The Sheep Creek Ranch is located adjoining Tippet Rise on two sides just over an hour’s drive southwest of Billings between Fishtail and Dean with immediate access off paved Route 419. This basically unimproved ranch encompasses most of the Sheep Creek Valley as Sheep Creek flows from just above the ranch on state land and flows into Fishtail Creek just below the ranch. It is a beautiful valley that starts as a canyon passing through the middle of the property and expands above the canyon to encompass a series of gentle drainages and open foothills which transition to more dramatic cliffs on the north side. Sheep Creek is a live spring fed creek providing a reliable source of water for both livestock and wildlife. The wildlife from upland birds to deer and elk to birds of prey and other predators is prolific, varied and diverse. The ranch has that classic feel of owning your own valley with no encroaching neighbors. The views of the entire Beartooth Front dominating the southern skyline are nothing short of spectacular. These are the highest peaks in Montana and are impressive from any number of dramatic homesites from which one can choose. There is a set of corrals and scales at the lower end of the property that are the only structural improvements.
Just the Facts
- LOCATION: 8 miles west of Fishtail off paved Route 419. An hour to Billings – Montana’s largest city.
- ACREAGE: 1,804± deeded acres.
- WATER RESOURCES: Sheep Creek flows through the middle of the property.
- IMPROVEMENTS: Excellent set of corrals and scales.
- WILDLIFE: Mule deer and upland birds are prolific on this property with elk, bear and cougar to be found seasonally. Elk in particular are on the property in the spring and fall - see photos.
- OPERATING CONSIDERATIONS: Will summer at least 200 animal units on an average year. Simple operation.
- GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Own your own private valley with jaw dropping views of the Beartooth Front from multiple choice homesites.
- SPECIAL NOTE: No conservation easement on this property.
Sheep Creek Ranch is easy to describe. One turns off of paved Route 419 about 8 miles west of Fishtail and you enter the ranch at the lower end of the Sheep Creek Valley. Sheep Creek forms something of a canyon as it dominates the center of the property. The terrain on each side of the central valley is gently rolling and crossed by a series of small drainages. To the north, the hills become quite steep and the northern boundary is dominated by steep timbered hills and cliffs. Potential homesites on this side of the valley would be south facing with an impressive backdrop and would enjoy truly dramatic views of the Beartooth Front that dominates the southern horizon.
Sheep Creek Ranch gives one the opportunity to essentially own one’s own valley in the shadow of the Beartooth Mountains. It offers easy access and total privacy. A variety of private homesites command astounding views of the Beartooth Front in a secluded south facing setting. The combination of natural boundaries and having the increasingly renowned and well regarded Tippet Rise on two sides is sure to make this a unique and valuable landholding in the area. This wild untouched property is just begging for someone to make it a home.
Access to Sheep Creek Ranch is by paved Route 419 about 8 miles west of Fishtail. The ranch actually is only about a mile north of Dean “as a crow flies”. Dean is pretty much a wide spot in the road west of Fishtail that has offered a nice bar and eatery from time to time over the years. It is minutes away from fabulous kayaking and fishing on the Stillwater River and from unbelievable hiking and packing into the Beartooth Wilderness. This area is blessed with many enjoyable small towns including Nye, Fishtail, Roscoe, Red Lodge, Absarokee and Columbus. They are all within a 30-minute drive of the ranch. Billings is just over an hour’s drive and is Montana’s largest city offering virtually every cultural, social, service and economic amenity that one could ask for. This includes Billings Logan International Airport which offers a broad selection of flights connecting throughout the U.S.
The immediate neighbors to Sheep Creek are all good sized holdings. This immediate area has remained in ranching. However, one does not have to go very far to find pockets of small tract rural development. As mentioned above, there are many small towns within 30 minutes’ drive of the ranch – most of them are quite small with Absarokee (the closest), Columbus and Red Lodge (both county seats) being the most significant. This is a fascinating area because it is highly productive ranching country which is within easy range of about 200,000 local residents. It is also exceptionally beautiful with access to some amazing wilderness country that forms a protective barrier around Yellowstone Park. It has attracted wealthy individuals and families from all over the U.S. and the world. As a result, there are some areas that have seen smaller tract rural subdivision where locals have either seasonal or permanent homes.
At the same time, it has for generations attracted people who own or have put together good-sized ranches, particularly along the mountain face. There is a strong conservation ethic amongst these individuals and families. The result is vast tracts of productive ranching country with pockets of more dense population – particularly near the larger towns and to some extent along the rivers and major creeks. We find this to be one of the most appealing areas of Montana because of its diversity. It boasts a good population of locals who are based out of Billings and are weekend residents or others from all over the world who might have chosen to retire in the area because of these friendly smaller communities and the access to rivers and streams and wilderness. There are also strong families who have chosen to ranch in the area and are dedicated to maintaining the land in agriculture and open space.
Of particular note is the ranch’s prominent adjacent neighbor to the north and east. Tippet Rise describes itself as follows: Tippet Rise Art Center is located in Fishtail, Montana, against the backdrop of the Beartooth Mountains, roughly midway between Billings and Bozeman and north of Yellowstone National Park. Set on a 10,260-acre working sheep and cattle ranch, Tippet Rise hosts classical chamber music and recitals and exhibits large-scale, outdoor sculptures. Tippet Rise celebrates the concept that art, music, architecture, and nature are inextricably linked in the human experience, each making the others more powerful. The art center features musical performance spaces indoors and out, with programs that seek to create memorable experiences for performers and audience members alike. Classical concerts are held on summer weekends in the Olivier Music Barn, or outdoors under the Domo. Bike, hike, or take a tour by carbon-neutral electric van.
Tippet Rise is only three years old and has just begun to weave its magic in the community while already having achieved worldwide recognition for its intimate but exceptional offerings of both music and art. The impact has been palpable to the heart and soul of the area and its residents. The longer-term impact on land values and on the desirability of a region that was already one of the most sought after in the northern Rockies is impossible to determine at this time. However, the very concept of owning a totally protected ranch where one could potentially (with permission) ride out the back gate onto Tippet Rise is compelling to say the least. Here is a link to their website: https://tippetrise.org/. Hall and Hall is proud to have played a very small part in helping Peter and Cathy Halsted put this remarkable project together. We think it will do much to make this area of Montana a place where increasing numbers of sophisticated individuals and families will want to live.
The ranch is located at an optimal elevation range between 4,900’ and 5,800’ very close to the face of the mountains. At this elevation one rarely gets high temperatures in the summer and normally they receive good precipitation amounts. The winter is moderated by the fact that the area is subject to Chinook winds which can dramatically raise temperatures in the winter. According to U.S. Climate Data, the reported annual precipitation is 24” inches with an average high in the coldest month of December coming in at 34 degrees Fahrenheit and the low at 18 degrees, while the average high in the summer is only 75 degrees.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
There are no conservation easements on the Sheep Creek Ranch.
The Sheep Creek Ranch is basically unimproved other than perimeter and cross fencing and an excellent set of corrals with certified livestock scales just off the paved highway at the lower end of the property.
The ranch has a stock water right out of Sheep Creek. There is no irrigated land on the ranch.
The ranch is permanent home to good populations of both species of deer. Most other big game species including elk, bear, cougar and wolves are seen on the ranch with the elk making their appearance in the fall and spring. From a sporting point of view, the current owners particularly enjoy the abundant Hungarian partridge and sharptail grouse populations although they have never done any work to encourage them. The property does have the potential to be developed with some ponding and feed plots to enhance this resource. The elk and deer hunting in the fall is excellent.
The ranch is ideally situated to take advantage of incredible resources within a short drive from the ranch gate. Access into the Beartooth Wilderness is about ten minutes away for some of the best hiking and pack trips into a spectacular and wild part of the world. One can also access the very lightly fished Stillwater River five miles down a paved highway. Anglers are amazed at the quality of this unheralded fishery. The Stillwater River is better known as a world-class kayaking destination which of course it is. The combination of easy access to these two amazing resources makes Sheep Creek Ranch a particularly desirable property as it allows one to be completely private in one’s own valley while enjoying access to these natural treasures.
The Sheep Creek Ranch is ideally suited to graze about 200 animal units for the 4 to 5 month grazing season. Normal grazing rates run from $25 per AUM (Animal Unit Month) to $40 per AUM. The differential is based upon who is providing the care. The ranch also derives a small amount of income from allowing the neighbors to use the corrals and scales.
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