Shields River Farmstead

$1,250,000 Wilsall, MT 145± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

The upper Shields River valley is one of southwestern Montana’s spectacular settings, known for quintessential “Big Sky” vistas and the dramatic backdrop provided by the Crazy Mountain Range. The Shields River flows from the “Crazies” as they are commonly known, and passes through the Shields River Farmstead soon after entering the valley. With outstanding trout fishing, pastoral beauty and reasonably close proximity to the town amenities of Livingston and Bozeman, the property is just what one hopes to find in a recreational river property. The 120± acres of irrigated hay meadows complement the river acreage, providing a blend of investment returns and recreational opportunities on the property’s 144± acres.

Just the Facts

144.61± total acres

Excellent trout fishing on approximately .5± mile of Shields River frontage

120± acres of irrigated hay fields

Barn, pond and private bridge across the river

Entitled in four separate parcels

Majestic setting near the Crazy Mountains

Approximately 12± miles to Wilsall, 41± miles to Livingston, and within an hour of Bozeman, MT

General Description

Shields River Farmstead is conveniently accessed off Shields River Road, which is paved to the ranch. It is a scenic drive up the Shields River toward the Crazy Mountain Range. The property is located on the easterly side of the valley, just before you reach the mountain foothills. The river corridor is wooded, with cottonwood, aspen and a variety of other riparian vegetation.The river flows through the property for approximately one-half mile. At these upper reaches near the mountains, the Shields is a beautiful and winding freestone trout stream. The crystal clear waters tumble rapidly over the cobble bottom, supporting Yellowstone cutthroat, brook, rainbow and brown trout.The south side of the property, which borders Shields River Road, has a spring-fed pond and mature evergreens around an old home site. The entry is defined by log rail fencing and log gates. An old barn has been preserved which has great potential for use as a barn or restoration into a residence. The only other structures on this side of the river are a homestead vintage log cabin and wooden granary.A private bridge provides access across the river. The north side of the river is primarily irrigated hay fields. There is a wooden shed for storing equipment or outdoor gear. The views of Goat Mountain and the Crazies are particularly dramatic from the north side of the river.The 144± acres are entitled in 4 parcels, one on the south side of the river and 3 on the north side. The entitlements make the property an excellent candidate for a conservation easement.

Broker's Comments

Shields River Farmstead is a beautiful river retreat with the advantage of paved access to the nearby communities of Livingston and Bozeman. The property is located in one of the prettiest areas of southwest Montana and is just far enough off the beaten path to have maintained its rural character and largely undeveloped landscape. As a fishing retreat, the property offers the added bonus of agricultural production, making it ideal for livestock ownership or as a complement to nearby mountain acreage.

Learn about the locale


The ranch is located along the Shields River Road, which is paved from the town of Wilsall, approximately 12 miles to the southwest. Livingston is approximately 41 miles to the south. The very scenic drive to Bozeman, MT is approximately an hour over the Bridger Mountain Divide.


The upper Shields River Valley is a dramatically beautiful area at the base of the Crazy Mountains. The ranches in this area are primarily large operations, many of which have been in the same families for generations. This area has resisted the subdivision pressure that has impacted areas closer to Livingston and Bozeman. This has served to preserve the ranching heritage and the spectacular landscape.The town of Wilsall has historically been a ranching community and is still proud to be so today.  It boasts around 250 residents, three churches, and surprisingly good services for a town of its size, including fuel, diners, a post office and mercantile.  The local school serves grades K-8, while high-school students travel eight miles south to the town of Clyde Park. The rodeo grounds located on the east edge of Wilsall host two summer rodeos which feature a professionally sanctioned event as well as the “rancher” rodeo for amateurs. Area children participate in a popular “mutton busting” event.Livingston, gateway to the Paradise Valley and Yellowstone National Park, supports numerous art galleries, a wine cellar, a book store, a restored McKim, Mead, White railroad depot, gourmet restaurants, theaters, fly shops and a variety of antique stores. The world famous Yellowstone River rushes through town and represents the spirit of this exciting small community. Livingston has a rich history among the fly fishing community and is home to the International Federation of Fly Fishers. The Livingston headquarters hosts educational programs and has an extensive history of fly fishing in its museum and library.The vibrant community of Bozeman is approximately an hour from Shields River Farmstead. Bozeman, an eclectic university town (population 37,000 plus 14,000 students), has received national notoriety in recent years for its scenic location, limitless outdoor activities and historic downtown area. Its cafes and restaurants have become a popular meeting place for individuals who love fishing, hunting, skiing, mountain biking and hiking available in the area.Bridger Bowl Resort, a favorite ski destination in southwest Montana, is approximately a 45-minute drive. Bridger Bowl is touted for its diversity of terrain and friendly atmosphere. Winter recreation at Bridger Bowl and in the nearby national forest complements the wide array of summer season recreational opportunities in the area.

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

Deeded Acres: 145±
Total Leased Acres:
Total Acres: 145±


There is not a residence on the property currently. The old home site is located on the south side of the river, but there are excellent building sites on both sides of the river, depending on one’s preference. The barn and pond represent the most significant improvements to the property, with the older buildings adding some function as well as a historic ambiance.

Water Rights

For a complete list of water rights appurtenant to the property, please contact a Hall and Hall office.

Mineral Rights

All mineral rights owned by the Seller are offered with the property.


The estimated property taxes are approximately $872.

Learn about the recreational amenities

Fishery Resources

The Shields River flows for approximately 60 miles from its origin in the Crazy Mountains to its confluence with the Yellowstone River east of Livingston. The upper portion is generally described as being upstream of the town of Wilsall. This portion tends to support higher densities of trout than the lower section, which is subject to dewatering, irrigation returns and warmer water temperatures. Generally speaking, the closer you get to the Shields’ headwaters in the Crazies, the more reliable the water conditions for supporting trout. This portion of the stream is also generally characterized by a clean, gravel river bed as opposed to the higher quantities of sedimentation that are found in the lower reaches.Cutthroat and brook trout are most common in the mountain section with rainbow and brown trout populations growing as the river enters the valley. Below Wilsall, the river becomes predominantly a brown trout fishery.Shields River Farmstead’s location near the river’s emergence from the mountains puts it in the sweet spot for fishing the Shields. The water quality and river character beckon to the fly fisherman. Multiple species of trout inhabit this section of the river and they are typically eager to take a fly due to the minimal fishing pressure. For much of the summer and fall the river produces excellent dry fly fishing with a variety of attractor patterns as well as more hatch specific mayfly, stonefly and caddis patterns.

Wildlife Resources

Whitetail deer are found in abundance on the property. The riparian river corridor provides adequate cover and the hay fields are an attractive feeding area. The elk populations in the area are excellent, with the elk spending most of their time in the surrounding hills and then venturing into the hay fields to feed. Moose are common place along the upper Shields River and can frequently be seen on and around the property. Black bears, wolves and mountain lions may travel the river corridor as well, but like the elk, they spend the majority of their time in the nearby mountains. 

Recreational Considerations

Summer trekking or horseback riding into the back country of the Crazies offers great adventure. There are approximately 40 alpine lakes throughout the range, many of which support trout. Several of these lakes are headwaters of smaller streams located in high elevation cirques above the tree line in incredibly scenic and rugged country. The lakes make for great summer explorations.Fall offers a wide variety of big game hunting opportunities, with elk, mule and whitetail deer, moose and mountain goats populating the Crazies. Winter attracts cross-country skiers and snowmobilers to those areas designated for winter motorized travel.Yellowstone National Park is roughly a 90-minute drive south of the ranch, through the north entrance at Gardiner. The north entrance has the only road maintained within the park year round, allowing winter trips into the park for wildlife viewing.The ranch also enjoys the benefit of being within approximately 45 minutes of Bridger Bowl Ski Area. Bridger Bowl is often the destination of choice for skiers in the Bozeman area. It offers exceptional expert and intermediate level skiing as well as a variety of terrain suitable for beginners in a low-key, family-oriented environment.

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

Unlike many recreational river properties, Shields River Farmstead’s 120± acres of irrigated hay fields provide a significant operational component. The hay fields are currently leased to a neighboring landowner who handles the irrigating and hay harvest. The lease provides approximately $10,000 in revenue to the owner on an annual basis, which varies due to weather and growing conditions.For someone interested in owning horses or a small herd of cattle, the property offers that potential. It would also complement a larger grazing operation as a hay base, fall grazing or wintering ground.

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