. The ranch is exceptionally scenic, with a variety of landscapes – rolling hills, cliffs, rock formations, hoodoos. The terrain ranges from undulating flats to rolling breaks with a sprinkling of pine and cedar trees, providing protection for cattle and wildlife. Here are gorgeous views of several mountain ranges -- the Crazy, Little Belt, Snowy, and Beartooth Mountain ranges. Wildlife is ever-present, especially upland birds, mule deer, antelope, and migrating elk.
Just the Facts
- 5,071± total acres
- 4,431± deeded acres and 640± acres of private state lease
- 1,000± acres of dryland tillable acres, including 500± acres in alfalfa-grass hay
- 250 animal units year-round
- 15 miles southwest of Ryegate
- 1 ½ hours to Billings
- Two sets of headquarters with two large and unusually well-improved homes
- Two sets of corrals -- one is new and state of the art
- 1 1/2 miles of live creek, perimeter fencing and cross-fencing with multiple water sources
- 20 pastures
- Deer, antelope, upland birds, migrating elk
- Views of four mountain ranges
- Equipment and hay also available
The two units of the C/N Ranch sit a mile apart, connected by county road and at the heads of two drainages. The larger so-called “EPlace”, named after the Erickson family that homesteaded it, is the northern unit. It is on the head of, and includes several miles of, Rock Creek flowing northeasterly to its confluence with the Musselshell River. The ranch is relatively level though widely rolling and with numerous spring-fed draws. It slopes slightly east and north at elevations of between 4,000 and 4,600 feet. In places Rock Creek forms a narrow canyon-like drainage up to 100 feet in height. On the benchland tops above it are located the improved pasture and hayland crop fields as well as one home, the shop, sheds, barn and corrals.
The southern unit is called the “Hiller” unit after the county road which dead ends into it. It spans for three miles along the edge of the benchland at 4,600 feet. The landscape then descends to the southeast along one of the tributaries of the Big Coulee Creek. Big Coulee is a beautiful and captivating geophysical formation in this area, little-known but to locals. From the conifer-lined rims of its benchlands surrounding the main creek drainage, scores of tributary springs and creeks descend 700 feet and fan out spanning 6 miles wide and 12 miles long. The C/N includes the heads of several of these ravines and overlooks this captivating expanse.
The C/N Ranch is desirable in its productivity, quality and extent of improvements, scenic beauty, privacy, and access. It is also a convenient sized operation and its two homes are far enough apart for privacy. It’s elevated position on the divide between drainages has good moisture, productive range and haylands, and views of multiple mountain ranges. Wildlife is abundant. The community is agriculturally focused and refreshingly both self-reliant and yet supportive. Plus, it is only 15 miles to the county seat and 45 minutes to bigger towns.
Learn about the locale
The C/N Ranch is located south of the Musselshell River, 20 minutes from the small town of Ryegate, the county seat of Golden Valley County. Billings, Montana, the largest city in the state, is 90 miles from the ranch and provides the closest commercial airport. Multiple national and international carriers provide air service to Billings Logan International Airport.
The C/N Ranch lies on the elevated plains of the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, in south central Montana. This area is between the valleys of the Yellowstone River to the south and the Musselshell River, a tributary of the Missouri, to the north. From a brochure advertising Ryegate, published in 1914, we have taken the following quote: “The Great Musselshell Valley, of which Ryegate is a part has been well known for forty years. It being along about the year 1871 that the cattle men began to use its rich grazing lands for the special winter quarters of their stock. Ryegate is a truly western town.” These high plains grazing lands put good gains on cattle. The area is generally dedicated to farming and ranching. There has been some conversion of rangeland to dryland farming, but otherwise there has been little change in the character of the area over the last two or three generations, with the exception being that in the last decade there has been increased investment from recreational buyers.
As the Golden Valley County seat, Ryegate houses the Sheriff’s office and that of the Ambulance/Quick Response Unit volunteer EMS. Here are several churches, a post office, fire department and gas station. The Ryegate Public school is K-12, with a Teacher-to-Student ratio of 1:2-9 per class. The nearest towns to acquire basic staples needed to operate the ranch are Harlowton and Big Timber, each about 50 minutes from the ranch. As mentioned, Billings is an hour and one-half and is the largest city in the state. The list of amenities available in Billings is too extensive to list here.
The climate in the area of the ranch is generally considered moderate. Winters tend to be open, without large amounts of snow accumulation. It’s estimated that the precipitation is between 12 and 14 inches. The average high temperature in summer is 83 degrees with a nighttime average of 51. The average daytime temperature in the winter months is 38 degrees and the nighttime average is 13.
Learn more about the property
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
1,240± acres of deeded dryland crop, including
500± acres in alfalfa-grass hay
3,831± acres of deeded and leased native range
Deeded Acres: 4,431±
State Leased Acres: 640±
Total Leased Acres: 640±
Total Acres: 5,071±
C/N Ranch – EPlace Unit: $2,800,000
C/N Ranch – Hiller Unit: $1,000,000
This ranch is very well improved with two separate homes and corrals. There is buried fiber optic cable delivering high-speed internet to the ranch. There is also cellular phone service on most of property. The main headquarters includes new corrals, an historic but extensively remodeled home, barn, shop, equipment storage shed, and grain bins. These are located on the northern, EPlace unit. The southern, Hiller unit has a large three-level modern home and new corrals.
EPlace Improvements: This 3,000± square foot two-story home was originally built in 1915. It has six bedrooms and two bathrooms. In 2019 all new Diamond Kote siding was added, as well as all new windows, doors, a propane heating boiler, and a hot water-on-demand system. The heat in the home is radiant. The roof is steel and there is high-speed underground fiber optic internet service to the house.
Also included here are the following additional buildings:
- Calving barn with head catch was built in 1928 and is 24’X26’.
- Shop has a wood stove for heat and is partially insulated.
- Equipment and Implement Shed was built in 1978 of frame construction with steel siding and roof. It was originally 48’X64’, but has a 24-foot addition, so it’s 48’X88’ in two sections.
Hiller Improvements: This three-level home is 4,774± square feet and was built in 2000. It has five bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms. The lower level has half windows letting in an abundance of light. It is heated by a propane powered forced-air system.
The Main level has a half-bath and no bedrooms. The kitchen is on this level and has appliances which are new within the last few years. These include a Bosch dishwasher, Kenmore refrigerator, a Whirlpool oven, and the gas range and electric oven are also by Kenmore. The upper level has two bedrooms and one bath with a Jacuzzi tub and two sinks, there is also a master bed-bath suite. Downstairs there are two bedrooms and one bath.
- Corrals are new, metal paneled and state-of-the-art in design and construction.
The ranch has surface flowing water with filed rights for livestock drinking from three creeks, Big Coulee, Rock and Cottonwood, as well as numerous unnamed tributaries. Additionally, there are six wells. Two are for domestic and stock use and four for stock. The wells range from 50 to 260 feet deep and yield from 3 to 15 gallons per minute. They enable the ranch to operate in 20 pastures.
The owner of the ranch believes he does not own any of the mineral rights under the ranch. To date, there has been no known development or exploration.
Taxes are estimated at $6,122 annually.
Learn about the recreational amenities
Upland birds and mule deer are the most prevalent game species. Elk recently are found on the ranch. While not many of the muleys are trophy class, they are ubiquitous and some sport antlers with 4 to 6 points. Generally, there are lots of sharptailed grouse and Hungarian partridge. A couple of years ago, untimely hail knocked back that population. It is recovering now. Because of the undulating terrain watching the everpresent wildlife is a great pleasure. While moving about the ranch every new rise and coulee portends new sightings.
Learn about the general operations
The C/N Ranch is an all dryland operation with the exception that some pastures sub-irrigate, especially along Rock Creek. The current ranch owner is retiring and has sold his cattle herd. An area neighbor is currently leasing the grazing for a small herd. Until this recent event, the ranch was run with between 210 and 215 bred females plus bulls. The owner is still putting up the hay crop himself. These fields yield, on average, one ton per acre over 500 acres, normally with excess to sell. The owner budgets his winter feed requirements typically for a total of 1.5 tons per animal unit.
The grass here greens-up in April. Beginning in May the cattle are turned out on the range. In the fall there will be grazing of the aftermath in the hayfields. Feeding of hay will typically start at the end of December. The weeds are under control. The ranch keeps an eye on three or four spots of leafy spurge and a few spots of Dalmatian toadflax.
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