Water is the key component that separates Gallatin Crosswaters Estate from the norm. The diversity in the water systems is rarely seen on properties of this scale. It gives an owner the opportunity to fish three very distinct moving water systems, including a mile of the meandering, medium-scale river of the East Gallatin. It also includes the much larger and untamed West Gallatin River with its freestone nature and braided structure, which flows unchallenged through more than one-half mile of the ranch. A more technical and intimate experience can be had on the three-quarters-of-a-mile stretch of Bullrun Spring Creek as it confluences with the East Gallatin River just upstream from the house. Add the still water experience that one can enjoy fishing stocked trout on the six developed ponds, and you find a very diverse experience in angling.
There are additional unnamed springs that are discoverable, and with the state lands that adjoin the ranch, the extended access to additional waters is an incredible bonus. Of course, with the abundance of water resources, there is a wildlife benefit to these lands as well by way of vegetative growth, soil moisture, and waterfowl.
FISHING: As mentioned, the abundance of water and the diversity of their character make Gallatin Crosswaters Estate special. There are times when one runs dirty after a storm, and the other remains clear. Temperatures come on at different times, and that is a driving factor in hatches that occur and the fish activity.
The East Gallatin River is prominent to the ranch as it flows along its western boundary and traverses within feet of the lodge. Its origins occur within a mile of downtown Bozeman and flow a sinuous 42 miles through the heart of the valley before finding confluence with the West Gallatin immediately downstream of Gallatin Crosswaters Estate. The “East,” as it is referred to locally, is best described as a “meadow” river with flows that gain via a multitude of small mountain streams and multiple emergent spring creeks as it passes northerly through the Gallatin Valley and its farmlands. The upper reaches of the river are only suitable for wade fishing; however, smaller rafts and drift boats are often able to navigate the lower reaches of the river where the flows are great enough for navigation. It is not an easy river to row as the oxbow bends are endless and often enshrouded with fallen willows and trees as the high-water months push into new channels leaving debris in the water. With that said, this event always creates incredible fish habitat. Although floatable, the waters that flow through the property are best suited for wading, particularly in late summer. Rainbow and brown trout are abundant and often sizeable. During the shoulder seasons, these fish make runs up from the Missouri to spawn.
The West Gallatin River has its origins over 100 river miles south of Bozeman in Yellowstone Park. The river's character changes dramatically throughout four distinct areas. The river in the park is small and meandering as it courses across relatively flat meadowed ground before exiting into Montana. As it travels north, the geography rapidly changes as it enters a canyon and accelerates its velocity carving its way through a turbid 50-mile-long stretch of big mountain canyonlands. Along the way, it picks up sizeable tributaries before spilling out into the farm and ranch lands of the Gallatin Valley. For color, the canyon stretch is one of the more prominent and challenging whitewater destinations for rafters and kayakers. The springtime flush is often violent as it exits the steep canyon with all of its spring volume and velocity. The river pushes an immense amount of substrate, scouring the cobble river bottoms, and endlessly pushes into new channels with little resistance. The water is also utilized in abundance by the farming and ranching lands across the valley and provides a valuable resource to their operations. This helps tame the river to a certain degree throughout the summer. The river is typically “gin clear” throughout the year and is a classic freestone fishery. It takes on a very different personality than the East Gallatin as it is a much broader and untamed system with continual braided channels, deep undercut banks, woody debris, and large boulders providing idyllic trout habitat. This “lower” reach of the West Gallatin, or simply, the “Gallatin” locally, has more of a seasonality to the quality of the fishing. Whereas there are always trout to catch, the river is a bit more temperamental, and typically the fish are not as large as in the East. However, large fish do migrate to and through these waters coming up from the Missouri, and in particular, the fall months can be outstanding for fewer, yet larger trout.
There are several prominent spring creeks that emerge and add quality water to the East Gallatin. Bullrun Spring Creek is one of the notable creeks that adds quality to the system. Over the years, many of these treasured creeks have had the benefit of restoration. The purity, nutrient, and cold water infusions add to the quality of the entire system, and it's important to note that the full sum of these waters flows through this property. Although Bullrun Spring Creek has had very little, if any, work done to it specifically, it does provide a good volume of quality water into the East. Almost three-quarters-of-a-mile of this creek winds through the property and into the East Gallatin. These waters are slower and far more technical to fish. It meanders through untamed banks of willow and Hawthorne making casting a challenge. There is the additional benefit of the seemingly miles of upstream fishing one could explore as the creek pushes across a large parcel of state lands.
There are six ponds located throughout the river's bottom lands. The largest, at two and one-half acres, is scenic and diverse in its use. It offers an alternative for owners and guests to fish something other than the rivers at times when they are experiencing runoff or when one simply wants to catch a big fish. The other five ponds are more intimate and fun to explore.
HUNTING: The quality and diversity of the hunting on the ranch is on par with the fishing. Perhaps most notable is the abundance of pheasants. The habitat is absolutely prime for pheasant with tall grasses, heavy brush, cattails, water, and food plots filled with oats and barley. The way that this is set up allows a single hunter to be able to have a quality hunt alone or in a small group if one chooses. Walking trails and roads conveniently allow hunters to access and manipulate concentrated areas. By Montana standards, this is about as good as it gets.
Of course, with grain and water resources, there is often waterfowl. The ranch resides within a good flyway where we find a long season and liberal bag limits. What makes waterfowl hunting great in this region is the waters that stay open without ice all winter. When the lakes and larger bodies of water freeze over in early winter, the waterfowl concentrates and stage here, often well into January. The late fall and holiday season are when it is often at its finest. Although the air temperature may be single digits, the spring waters remain at the 50-degree level, and the ducks particularly pile into these “warm” waters often until the valley snow levels make it difficult to feed. By any standards, the waterfowling can be very good through the late fall and early winter months.
Deer are simply everywhere throughout the river bottom. Although finding bucks that reach 150 inches is a bit of an anomaly, there are some that exceed that throughout the greater bottomland, but they are very difficult to find outside of the rut. The food plots that are planted throughout the bottom lands that benefit the pheasants and ducks also benefit the deer. The Montana general season typically extends through Thanksgiving week, which is the one time that some of the area monsters come out of hiding.
The region is full of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, and exploring all the different opportunities is reason enough to spend time here. The skiing at Bridger Bowl and Big Sky Resort is incredible for all levels of skiers. You get the local vibe at Bridger Bowl and the resort vibe at Big Sky. Nordic skiing opportunities are everywhere. Uncrowded trailheads offer adventure for mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding. Yellowstone Park is 90 minutes or more to the south. Start now, and the rest of one’s life will be spent not seeing it all!