For Sale

One Horse Creek Ranch

$10,500,000 Florence, MT 785± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

Western ranch buyers often want something extremely rare: a property with everything on their wish list located less than 30 minutes from the amenities of a sizable town and an airport. One Horse Creek Ranch is one of those scarce, no-tradeoffs kind of places. Lush, irrigated fields and healthy forests combined with equestrian facilities, fishing, and hunting — all in a unique location 20 minutes from the booming city of Missoula, a university town of over 70,000. The mile-long winding driveway reveals one beautiful view after another. First-time visitors to this hidden treasure often comment, “Wow! I had no idea such a place existed so close to town.”

The 1,100±-acre ranch is a large island of privacy. The elegant primary residence looks as if it were plucked from an Italian hillside. Luxury meshes seamlessly with the wildness of Montana. The Bitterroot Valley is known for its abundance of wildlife, and that is reflected at the ranch.

The multi-level home, styled after a Tuscan villa, sits atop a meadow and is backed by a forested hillside. Rustic-styled outbuildings include an equestrian complex, a large shop and guest quarters, and a small hobby cabin. The views overlooking the Bitterroot Valley and the Sapphire Mountains are stunning. By design, the villa encourages residents and guests to marvel at nature. While standing on several of the home’s wide verandas, you hear the riffles of a nearby willow-lined creek as it rushes toward two trout ponds below. Hay fields, often with grazing elk and deer, roll out a bright green carpet in front of you. Your eye follows the land as it falls away to the valley floor with the Sapphire Mountain range beyond. With a federally designated wilderness only three miles away, nature is all around you.

Just the Facts

  • 785± deeded acres with a mix of gravity-fed irrigation, grasslands and timber
  • 320± acres state grazing lease
  • Move-in ready Tuscan-style home with exceptional craftsmanship (8,850± square feet)
  • Equestrian complex with four-stall barn, equipment storage, outdoor riding arena and round pen
  • Meticulously maintained woodshop with second floor guest apartment
  • Hobby Cabin
  • Two creek-fed ponds full of cutthroat and brook trout

General Description

One Horse Creek Ranch unfolds dramatically as you enter through the front gate. After crossing the rustic bridge over One Horse Creek itself, you quickly pass through a band of forest before entering broad, green hay meadows backed by a 180-degree view of the Bitterroot Mountain Range. Tucked away at the bottom of the meadows, close to the creek, is a small cabin with hand-hewn log siding — a modern building that could be mistaken for an old homesteader’s cabin. Then, around a curve in the road is another striking view — the snowcapped peaks in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness rising above the timbered foothills of the ranch. Almost a mile beyond the entry gate, the equestrian complex appears where a 4-stall western-style horse barn is surrounded by an 11-acre pasture, riding arena, and round pen. Just beyond the equestrian complex are two trout ponds loaded with trout.

Continuing up the road past lush green fields with views of the Bitterroot Mountains, you see what appears to be a barn. Actually, the two-story building contains a large shop downstairs plus a two-bedroom guest apartment upstairs. Back on the driveway, eyes are drawn to the intriguing design of the Tuscan-style residence. Surrounded by aspens, banks of wildflowers and fine stonework, this classic home invites a look inside. 

Beyond the home, the ranch extends westward, eventually connecting to the national forest. Here, you will find a very special mix of ecology: beautiful ponderosa pine forests, groves of large aspens, larch, and even a sprinkling of apple trees that were part of the valley’s economy decades ago. Lush riparian areas along two creeks provide habitat for a host of critters. 

While roads provide vehicular access to these areas of the ranch, a quiet walk or horseback ride from the house improves the chance of seeing the amazing wildlife. After all, the ranch backs up to millions of acres of national forest leading into a federally designated wilderness area.

Broker's Comments

Whether used as a full-time residence or a seasonal retreat, One Horse Creek Ranch is an exceptional option surrounded by the best of Montana. It is private, full of wildlife, yet close to a vibrant city and an accessible airport. Picture fishing one of many world-class fisheries and being home for dinner.

Learn about the locale

Location

One Horse Creek Ranch is located within a mile of the small town of Florence. Within a five-minute drive are all day-to-day conveniences needed: a grocery store, hardware store, gas station, restaurant, and bank. Yet the ranch is completely hidden and private. The ranch is approximately 20 miles south of Missoula. 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 daily. Nonstop 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 Stevensville airport about 10 miles away and the Ravalli County Airport in Hamilton (a 4,200’ by 75’ asphalt runway) about 27 miles south are both open to general aviation.

Locale

Few scenic areas in western Montana can rival the Bitterroot Valley. Set between the Sapphire Mountains to the east and the Bitterroot Range to the west, there are spectacular views in every direction. From hidden streams to spectacular skylines to snowcapped peaks rising from behind forested hillsides, there are wonders at every turn. Boundless recreational opportunities are just minutes from the ranch, including hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing, and rafting. Furthermore, the ranch borders state and national forests that can be accessed directly—by foot, bike, ATV, or horse—to fish a mountain lake, to hunt, or to explore the backcountry. 

Small towns dot the valley, including the county seat of Hamilton, about 25 miles to the south, where several museums showcase the rich history of the area, including the Daly Mansion (copper barons) and the Ravalli County Museum (early history of Montana). Other local museums include Travelers’ Rest (Lewis and Clark) and the Big Hole Battlefield (Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe). Locally, the Hamilton Playhouse offers a variety of shows throughout the year and the Hamilton Performing Arts Council brings a surprising range of entertainers to the community. 

Missoula (population 73,340 as of 2017) is a rapidly growing college town just 20 minutes north of the ranch. There you will find a rich assortment of restaurants, museums, galleries, festivals, and live theater that earn it the reputation of the cultural center of Montana. The University of Montana offers impressive educational, entertainment, and sports opportunities to the public. Missoula’s medical community includes some of the finest facilities in the region, with two hospitals and the International Heart Institute.

The Stock Farm Club (30 minutes south of the ranch) is home to a Tom Fazio-designed golf course that has breathtaking views of the Bitterroot Mountain Range. In addition to golf, the club provides many activities for kids and adults throughout the year. In 2017, the Stock Farm was named the #1 course in Montana by Golf Digest.

Climate

The geography of the Bitterroot Valley creates a moderate year-round climate that earns it the reputation of the “banana belt” of Montana. While low temperatures may drop into the teens during mid-winter and at times even sub-zero, these spells are usually short-lived and clear, bright winter days return. Spring rains and snowmelt fill the creeks and abundant wildflowers blanket the ranch. Spring nights remain crisp, and even in mid-summer the nighttime temperatures can be in the 50s. As the aspen, cottonwoods, and western larch trees turn yellow and gold in the fall, temperatures range from the low 30s to the high 50s — perfect weather for hiking, fishing, hunting, or just watching the elk and deer graze in the meadow. Fall colors are brilliant.

History

The Bitterroot Valley is rich with the history and romance of the American West. Prior to the arrival of white settlers, Salish & Nez Perce Tribes lived here for many generations because of its climate and abundance of wildlife. Following the Louisiana Purchase, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were dispatched by Thomas Jefferson to find a passage westward to the Pacific. They traveled through the heart of the Bitterroot Valley and past, if not through, One Horse Creek Ranch. The Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), is a flower that Lewis documented here as having “a very bitter taste, which was nauseous to my palate.” He “transferred them to the Indians who had eat them heartily.” Eventually, this flower would be named the state flower. 

The first white settlement in the valley occurred in 1841 with the founding of St. Mary’s Mission near what is now known as Stevensville. As was the case in those days, relations with the tribes were fraught with confrontation and tension. In 1877, Chief Joseph and a large band of the Nez Perce tribe traveled through the region in an attempt to spend their summer hunting bison as they had done so many times before on the plains. This resulted in bloody clashes with the U.S. Army. Two hours from the ranch, the Big Hole National Battlefield memorializes one such battle in 1877.

The discovery of copper near Butte fueled industrial development and money flowed through the state like water at the dawn of the 20th century. One of the two “copper kings” of Butte, Marcus Daly, used his fortune to acquire what would become the valley’s most famous ranch holding which is where he built a plantation-style mansion. Today, this mansion is open to public tours. At the turn of the century, the Bitterroot Valley was a major producer of Macintosh apples. Although the state of Washington eventually won the competition in the market for apples, there are still producing trees on the ranch today.

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

Deeded Acres: 785±
State Leased Acres: 320±
Total Leased Acres: 320±
Total Acres: 1,105±

Additional Information

Personal Property
An inventory of personal property, including ranching equipment and tools, will be made available for sale outside of a purchase and sale agreement for the ranch. This inventory will only be made available to qualified prospective purchasers upon request after visiting the property. 

Conservation Easement
A conservation easement, held by Five Valleys Land Trust, was placed on the property in year 2000. It has the stated purpose “to preserve and protect in perpetuity and, in the event of their degradation or destruction, to enhance and restore the open space and significant relatively natural features and values of the Property”. Additional information is available upon request. 

Improvements

The Villa
Built in 2011, the villa is nestled in the trees and overlooks the beautiful Bitterroot Valley. Live-ability and a connection with the outdoors were key design objectives for the home. With 8,854± square feet of insulated living space, it is big enough to entertain large groups while maintaining a cozy feeling that is comfortable year-round. In addition to the insulated space, there are 1,200± square feet of covered terraces and 1,470± square feet of open patios. 

Though inspired by designs of Mediterranean villas, it fits right into Montana. The light tan exterior stucco matches the color of the earth surrounding it. The muted tones of the tile roof also complement the surrounding landscape. The large windows and extensive terraces bring all the beauty of Montana into the living space. 

Travertine stone creates an appealing transition from the surrounding landscape to the interior of the villa. As you step through the recycled-oak front door, you are greeted by the remarkable views across the valley toward the Sapphire Mountain Range. Plaster walls are light, windows are large, and warm cherry wood trim gives each room a feeling of coziness. A wood burning fireplace on the far wall ties it all together. An overhead mezzanine surrounds the great room with hints of a library visible through distinctive wrought iron railing. 

A glance to the right reveals a bright sunroom with skylights and south-facing windows. It is perfect for growing lush indoor plants and has been used for meetings, casual dining, and simply soaking up the warmth of the sun in winter. A birdfeeder outside is a non-stop source of entertainment for young and old. 

Between the kitchen and the great room (to the left), there is an elegant dining room with a smoked-glass wall looking into an 800-bottle wine cellar. The “groin vault” ceiling gives the impression of a Tuscan café. Step from there into the oversized kitchen designed by William Ohs, a leading kitchen design firm in the U.S. There are two islands — one is designed for work and the other functions as a bar for guests to chat with the cook. Appliances include three Wolf ovens, two dishwashers, Wolf under-counter microwave, two warming drawers, a beverage cooler, and an ice machine. The large pot rack was custom-built with lighting to provide a well-lit working space for the chef. A large walk-in pantry is nearby with an additional Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer. A gas fireplace behind the bar top adds to the ambiance of the kitchen. This fireplace is shared with the family room, which is intended for large-screen TV watching or listening to music. 

The villa is divided into two areas — public and private. On the main floor, two guest suites each have a distinctive design — one modern and the other rustic. The marble countertop in the modern bathroom is naturally embedded with fossilized trilobites. The vanity in the rustic bedroom is constructed from reclaimed wood. Also, along the hallway accessing the guest bedrooms are the laundry room and a storage room with extensive shelving. The hallway eventually leads to the three-car garage, which has an easy-to-clean epoxy-coated floor. Connected to the garage is a separate pet room with a large concrete sink designed for grooming pets. A door leads to an enclosed outside dog run.

The natural flow between rooms is an important characteristic of this home. From the great room, you can walk to an outdoor dining area or slip into a comfortable chair in one of two conversation nooks on the terrace. These are daily gathering places used throughout the summer months. An outdoor fireplace creates a warm and cozy ambiance for entertaining on cool evenings during spring and fall. The villa’s main floor and basement are intended to be used by residents and guests alike. The upper floor, accessible by stairs or elevator, is a more private area for the owners. 

The Living Quarters
The master bedroom suite, two offices, and a reading nook are all located upstairs. In the bedroom, a deck overlooks the creek, which can be heard rushing by when the windows are open. A gas fireplace adds to the coziness of the bedroom. His and her closets have plenty of built-ins. The elegant Jacuzzi tub is surrounded on two sides by full-height windows that look out into the woods. A two-person walk-in steam shower sits beside the tub. 

Overlooking the great room is a mezzanine with iron balusters and cherry handrails. The mezzanine is lined with cherry bookshelves and seating that invites the curious to sit down and peruse the library. Farther down the hall are his and her offices (or craft rooms). Both have extensive cherry built-ins. 

A stairway from the upper level leads to yet another destination — the lookout tower. Inspired by Forest Service fire lookouts of yesteryear, this is the villa’s highest point, with a panoramic 360-degree view. Complete with a bar sink, refrigerator, and granite countertops, this room invites you to spend time here relaxing with friends, watching the weather, looking for wildlife, or just playing a game on a lazy afternoon.

Below the main level, there is an exercise room, a large temperature-controlled walk-in wine cellar, a full bath, and a large finished storeroom with a walk-in vault for valuables and family treasures. 

Home Amenities
This home’s technical infrastructure is aimed at making life a bit more enjoyable. It is heated with natural gas, as opposed to the more common propane, which saves money and the hassle of refilling tanks. Domestic water comes from a high-quality well that feeds a storage cistern that in turn feeds the house, shop, and barn. The quiet comfort of radiant heat, air conditioning, humidity control, and an automatic air exchanger leave this home always feeling as fresh as the outdoors. A backup generator will automatically take over in the event of a power outage.

Here are some of the remarkable details of the villa at One Horse Creek Ranch:
  • Cherry wood doors and trim throughout, including custom-designed baseboards, banisters, shelves, door and window frames, and other details
  • Massive three-inch thick solid cherry doors emphasize the no-detail-was-spared quality of the interior and overall construction
  • Arched doorways that add interest and a feeling of European sophistication 
  • Mesquite floors that are “iron-hard” and match the cherry trim
  • In-floor heat with backup forced-air heat
  • Floors include a layer of Gyp-Crete for even heating and sound suppression
  • Lutron-controlled lighting and window shades
  • Extensive storage areas — every space has a purpose
  • Real plaster walls with interesting textures — no faux painting
  • Laundry chute from the upstairs bedroom to the laundry room
  • Central vacuum
  • Whole-house sound and intercom system  with controls in many rooms
  • Lawn irrigation is provided by filtered creek water
  • The villa has high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi.
Shop and Guest Quarters 
The rustic “shop” was built in 2006 and has all the modern conveniences. Downstairs comprises multiple storage areas for toys: boats, RVs, and cars. The rustic exterior reminds one of Montana’s past. The outside parking pad is heated to keep it ice-free in the winter. The heated interior concrete floor is painted with epoxy, which makes it easy to keep clean. Today, part of the first floor is used as a brightly lit woodshop. But it is truly a multipurpose space with a full bath. Upstairs is a rustic, western-themed two-bedroom apartment with floors of recycled wood from an old early 1900s warehouse in Missoula. It includes a full bath, a full kitchen, and laundry room. This space could be used by guests who want “their own space” away from the main house or perhaps a caretaker. 

Hobby Cabin 
This one-room building could easily be mistaken for a settler’s cabin from the homestead era, yet it was built in 2009 using modern construction techniques. Old-school touches include a gas-fired stove for heating. Its interior includes large built-in desks and work surfaces. 

Equestrian Complex 
The equestrian area is home to a 4-stall western-style horse barn (constructed in 2007) surrounded by an 11-acre pasture, riding arena, and round pen. The large stalls in the barn have interlocking pavers on the floors that provide a cobblestone look. Made from natural recycled rubber, they provide a non-slip, cushioned surface that is easy to clean. Horses love the floors and are comfortable lying down on them, eliminating the need for messy shavings. The roomy tack area includes office space. There is plenty of storage upstairs. Two adjacent buildings, built in 2010, house ranch equipment and a maintenance shop. There is also a covered area for hay storage. Adjacent corrals open onto the horse pasture. The riding arena and round pen are used for training and riding.

Water Rights

The ranch has extensive water rights for irrigation from One Horse Creek. Priority dates stretch as far back as 1870. Full documentation of water rights is available upon request. 

Mineral Rights

Seller will transfer all minerals owned by Seller.

Taxes

Annual taxes were $23,859 in 2017.

Learn about the recreational amenities

Fishery Resources

Two trout ponds were built by renowned fisheries biologist Joe Urbani. The goal was to create a healthy self-sustaining fishery. In the 16 years since construction, the ponds have been vibrant and healthy. The owners have never fed the fish and every year there are lots of fingerlings darting around the shallows. Both ponds are lined with a bentonite carpet to minimize water loss. Because trout will not reproduce in still water, the ponds are fed with fresh water from the creek. That water goes through the ponds and then back into the creek. If the creek water level becomes low in late summer, three pumps can recirculate water within the pond system. 

Often the wish list of fishing enthusiasts includes frontage on a trout stream. But even better would be to avoid the headaches of maintaining riparian zones after high water and dealing with fishermen on your property yet live close to famous trout water. That’s the advantage of One Horse Creek Ranch for fishermen. The Bitterroot River, with a boat launch only five minutes away from the ranch, has earned a reputation as one of the top trout rivers in Montana. Flowing through one of the more scenic valleys in the state, the Bitterroot has it all—runs, riffles, pools, flats, gravel bars, and numerous braids. Seven nationally recognized trout streams are local to the ranch. Steelhead fishing in the Clearwater or Salmon River is only a few hours away. 

Wildlife Resources

Because the federal Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness is only three miles from the ranch, it is possible that nearly every species of animal that lives in Montana can be seen. Whitetail deer, mule deer, bear and elk are seen on a regular basis. Birders will recognize how special it is that the ranch has a nesting pair of peregrine falcons. And aspiring birders can hone their skills by spotting an amazing variety of birds circling above and calling the forest home.

Recreational Considerations

One Horse Creek Ranch is healthy, lush, and meticulously maintained. On a hike through the woods or a drive up the ranch road, you will see groves of large aspens, conifers, larch, and even a sprinkling of apple trees that were part of the valley’s economy decades ago. Looking back toward the valley, you will see why this is called Big Sky country. The entire west side of the ranch borders state and national forests which lead into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the largest contiguous wilderness area (2.5 million acres) in the lower 48. The eastern boundary of the wilderness is only three miles from the ranch’s western boundary. Everything in between is federal land. This proximity enables nearly every species of animal in Western Montana to be seen at the ranch. Whitetail deer, mule deer, bear, and elk are seen on a regular basis. Without getting in your car, you can fish a mountain lake, explore the boundless hiking, go horseback riding, rock climbing, snowmobiling, and off-road ATVing. For hunters and shooting enthusiasts, the ranch has a fixed shooting bench with a range of up to 1,100 yards.

The Bitterroot Valley abounds with recreational opportunities, such as fishing, rafting, biking, and hiking trails. Skiing without the long lift lines found at destination resorts is nearby. Lost Trail Powder Mountain is 70 miles south and has a base elevation of 7,050 feet. Snow Bowl with a base elevation of 5,000 feet is just 30 miles away. 

The Stock Farm Club (30 minutes south of the ranch) is home to a Tom Fazio-designed golf course that has breathtaking views of the Bitterroot Mountain Range. In addition to golf, the club provides many activities for kids and adults throughout the year. In 2017, the Stock Farm was named the #1 course in Montana by Golf Digest.

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

One Horse Creek Ranch includes 120+ acres of irrigated hay fields plus more than 200 acres suitable for cattle grazing. The underground irrigation system is gravity-fed from One Horse Creek, driving sprinklers without the need for pumps. Nearly all fields are sprinkler-irrigated with a combination of a center pivot, wheel lines, and hand lines. 

Today, the business of the ranch is growing and selling hay. In years past, the ranch has also been in the cattle business. The infrastructure is suitable for a variety of future agricultural operations. 

The ranch manager has been associated with the ranch since 2009. He is responsible for all aspects of ranch operations. He is willing to continue with a new owner, which would provide a seamless transition to new ownership. He is more than qualified to manage the ranch with little direction, so a new owner can spend as much or little time managing the ranch as desired. 
 

Leases and Permits

A 320 acres State Lease (Permit #3060475) is in place for 66 Animal Unit Months beginning on June 1st of each year running through September 30th, providing additional grazing lands for ranch operations. Documentation is available upon request. 

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Terms

Cash at Closing

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