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.
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.
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.