The Maclay Ranch is a 4th generation Montana family holding. These 822± acres are located less than 15 minutes to Missoula. With a mix of irrigated flatlands, sloping meadows and upland timber, the property has a diverse collection of habitats resting on the doorstep of a vibrant city. It is also adjacent to a large block of public land that leads into the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states. Presently, this is bare land waiting for a new owner to pick a building site to take in the mountain views.
Click here to see some dramatic footage of elk filmed on the ranch in March of 2020.
Just the Facts
- 822± Deeded Acres
- Views of Sapphire and Bitterroot Mountains
- USFS and State land boundaries
- Desirable western Montana location only 15 minutes from Missoula
- Direct access to public lands leading into Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness area
- Mix of topography and habitats from irrigated meadows to timbered slopes
- Mild western Montana climate
Maclay Ranch consists of approximately 822 acres of deeded land. The east edge of the property borders Highway 93 about 9 miles south of Missoula. Frontage on the highway totals approximately 1,750 feet. The property slopes gently up to the west from the highway for almost 2.5 miles before meeting the United States Forest Service boundary. The lowest elevations along the highway are irrigated lands totaling more than 100 acres. There are about 185 acres of open rangelands directly west of the irrigated lands. The balance of the property is forested. In 2017 the Lolo Creek Fire burned about half of the timbered acreage allowing for a diversity of habitats throughout the ranch. Fire has always been part of the western landscape and the burned portions of the ranch create an interesting opportunity to watch natural recovery in action.
Large parcels such as this are not easily found so close to a thriving city like Missoula. Maclay Ranch has lots of breathing room and has tremendous potential for someone who enjoys ranch life coupled with the diversity of a nearby urban setting.
Learn about the locale
Maclay Ranch is located in the Bitterroot Valley less than a mile south of the town of Lolo, Montana (pop. 3,892). Lolo is about 8 miles south of Missoula (pop. 73,340). Missoula International Airport is served by Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Allegiant Air, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and United Airlines — each with numerous arrivals and departures each day. Non-stop flights are available to Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Denver, Las Vegas, Dallas, Portland, and Seattle. Seasonal non-stop flights are available to Phoenix, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco.
The Bitterroot Valley is arguably the most beautiful valley in Montana if not the Northern Rockies. It is an area steeped in the history of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In fact, one of the most important campsites along their western trek is a stone’s throw from the Maclay Ranch. The Bitterroot River runs in a northerly direction throughout the length of the valley. The western edge of the valley is met by the towering, jagged peaks of the Bitterroot Mountain Range while the eastern edge of the valley is graced with the gentler horizon of the Sapphire Mountains. The Bitterroot Valley is one of the more settled valleys in Montana and therefore offers much more in the way of services than many other areas. The valley is dotted with quaint Montana towns, the largest of which is Hamilton located approximately 35 miles from the ranch. Stevensville was the very first community in Montana and it is located approximately 16 miles from the ranch’s doorstep. All of these towns are connected by a paved and dedicated bicycle path running north-south along the west side of Highway 93. The Bitterroot National Forest borders the ranch on the west end which leads into the Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness areas. Located in the Bitterroot Mountains, these wilderness areas provide the locals a pristine roadless wilderness that accounts for the largest contiguous block of wilderness in the lower 48 states.
The Bitterroot Valley is one of the lowest intermountain valleys in the Rocky Mountains. Elevations at the Maclay Ranch range from approximately 3,164 to 5,000 feet above sea level. This location west of the continental divide results in a stronger “Pacific Northwest influence” than that which is found east of the divide. Consequently, the climate is mild by Montana standards. High readings of 90°F occur less than 20 days a year. Summers are pleasant and winters are characterized by steady, but not severe, cold. Extremely high winds are rare.
Learn more about the property
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Deeded Acres: 823±
Total Acres: 823±
Currently, there is no conservation easement encumbering the property, but for conservation minded buyers, it is worth noting there is strong interest from land trusts for a solution that will benefit the landscape, the landowner and, in particular, the elk population.
This is a rare bare land parcel that is ready for a new owner to build.
Maclay Ranch holds extensive water rights including irrigation and stock water. Full documentation is available upon request.
Annual taxes are approximately $4,856.
Learn about the recreational amenities
Fishing is probably the most important recreational attraction to the Bitterroot Valley. The Bitterroot River is a well-respected world-class fly-fishing river. It has an exceptionally long season with fishable hatches from early March through early November. Rainbow and brown trout up to 27 inches are occasionally landed here as well as cutthroat trout up to about 20 inches or more. Maclay Ranch is conveniently located for easy fishing excursions to the river.
Sustainable, low impact sheep grazing has been practiced during the ranch’s 139 year operation. This allows birds, including wild turkeys, grouse, raptors and western blue birds to thrive. Mule and whitetail deer are abundant, a 100 head elk herd, and an occasional moose, cinnamon colored black bear, mountain lion, coyotes and fox are frequently seen. Even wolves pass through the ranch on occasion. Approximately 40 percent of the property is classified as “crucial winter range” and another 40 percent is identified as “winter range” for elk. Additional birds species on the ranch include great blue herons, hummingbirds, great horned and snowy owls, sand hill cranes, meadow larks, Downey, Lewis and pileated woodpeckers, eagles, red wing and yellow headed blackbirds and various types of ducks and geese.
The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the largest in the lower 48 states, has numerous trailheads from many locations throughout the valley.
Finally, for the bicycling enthusiast there is a 50 mile long bike path connecting Missoula to Hamilton which runs along the eastern edge of the ranch.
Learn about the general operations
Traditionally, the Maclay Ranch has run a herd of sheep, but the property could be easily converted to cattle, horses or other livestock. The higher elevations currently offer a higher value grazing resource as a result of the Lolo Creek fire in 2017.
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