For Sale

Rocking Chair Ranch

$21,700,000 Philipsburg, MT 7,230± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

For over seven decades, this large western Montana ranch has been under the careful stewardship of a multi-generational ranching family. With over 11 square miles of diverse terrain, it is home to a productive cattle operation that is situated on an exceptionally beautiful piece of the earth, including riparian meadows, irrigated fields, rolling rangelands and conifer forest. There are over two and one-half miles (measured “on the meander”) of both banks of Flint Creek, a trout fishery with excellent populations of brown trout. Elk, deer and other wildlife are commonplace on the uplands of the ranch. You’ll need to lift your jaw from your lap while taking in the views that grace this ranch.

Philipsburg, literally across the road from the main entrance, has an impressive array of services for holding a population of less than a thousand people. You will find a grocery, restaurants, a brewery and even a nostalgic candy shop. The well-preserved historic buildings along Broadway Street feel like an old western town because it is an old western town. You’ll need to go to Missoula for an international airport, but that is only an hour away with no mountain passes to grapple with. Philipsburg also has its own paved and lighted airstrip where private aircraft can land on a 3,600-foot runway.

Downhill skiing is less than thirty minutes from the front door at Discovery Basin Ski Area, located just above Georgetown Lake. The lake is a popular place for water skiing and other summer water sports, as well as snowmobiling and ice fishing in the winter. The legendary Rock Creek, home of The Ranch at Rock Creek, along with multiple trailheads into the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness, are also located less than thirty minutes from the property. There are no trade-offs to be made in buying this ranch because it has quite literally everything that is on almost everyone’s wish list for a ranch in the Rocky Mountains.

Just the Facts

  • 7,230± acre mix of irrigated bottom ground, improved pasture and expansive native range
  • 471± irrigated via two center pivots and flood with priority dates as far back as 1869
  • Balanced 350 AU black angus cattle operation
  • Stock water is provided directly from the source and via a network of springs and tanks
  • 900± ton average annual yield of grass hay and alfalfa
  • Full suite of operational improvements, including corrals, calving facilities, scales, equipment storage, and shops
  • Historic five-bedroom, three-and-one-half-bathroom ranch home situated near the ranch headquarters
  • Approximately two-and-a-half linear miles of both sides of Flint Creek, an extraordinary, semi-private trout fishery offering riffles, undercut banks and drop-offs 
  • Over-the-counter Hunting District 210 has a significant population of resident elk, whitetail, and mule deer
  • Conservation easement on the lower ranch with the native range unencumbered
  • Philipsburg locale provides some of the best four-season recreation in the state, including Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest, additional fishing in renowned Rock Creek, skiing at Discovery Basin, and recreating in nearby Georgetown Lake and East Fork Reservoir 
  • Adjacent to the historic town of Philipsburg
  • One hour, fifteen minutes to Missoula; two hours, fifteen minutes to Bozeman

General Description

The Rocking Chair Ranch stretches from the valley floor up into the John Long Mountains to the west. The main entrance to the ranch is accessed directly from the Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Route. The driveway heads in a westerly direction and makes its way to the 11 acre building envelope where all the improvements are located. The topography is flat until after crossing Flint Creek, where a very gradual slope begins up towards the west beyond the hay meadows. As one moves further west, the ranch access road leaves the property and cuts across a corner of the neighboring ranch before re-entering the property. At this point, the road steadily climbs through the timber and open parks on the north side of Cow Creek. Eventually, the road breaks out into a vast expanse of rangeland to the south at the upper end of Antelope Creek. The wilderness views from this ridge make it hard to blink for fear of missing even just a moment of the grandeur they deliver to the optic nerves. 

There is a non-contiguous 190-acre parcel located approximately three-quarters of a mile north of the north boundary. This parcel is primarily rangeland utilized for grazing.  

Broker's Comments

The Rocking Chair Ranch is one of a quickly diminishing number of multi-generational ranches in the West. With incredibly convenient year-round access, an extraordinary aesthetic, a first-class fishery, and a diverse terrain from riparian to conifer forests and rangelands, the ranch has everything most any ranch buyer will want from a western Montana ranch. 

Learn about the locale

Location

Rocking Chair Ranch is located directly across Montana’s Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Route from the town of Philipsburg, the Granite County seat. Missoula lies 81 miles to the northwest and Butte is 53 miles to the east. Both are accessed via State Highway 1 (The Scenic Route) and Interstate 90. Commercial airline service is available in Missoula and Butte. Missoula is serviced by American, Alaska, Delta, United, Sun Country and Allegiant Airlines with year-round service to Seattle, Las Vegas, Phoenix/Mesa, Dallas/Fort Worth, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis and Denver with seasonal service to Chicago/O’Hare, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland and Orange County. Butte has daily flights to and from Salt Lake City on Delta Airlines. A lighted 3,600-foot asphalt airstrip, Riddick Field, is located at Philipsburg and provides access for most prop-driven private aircraft (single and twin engine).

Locale

This area, just west of the Continental Divide, is a mountainous region of rivers, rangelands and timber. Vast expanses of mountainous public lands comprise the majority of the region. The Lolo, Beaverhead and Deer Lodge National Forests converge in this area.

The cultural history of the area was established by mountain men, followed by miners, with loggers and cattlemen on their heels. Philipsburg was founded in the late 1800s as a mining town for silver and manganese. It still maintains the oldest continually operating primary and secondary school in Montana. A population of over 800 people inhabits this historic and charming mountain mining town. Many well-preserved brick and brightly painted Victorian buildings line its main streets. Bed and Breakfasts, hotels and restaurants offer services to tourists and locals alike. In addition, an emergency-grade hospital serves the region with a short helicopter ride to the major medical center in Missoula. Other area amenities include Georgetown Lake and Discovery Ski Area, both about 15 miles from the ranch.  

Climate

The climate in the Philipsburg Valley is characterized by four distinct seasons, each of which brings its own beauty and recreational opportunity. Mid-winter temperatures can be cold with average high temperatures in December and January of 27 degrees, whereas the average low temperatures are in the low teens. Needless to say, winter sports are popular here. But, with the arrival of the spring thaw, there is a metamorphosis at play whereby a vibrant green slowly returns and average high temperatures creep back into the 50s while buds return to the aspen and cottonwood branches. The weather is temperamental in spring but eventually gives way to summer in full force when average high temperatures reach the high 60s and 70s with some days stretching into the 90s. Nighttime temps in the summer cool off quickly after sunset. Fall is a showcase of colorful foliage and change.  

The National Weather Service station in Philipsburg reports annual precipitation averages between 14 and 15 inches. Snow accumulations may average as much as 18 to 20 inches on the property, with the predominant snowfall occurring between November and March. Elevations range from 5,100 feet where Flint Creek exits the property to almost 6,600 feet in the high country in the southwestern region of the ranch.

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

  • Forest: 1,898± acres
  • Irrigated: 471± acres
  • Grazing: 4,861± acres

Deeded Acres: 7,230±
Total Leased Acres:
Total Acres: 7,230±

Additional Information

CONSERVATION EASEMENT: There is a conservation easement affecting approximately 1,800 acres of the ranch, as delineated on this map. The easement was placed on the ranch in 2022 as part of the owners’ dedication to the preservation of open space and a rich, ranching heritage. Permitted uses include agriculture, development and enhancement of water resources, and forest management. There is an 11-acre building envelope which allows for the construction of one additional residence along with accessory structures and agricultural structures. The full text of the easement can be viewed here.  

PERSONAL PROPERTY: There is a large inventory of cattle and equipment available for purchase in addition to the ranch.

Improvements

There is a single cluster of improvements just east of Flint Creek near the southeast corner of the ranch. There is a 3,834± square-foot two-story main home that was originally built in 1932 and added onto in the late 1950s. The home has five bedrooms and three and a half baths. There is a fireplace in the living room with a rock wall sourced from “the grade,” the road leading to Georgetown Lake, during its construction. The home is very clean and comfortable and has the feel of a time capsule. 

Other improvements include the following:

  • The original “team barn” with stalls that were historically used for horses. Today, the building is used primarily for hay storage.
  • Two large equipment storage buildings
  • The “old shop” which is now used for the storage of fencing materials and supplies
  • The vet barn has a head catch and pulling stall used for calving
  • Lean-to
  • Horse barn
  • Indoor arena
  • “The Waldorf” is the calving barn
  • Scale house with certified scales for shipping
  • The shop is the newer, updated version of the “old shop” 
  • Granary

Water Rights

The ranch has a healthy complement of stock, domestic and irrigation water rights with priority dates ranging back to 1869. There are numerous filings on springs, Flint Creek, and groundwater. There is also a Flint Creek Water Users Association from which some of the irrigation rights are obtained. Details available upon request.

Mineral Rights

Seller will transfer all mineral rights owned by Seller.

Timber Resources

With almost 1,900 acres of conifer forest, the ranch has a valuable timber resource that has been managed with care under current ownership. 

Taxes

$16,988.59 

Learn about the recreational amenities

Fishery Resources

Flint Creek gets virtually no pressure from the public, and this is especially true for the stretch through the ranch. Fishermen will encounter a varied habitat with undercut banks, deep pools, and glistening riffles. The creek traces through the valley with a very strong meander. From boundary to boundary, there is approximately one mile of frontage on the stream, but it has over two and one-half miles when measured by the linear foot. It is best accessed by wading rather than floating. It is not uncommon to land trout in excess of 20 inches here. Nearby Rock Creek is also home to populations of brown, rainbow, cutthroat, bull and brook trout.

Wildlife Resources

A wide variety of wildlife resides in the area and can be seen on the ranch regularly. Elk and deer (whitetail and mule deer) are found on the ranch most any time of year. Moose are frequently seen as well. Other species in the area include mountain lions, eagles, ospreys, grouse, coyotes, wolves and black bears.

Recreational Considerations

Opportunities for fishing, hiking, horseback riding, skiing, snowmobiling and hunting are prevalent at Rocking Chair Ranch and on countless acres of national forest in the area.

Within 15-20 miles of the ranch, Discovery Ski Area and Georgetown Lake also offer numerous additional recreational opportunities, including downhill skiing in the winter and water skiing and lake fishing in the summer.

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

The ranch is currently running a cow-calf operation with 300 pairs of Black Angus cows. The ranch’s certification is G.A.P. 4 and each calf crop is certified and marketed as “all-natural”. The ranch puts up about 900 tons of native grass and alfalfa hay from 471 acres of flood-irrigated fields and two pivots.

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