For Sale

Indian Creek Ranch

$10,000,000 Cameron, MT 498± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

Indian Creek Ranch stands out as something of an oasis in the expansive Madison Valley 18 miles south of Ennis where its namesake Indian Creek enters the Madison River. The ranch encompasses 498± deeded acres plus a State of Montana agricultural lease on an adjacent 110± acres. It lies between Highway 287 and the Madison River. The building compound is located out of sight below the highway, with Indian Creek meandering through the complex. The site is marked by enormous cottonwood trees, extensive lawns, and a private fishing pond. Improvements consist of an owner’s home, a guest house, a manager’s duplex, a large barn set up for equine pursuits, a traditional horse barn with haymow, and a pole calving barn. The setting is exquisite as it incorporates wonderful views of both the Madison Range and the Gravelly Range with minimal impact from the highway. The Madison River is a short walk across the meadow. The ranch includes over 100 acres of meadows and is well set up as a winter base for a cattle operation. However, it has historically been operated as a horse ranch where clinics have been offered and, under a previous owner, as a base for training and breeding polo ponies.

Just the Facts

  • Location: 18 miles south of Ennis and just over an hour’s drive to Bozeman.
  • Acreage: Deeded 498± acres with an additional 110± acres State of Montana lease.
  • Acreage Breakdown: 87± acres irrigated (35.6 on state) 521± acres of native range and sub-irrigated. 
  • Improvements: Main house, guest house, staff duplex, equestrian barn, old-style hip roof barn and calving barn. Attractive pole and jack leg fencing and huge lawns enhance the building complex. 
  • Water: Excellent Madison River water rights for irrigation plus three wells and an appealing fish pond with waterfall. 
  • Wildlife: Antelope, moose, whitetail deer and elk in season. 
  • Fisheries: Nearly a mile of private frontage on the Madison River plus Indian Creek and a trout pond. 
  • Conservation Easement: Yes. 
  • Summary: A lush oasis on the river well set up as a private equestrian retreat with hundreds of acres of adjacent public lands on which to ride or fish. 

General Description

Driving south from Cameron on U.S. 287, one drops down to where Indian Creek crosses the highway on its way to its confluence with the Madison River. Indian Creek Ranch appears as literally an oasis in an otherwise wide open, arid landscape. Huge cottonwood trees mark the improvement compound, which is not visible from the highway. This complex of trees, buildings, pond, and creek is the centerpiece of the ranch. It has a private feel to it, while still offering wonderful views of the Madison Range to the east and is a short walk to the river to the west. The ranch encompasses a combination of dryland benches and lower lands along the river with a lush, riparian character where Indian Creek meanders through. The ranch also has over 80 acres of productive irrigated lands, which, when combined with sub-irrigated lands in the river’s flood plain, creates a uniquely lush environment not found on most ranches in the area. 

The ranch controls just under a mile of frontage on the Madison River on the deeded lands, and the river is bordered by BLM land below and State of Montana land above the ranch allowing for miles of access for the owner of Indian Creek Ranch. This is a particularly prolific section of the Madison which basically fishes well for a long season – contrary to many Montana rivers, which tend to be blown out or suffer from low flows for periods of the season. 

Broker's Comments

Indian Creek Ranch offers a rare opportunity to buy significant acreage on the Madison River in the very heart of the Madison Valley. More importantly, Indian Creek Ranch lies at the confluence of Indian Creek and the Madison River and thus offers a uniquely lush environment in a valley that is generally quite open and arid. Even a passerby on the highway cannot help but be impressed by the character of this area. Fortunately, it also offers a complete set of well-thought-out and totally appropriate improvements that have been lovingly maintained. 

Learn about the locale

Location

Indian Creek Ranch is located 18 miles south of Ennis and 57 miles north of West Yellowstone in the center of the Madison Valley with major views of the Madison Range from a secluded setting on the Madison River. It lies in one contiguous block adjoining Highway 287.  

A jet capable airport and fixed-base operation complete with fuel is located approximately 15 minutes to the north of the ranch between Cameron and Ennis. The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is located at Belgrade, approximately an hour and 15 minutes from the property. Delta, Horizon, Southwest, and United offer multiple daily flights (jet and turboprop operated) to and from their respective hubs of Salt Lake City/Minneapolis, Seattle, and Denver. Additionally, Frontier and Allegiant also service this airport. During the summer and winter tourist seasons, there are many non-stop flights to other major US metropolitan areas such as Chicago, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. This airport has a customs station to accept international passengers. The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is the busiest airport in the state of Montana. It also has two fixed-base operations providing a variety of services to those who utilize private aircraft. 

Locale

The Indian Creek Ranch is in the enviable position of being located in one of the most beautiful valleys in the Rocky Mountain West. The Madison Valley is world-famous for its superb fly fishing and dramatic mountain scenery. The valley was created millions of years ago by glacial action leaving a broad river valley, expansive alluvial benches, deep canyons coming out of the surrounding mountain ranges, and towering granite peaks. The Madison River starts at the confluence of the Firehole and Gibbons Rivers in Yellowstone National Park. It flows north to the headwaters of the Missouri River at Three Forks, where it converges with the Gallatin and Jefferson Rivers to form the Missouri. The main part of the Madison Valley is encompassed by the Centennial Range to the south, the Madison Range to the east, the Gravelly Range to the west, and the Tobacco Root Range to the north.  

The ranch is situated in an area that is known for its large well-run cattle ranches. The Sun Ranch and Carroll Ranch lie to the south, the Bar 7 Ranch to the west, and Sphinx Mountain, Cedar Creek, and the Jumping Horse Ranches lie to the north. One of the major benefits of land ownership in the Madison Valley is that over 85,000 acres of privately held lands are protected from future development by conservation easements and the surrounding mountain ranges are federally owned, providing unimpeded views in perpetuity. These conservation easements assure that future generations will enjoy these lands as open space.

The Indian Creek Ranch is conveniently located to enjoy much that Southwest Montana has to offer. Ennis, a very attractive small town of 800, is the headquarters for fly fisherman destined for the Madison River. It’s an easy 20-minute drive north of the ranch. It offers good restaurants, a well-supported local hospital, art galleries, fly shops, and guide services in abundance. It is also a trade center for a geographic area, which includes the Madison Valley and the eastern slope of the Tobacco Roots to the north.

Bozeman is just over an hour’s drive from the ranch. With roughly 40,000 residents, Bozeman is home to Montana State University and another 14,000± student residents. It boasts the Museum of the Rockies and an active community theater and arts group. A major opera production is offered each spring. The city is a commerce center, providing virtually every service one might require. It has been a leader amongst Montana cities in attracting preferred industry.

From the ranch, there is easy access to all the recreational pursuits one might wish to enjoy. Fishing on the Madison is immediately accessible from the ranch, and adjoining state and BLM lands provide additional areas in which to ride, walk, and fish.  

The Yellowstone, Gallatin, Jefferson, Henry’s Fork, Beaverhead, Big Hole, Ruby, and Missouri are all within a two-hour drive from the ranch. Hiking, horse pack trips, camping, and wildlife watching are out the back door. The Bear Creek Trail is a major trailhead into the Lee Metcalf Wilderness and is within fifteen minutes of the ranch boundary. For the winter sports enthusiast, superb skiing is available at Big Sky Ski and Summer Resort, around an hour and a half driving time, which also provides access to multiple golf courses seasonally. It is notable that the ranch is located just eleven air miles from the Yellowstone Club. Theoretically, one could fly a helicopter from one to the other should members be interested in ownership.    

Climate

Ennis, out in the middle of the Madison Valley, typically has 90 frost-free days and receives 11.5 inches of precipitation annually. The Indian Creek Ranch, with its location about 15 miles upriver at an elevation of around 5,400 feet above sea level, would have a somewhat shorter season but not much difference in precipitation. With the Continental Divide at the south end of the valley, the prevailing wind is from the south. In the winter months, this wind bares the limited snowfall off of the benches and ridges, allowing winter grazing for the livestock and wildlife, evidenced by the thousands of elk seen throughout the valley during this season. In the summer months, thunderstorms build over the mountains. One often enjoys the cooling effects of these rain showers during the afternoons and evenings in the valley.

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

  • 87± acres hay ground (36± on State land)
  • 521± acres grazing (71± on State land)

Deeded Acres: 498±
State Leased Acres: 110±
Total Leased Acres: 110±
Total Acres: 608±

Additional Information

CONSERVATION EASEMENT

Because of the unique nature of the Madison Valley, its world-class fishing and wildlife, the wilderness areas, and its significant impact on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, it became quite apparent 30 years ago to several conservation organizations that the Madison was quite worthy of saving from impending development pressures. As a result, to date, over 85,000 acres in the valley have been protected in perpetuity from development. The current owners of Indian Creek recognized the significance of the ranch in the overall scheme of Madison Valley conservation efforts and placed the ranch in a conservation easement with the Montana Land Reliance. A copy of the recorded easement document is available for review at the offices of Hall and Hall. It essentially limits building to one additional residence and any operational facilities needed for the ranch operation. It also prohibits subdivision. There is no limit on agriculturally related improvements and the current buildings can be expanded substantially or replaced by larger structures. 

Improvements

The Indian Creek Building complex is fully complete and in excellent condition, having been well-maintained by the current owners. Most of the grounds have an underground sprinkler system which keeps them looking well throughout the season. The complex includes a main house, guest house, and manager’s quarters, as well as an equestrian barn, a historic hip roof barn, and a calving barn. The buildings all have metal roofs. The main residential improvements are protected from river gorging by a stone wall. The entire compound is attractively fenced with either pole fencing or traditional jack leg fencing. 

MAIN HOUSE: This is a classic ranch home that has been extensively remodeled and added onto bringing it to a high standard. The expansive “great room” includes two comfortable seating areas with a large stone fireplace, a wet bar, a built-in indoor barbecue, a full dining room, and a well-equipped kitchen with an island and granite countertops. There are two comfortable guest bedrooms with full bathrooms in the guest wing as well as an office that could easily be converted into a third guest bedroom. The comfortable master bedroom has a large double bathroom, huge walk-in closets, and a private outdoor shower. The fixtures are all top of the line - Water Works in most cases. There is an attached one-car garage. The house is graced by long and wide porches all along the west side that overlooks Indian Creek, as well as a protected patio on the east side with views of the Madison Range. 

GUEST HOUSE: A short walk across Indian Creek takes one to the wood frame with log accents guest house situated along Indian Creek. It also has a long and wide porch all along the east side overlooking the creek. Inside there is a comfortable living room/dining room/kitchen area with a lovely stone fireplace. This house has two good sized bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. There is also a loft above that has bunk beds. 

MANAGER'S DUPLEX: Staff quarters are housed in a duplex building with one three-bedroom two-bathroom unit with living room and kitchen. The other is a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit with living room and kitchen. The manager lives in the larger unit and the smaller one is reserved for summer staff and occasional guests. 

EQUESTRIAN BARN: This 60’ X 200’ building with concrete foundation was built to accommodate a former owner’s polo horse training operation. It has a dirt floor and is big enough to ride inside in the winter. It currently houses a series of stalls with electric waterers, a tack room, and a storage area. It was built with stacked 2” X 4” lumber in the early 1970s. Outside this barn is an arena with sprinklers to keep the dust down and a series of corrals and paddocks. 

BARN: The ranch has a traditional hip roof barn that is not currently in use. There is also a small attached shop with a concrete floor used primarily for equipment storage. 

CALVING BARN: Located several hundred yards to the north of the barn is a 42’ X 224’ pole-type calving barn. It is used for that purpose in the current operation. It also has a series of irrigated paddocks with waterers. 

Water Resources

The ranch has two 2.2 CFS water rights from the Madison River, which can be delivered both by pump and by ditch. There is also a lovely pond which offers fishing literally in one’s front yard. This pond has a waterfall as well as an aerator so that fish are able to overwinter. Indian Creek does pass through the ranch providing an attractive fishing option in season. It does get dewatered in the late summer from irrigation take out above. The ranch does have the ability to supplement it with its Madison River rights. The ranch also has three wells for domestic and some limited irrigation use. 

Learn about the recreational amenities

Fishery Resources

The Madison River, which forms the west boundary of the ranch, is an exceptional and world-renowned trout stream. Public lands above and below the ranch provide access to many more miles of great angling. The river is open to fishing year-round, and it would be hard to imagine a better river on which to own frontage. The ranch has close to a mile of private river frontage and, as stated earlier, has immediate access to multiple miles on adjacent state and BLM lands. In fact, for floaters, there is a put-in across the river from the ranch and a take-out just downstream for a perfect short float. The owners have cut nice trails in the willows along the river for fishermen and picnickers.  

Wildlife Resources

The main big game species to be found regularly on the ranch would be trophy quality whitetail deer, moose and pronghorn antelope. The ranch is also home to herds of migratory elk who tend to winter in the area before moving back into nearby mountains for the grazing season. These elk are normally present on the ranch during hunting season. Since the current owners do not allow hunting, it has become something of a sanctuary for the elk during the hunting season and throughout the winter because of its huge groves of trees and brush along the river. 

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

The current manager has had an informal arrangement with a neighbor. The neighbor runs some of his cattle in the summer, and he takes care of the neighbor’s cattle during the winter and calves them out in the ranch’s calving barn. 

The main focus of Indian Creek Ranch, however, has been equestrian activities for its owners. It is a wonderful small horse ranch that is able to take advantage of adjoining public land for riding as well as having the ability to trailer the horses to multiple nearby U.S. Forest Service access points for trail rides into the national forest. In the past, the ranch has hosted equestrian clinics utilizing its arena and stabling. 

The ranch does have excellent Madison River water rights, and the lower reaches of the ranch are lush because of sub-irrigation from being in the river and creek flood plain. In recent years the owners have chosen to minimize ranch operations, so have not aggressively operated the ranch. It does have enormous potential should a new owner wish to maximize its agricultural capabilities.  

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