Skalkaho Creek Ranch has everything most prospective ranch owners would put on a “wish list” … a great trout stream, public land borders, a quality set of impeccably maintained improvements (including an 8,600+ square foot Alpine Log Home and extensive equestrian facilities), and quick access to a vibrant community with great restaurants and services. Wildlife on the ranch is plentiful and diverse and even includes a herd of bighorn sheep. The trout in Skalkaho Creek are not known for being shy. The views of the Bitterroot Mountains are framed perfectly by the Sapphire Mountains.
Just the Facts
- Convenient location 10 miles from Hamilton directly off the pavement
- World Class golf within 15 minutes of the property at Charles Schwab’s Stock Farm Club
- Quality equestrian amenities in a highly desirable climate.
- Jawdropping views across the valley to the Bitterroot Mountains
- 1,134± deeded acres and 160± acres of State Lease
- Attractive mix of irrigated meadows and rangeland
- Gorgeous Alpine log Home over 8,600 square feet
- Caretaker home, barn and outdoor riding arena. Well suited for horses
- Private cutthroat trout fishery on Skalkaho Creek flowing through the property
- USFS borders
- Great water rights and two wells on site.
- Elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer and whitetail deer populations
The ranch is located in the Skalkaho Creek drainage on the east side of the Bitterroot Valley. The property is accessed on both sides of paved Skalkaho Road, approximately 10 miles southeast of Hamilton, Montana. There are two main entrances on the south side of the road and one on the north. When approaching from the west, the first entrance on the right provides access to the manager’s home, outdoor riding arena, barn, and other outbuildings. Irrigated meadows lay both east and west of these improvements, along with a steep hillside to the south. One mile of Skalkaho Creek runs through the middle of the area. The second entrance is located approximately one-quarter mile further up Skalkaho Road. This entrance provides access to the owner’s home by way of a long driveway that crosses Skalkaho Creek on a private bridge. The driveway gains in elevation as it rises to the small bench on which the home is sited to take in views of the creek, the Bitterroot Mountain Range to the west, and the Sapphires to the east. The irrigated meadows continue further on both sides of the creek to the east and west boundaries of the property. The acreage on the north side of the road is accessed by a gate directly across from the manager’s entrance. This acreage is comprised mostly of open range with some timber. The ranch road that accesses this acreage winds its way to the highest elevations of the property, offering rolling hills, meadows, and dramatic views of the Bitterroot Mountains and Valley. Mother nature was here first, and in the year 2000, she reminded us all of that fact when much of the surrounding area burned in a massive outbreak of wildfires. Skalkaho Creek Ranch, while having lost much of its hillside timber resources to the fires, has recovered amazingly well in 15+ years. Intensive weed management has prevented the spread of invasive weed growth and, as a result, the range is now a thriving community of native range plants, providing excellent forage for cattle and wildlife. Furthermore, tree growth immediately surrounding the home and improvements was spared. Adjacent ownership consists of very large blocks of US Forest Service land and private holdings. The ranch’s 160-acre state lease is located inside the boundaries of the ranch, north of the highway.
Skalkaho Creek Ranch lends itself well to an absentee owner who wants a convenient location without sacrificing the rural character of a real ranch. Of course, if prospective ranch owners wish to make themselves full-time residents of the Northern Rockies, they would find a superb place to do so at Skalkaho Creek Ranch. The ranch would serve equally well for fisherfolk and equestrian enthusiasts.
Learn about the locale
Skalkaho Creek Ranch is located ten miles southeast of Hamilton, Montana, on Skalkaho Road. Hamilton is approximately 45 miles south of Missoula, Montana. Delta (including the former Northwest Airlines) and United Airlines serve the Missoula International Airport from their respective hubs in Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, and Denver, providing several arrivals and departures each day. Missoula is also serviced by Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines, with nonstop service to Seattle. Allegiant Air offers direct flights to/from Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Also, Ravalli County Airport in Hamilton, the county seat, has a 4,200-foot runway open to general aviation just 20 miles north of the ranch.
Skalkaho Creek Ranch has a front-row seat to one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in the West -- the Bitterroots. The 1.3 million-acre Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness on the west side of the valley is the largest federally designated wilderness area in the lower 48. The valley lies between the Sapphire Mountains to the east and Bitterroots to the west and is recognized as having one of the mildest climates in the state of Montana. The Bitterroot River flows to the north to join the Clark Fork River near Missoula. The ranch’s location provides access to a seemingly endless variety of recreational activities. Within an hour’s drive, one can be in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the Big Hole Valley, the Main Fork of the Salmon River, Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, and many other desirable areas. The economy of the area has traditionally been based in agriculture and timber but, in more recent times, relies primarily on tourism and service industries. Missoula, approximately one hour north of the ranch, is home to the University of Montana with an undergraduate student body of over 10,000. The ranch is 45 miles north of the Lost Trail Ski Area, which has, in recent years, undergone a massive facilities expansion.
The ranch elevation varies from 4,100 to 5,300 feet, with an average annual precipitation varying between 15 to 20 inches. The Bitterroot Valley is known to have the most desirable climate in Montana.
Salish Indians populated this area before white men arrived. The Salish and other tribes used the Skalkaho (Salish for Place of Beaver) “Road” heavily in their travels and eventually a road suitable for vehicles was built on the route in 1924. This road is now called Skalkaho Highway (Montana Highway 38) but is hardly a highway. It is a lightly-traveled two-lane paved road that turns to dirt and gravel east of Skalkaho Creek Ranch, at which point the road is closed during the winter. The narrow and winding road ascends to an elevation of 7,260 feet before dropping down into the Rock Creek drainage. Along the way, Skalkaho Falls provides an impressive 150-foot display of cascading water. The ranch was homesteaded by the Hobbs family around 1910. Since that time the ranch has changed hands a few times, but remnants of the old ranch remain. When the manager’s home was remodeled, a few old film negatives were found depicting earlier days of the ranch (see above).The remains of another old homestead (the Chestnut family) lie high up on the range. The only remnant of this homestead is the remains of a log springhouse that hearkens back to a very different way of life.
Learn more about the property
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
- Farmstead/Homes 2± acres
- Tillable Irrigated 44± acres
- Grazing Land 816± acres
- Forest Land 272± acres
Deeded Acres: 1,134±
State Leased Acres: 160±
Total Leased Acres: 160±
Total Acres: 1,294±
The home is a two-story Alpine Log Home with over 8,600 square feet, constructed in 1995-96. The landscaping is artfully designed and impeccably maintained. The home is in excellent condition, with an open, airy, extremely functional floor plan. In addition to the master suite complete with walk-in closet, jacuzzi tub and enclosed shower, the home has four bedrooms, each with a full bath. Amenities include two fireplaces, two family rooms, a large enclosed three-season porch with built-in grill, workout room with sauna, office, and a lower-level kitchenette. Hot water radiant heating in the floor makes the home most comfortable during colder months. The extensive patio, terracing, and decking makes the outdoors as functional and inviting as the interior of the home. All rooms are situated to bring the views into the living space.Guest quarters, with a living room, kitchen, and two bedrooms and baths, are located over a three-car garage and are attached to the home via a covered “bridge” of decking. Guests can easily remain fully self-contained.
This home was the original homestead built in 1910 and remodeled in 1994. It is of wood frame construction with 1,300± square feet on the main floor and a full basement below. The main level has two bedrooms and one bath, with two bonus rooms and a bath downstairs. Electric baseboard along with an efficient wood stove provide heat in winter.
The barn was constructed in 1996 and includes 2,160± square feet. It is a six-stall structure with auto-waterers, wash rack, bathroom, feedroom, turnouts, and enclosed tackroom. Attached to the barn is a 40’x40’ enclosed work arena with a sand floor.
The outdoor arena is situated creekside and measures 150’ x 250’. An elevated deck provides observation of activities in the arena.
There are several outbuildings, all of which have been re-sided and re-roofed. The outbuildings provide for storage of implements and vehicles.
There are numerous water rights appurtenant to the ranch for stockwater, irrigation, and domestic use. Priority dates on these rights range from 1890 to 1995. There are two groundwater wells on the ranch. Full documentation is available upon request.
Annual taxes are approximately $18,100
Learn about the recreational amenities
Skalkaho Creek is alive with cutthroat trout. Elk, bighorn sheep, mule and whitetail deer frequent the ranch. The ranch has a contiguous border with U.S. Forest Service lands, and only a stone’s throw across the valley lies the largest wilderness area in the continental United States, where a large variety of recreational opportunities exist, including horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, hunting, and overnight camping trips. On occasion, mountain lions, wolves, and black bears will also pass through the ranch.
Learn about the general operations
The owner has traditionally managed the ranch for cattle and horses but has scaled back in recent years. Currently, the owner leases grazing rights to a local rancher, having disposed of almost all his own livestock. From around May 10th until October 1st, the lessee runs 50-60 pairs on the high range and about 40 pairs in the bottomland. The meadows are primarily used for irrigated pasture and recreation.