Crazy Waters Ranch

$10,950,000 Big Timber, MT 8,330± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

Located 20 miles north of Big Timber, this primarily deeded 9,000± acre ranch features stunning views of the Crazy and Absaroka mountains, a 350± acre private lake, and over 6.5 miles of Sweetgrass Creek, one of the area’s major trout fisheries.  A well-balanced 300± animal unit operating ranch with   292± acres currently being irrigated, an extensive riparian corridor and strong upland pastures, the Crazy Waters Ranch offers a synergistic blend of recreation and production. Wildlife on the ranch covers a broad spectrum and includes whitetail and mule deer, sharptail and sage grouse, pheasant, Hungarian partridge, antelope, turkey, sandhill cranes and raptors – not to mention the extensive waterfowl populations that grace the lake, ponds and streams. A distinctive log home and multiple houses for guests, family and staff, as well as comprehensive livestock and ranch buildings, complete the picture. In summary, Crazy Waters is an honest operating ranch with dramatically beautiful views in a terrific community with one of the most complete set of recreational amenities we have ever seen on one contiguous private property all just over an hour from Bozeman.Click here for a Walkinto Video Tour.      

Just the Facts

  • 80 miles and 65 minutes from Bozeman; 25 minutes from private jet-capable strip in Big Timber; 3,000 ft. grass strip with tie downs on ranch for smaller planes
  • 8,330± deeded acres, 640± Montana State Lease acres and 240± BLM acres in one private block
  • 365± acre private lake with a variety of recreational opportunities
  • Over 6.5± miles of trout fishing on Sweet Grass Creek
  • Distinctive log home with stunning views of the Crazy and Absaroka mountains
  • Four additional employee or guest homes
  • Wildlife on the ranch includes extensive waterfowl populations, whitetail and mule deer, sharptail and sage grouse, pheasant, Hungarian partridge, antelope, turkey, sandhill cranes and raptors
  • 1,920± acre shooting preserve approved and stocked for extended bird-hunting season
  • A well-balanced 300± animal unit operating ranch with 292± acres currently being irrigated, an extensive riparian corridor and strong upland pastures
  • Improved and enhanced agricultural operations with new water lines and tanks recently added
  • Comprehensive livestock and ranch support buildings
  • A large portion of the property is currently protected under conservation easement with Wetlands America, an affiliate of Ducks Unlimited
  • Five approved homes/homesites inside conservation easement with Ducks Unlimited
  • Additional 467± acres remaining outside of the conservation easement
  • Surrounded by large and traditional neighbors and extremely private

General Description

The Crazy Waters Ranch is a large and diverse property in a pastoral setting, offering miles of cottonwood-lined streams, irrigated hay fields and a 365± acre reservoir.  The exquisite owner’s residence is nestled in a prairie landscape with expansive views of the snowcapped granite peaks of the Crazy and Absaroka mountains.  This area defines the point where the rolling northern prairie abruptly meets the Rocky Mountains and offers a great sense of place.  Gentle rolling topography and a good interior road system make it easy to access the cottonwood bottoms, sage benches, irrigated crop-land and improvements.

One enters the ranch from the west, passing through fields of improved pasture, irrigated hay and native grass. Irrigated fields lie to the southwest as you gaze beyond them to focus on the beauty and enormity of the expansive landscape. Sweet Grass Creek, framed by a mature cottonwood bottom, bisects the ranch for nearly six-and-one-half miles. The owner’s residence is south of Sweet Grass Creek and is accessed by a sturdy wood-planked bridge along a private driveway. The residence, which is the most southerly located improvement on the ranch, is elevated above the creek and perched on a prairie grass knoll.  From here commanding views of Upper Glaston Lake, and the Crazy and Absaroka mountains appear from nearly every room in the house.  This log home shows wonderful pride of ownership as it is absolutely immaculate with an outdoor pool, well-groomed landscaping, irrigated lawn and a smattering of deciduous trees.

As one passes through the ranch some of its history becomes apparent as one moves by the corrals and becomes aware of the cowboys working the herd the old-fashioned way - from a saddle - and they prefer that.  While that heritage remains very much alive on the Crazy Waters Ranch, the current owner’s sporting interests are also very evident as noted by the abundance of wildlife and the well-protected fishery.  It is this multi-faceted aspect that provides the depth that makes ranches like this become more interesting and exciting as the years and generations of ownership go by. 

Broker's Comments

Rarely does the opportunity arise to purchase a ranch with all of the wonderful attributes that the Crazy Waters Ranch possesses, within easy striking distance of Bozeman.  The combination of an efficient and self-contained agricultural operation with superior hunting and fishing is increasingly difficult to find in today’s Montana ranch market.  These components combined with an impeccable owner’s residence, stunning mountain views and year-round access make the Crazy Waters Ranch the ultimately balanced ranch.  We are pleased to have been chosen to bring this rare offering to the market and would be happy to provide any additional information to qualified prospects.

Learn about the locale


The Crazy Waters Ranch is located within Sweet Grass County in south-central Montana.  The property is accessed from Big Timber by driving north on State Highway 191 for approximately 17.5 miles, then east 4± miles on the Cremer road to the Ranch. The town of Big Timber, population 2,500, provides all the necessities needed to operate the ranch.  Major commercial air service is available within a one-and-one-half hour’s drive from the ranch, in both Billings and Bozeman.  Big Timber, 30 miles, and Livingston, 50 miles to the west, have jet-capable community airports with 5,280 ft. and 5,700 ft. lighted, paved runways, respectively. 


The Big Timber area is characterized by a rare combination of multi-generational family ranches (some over 100 years in the same family), and wealthy individuals and families who have chosen this area for its western culture and rural community spirit.  Even the newcomers take pride in maintaining the ranching traditions of the area.  Big Timber is a self-sustaining community with galleries, banks, churches, a golf course and a world-class restaurant at the Grand Hotel, which is a lovingly restored historic hotel on the National Register of Historic Buildings.  The Pioneer Medical Center in Big Timber provides medical services to the surrounding area.  One of the great benefits of Big Timber is that it sits almost equidistant between Billings and Bozeman.  It is just far enough away to require that the town be self-sustaining, but close enough that one can take advantage of all of the services these two important and vibrant Montana cities offer.  

If one should decide to explore the scenic backdrop of the ranch, the Crazy Mountains are one of the more impressive mountain ranges in Montana. With more than 20 peaks over 10,000 feet above sea level, the Crazy Mountains bear a resemblance to an island in the vast Montana prairie.  Rock Lake, for example, which sits at the base of Conical Peak (elevation 10,748), is an easy hike for someone looking to spend the day catching golden, brook, rainbow and cutthroat trout.  Bridger Bowl, an absolutely outstanding ski area that offers very challenging terrain, is just over an hour’s drive from the ranch.  Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national park, is approximately one-and-one-half hours from Big Timber.  For those searching for the excitement of a destination ski resort, Big Sky and Red Lodge Ski resorts provide year-round recreational activities and an abundance of full-service amenities.

The Crazy Waters Ranch itself is a good-sized ranch and neighbors several other much larger ranches.  It is in an area that seems relatively immune to the development pressures that afflict many other areas that are closer to the mountains.  In short, this is a part of the state that has the benefit of dramatic mountain views in two directions and easy access to a more sophisticated lifestyle, but one is far enough out that one is still in ranching country — very good ranching country as evidenced by the 100-year-old family ranches in the neighborhood.  The ranch is far enough from the mountains that these ranches are blessed with a quite tolerable year-round climate.


The elevation of the Crazy Waters Ranch ranges from 4,640 feet above sea level at the headquarters to 4,950 feet above sea level at the north boundary corner of Section 23.  The climate is typically mild with the average low in January being 16.5 degrees, while the average high in July is 87.3 degrees.  The ranch lies in an area that is estimated to receive between 14 to 18 inches of precipitation, with two-thirds of that expected to fall during the growing season.  Early June is often the wettest time of the growing season, which on average is frost-free for 123 days.

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

The Crazy Waters Ranch is comprised of 9,210± total acres, including 8,330± acres of deeded land. The ranch is well blocked up and is one contiguous parcel.  Within the boundaries of the ranch is Upper Glaston Lake. A portion of the lake is within the boundaries of a 240± acre parcel which is owned by the BLM.   The lake has no public access.    

Deeded Lands
  • Riparian corridor:  932± acres (292± acres irrigated, including pivot sprinklers for 70± acres) 
  • Pasture-rangeland:  7,218± acres            
  • Deeded lake:  150± surface acres
  • Improvement site:  30± acres
Total Deeded:  8,330± acres

Leased Lands
  • State Lands:  640± acres
  • BLM Lands:  240± acres
Total Acreage:  9,210± acres

Public Leases
The Crazy Waters Ranch holds a State of Montana land lease on approximately 640 acres, legally described as T4N, R15E, Section 16.
Upper Glaston Lake covers approximately 350 surface acres when full.  Approximately 150 of these lake-covered acres are owned by the ranch.  Approximately 200 more lake-covered acres are owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). There are an additional 40± non-lake acres of adjoining BLM land for a total of 240± BLM acres at the lake.  The ranch’s private deeded lands completely surround the lake and the BLM lands.  The ranch does not lease this land, nor does anyone else. There is no public access to Glaston Lake or to the BLM land. Lower Glaston Lake, a few miles south of the ranch, does have public access and is often referred to as the Big Timber Yacht Club.

Deeded Acres: 8,330±
State Leased Acres: 640±
BLM Leased Acres: 240±
Total Leased Acres: 880±
Total Acres: 9,210±

Additional Information

Conservation Easement:
The Crazy Waters Ranch is preserved by a conservation easement for the protection of the ecological, scenic, open space and aesthetic values of the property.  The current easement is with Wetlands America Trust, Inc. (Ducks Unlimited) and was donated in 1995.  A copy of the entire easement is available through Hall and Hall upon request.  There are approximately 400± acres that remain out of the easement.


Owner’s Home:

The nearly 12,000 sq. ft. log home is impeccably built with many fine artisan finishes. In addition to five bedrooms, six-and-one-half baths, three family rooms, two offices and a loft study, the home also has an 18’x36’ outdoor, in-ground, heated swimming pool. The three-story home includes an elevator to all three floors and a heated three-car garage. Extras include an emergency 15,000 KW generator, computerized lighting, central air, in-floor heat, climate-controlled wine cellar, built-in sound system, four wood-burning fire places, walk-in pantry with commercial refrigerator and food warmer, satellite TV and hot tub. Following are some of the detailed features:

• Beams and columns are made of Alaskan yellow cedar

• Logs are western Montana spruce

• Cedar shake roof

• Four fireplaces of native stone from the Musselshell River country

• Stone flooring on the third-floor 

• Mexican tile covers most of the first floor

• Granite countertops

• Two refrigerators and a commercial grade freezer 

• Lighting is controlled by a Lutron computerized touchpad system for the majority of the house

• There is a security system that is monitored for both fire and security

• The pool is a 33,000 gallon, regulation sized, in-ground pool

• There is a hot tub

• Outside deck on three sides of the house is surfaced with concrete pavers

• Satellite dish and wireless Internet connection 

• TV is also a satellite dish system

• Telephone system is of commercial grade with features such as in intercom and multiple lines

• Wine room is temperature controlled and holds approximately 1,000 bottles

• Three-car garage is heated and finished

• Third-floor wet bar is full sized with ice machine and granite countertops

• Landscaping is irrigated by underground sprinkler system

• Each room is individually temperature controlled; there are approximately 20 individual thermostats

• Two underground 1,000-gallon propane tanks fuel the radiant floor heat and baseboard heat as well as the forced air system

Other Improvements:

Starr House:

  • 3,700± sq. ft. four-bedroom, three bath, two-story home with redwood exterior siding and a wood-shake roof; originally built in the 1800s and has been nicely renovated over the years
  • Detached two-car garage is approximately 780 sq. ft.; wood framed and insulated
  • Barn/shop/machine shed - built in 1985, the pole-frame shop has metal siding and a 16-foot bi-fold door

Lower Home and Ranch Headquarters:

  • 2,096± sq. ft. ranch-style home with 1,568± sq. ft. unfinished basement; four bedrooms, two baths; built in 1951
  • Multi-use building - a combination cattle shelter/calving shed with vet and tack room; building is 11,200± sq. ft. prefab-steel building with steel corrals; erected in 1976
  • Machine shed - 2,160± sq. ft. pole-frame constructed building which is part metal and wood-sided; building is partially on concrete and has one sliding door
  • Multi-use building - a 2,256± sq. ft. metal-sided building, built in 1976
  • 25-ton scale and scale house
  • Miscellaneous buildings - 30’x40’ barn, 48’x208’ metal building; two 5,000-gallon above-ground fuel tanks

Bunk House and Shed:

  • 1,200± sq. ft. three-bedroom, one-bath, log home on a concrete foundation that has an asphalt shingle roof; built in 1973
  • Machinery storage shed - a multi-use metal building of pole-frame construction; built in 1988; 3,570± square feet

Creek Cabin:

  • 1,590± sq. ft. three-bedroom, one-bath log home on a concrete foundation; built in 1973
  • Two-car detached garage

Water Resources

Upper Glaston Lake is an irrigation reservoir. It covers approximately 365 surface acres when full. It was built in the early 1900s and is filled by Sweet Grass Creek via a large canal. The water level is controlled by Sweet Grass Canal and Reservoir Company, filling in the winter and spring and drawn upon in mid to late summer. The drawn water is distributed downstream to approximately 3,500 irrigated acres via a series of ditches and canals. The ranch does not control the water flows in or out of the lake. There is a special stipulation enforced by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks that requires minimum flows in Sweet Grass Creek to be maintained at or above 25cfs when the canal company is diverting winter water from the creek. A copy of this is available at HH. 

The furthest down the current managers have seen the reservoir drawn is just under one-half full. This includes severe drought periods. The overall depth of the reservoir is at least 30 feet at the dam which is deep enough to maintain the fish populations. 

Sweet Grass Creek provides both stock and irrigation water on the ranch. 

Water Rights

There are extensive water rights appurtenant to the Crazy Waters Ranch, with priority dates ranging from 1883 to 2001.  The water rights are broken down into stock water right claims, domestic water right claims (wells) and irrigation water right claims which adequately handle the current irrigation operation. The primary source of irrigation is Sweet Grass Creek which delivers water via a combination of pivots and flooding.  Complete information provided by DNRC for all filed water rights is available at the offices of Hall and Hall.

Mineral Rights

All mineral rights owned by the Sellers are included with the property sale.


Property taxes are estimated at $32,560 annually.

Learn about the recreational amenities

Fishery Resources

The ranch has approximately six-and-one-half miles of beautiful cottonwood bottoms along Sweet Grass Creek, where anglers can expect to have both brown and rainbow trout rise to flies all season long. Wade-fishing is excellent, resulting in trout ranging in size from 10-12 inches with the occasional 15-inch plus fish. Within the ranch lies Upper Glaston Reservoir, a 365± acre body of water which is fishable from shore or by boat, and produces both rainbow and brown trout. 

If fishing on the ranch isn’t enough, anglers can be wetting their line on the waters of the Yellowstone, Stillwater and the Boulder Rivers all within an hour’s drive.  Float fisherman will experience exciting stretches of floatable water and noteworthy trout fishing on some of the most scenic river corridors in Montana. 

Wildlife Resources

The diverse habitat of the Crazy Waters Ranch provides good cover and ample feed for a variety of wildlife species.  

Big Game:
The whitetail hunting is respectable on the ranch with bucks in the 120-140 Boone and Crockett class with an occasional buck pushing 150 B&C class.  With some specific management, greater numbers of bigger bucks could be developed, as the ranch provides ideal habitat and genetics for trophy deer. Antelope run in large herds through the native range and periodically feed in the improved pasture and hay fields.  It is estimated that there are at times over 200 head on the ranch. A large number of these are bucks, with several in the 13”-15”size.

Upper Glaston Lake is a magnet for waterfowl and sandhill cranes in the early season pulling in Canadian geese, mallards, teal and divers.   Springs along the Sweet Grass flow all winter, creating some open pools holding waterfowl into the fall months.  The numbers of ducks on the ranch in October start in the hundreds, but by November may reach 1,000 plus. Literally thousands of sand hill cranes also use the lake for night roosting, and feed in the surrounding areas during the day. The numbers of geese on the ranch peaks in October at 500 plus. Mallard and gadwall are the most common species found on the ranch, followed by blue-winged teal. Northern shoveler, pintail, green-winged teal, common mergansers, lesser scaup and Canada geese are all present.  Goldeneye, bufflehead and an occasional wood duck are attracted to many cavity nesting sites found in large cottonwoods along the Sweet Grass Creek.  A small breeding population of harlequin ducks has remained in the area for several years.  

Upland Birds:
The habitat for upland birds transcends out of the creek bottom into the native range and farm ground, creating the desirable habitat needed to support both pheasant and prairie grouse.  The primary beneficiary of this environment is the Hungarian partridge (“Huns”) and sharp-tailed grouse.

There are decent coveys of Huns and 100–150 sharp-tail in groups sized from 5-25, with several leks on the property. Numbers of Huns and sharp-tails could be increased considerably with specific management. The ranch includes a private shooting preserve license which allows for upland bird hunting starting September 1 and continuing through March 31 on 1,920 acres.  A large population of turkeys has established itself on the ranch and are seen regularly along the creek bottoms.  

Along with all the species of game animals, the ranch is also home to predators, raptors and a large variety of non-game species. It is estimated that 50-75 breeding pairs of cranes utilize the area including the ranch, with spring and fall numbers reaching up to 500 plus birds.  The following are listed to demonstrate the many species of water birds attracted to shallow water wetland area including the ranch: common loon; western, eared and pied-billed grebes; red-breasted and common mergansers; Wilson’s and red-necked phalaropes; great blue heron; black-crowned night heron; black tern; long-billed curlews; common snipe; cormorants; black-necked stilts; long-tailed, parasitic and pomarine jaegers; Franklin gull; semipalmated, least, pectoral and bairds sandpipers; greater and lesser yellowlegs; killdeer; American avocet; long-billed dowithers; snaderlings; black-bellied, lessor golden, and semipalmated plovers; spragues and water pipits; marbled godwit and willet.

Endangered and Threatened Species:  bald eagles are frequently seen hunting and roosting along the Sweet Grass Creek.  Peregrine falcons have been observed in the county.  Category 2 species sighted are the long-billed curlew, black tern and white-faced ibis.  There have been several reported sightings of the swift fox.

It is rare to find ranches of this size in Montana which offer fishing, wing-shooting, waterfowl hunting and big game hunting of this magnitude.

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

In its current status, the ranch has capacity of around 3,532 AUMs.  For a summer livestock operation, that translates to roughly 600 yearlings, or 450 pairs.  For a year-round operation of mother cows and associated replacement heifers and bulls, that translates to a herd size of 300 mother cows, assuming a hay feeding season from Jan 1 through April 30.  Currently the ranch is leased out to pairs for grazing.    

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