Simpson Creek Ranch

$3,400,000 Dell, MT 3,055± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

Simpson Creek Ranch is a 3,055± deeded acre summer cattle ranch located in a remote high mountain basin in southwest Montana. The ranch will support upwards of 250 pairs seasonally, operating on a large tract of deeded land with adjacent federal leases. The ranch also serves well recreationally with outstanding hunting, fishing, hiking and horseback riding, both on the ranch and into a giant expanse of forest service lands that cross over the continental divide and into Idaho. Four recently constructed, custom built cabins create a comfortable place to stay. The greater landscape is pristine with a very limited number of private owners in the basin. The mountain landscape is simply spectacular, highlighted by the towering Italian Peaks in a proposed wilderness area and the second tallest mountain in Montana, Eighteen Mile Peak. Simpson Creek Ranch is a solid summer livestock operation with outstanding recreational appeal.

General Description

Comprised of a main block of deeded land with adjoining federal leases, the Simpson Creek Ranch includes hundreds of acres of sub-irrigated pasture and thousands of acres of native range. Located at the base of the Tendoy Mountains, the ranch adjoins sections of the Beaverhead National Forest and is linked by lands managed by the BLM. This linkage provides unfettered access to a significant amount of public land and additional recreational opportunities. It has predominately been utilized for summer grazing, but has good on-site recreational amenities and is located in an area with notable big game hunting opportunities.The ranch lies at an elevation of approximately 7,500 feet, flanked by peaks that rise above 10,000 feet. It lies adjacent to the Beaverhead National Forest which is the largest block of national forest land in Montana, encompassing 3,320,000± acres sprawling across eight counties. The Simpson Creek Ranch consists of a pocket of deeded land adjacent to the national forest, just two miles from the Idaho state line.The area is typically grass and sage rangeland with tall conifer-covered, snow-capped granite peaks. A multitude of lakes are scattered throughout the national forest and countless streams flow out of this basin. Other than a graveled road and electric power, the area likely has not changed much since the days the Shoshone lived and hunted there.

Broker's Comments

The Simpson Creek Ranch represents an outstanding opportunity to buy a ranch that combines high recreational value with a quality summer grazing component. The ranch is located well away from the mainstream traffic associated with many of the hubs of Montana and offers a buyer a great sense of privacy in a pristine setting. This ranch has strong grazing leases and superior water rights. The history runs deep in this country, and with its sparse population it feels today like it may have 100 years ago. For a discriminating buyer looking for an opportunity to escape from it all and own a high country Montana ranch, the Simpson Creek Ranch is the perfect choice.

Learn about the locale


The Simpson Creek Ranch is located approximately 30 miles west of Dell, Montana in Beaverhead County along the Big Sheep Creek-Medicine Lodge Scenic Byway. Idaho Falls lies approximately 140 miles to the south and Butte lies approximately 121 miles to the north, providing commercial air services. The hub of the region is Dillon, located 59 miles to the north, offering a wide range of services including a fully equipped hospital, grocery stores, legal services, fly shops and banking. Dillon is also home to a small college, equipment and auto dealers, as well as a broad selection of saloons and restaurants. The small towns of Lima and Dell lie along Interstate 15 and cumulatively offer a handful of services such as a church, motel, gas, a school and a surprisingly good selection of “home cookin’” restaurants. Dell also features a beacon- lit 7,000-foot paved airstrip with a private fuel depot. The airstrip was originally built to accommodate World War II bombers transferring across the U.S. to the Pacific theatre. It was fully reconstructed and brought up to modern standards about fifteen years ago. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Bozeman, Montana and Yellowstone National Park are all within a two- to three-hour drive. 


The area is comprised of larger traditional livestock operations, with some recreational properties having come on the scene as the area’s amenities have begun to be appreciated by a broader cross section of land owners who appreciate its natural beauty and remoteness, well away from the more traditional recreation areas in Montana and Idaho.The Big Sheep Creek-Medicine Lodge Scenic Byway passes through the ranch on its 50 mile loop through the deep canyons and valleys separating the Bitterroot Range, which runs along the Continental Divide, from the Tendoy Mountains. Directly north of the ranch at the north end of the Horse Prairie Valley is Bannack State Park. Bannack was the site of Montana’s first big gold strike and the state’s first Territorial Capitol. Today, it is a well preserved ghost town available for public enjoyment.The upper Big Sheep Creek Valley, of which Simpson Creek is a significant part, was inhabited by the Shoshone Indians into the early 1900s, most notably led by Chief Tendoy whose name is immortalized by the mountain range to the northeast. The area was, and still is, rich in game and the Shoshone utilized this area through the summer months for hunting. This is evidenced by the multitude of tipi rings and pictographs on the limestone rock walls and in the many caves that are scattered throughout the area. The pictographs depict scenes of buffalo hunts and many other activities. The main attraction for the Shoshone was the availability and ease of harvesting the bighorn sheep and jackrabbits which inhabit the area.


Annual precipitation averages 14 to 18 inches, usually coming as heavy winter snowpack which results in lush green summers with ample irrigation water reserves. The precipitation throughout the area varies from high amounts in and around the mountains, to a semi-arid environment on the valley floors which are often snow-free in the winter. Simpson Creek, located at over 7,500 feet in elevation, has a short growing season and boasts comfortable summer temperatures and cool nights. 

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

The Simpson Creek Ranch is comprised of 3,055± deeded and 637 animal unit months on the adjoining BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands included in this grazing allotment.  

Deeded Acres: 3,055±
State Leased Acres: 1,200±
BLM Leased Acres: 6,000±
Total Leased Acres: 7,200±
Total Acres: 10,255±


The ranch is nicely improved as a summer cow camp or recreational retreat supported by a good set of corrals and recently built cabins crafted by renown builders Yellowstone Traditions that are of greater quality.The cabins were built in 2012 and 2014 using logs salvaged from local homestead era structures and masterfully recreated by one of southwest Montana’s finest custom home builders, Yellowstone Traditions. The cabins are sited in a dense stand of willows in the Simpson Creek bottoms. Simpson Creek is a small, perennial spring-fed creek with a native cutthroat trout population. While newly built, these structures appear to have already been on site for over a century – certainly the logs have. They are truly fitting for this location, which seems to be locked in time.The first cabin is a 400± sq. ft. single bedroom structure with a living area and full kitchen. Like the others, it is rustic with quality finishes and custom cabinetry accented by modern stainless steel appliances, a wood stove and stained concrete floors. A full front porch enjoys views of the surrounding mountain landscape.Two additional bunk cabins that are 358± and 475± sq. ft. respectively are also constructed from reclaimed log structures found on site and are essentially one-room sleeping cabins with bunk beds, a large closet and a wood stove. Similar in appearance to the others, they have a full front porch and are all connected via a boardwalk.A fourth cabin was created of the same look and feel but serves as a bath house. This structure includes two identical full bath’s and a laundry room.An old log barn stands near the cabin compound and can be completely refurbished should a new owner desire to do so. A full set of working/shipping corrals are located near the compound and have been recently upgraded. The ranch is perimeter fenced and cross fenced with the quality of fencing one would expect for a summer grazing operation. It also includes miles of updated fencing. The cross fencing allows for moving the cattle from pasture to pasture for effective grazing management. A newly created pasture was fenced into the Simpson Creek bottom near the cabins, which serves as a horse pasture.


Annual property taxes are estimated at $630.00

Learn about the recreational amenities

Wildlife Resources

In addition to being a great summer grazing ranch, the recreational pursuits are seemingly endless. The ranch offers a multitude of opportunities both on the deeded lands and on the adjoining Federal lands.Big game hunting may be the recreational highlight of the ranch. The ranch and surrounding area host almost every species of Rocky Mountain big game as well as a large variety of non-game species. Bighorn sheep, moose and black bear inhabit the area and hunting for elk, mule deer and antelope is excellent. Large herds of deer and antelope are commonly found roaming the ranch, and occasional herds of elk are often seen grazing through the bottoms in the near vicinity of the cabins. The habitat is excellent, with tall granite peaks, timbered basins and grassy hillsides descending into multiple willow-lined creek drainages. The timber blends into the grass and sage-covered lower terrain, where big game animals cannot resist the temptation of the inviting irrigated ground. Large flocks of sage grouse also inhabit the area, with mountain grouse residing in the aspen groves and conifer forests.The fishing throughout the area is also very good. Interestingly, virtually every stretch of moving water in the basin, both small and large, holds trout. The watershed begins as springs high in the mountains, forming trout-filled lakes which are scattered through the valley. The Sheep Creek drainage collects water from multiple mountain streams, several of which run through the ranch. Essentially, Sheep Creek is a giant spring creek gaining flow from seeps in the limestone cliffs providing a cold, nutrient rich, watercress-laden environment perfect for supporting a vibrant population of brown, rainbow and native cutthroat trout. The stream flows east just below the ranch into the Red Rock River,  which in succession forms the Beaverhead, Jefferson and eventually the Missouri River, merging with many of the fabled southwest Montana trout fisheries en route. Within a one- to two-hour drive, an angler can be wading in some of the finest trout water in the world.Morrison Lake is located approximately one mile into the national forest in the shadow of Baldy Mountain. The lake is well stocked and provides a picture perfect, high mountain angling adventure.A vast forest environment flanks the ranch, continuing well over the Continental Divide into Idaho’s Targhee National Forest. For the horseback riding or hiking enthusiast, the remoteness of this region provides little human intrusion and new adventures for backcountry treks or rides over countless miles. Whether your interest involves climbing tall peaks or packing in to a high alpine lake, the area provides tremendous variety and terrain. 

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

Depending upon precipitation, the Simpson Creek Ranch comfortably supports 250 cow/calf pairs for summer grazing with the season typically running from June to November. One can also graze yearlings on the ranch and could expect to run upwards of 350 during the same grazing period.The ranch has hundreds of acres of sub-irrigated lands that are supplemented by irrigation water and used as pasture There are stock and irrigation water rights out of Indian and Simpson Creek.

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