When the pioneers first arrived in the west, they had the distinct advantage of picking the best spots in any particular valley to establish themselves. The Shorthill Homestead exemplifies this, as it is tucked in along a heavily wooded creek in the foothills of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness in the aptly named Paradise Valley. The original stone wall erected by David Shorthill memorializes this discovery from well over a century ago. This highly scenic equestrian and recreational retreat is located 20 minutes south of Livingston and 40 minutes from Main Street Bozeman. A four-bedroom, four-bath custom log home and four-stall heated horse barn complement this property along with a pond stocked with native cutthroat trout. Sweeping views incorporate giant peaks, forested hills, open meadows and the Yellowstone River which courses northerly through the center of the valley near the property. A private forest easement grants this property relatively exclusive access into more than 980,000± acres of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and from the backdoor lies some of the finest elk hunting in North America. This property offers a uniquely remote wilderness experience along with high-quality dining options, all within a close radius of the property. This is an extremely challenging property to replicate.
Just the Facts
- 35± acres
- Custom log home and heated barn
- 10 minutes to Livingston, 40 minutes to Bozeman, Montana
- 45 minutes north of Yellowstone National Park
- Direct private access into the national forest and Beartooth Wilderness
- Direct access to an alpine lake
- Relatively exclusive hunting for world-class elk and mule deer
Shorthill Homestead is located on the east side of the valley along McDonald Creek. McDonald Creek Road provides access to the property and is a private lane terminating just past the ranch, offering no public access to the neighboring forest. The road becomes heavily forested as cottonwood and large Douglas fir trees emerge from the cobble-strewn creek bottom, adding an extra layer of privacy.
At the entrance an ancient-looking stone wall appears, leading one into the property towards the residence. Built by Irish immigrant David Shorthill and his family who settled on this site in 1871, the wall will likely remain standing for at least another century.
The graveled drive continues into the property after crossing over McDonald Creek, opening up to a sweeping view of the mountain landscape and open meadows of the neighboring ranches to the north and forest service to the east. A recently reconstructed trout pond accentuates the drive to the home. In addition to the stone wall, jackleg fencing provides definition of the property boundary along its north boundary, also enclosing an orchard. The primary viewshed is to the north and west, where the valley closes in just south of Livingston. As previously mentioned, the southern view is entirely dense riparian and giant fir trees, but the residence is sited just far enough away from the large trees to still absorb the warm southern light.
The drive continues past the residence to the east and leads to the barn, located just out of sight from the house. The heated barn has four stalls equipped with rubber matting, Priefert doors, and hay chutes from the expansive hay loft above. Jackleg fence encloses several separate pastures.
The southern-most pasture has a wooden gate and a trail that winds through the woods, leaving the property and weaving through neighboring private lands via a deeded easement that provides trail access all the way to the USFS lands. This easement is an asset to this property as it allows access into a tract of federal lands that for the general public is extremely difficult to reach. This provides unlimited access into the immediate area or into the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness, and even further to Yellowstone National Park, without ever crossing a road. The landscape to the east of the ranch is wild and rugged country and is as beautiful as any place in the western United States.
Shorthill Homestead is a quality recreational property in a very desirable location that has the distinct advantage of being livable and easy to maintain for an absentee owner. The full spectrum of maintenance and services are conveniently provided locally, making this property one that an owner can truly plug into and out of with little transition. The property was developed tastefully and has a great sense of privacy. The outdoor opportunities are virtually limitless just out the back door, including some of the finest elk hunting in the country.
Learn about the locale
Shorthill Homestead is located in the Paradise Valley off East River Road, 17 miles south of Livingston (pop 6,851) and 44 miles north of Gardiner (pop 851), the north and only year-round entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman (pop 37,981) is a 45-minute drive west of the ranch 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.
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 access to Yellowstone National Park.
The north entrance south of the Stonewall Homestead 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 are rarely offered for sale.
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 often times 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 hard-core base of “trout bums,” more gently referred to as “full-time anglers,” that share residence with the wide assortment of writers, actors, musicians and artists that 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 Round Up, 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.
Ten miles south of the property 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 bath house 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.
Three miles north of Stonewall Homestead is the Pine Creek Café. The café offers a selection of wine and micro brews that complement an eclectic menu which is often enjoyed in the company of live music, particularly during the summer months when it is hosted outdoors.
Just 45 minutes “over the hill” from the ranch 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.
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 90s 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 middle 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.
Although high winds play a role in the region, particularly to the north and especially as the seasons change, the property has the benefit of the shelter of the thick grove of trees along McDonald Creek adjacent to the house which certainly play a major role in filtering the wind when it does decide to blow.
Learn more about the property
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Deeded Acres: 35±
Total Acres: 35±
* All acreages are approximations.
The residence is a three-level, 3,500± sq. ft. custom log home with a deck, built by Graden Construction in 2005, and is completely encapsulated by a full wrap-around covered porch spanning over 3,200 sq. ft., keeping the house cool in the summer as well as a shaded place to sit and enjoy the sunset.
The main level is appointed with rough-sawn hardwood flooring, vaulted ceilings that expose the sweeping views of the mountain landscape through oversized windows, and a large rock fireplace crafted from stones found on site. The kitchen area is highly customized with reclaimed cabinetry, slate countertops, a copper sink and Wolf stainless steel appliances. The kitchen and great room are open to one another, and a hallway leads to two additional bedrooms and a full bath. The doors throughout the residence are created from solid alder and have custom hardware, similar to all the cabinetry. Handcrafted log rails with twisted iron spindles lead to the third level and a lofted sitting room with views to the river corridor and nearby trout pond. A hallway leads to a third guest room and the master bedroom, each accompanied with their own full bath.
The lower level includes a somewhat hidden heated garage and utility room. Sharing this same level is a large living area highlighted by another stone fireplace, which also serves as a game room complete with billiards and television. Another full bath with a steam shower is located just off the living area of the lower level, as is the laundry room.
The owners have taken a top-shelf approach to building and maintaining the residence, even installing a copper-tiled roof which has now aged to a perfect patina. The landscape is kept immaculate amidst an oversized yard highlighted by a large stone fire pit and sitting area.
Just east of the residence is the horse barn built at the same time as the residence. The two-story heated structure includes four 12’ X 12’ stalls with Preifert doors and rubber mats throughout the entire lower level. The stalls open into a corral system complete with frost-free waterers. A tack room is adjacent to the stalls. The second level was designed for hay storage, but the thought of converting it to an apartment was kept in mind during construction. Water and plumbing were stubbed in, in the event that one day it would be used for such. The barn is conventional stick framed with cedar siding and metal roofing.
All minerals appurtenant to the ranch and owned by the sellers will be transferred to buyer at closing.
Annual property taxes are estimated to be $5,889.
Learn about the recreational amenities
In the low light of the evening, one can head to the trout pond and practice casting before heading out to some of the best fly fishing in the world. The Yellowstone River is an integral part of the primary viewshed and public access is located within five minutes of the front door. 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.
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 around. Nelson’s Spring Creek is also a fee fishery and is located a shorter distance north of the property 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. Headwater streams such as the Gibbon, Firehole and Lamar create rivers such as the Madison and Gallatin within its boundaries. 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.
Literally out the back door 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.Highlighting the property is a recently renovated half-acre pond complete with a spawning channel for the native cutthroat trout that reside there. These fish are extra-large and quite happy, adding another dimension to fishing.
Hiking and Wildlife Viewing:
These are two activities in abundance in and around the property. Days can be spent exploring and discovering new things on the property and in the abyss of forest lands that extend all the way to the park. It is quite common to find most of the wildlife that exists in the park right out the backdoor. Whitetail deer and Merriam turkeys are always present. Elk, moose, mule deer and bear are often seen moving through the timber across the open meadows during the twilight hours. Eagles and other birds of prey ride the drafts off the foothills while they hunt. One never knows what may appear at Shorthill Homestead. For the adventurer, hiking is limited only to how far your legs can take you.
This property is set-up with the equestrian in mind. There are two separate exits from the barn leading through the neighboring ranch and another leading to the forest. Horseback riding at Shorthill Homestead is unlike any other trailhead in Paradise Valley. It is private, where only you and a few neighbors have access to the miles of grass road that leads to the national forest and beyond. The views as one summits are spectacular, showcasing the Yellowstone valley below. Conceivably one could assemble a string of horses and disappear into the wild backcountry for an extended period of time, leaving directly from the barn.
Paradise Valley is world renowned for big game hunting, since it is a significant part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Two long alpine valleys extend from the valley floor reaching into individual cirques whose peaks tower above 10,000 feet. These watersheds are rugged and nearly impossible to access from any near trailheads and consequently the animals that reside there live in nearly complete solitude.
Mule deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats coexist in good numbers, with many growing through maturity and dying of old age. This is not to say that many do not die from predation; in fact there are also strong numbers of grizzly bear, mountain lion and wolves that exist. However, there somehow is balance which theoretically is partially due to the light hunting pressure.
Only a minimal amount of people control total access into this country and generally for those who are privileged enough to be able to hunt, they are selective about what is taken. This is difficult to replicate except on the largest of private ranches. The result is a handful of bull elk in this herd every year that reach beyond the 350 B&C caliber with the largest taken measuring roughly 392 B&C. This opportunity exists via a written trail easement from an adjacent landowner that borders the national forest which allows hunting for the owners of the Shorthill Homestead and their family members. There is perhaps no other property of this scale that exists offering this type of a quality big game hunting experience for true trophy-caliber animals.
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 provide 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 Yellowstone National 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 less than 45 minutes from the ranch. 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. Ninety minutes from the ranch, 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.