Sleeping Willow Ranch is among the oldest homesteads in the Western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. It is situated between two mountain ranges with two creeks flowing through and a vibrant and historic community nearby. The property has excellent water rights and a plan in place for extensive water enhancements designed to expand and improve the current fishery resources. Sleeping Willow enjoys very easy access off a county-maintained road just a few miles from restaurants, shopping and services. Recreation is boundless here with millions of acres of public land nearby and a fantastic fishery, the Bitterroot River flowing through the center of the valley.
Sleeping Willow Ranch is approached from the western boundary via South Burnt Fork Road (fully maintained county road). South Burnt Fork Road travels through the property near the south boundary. All but 40± acres lies north of this road. The acreage south of the road is a dry slope scattered with brush and the acreage north of the road is comprised of lush, irrigated meadows that are virtually flat. Once passing the property’s west boundary on South Burnt Fork Road, there is a driveway on the left a quarter mile in, that is adorned with several huge willow trees leftover from the old homestead site. Upon entering the property’s driveway there is a small pond on the left that was recently constructed by the current owner. The driveway winds past the old barn that is still intact. The current owner has taken great pains to clean up and beautify the property by removing the dilapidated structures that made up the old homestead. He preserved a historic log cabin on the property and moved it to a location near the northeast corner of the property. Just before entering the property at its eastern boundary, South Burnt Fork Creek splits into two creeks, Robertson Creek and South Swamp Creek. Both of these creeks traverse the length of the property from east to west. While the eyes are drawn to the dramatic views of the Bitterroot Mountains to the west, the views to the east are of the timbered horizon of the Sapphire Mountains. The views to the north and south are pastoral.
If there is one common denominator on Rocky Mountain land holdings that hold their value it is water — and Sleeping Willow has plenty of it. The Ranch sits in a very convenient location and has tremendous potential for resource enhancement. There are some great building sites throughout the property, each of which takes in its own unique view of the surroundings.
Learn about the locale
Sleeping Willow Ranch is located in the Bitterroot Valley approximately three and one-half miles southeast of the community of Stevensville, Montana’s oldest community originally established as a mission. 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 with several arrivals and departures each day. Missoula is also served by Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines, providing in-state service and nonstop service to the west coast. Also, Ravalli County Airport in Hamilton has a 4,200-foot runway open to general aviation.
The Bitterroot Valley is arguably the most beautiful valley in Montana, if not the Northern Rockies. The Bitterroot River runs in a northerly direction throughout the length of the valley. The western edge of the valley is met by the towering, jagged peaks of the Bitterroot Mountain Range while the eastern edge of the valley is graced with the gentler horizon of the Sapphire Mountains. The valley is dotted with quaint Montana towns, the largest of which is Hamilton, located approximately 20 minutes from the ranch. Stevensville was the very first community in Montana and is located approximately three and one-half miles from the ranch’s doorstep. The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness area, located in the Bitterroot Mountains, provides the locals a pristine roadless wilderness area that, when taken with two contiguous wilderness areas, account for the largest contiguous block of wilderness in the lower 48 states. Lost Trail Ski Area offers an excellent local ski area without the crowds found elsewhere. The Bitterroot Valley is one of the more populous valleys in Montana and therefore offers much more in the way of services than many other areas.
The Bitterroot Valley is one of the lowest intermountain valleys in the Rocky Mountains. Elevations at the Sleeping Willow Ranch range from approximately 3,650 to 3,820 feet above sea level. This location west of the continental divide results in a stronger “Pacific Northwest influence” than that which is found east of the divide. Consequently, the climate is mild by Montana standards. High readings of 90º F occur less than 20 days a year. Summers are pleasant and winters are characterized by steady, but not severe, cold. Extremely high winds are rare.
Learn more about the property
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Deeded Acres: 254±
Total Acres: 254±
Lowest Elevation: 3,650
Highest Elevation: 3,820
The only structural improvements on the ranch currently are the historic barn (circa 1909) and log cabin (late 1800s). The modest one-room log cabin has been restored and moved from its original location to serve as a “grandkid” cabin in the “back” of the property.
Sleeping Willow Ranch has extensive water rights with priority dates as early as 1866. Full documentation is available upon request.
Property taxes are estimated at $1,264 annually.
Learn about the recreational amenities
Fishing is probably the most important recreational attraction to the Bitterroot Valley. The Bitterroot River is a well-respected world-class fly-fishing river. It has an exceptionally long season with fishable hatches from early March through early November. Rainbow and brown trout up to 27 inches are occasionally landed here as well as cutthroat trout up to about 20 inches or more. The ranch itself also holds excellent water rights and resources. These water resources have traditionally been used for the raising of hay during the summer months but the current owner has, with the assistance of professional consultants, designed an enhancement plan that is ready to be implemented. This enhancement plan calls for the construction of numerous ponds throughout the property capable of growing very large fish. Sleeping Willow Ranch is conveniently located for easy fishing excursions to the river.
Whitetail Deer are rampant on the property and can be seen at nearly every turn.
The ranch is also within a 20-minute drive of the Stock Farm Club, Charles Schwab’s internationally recognized community with a Tom Fazio designed 18-hole golf course. The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the largest in the lower 48 states, is just across the valley where there are numerous trailheads from many locations throughout the valley.