The ranch is accessed by traveling approximately two miles east on Highway 12 from Townsend, Montana, then turning north on State Highway 284 for approximately six miles to the ranch entrance. Canyon Ferry Reservoir, which is fed by the Missouri River, and the Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area surrounding the lake dominates the landscape immediately west of the ranch.
Looking across Canyon Ferry to the west, the Elkhorn Mountains flank the west side of the Missouri River valley. Approximately five miles east of the ranch, the Big Belt Mountains rise to 9,467 feet in elevation at the peak of Mount Baldy. The Big Belts and Elkhorns are part of the Helena National Forest, offering numerous access points and recreational opportunities.
Canyon Ferry Reservoir is Montana’s third-largest body of water, covering 35,181 acres and 76 miles of shoreline. It is a popular destination for summer boating and year-round fishing for walleye, trout, northern pike, perch, and smallmouth bass. Marinas, boat launches, and campgrounds are located on Bureau of Reclamation lands that surround the reservoir. The Wildlife Management Area managed by Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks on the south end of the lake provides excellent habitat for waterfowl, pheasants, whitetail deer, and a variety of other wildlife.
Nicknamed “the first city on the Missouri River,” Townsend (population approximately 2,000) is located near the southern tip of Canyon Ferry Reservoir. Lewis and Clark passed through on their voyage of discovery in 1805, and a rail stop was established in the 1880s to support gold mining in the region. Situated 35 miles from the state capital of Helena and 35 miles from the confluence of the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson rivers, which form the headwaters of the Missouri river, Townsend is a predominantly agricultural community with attractive recreational and locational amenities.
Townsend is the county seat of Broadwater County and offers K-12 schools and most basic services, including grocery, hardware, auto repair, saddle shop, boat storage, and restaurants. There are FSA and NRCS offices in Townsend, as well as a grain elevator and seed plant, pivot irrigation sales and service, and a livestock auction yard about 30 miles to the south near Three Forks.
Double C is a significant holding in the immediate area, where both small and large farms and ranches predominate. This is a well-regarded agricultural community with ever-increasing small-town appeal due to the recreational amenities, weather, and proximity to Helena and Bozeman.
The town of Helena is located 35 miles north of Townsend. Helena was founded as a gold camp during the Montana gold rush and established in 1864. The city’s prominent, Victorian architecture is a product of the city’s concentration of wealth in the late 1800s. About 20 percent of the workforce is employed by agencies of the state government, which contributes to the community’s economic stability. The Helena Regional Airport is served by Alaska Airlines, Delta Connection, and United Express, with the top destinations being Salt Lake City, Denver, Seattle, and Minneapolis. Helena continues to grow and expand, but at a steadier pace than what has been experienced in the booming town of Bozeman.
The town of Bozeman, located 31 miles east of Three Forks, is the cultural, economic, retail, and transportation hub of southwest Montana. The Bozeman area has built a reputation as one of the most desirable communities in which to live in the U.S. It combines a vibrant downtown with a strong business community, an agricultural center, and Montana State University, all set in a beautiful expansive mountain valley that offers virtually every recreational amenity that one could ask for in an inland location. It has attracted residents from all over the world, creating a diverse population. Bozeman is a jumping-off point for skiers (both alpine and Nordic), anglers, hikers, climbers, explorers, big game hunters, floaters, kayakers, and Yellowstone National Park visitors, to name just a few. It has all the benefits of both a resort community and a university town.
Approximately an hour’s drive from the ranch, the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is Montana’s busiest airport, serving Big Sky Ski Resort, Bridger Bowl Ski Area, Montana State University, as well as the north and west entrances of Yellowstone National Park. Located in the heart of the beautiful Gallatin Valley, BYIA provides non-stop flights to 21 cities in the United States, including Newark, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Nashville, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis, Detroit, Salt Lake City, and Denver.
The area is known for year-round outdoor recreation. Winter skiing is as exceptional as summer fly fishing, boating, hiking, biking, and riding. Located approximately 17 miles from Bozeman, skiing the “cold smoke” at Bridger Bowl Resort is a favorite winter activity for residents of Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley. Big Sky Resort is a year-round destination resort offering 5,850 acres of skiable terrain with 4,350 feet of elevation and 38 lifts just 50 miles south of Bozeman.
Townsend experiences a relatively warm, dry climate for Montana. Daily high temperatures average 83 degrees in July and 33 degrees in January, with average lows ranging from 11-22 degrees during winter. The warmest day on average is July 27th, with an average high of 87 degrees.
Annual precipitation averages 11 inches per year, with the least amount of precipitation from early November to early March. The average annual snowfall is 29 inches. May and June are the wettest months. The growing season is 145 days, from approximately May 8th to October 1st.