Double C Ranch is a highly productive, 2,697± acre valley-to-foothill transitional ranch with a variety of recreational amenities on and around the ranch. Conveniently accessed from Bozeman (70± miles) or Helena (44± miles), the ranch lies between Canyon Ferry Reservoir to the west and the Belt Mountain Range to the east. The ranch’s 14 pivots and approximately 1,403 acres under pivot irrigation provide a variety of operational possibilities and are complemented by approximately 675 acres of mountain foothills that are excellent habitat for wildlife, including elk which frequent the irrigated hay fields. There are three well-located residences, including an owner’s home, manager's home, and rental home. Well-maintained and functional working structures appropriate for the scale of the current haying operation include a large, heated shop, equipment shed, truck scale house, and 97,100-bushel grain bin storage. The ranch’s desirable location, natural beauty, and strong wildlife and recreational opportunities are uniquely coupled with abundant water resources for agricultural production.
Just the Facts
- Well-located, highly productive irrigated ranch with strong recreational and retreat amenities
- Approximately 2,697 total acres
- Convenient access about 70 miles from Bozeman and 44 miles from Helena
- Great views of the Big Belt and Elkhorn ranges and overlooking Canyon Ferry Reservoir
- 14 pivots and 1,403± tilled acres under pivot irrigation currently managed for high-quality hay production
- Exceptional water rights from the Broadwater Missouri Canal, Ray Creek, and groundwater wells
- 2± miles of Ray Creek frontage
- Abundant elk and located in a general draw unit # 391 with approximately 675 acres of mountain foothills overlooking irrigated fields
- Three residences: owner’s home, manager's home, and rental home
- Heated shop, equipment shed, 70-ton truck scale house, and 97,100-bu grain bin storage
The Double C Ranch location makes it an inviting destination for seasonal or year-round residence. The convenience to Helena and Bozeman provides a variety of cultural, retail, and transportation options, and the growing small-town appeal of Townsend should not be overlooked.
The ranch offers a combination of landscapes, with 14 center pivots that create a lush, green landscape throughout the growing season and a mountain component that offers evergreen timber, hills, and secluded draws. The views from the foothills are tremendous, overlooking the valley portion of the ranch, Canyon Ferry Reservoir, and the Elkhorn Mountains to the west. Mount Baldy and the Belt Mountains predominate the skyline to the east.
Ray Creek (approximately two miles frontage) and the Broadwater-Missouri Canal traverse the ranch and make the lush landscape and superior agricultural production possible. The ranch enjoys outstanding water rights and excellent soils, providing a profitable and sustainable agricultural operation that is currently focused on high-quality hay production but could be adapted to more farming or livestock depending on personal preference.
The ranch structures and infrastructure are well-maintained and attractively sited. The manager’s home is located at the ranch headquarters nearest the main entrance with the shop, equipment shed, and other outbuildings. The owners’ home is situated on a hill to the east and offers panoramic views of the valley.
Double C represents a significant holding in an alluring area with nearby cultural and recreational attractions. It is appealing as a residence because of the landscape and accessibility, appealing for recreation because of the wildlife and nearby water and mountain amenities, and appealing as a land investment because of the potential for long-term appreciation and significant operating returns. The abundance of water sets the ranch apart, making it a highly productive and beautiful ranch.
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.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Tillable pivot acres are estimated at 1,403± acres under 14 pivots. The actual acres irrigated may be slightly larger than what is tilled.
Approximately 15 acres are irrigated by wheel line.
Approximately 1,200 acres of rangeland, of which approximately 675 acres is mountain pasture.
Click HERE for the Pivot Irrigation Summary
*This acreage breakdown is based upon the best information available using Cadastral, Mapright, and owner’s farming records.
The structural improvements on Double C Ranch include three residences and a shop, equipment barn, grain bins and scale house to support the current haying operation. All the improvements are in use and demonstrate pride of ownership. The buildings are purposefully located and well-maintained.
Owner’s Home: Custom, ranch style home constructed in 2006 with three bedrooms and five bathrooms on two levels. The upper level is 4,187± square feet, and the unfinished basement level is 2,094± square feet. There is a gourmet kitchen and spacious living area. The home features a three-car garage and forced air heat with air conditioning.
Manager’s Home: Constructed in 2002, the Manager’s Home is a farmhouse-style home with five bedrooms and three baths. There are 4,488± total square feet that are equally divided between the main level and basement level. The home has forced air heating with air conditioning and an oversized two-car garage.
Rental Home: 1998 Nashua mobile home on a concrete foundation with two bedrooms and two bathrooms and 1,560± square feet.
Heated Shop: 1996 fully enclosed, 4,640± square foot heated shop with concrete floor and metal siding and a separate office/break room.
Equipment Shed: 1997 framed and fully enclosed 60’x120’ (7,200± square feet) implement shed with gravel floor.
Calving Barn: 1940 fully enclosed 30’x250’ wood-sided barn.
Grain Bins: Seven grain bins, five with aerators totaling 97,100 bushel-storage.
Ray Creek is a tree-lined mountain stream that originates in the Belt Mountains to the east and flows through the ranch for approximately two miles. The Broadwater-Missouri canal is a significant source of irrigation water from the Missouri River, crossing the ranch from south to north on its route through the valley.
The Broadwater Missouri canal, Ray Creek, and four drilled wells provide water for the ranch’s irrigated acreage. The water available totals approximately two acre-feet per irrigated acre with the canal shares (1,766± acre-feet) and three groundwater well rights (1,072± acre-feet) providing most of the water. A breakdown of the canal shares and water rights abstracts will be available upon request.
All mineral rights owned by the seller will convey with the sale of the property without reservations. A mineral search has not been conducted to determine the extent of the mineral ownership.
Approximately $25,000* annually.
*Tax amount is estimated based on the division of property tax bills.
Wildlife on the ranch is plentiful and diverse, with elk attracting most of the attention. The elk population in the Belt Mountain range is thriving, and many of those animals prefer the lower mountain habitat adjoining the crop fields in the valley. Game Management Unit #391 is a general draw unit for elk, which makes elk tags available over the counter to residents and in the general draw for non-residents.
Whitetail and Mule Deer also inhabit the ranch in good numbers, and antelope are at home on the irrigated fields. Pheasants populate the fields and wetlands, particularly around the Wildlife Management Area surrounding the southern end of Canyon Ferry Reservoir. Native range and crop field edges provide habitat for Hungarian partridge. A variety of waterfowl are prevalent on Canyon Ferry, venturing out into the surrounding crop fields to feed.
In recent years, the ranch has been owner-operated and managed for alfalfa hay production. Approximately nine to ten tons of high-quality alfalfa are produced annually, depending on the crop rotation each year. Over that time, hay production has averaged five-and-one-half tons per acre with three cuttings annually. Triticale is currently used as a rotational crop with average yields of five tons per acre.
Seed potatoes have been grown under all the pivots at one point in time. Potatoes are the highest value crop in the area and generate the highest lease rates. They also require high-quality soil free of rocks, so the ability to grow potatoes is a testament to the quality of the ground. Corn and a variety of small grains have all been grown at different times.
The reliability and abundance (approximately two acre-feet per acre) of irrigation water combined with quality soil and excellent climate conditions in the Townsend area provide several operational possibilities, including a variety of crops or high-intensity grazing with cattle. The irrigated acreage would support a large stocker cattle operation through the growing season. Currently, the only acreage used for grazing is the non-irrigated mountain pasture, which is leased to a neighbor on an AUM basis.
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