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Riverhouse on the Yellowstone

$2,350,000 Emigrant, MT 12± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

Riverhouse is a quintessential fishing retreat located along the banks of the fabled Yellowstone River in the central region of Paradise Valley, Montana. This 12-acre property was once the headquarters of Emigrant Peak Ranch, which still operates today. Built in the 1940's by a Chicago family who owned it for decades, the main house is constructed from many hardwoods imported from the Midwest region of the United States that embellish the interior. The house has been impeccably maintained and cherished in an era reminiscent of many of the masterpieces found in Yellowstone Park which is located 30 miles to the south. The house is complemented by a guest house that once served as a tack building, a small guest cabin and an old barn with a root cellar. The dwellings are perfectly appointed, and furnishings are included in the sale. A giant canopy of mature trees towers over the buildings providing shade, protection and privacy. A large fenced raised-bed garden is the perfect complement to the decadent flower beds and landscaping which garnish the property. One might argue that it took decades to perfect. The Yellowstone River is steps from the main house with Six Mile Creek coursing through the property joining the river and creating an idyllic seam for feeding trout. In addition to the river, views of Emigrant Peak, which is the iconic land feature of the region, are framed through towering cottonwoods east of the property. Riverhouse has served as a gathering place of families for generations and is awaiting those who follow.

Just the Facts

• Located along a premium stretch of the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley, Montana

• 20 minutes south of Livingston, 25 minutes north of Yellowstone Park, one hour from Bozeman and Gallatin Airfield

• 12± manicured acres garnished by mature landscape, flower beds and a large fenced vegetable garden

• Six Mile Creek confluences with the Yellowstone River at this location

• Wonderful 1940's era two-bedroom, two-and-one-half bath residence has been preserved and maintained to a high standard of original quality and detail

• The property sleeps 16 and an additional three bedroom, two-bath guest house and a one-bedroom, one-bath cabin are sited near the main house

• Property is being sold furnished

• Historic barn and root cellar are reminiscent of days when this property once served as the ranch headquarters for Emigrant Peak Ranch

• Convenient to exploring the national forest, Yellowstone Park and a variety of great dining and entertaining options in Livingston, Bozeman, and the Paradise Valley

• Large views of the iconic Emigrant Peak are idyllically framed through towering spruce and cottonwood trees that provide a canopy of scenic privacy 

General Description

One approaches Riverhouse from East River Road which is a paved county road running north and south along the east bank of the Yellowstone River. The main byway through the valley is Highway 87 which parallels the other side of the river perhaps a mile distant and not generally audible from the property. East River Road is mainly used by landowners along that side of the valley keeping it relatively quiet.

Emigrant Peak dominates the eastern skyline from any perspective in the valley. Six Mile Creek pushes out of an alpine environment along Emigrant Peak’s southern edge coursing its way through benchlands and descending into the riparian corridor on the subject property where it flows into the Yellowstone. Six Mile creek, like other Paradise Valley ranch creeks, often runs dry in late summer months. 

It becomes visually apparent that you are arriving at a ranch headquarters as the open agricultural lands break into a canopy of mature trees and shrubs that make this property identifiable and private. As you leave the county road, you enter the property through a simple electronic security gate. A graveled lane meanders westerly towards the river terminating in a courtyard on the west side of the main house. The guest house appears first with the barn present behind it across the creek. A large parking area resides on the east side of the main house, which then becomes apparent, but the dark earth tone colors on the exterior blend with the natural landscape. A long stone walkway crosses a small stone bridge as it travels towards the main entrance of the residence.

Stone paths lead to the various buildings and a small wooden bridge spans Six Mile Creek where the barn and fenced garden reside along with an elevated site where a tepee has found a permanent home. Stone was also used to naturally construct the foundation of twelve raised flower beds which are complemented by a volume of ornamental shrubs and a variety of tree species in addition to the giant native cottonwoods. A mature row of lilac’s mark the northern fence line near the main house and guest cabin on the banks of the river.  

In classic tradition, an American flag is flown in the center of the courtyard on the river side of the property, garnished by flowering shrubs at its base. From there, a path leads across the property to a gate that opens to stone stairs leading down to the riverbank. The near views of the river and riparian are delightful and the land across the river is part of a conservation easement. The mountain views are primarily easterly and classic for the northern Rockies

Broker's Comments

Riverhouse defines fishing retreat. Blessed by fronting one of the finest trout rivers in the world, one may literally fish high-quality waters right out the back door. Graced by classic improvements that have resisted modern temptations, the buildings exude charm and are more than adequate for extended family and friends to enjoy. The garnishment of giant trees, shrubs and floral beds have taken decades to perfect. For a buyer who is looking for an investment with low overhead and high entertainment value, Riverhouse on the Yellowstone is ideal.  

Learn about the locale

Location

Riverhouse is located in the Paradise Valley along East River Road 23 miles south of Livingston (pop 6,851) and 30 miles north of Gardiner (pop 851), the north and only year-round entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The unincorporated community of Emigrant is located a few short miles to the north and across the river. Bozeman (pop 37,981) is a one-hour drive northwest of the property with the Gallatin Airfield located an additional 10 minutes west of Bozeman. Commercial air service at Gallatin Airfield is provided by Delta, United, Allegiant, Alaska/Horizon and Frontier. Two FBO’s are located at the Gallatin Airfield with another municipal airfield located nine miles east of Livingston capable of handling virtually all private aircraft.

Locale

For many generations, the Crow Indian Tribe inhabited the greater Yellowstone region, utilizing the vast natural resources and enjoying the relatively mild climate of the Paradise Valley and the bountiful game that inhabited this rich ecosystem. The region was later settled by gold miners and then ranchers, and ultimately Livingston became a major railroad town. Ranching remains a substantial economic driver of the economy today. However, there has always been a recreational influence in the area, primarily created by the fishing on its fabled river and access to Yellowstone National Park.

The north entrance south of Riverhouse is the only route into the park that remains open all year. Paradise Valley, which begins south of Livingston at a pleasant 4,000+ foot elevation, follows the Yellowstone River corridor upstream to the south all the way to the park border. There are several landmark ranches that line the valley, some of which are fourth generation family holdings.

Over the decades some of the prominent ranches traded hands, passing the legacy along to new owners who share the concepts of passing land down through the generations and leaving it better than they found it - even though many now are nonresident owners. There is a wide variety of land uses in the valley, from large operating cattle ranches to smaller mountain tracts and even traditional guest ranches. 

As has been the case for many years, there remains a handful of large ranches that take up a significant portion of the valley that rarely are offered for sale. Significantly, these landscapes are protected against development through conservation easements. 

Over the last 50 years, the town of Livingston has transitioned from a rough-and-tumble cowboy/railroad town to a modern-day community, while still preserving its historical integrity and western authenticity. Unlike many of Montana’s rural communities, which oftentimes are solely driven by an agricultural economy, Livingston has been a recreational hub for nearly a century. As a result of the Paradise Valley’s fabulous fishing resources, it has collected a hardcore base of “trout bums”, more gently referred to as “full-time anglers,” who share residence with the wide assortment of writers, actors, musicians and artists who now give Livingston its own unique character as a town. 

Livingston is a “dress down,” very unpretentious community where even the most notable characters living there prefer to just blend in. There is an assortment of fine restaurants that offer exceptional food and spirits in an elegant yet casual setting. It is even typical to see musicians of great fame and renown sitting in at some of the local watering holes. 

The historic downtown district is well preserved and plays host to a wide variety of boutiques, galleries, restaurants and bars. The Yellowstone River flows right through town with a large park, fairground and golf course located along its banks. During the summer months, Livingston offers gallery walks and concerts - including blues shows - at the historic Livingston Depot. Perhaps highlighting the season is the Livingston Roundup which is a professional multi-day rodeo event held over the 4th of July, inviting some the nation’s top-ranked cowboys and livestock, followed by an impressive fireworks display. 

A short distance north of the Riverhouse is Chico Hot Springs. Chico was developed a century ago over a naturally emergent hot springs and was used by local miners and travelers into the park. It began as a bathhouse and bar, eventually becoming a brothel, and ultimately a full-blown resort while still retaining its integrity. The old hotel has been carefully maintained providing visitors the feeling of days past. 

The saloon has virtually not changed at all with its “seasoned” wooden floors and small stage that has showcased many decades of local talent. The resort has been expanded with separate modern rooms and a conference center but was done in a way that does not disrupt the old flavor. Its highly regarded gourmet restaurant – arguably Montana’s first such establishment – draws local diners from a 100-mile radius.

There are a variety of more recent additions to the valley that offer dining and lodging options including Sage Lodge (five minutes north of the property), Yellowstone Valley Lodge (ten minutes), Pine Creek Café (15 minutes) and a couple of great options in Emigrant including a “real BBQ joint” and the Old Saloon which is a landmark watering hole and restaurant to the valley. The variety of quality food this proximal to a rural property such as this is virtually unheard of throughout our market.  

Just an hour “over the hill” from Riverhouse is Bozeman, which is a tremendous community of nearly 38,000 residents plus a student population at Montana State University. It serves as a hub for Yellowstone Park as well as the Big Sky Resort area. It has a well-preserved historic downtown district, a wide variety of fine restaurants, boutique shops, and outdoor stores. On the north end of town, there are a series of large, national chain stores for everyday necessities. Bozeman is a lovable town with a perpetual flow of events, activities and a flavorful atmosphere.

Climate

As is typical for most of the Rocky Mountain region, weather patterns are unpredictable. Temperatures can sink well below zero in the winter and climb into the 90’s during the late summer months. Overall, most people find that the low relative humidity maintains a comfortable environment even during these extreme times and typically average temperatures remain at pleasant levels throughout the year. 

The lower elevation of the valley floor provides extended shoulder seasons and is recognized as one of Montana’s “banana belts” holding minimal amounts of snow through the winter months and somewhat warmer temperatures.  

Total annual precipitation is estimated to be 18.5 inches. Snowfall in the lower to mid elevations of the surrounding area is light throughout the winter with greater accumulations on the upper reaches. The snow will accumulate briefly and virtually all of it will evaporate throughout the winter months with the occasional warm Chinook winds causing large temperature swings and evaporating what little snowfall remains. Most of the annual precipitation comes in the form of rainfall occurring during the growing season - much of it in May and June.

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

Total of 12± deeded acres.

Deeded Acres: 12±
Total Acres: 12±

Improvements

The property is suitable for a full-time residency or seasonal occupancy. By design, it is perfectly set up for extended family and visitors having multiple dwellings to utilize. In total, there are six bedrooms and three living spaces which makes it capable of hosting upwards of 16, including the tepee across the river which sleeps two. It’s a near perfect retreat.

Main Residence

The main house is the centerpiece of the property and is a beautifully preserved timepiece. Constructed in the 1940’s, the motif certainly speaks of classic Yellowstone Park. The dark stained log exterior and new brown metal roof installed in 2018 carry the park color palette forward and the owners over the decades have resisted modernizing the interior while at the same time preserving its integrity. This home is equivalent to discovering a classic automobile in original condition that has been parked in a garage and driven to church on Sunday’s- its matured into vogue.  

The main entrance is from the east side of the house off a small welcoming porch which opens into the house to a small foyer that divides the kitchen and breakfast area from the great room, dining area, and two bedrooms on the north side. A half-bath is located in the entry area which also leads outside to a partially covered stone patio draped by a large creeping vine. A comfortable shaded seating area is located there, along with an area for outdoor cooking.

Off the entryway to the south is an intimate dining area with large windows and built-in cabinetry and a swinging doorway that leads into the kitchen. The kitchen is adequately scaled for a residence of this size and the countertop and appliances are the first indicator of the modern world. The kitchen, in turn, leads into a large laundry area where additional cold storage is located. Side doors lead out to the patio and also into a small enclosed porch area currently used for storing firewood and recreational accoutrements.

The entry is exposed to a sunken great room with expansive windows on the east wall and a stone fireplace centering the west. Oak hardwoods are laid into the flooring and floor to ceiling wainscoting. The house is being sold vastly furnished and this expansive room has been thoughtfully and tastefully designed. Despite its completely open design, the room is divided into multiple living areas. A poker table resides in a corner made more intimate by the division created by a large sitting area next to the east facing windows. Adding to this space is a long dining room table that seats 12. The main seating area is located along the southern wall exposed to the stone fireplace, and includes a large couch, comfortable chairs, side tables and a coffee table. The northern half of the room is divided by furnishings and decorative appointments. This includes an office area with a large desk and a TV area with comfortable chairs facing an enclosed cabinet. The great room leads to a hallway that divides two identical bedrooms or junior suites. The hallway is lined with built-in cabinets including a glass gun cabinet.  

The bedrooms are identical in scale and design, but the décor is vastly different in each. The guest room is spacious and includes a walk-in closet, vanity area with built-in cabinets and a full bath.  A king-sized bed with end tables centers the room while a comfortable daybed provides an extra sleeping space. The walls are lined with painted landscape murals of local scenery including Emigrant Peak giving the room its own charm and feel of a lodge. The flooring and wood wainscoting made from wormy cedar has interesting character and also maintains the same tone as the great room.  

The master bedroom faces the riverside of the property. The views are westerly with afternoon exposure. Cherry wood was incorporated into cabinetry and wainscoting that has aged to a deep rich color only time can produce.  The floorplan of the room is otherwise identical to the guest room. 

Guest House

Originally, the guest house was a structure used primarily for tack on the ranch. In 2003, the owners completely repurposed the building to create a very comfortable three-bedroom, two-bath guest house with a full kitchen open to a dining and living area. The entry area is spacious enough to hang and store gear and the volume of outdoor garments one might utilize on any given day in Paradise Valley. Rough sawn fir wood flooring runs throughout the entry and main living areas, while the guest rooms are carpeted. A small wood stove is located in the main living area and provides supplemental heat during the cooler season months. This structure is a fantastic complement to the main house where guests or extended family can enjoy their own space in great comfort.  

Cabin

The cabin is located near the river just northwest of the main house. This simple structure has a bedroom with twin beds and a full bath. It’s comfortable and is the favored place to stay by visiting grandchildren.  

Barn 

The red barn is a landmark building. Originally used for ranch operations, this large two-story structure includes a hay loft and stalls on the lower level. The barn once served a higher purpose. Today, it houses a large generator used for backup utility as well as storage and “base of operations” for the garden. Both the interior stairway and second floor were replaced in 2008.

Adjacent to the barn is a large fenced-in, raised bed garden. Artfully designed with a large entrance gate draped with vining hops, the garden is a masterpiece. Numerous raised beds are elevated to waist level providing growers the opportunity to work without bending over. Each plot is watered and some of the longer season plants have frost canopies. The garden is capable of producing enough produce and decorative flowers to keep families and guests happy throughout the year.  

Mineral Rights

All minerals appurtenant to the ranch and owned by the sellers will be transferred to buyer at closing.

Taxes

Annual property taxes are estimated to be $4,540.

Learn about the recreational amenities

Fishery Resources

Simply stated, Riverhouse on the Yellowstone is a fishing retreat. It is also a wonderful home. It is located front and center to some of the finest trout fishing in the world and was a primary driving factor for the current owners purchase more than two decades ago.  

The Yellowstone River is an integral part of this property as it courses literally through the backyard. The Yellowstone is the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states, flowing some 554± miles from its source in the mountains of Wyoming to its confluence with the Missouri River. There are more than 100 miles of blue ribbon trout water downstream from the Yellowstone Park border, with excellent populations of brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout. The Yellowstone is considered large by trout river standards and is a great river to float as well as wade fish. The river is most noted for the “Mother’s Day” caddis hatch and when river conditions are right, it is a fisherman’s Valhalla. The river fishes well virtually 12 months of the year with outstanding dry fly fishing occurring throughout the summer.  

Early in the summer, Six Mile Creek creates a nice seam along the downstream bank of the Yellowstone where trout routinely feed on the aquatic bugs that drift into the river from the creek. Several nice riffles can be fished in the immediate area fronting this property. The river through this reach is fairly gentle and quite suitable for rafts, drift boats and other non-motorized watercraft such as paddleboards, canoes and kayaks. One can simply launch right from the property. Commonly, the owners are dropped off at the house by river guides after a day float fishing the upstream waters. A public boat launch is located just over four miles downstream of the property at Emigrant while another resides 11 river miles upstream at Point of Rocks.   

There are three world famous spring creek fisheries located in very close proximity to the ranch. Depuy’s and O’Hair’s (Armstrong’s) are on the west side of the valley and offer fee fishing on over four miles of an incredible creek that spans both of their ranches before joining the Yellowstone. Fishing conditions on the creek are consistent and the fishing is superb year-round. Nelson’s Spring Creek is also a fee fishery and is located on the east side of the river and has similar characteristics. These spring creeks are natural wonders emerging from the ground with a large volume of nutrient-rich water, providing for an enormous amount of aquatic life which sustains an abundance of wild trout.

Yellowstone National Park is the birthplace of many of the finest trout rivers in the west. This is primarily due to the vast amount of emergent springs that pour nutrient-rich waters out of the volcanic vents in this massive caldera which makes it unique as a cold-water fishery. Headwater streams such as the Gibbon, Firehole and Lamar create rivers such as the Madison and Gallatin within the park’s boundaries which ultimately become the Missouri River as they combine and flow in Montana. The Park hosts a lifetime of fishing opportunities with over a hundred lakes and a thousand miles of streams. Within an hour’s drive from the ranch an angler can fish other notable blue ribbon fisheries such as the Boulder, the Shields and the Stillwater to the east, as well as the Gallatin and Madison to the west, and all of their productive tributaries and unsung fisheries. Nowhere in the world are so many public rivers and streams found within such a small area.

Just south of the property is Daley Lake. This 205±-acre body of water is managed as a trout, perch and walleye fishery and has multiple sites for public camping and day use. It is quite common, in addition to anglers, to see paddle boarders, kitesurfers and windsurfers utilizing the lake.  

To the east and into the Beartooth Wilderness, dozens of alpine lakes dot the rugged landscape. These and others on the west side of the valley in the Gallatin Range can be accessed from multiple trailheads by horse or foot. Cutthroat, rainbow, brook trout and even the rare golden trout can be found in some of these pristine high elevation lakes. This is an experience never to be forgotten.

Recreational Considerations

Paradise Valley is world renowned for big game hunting being a significant part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Immediately to the southeast is the Dome Mountain Game Range which plays host to thousands of wintering elk that make the long and rugged migration to these lands. Although the property is not conducive to hunting, there are dozens of opportunities to hunt on the endless amount of public lands accessible within minutes of Riverhouse.  

Besides hunting and fishing, there is a world of opportunity for recreational pursuits throughout the region. Pack or day trips into the neighboring mountain ranges and further into Yellowstone Park’s 2.2 million acres provides endless new places to explore. In addition to trail riding, other equestrian sports are quite popular in the region including cutting, team roping and other event riding.

Yellowstone opens the roads through the park typically in mid-May. A seldom publicized activity occurs in late spring when the roads are clear but remain closed to vehicular traffic. Bicyclists assemble and take advantage of the open roads and pleasant temperatures, touring the park’s vast road system. This is the best time and way to see the park without the people. The main road to Cooke City from Mammoth is maintained year-round and wintertime visitors can often see huge herds of buffalo and elk congregated through the Lamar Valley. 

For winter sports enthusiasts the region offers great entertainment. Snowmobilers gather in Cooke City to climb the Beartooth Plateau and explore the area’s incredible terrain. Bridger Bowl is recognized throughout the region as the very best of the “local” ski areas and is located an hour from the property. Bridger Bowl boasts a friendly, laid-back atmosphere with lots of challenging and enjoyable terrain for all levels but highlighted by outstanding lift-accessible expert terrain. Two hours from Riverhouse, one can experience the full-blown resort community of Big Sky which encompasses three areas including Big Sky, Moonlight Basin and the private Yellowstone Club. 

Combined, these three areas represent one of the largest ski areas in the United States with high-speed lifts and a tram carrying skiers to amazing terrain on uncrowded slopes. Two high-quality Nordic ski areas are also located in the area with endless mountain trails to explore for adventurous skiers. 

Other activities include golfing at any of the numerous courses located in the area, rafting and kayaking the rivers, hiking, road and mountain biking, or simply soaking in the hot springs just down the road at Chico. It would be hard to imagine an area with more varied and interesting outdoor recreation.

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