For Sale

MTX Ranch

$5,150,000 Virginia City, MT 5,246± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

MTX Ranch is a 7,357± acre (5,246± deeded) mountain landscape located between the Ruby and Madison Valleys in southwest Montana near the historic community of Virginia City. The ranch rises above the valley floor expanding southerly into the north end of the Gravelly Mountain Range and adjacent BLM lands. The ranch is vastly timbered interspersed by grassy meadows and bifurcated by flowing springs which ultimately collect and flow into the Ruby River. Historically, MTX Ranch has been utilized as a summer grazing operation inclusive of the deeded and BLM permits with ancillary recreational interests including big game hunting for deer, elk and bear. The lands have been professionally managed over the years and the quality in operations is apparent. Dozens of miles of two-track roads make the ranch fully accessible. Southwest Montana and the Ruby Valley, in particular, has become very appealing in the overall western ranch market. It is proximal to multiple small colorful communities, convenient from Bozeman and its commercial airfield and is unencumbered by conservation easement. Steeped in rich history, the area was settled during the gold rush era of the 1860s and remnants of that era are still apparent. Given the mountain terrain that encompasses the MTX Ranch, it has a feel of being substantially larger than it is and represents strong value in this desirable region of Montana.

Just the Facts

  • 5,246± deeded acres
  • Adjoins BLM and national forest
  • Vast timber resources, grassy meadows and small streams
  • Seasonal grazing supports 375 pairs for five months including BLM grazing permits
  • Variety of wildlife including elk, deer, bear and moose
  • Great views of the Tobacco Root, Ruby, and Madison Mountain Ranges
  • Dozens of miles of internal two-track roads provide excellent access throughout the ranch
  • Proximal to the small communities Virginia City, Ennis, Sheridan and a one-hour drive from Bozeman and commercial air services


General Description

As mentioned above, the region was founded on a gold rush. In addition to precious metals, rubies are discoverable, and garnets are commercially mined. The greater landscape is dotted with mining claims and spoils from shaft mine excavation. Vastly, these are abandoned, although a handful remain active. Its easy to imagine what it must have been like living there 150 years ago, and the ranch played a role in this history.  

The ranch lies elevated above town generally expanding rectangularly in an east to west orientation adjoining Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in which the ranch has a partial grazing allotment. Extending to the south, the BLM lands adjoin the Beaverhead National Forest and the Greenhorn Mountain Range. From there, the national forest extends southerly uninterrupted merging with Yellowstone National Park some 60 miles distant. Other ranges include the Tobacco Roots to the north and the Ruby Mountain Range to the west. From the higher elevations of the ranch one can easily view the Highland Mountains to the north and the Madison Range to the east, including the iconic Sphynx Mountain as well as Lone Peak where Big Sky Resort is located.    

Two separate drainages essentially divide the ranch. Williams Creek flows northwesterly through more than 50 of the western portion of the lands. This small perennial stream meanders out of the elevated timbered slopes, through a shallow cottonwood and willowed bottom, confluencing with the Ruby River a short distance after it exits the deeded lands. Williams Creek Road is a graveled county road that makes a horseshoe route beginning at Nevada City extending through a portion of the western side of the ranch and exiting near the community of Alder. This road provides good access to the property and has very low volume in traffic primarily due to the nature of it not connecting into any public lands. Similarly, Barton Gulch (accessed off of Browns Gulch) and Alder Gulch roads provide access into the eastern portions of the ranch. Alder Gulch only touches a corner of the deeded lands and extends further to the south towards the national forest and through the heart of the gold rush.  

The undulating lands are relatively open on the north end as one approaches the ranch. Tall sage and scattered juniper have ample native grass stands which support the livestock and variety of wildlife that roam these hills. Starkly, these lands break into dark stands of timber and grass filled meadows that comprise roughly two-thirds or more of the deeded lands. An abundance of springs provide water and balances the forage usage of ungulates across the landscape. The timber is a mix of primarily fir and lodgepole pine with pockets of aspen trees where water is present. Decades ago, some logging had occurred with selective and clear-cut practices utilized. Today those areas have grown back in with now maturing trees. The majority of the lands still possess old-growth stands. One of the net benefits of the previous logging operations is a network of roads that was established to harvest the timber. Although there are many places that are not physically accessible beyond foot, the roads that do exist allow one to generally access the majority of the ranch. This is of benefit recreationally and agriculturally.  

There are no notable improvements on the ranch beyond a couple of old cabins that exist along Williams Creek that also have utilities connected. MTX Ranch does have a couple of select building sites that are elevated, allowing an owner to absorb the view while remaining exceptionally private. Ideally, these would be a cabin site location with the idea of building perhaps something off-grid and seasonal as this country does receive snow, particularly as you rise into the upper topography of the lands.  

There are ten mining claims owned by six separate owners within the deeded footprint of the ranch. These are small, irregularly shaped claims that are residual from the rush and very common throughout the area that include hundreds of other similar parcels of land. These claims were not settled as a typical homesteader might have chosen whereby a place was selected for quality of living and ranching operations. Rather, these are based on the potential of finding precious metal and vastly include a “dry hole.” To that regard, many of the claims both on the ranch and throughout the area reside on relatively inaccessible slopes that are also not suitable for building and may not even have any apparent access to them. None of the claims have any access to public lands and the Rodgers family, who are the original homesteader family, are the only ones that have any level of improvements on them. 

Broker's Comments

MTX Ranch is an outstanding buy in the heart of the booming recreationally driven market of southwest Montana. Sprawling over 7,000± total acres, the ranch feels quite large as one travels through the seemingly endless ascending topography. A seasonal livestock operation combines wildlife and limitless recreational pursuits in a region rich in public lands. Proximity to Virginia City and Nevada City provides seasonal and unique entertainment, and with the small community of Ennis just over the hill, there are expanded dining options within 45 minutes of the ranch. With an expansive deeded footprint in a very desirous location, the MTX Ranch is appealing in the Rocky Mountain region.  

Learn about the locale

Location

MTX Ranch lies immediately east of the small communities of Virginia City and Nevada City, Montana with short access from the highway on a graveled county road. The nearest commercial air service can be found at the Bozeman airport about a 90-minute drive east and north of the ranch. This is Montana’s busiest airport and offers nonstop service in season to many major U.S. cities such as Chicago, New York, Atlanta, and Seattle. 

Twin Bridges has an excellent small airport that is scheduled to be expanded to accommodate most private aircraft, but currently offers a 4,300’ paved and lighted runway about 15 minutes from the property, while Ennis, about 30 minutes away offers a 6,600’ jet-capable runway.

There are many other small towns nearby, such as Ennis and Sheridan, that offer fine dining and entertainment. These are all within an hour’s drive or less of the ranch.

Locale

The immediate area is steeped rich in history. In 1863, gold was discovered near Alder Creek and once the secret was let out, the rush was on becoming one of the richest gold strikes in the Rocky Mountain West. Within weeks thousands of prospectors poured into what became Virginia City in search of fortune. To protect against the lawlessness of the state stemmed on by the nearly 100 murders that occurred over the following year, sheriff Henry Plummer from the nearby gold rush community of Bannack was assigned to assemble road agents to protect the outflow of gold shipments. Not long thereafter, it was discovered that Plummer was in fact the head of the notorious Montana Vigilantes that were responsible for the robbery of dozens of stagecoach shipments of gold. Plummer, and his 15-member Road Agent Gang, were hung on a hill overlooking the town and taking the location of the stolen gold to the grave with them.  

Virginia City became the Territorial Capital of Montana in 1865 and remained so until Helena took the reign in 1875. As the gold rush dissipated, the town of Virginia City and the neighboring town of Nevada City became relative ghost towns as others such as Central City, located between the two, all but disappeared. In 1940, Charlie Bovey, an heir to the General Mills fortune, purchased most of Virginia City and Nevada City in an effort to preserve the history. Over the following decade, careful consideration was given to planning and substantial preservation was dedicated to the historical structures which exist today. Later gifted to the Montana Heritage Commission, the towns are a National Historic Landmark and play an important role in Montana tourism. The experience is nothing short than a step back in time.  

Current populations are roughly 190 in Virginia City and far fewer in Nevada City. It has played host to a volume of movie sets including Missouri Breaks and has a seasonal commercial operation through the summer and fall months. Seasonally, reenactments are performed on the “streets” of Nevada City. Virginia City offers a variety of entertainment such as a short ride on a beautifully restored steam engine train that shuttles from Virginia City to Nevada City and back where it is not uncommon for a band of Vigilantes to “heist” the train. Quality musical performances are offered at the Opera House, hysterical comedy is offered at the Brewery Follies in an old dirt floor brewery central to town, beverages are served at the Bale of Hay Saloon, and a variety of food is offered at various restaurants.  

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

Deeded Acres: 5,246±
BLM Leased Acres: 2,111±
Total Leased Acres: 2,111±
Total Acres: 7,357±

Water Rights

Adequate stock water rights are filed with the State of Montana from a variety of different water sources. From a livestock perspective, the ranch is considered to be well-watered.  

Taxes

Approximately $1,700 annually.

Learn about the recreational amenities

Recreational Considerations

Southwest Montana is a paradise for recreation. A destination for global fly fishermen, the headwater tributaries of the Missouri River system, including waters emerging from Yellowstone Park, are world-class for cold water pursuit of wild Montana trout. Proximal to the ranch are the Ruby, Beaverhead, Big Hole, Jefferson, and Madison Rivers. This is in addition to the hundreds of unsung tributaries that feed these systems, which also includes Alder Gulch, a fun small stream fishery that carves its way through the thousands of tons of gravel debris that are the tailings from the mining days. In addition to the moving water fisheries, there are multitudes of alpine lakes to explore, and on a larger scale, Ennis Lake is popular for all water sports including fishing as is the Ruby Reservoir located just minutes from the ranch.  

An abyss of public lands lies immediately to the south extending through national forest lands and into Yellowstone National Park. This includes the majestic Snowcrest Range as well as the more docile Gravelly mountains, both of which are connected to the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Travel use plans are mixed with remote foot and horse trails in some areas and motorized access including snowmobiling in others. There is literally a lifetime of exploration right out the back door of the MTX Ranch.  

Hunting is a major attraction to the region. MTX Ranch plays host to a variety of big game animals that include whitetail and mule deer, antelope, moose, black bear, and elk. There are two separate herds of elk that primarily live on the ranch through summer and fall. Mountain grouse are also commonly found throughout the ranch.     

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

MTX Ranch has served as a seasonal grazing unit of an area ranch for decades. Typically, cattle will move into this country on the lower elevations starting in May. The ranch will easily support 375 pairs through October and often into November.  

The ranch is divided into a number of pastures, each of which is cross-fenced and has adequate water resources. The ranch is a part of the Hungry Hollow BLM Grazing Allotment (BLM #10491) that allows the ranch an expanded seasonal grazing footprint for 23 cattle from July 20 through October 28. The ranch diligently attends to fencing projects and mitigates any weed problems via a contract sprayer on an annual basis.  

Back to Overview

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