Located approximately 15 miles northwest of Wilsall and less than an hour’s drive east of Bozeman, the Wallrock Ranch lies an easy 30 minute plus drive from Bridger Bowl – one of Montana’s renowned local ski areas. This 5,848± acre all deeded mountain ranch encompasses the Wallrock Basin and this dramatic formation itself, a historic buffalo jump. Essentially unimproved with the historic homestead buildings presiding over hundreds of acres of meadows tucked up under Wallrock with wonderful views of the Crazy Mountains to the east, the balance of the ranch faces westerly with equally dramatic views of the Bridger Mountains to the west. Well fenced and watered with springs, creeks, scattered timber and mountain foothills, the ranch produces hay and forage to run cows from early summer into March as well as elk, deer and upland birds. This very private and dramatic setting cries out to be brought back to its former glory.
The Wallrock formation is a prominent feature of the landscape between the towering Bridger Mountains to its west and the Crazy Mountains that dominate the skyline to the east. Wallrock Ranch is so named because it basically owns this landmark. There is ample evidence that this unique feature was of great significance to the Native Americans who frequented this area for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. It was also used as a buffalo jump and going back even further the recent discovery of a fossilized tooth of a Tyrannosaurus Rex gives some indication of even earlier inhabitants of the basin.One enters the ranch from the east and climbs up to the high ridge that encloses the Wallrock Basin. As one comes over the ridge and drops into the basin, one cannot help but be impressed by the setting of this remarkable ranch with its views of the Crazy Mountains to the east. The high point is a northerly facing cliff that drops to a steep timbered slope and then transitions into a series of lush meadows that are either irrigated or sub irrigated by the water that flows out of the base of these cliffs forming the headwaters of Wallrock Creek. The old homestead buildings give one a sense of the history of the ranch. This basin takes in about one third of the ranch. On an average year the ranch will put up hay on around 200 acres of these meadows. The balance of the ranch lies on the gentle slopes to the west and south of the basin. These are well watered drainages that offer exceptional grazing for livestock and wildlife as well as dramatic views of the Bridger Mountains further to the west. While one is immediately overwhelmed by Wallrock Basin and that almost magical setting, these southerly and westerly slopes and valleys are also impressive in a different way.
The Wallrock Ranch stands out as an extremely unique property amongst ranches in this area because of its setting in and control of Wallrock Basin. Its location within range of Bozeman, Livingston and Bridger Bowl is a major benefit – not to mention the fact that it is a very private, all deeded, “end of the road” ranch with extraordinary intrinsic beauty and exceptional views of two dramatic mountain ranges.
Learn about the locale
Wallrock Ranch is located approximately 15 miles northwest of Wilsall, Montana. It is accessed off of Route 89 north of Wilsall where one turns west on a graveled county road which gives way to a seasonal county road that dead ends at the ranch approximately 6 miles from the pavement. The last 2 to 3 miles have minimal county maintenance as no one lives permanently at the ranch. The ranch has an agreement with a neighbor to maintain a set of corrals at the end of the maintained section and there is a 60 foot permanent easement across a neighbor that provides access to a section of the ranch that lies “kitty corner” from the rest of the ranch. The ranch also has a mutual easement that allows access across the corner where it joins the main ranch.While it does lie at the end of the road, the Wallrock Ranch is within an easy hour’s drive of both Bozeman and Livingston. Bozeman of course offers the best commercial air service in the state and is considered one of the state’s most desirable communities. Livingston is a smaller community and is considered one of the gateway cities to Yellowstone National Park and a mecca for anglers. Ranches within an hour’s drive of these cities are amongst the most sought after in the region.
Wallrock’s neighbors are primarily large ranching operations many of which have been in the same families for generations. This area has not yet seen the sub division pressure that has impacted the lands closer to Livingston and Bozeman. It is also true that the owners of these large ranches have enjoyed success in the livestock and farming business and have been able to pass these ranches down through the generations. One of the benefits of development to the south is that the nearby small towns of Wilsall and Clyde Park have enjoyed some level of prosperity and have been able to support services that would normally not be offered in such small towns. It goes without saying that the more distant towns of Livingston and Bozeman, while they have little impact on the area around Wallrock, offer a cross section of services and amenities that is highly desirable for ranch owners. The ranch also enjoys the rare benefit of being within 30 miles of Bridger Bowl Ski Area. Bridger Bowl is often the destination of choice for expert skiers who prefer it to the much larger destination resort of Big Sky. It offers exceptional expert level skiing .
Learn more about the property
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Based upon the county assessor’s records the ranch contains 5,848± deeded acres. It lies in a contiguous all deeded block with no leases and no public access at any point except where the county road dead ends at the ranch boundary. The ranch does have an agreement with one neighbor that allows mutual rights to access each other’s property across a point where the four sections meet. The precise number of irrigated and sub irrigated acres is unknown but the owner believes that about 200 acres are used for the production of hay. The balance of the land is utilized for livestock grazing.
Deeded Acres: 5,848±
Total Acres: 5,848±
The Pulis Ranch which adjoins Wallrock for 2.5 miles on it eastern border is also being offered for sale – for the first time in 80 years in this case. It runs all the way to the paved highway Route 89 and includes both lower Wallrock Creek and Cottonwood Creek. There are over 2400 acres of farmland and up to 400 acres subject to irrigation. This would provide an operating base for Wallrock and allow one to put together a deeded block of over 15,000 acres. For an upland bird hunter the benefit would be that birds would migrate from Wallrock down to Pulis later in the season and also Pulis has a substantial dryland grain component which is always attractive to game birds. The combination of these two ranches would create one of the best upland bird hunting properties in the state. The current price of Pulis is $10.2 Million.
With the exception of excellent perimeter and pasture fencing, good stock water developments and livestock handling facilities, the ranch is essentially unimproved. There is an old house that is used as a basic cow camp for occasional overnights and during haying. The main set of working corrals is located near the house and the second set is located along the county road on the way in on a neighbor’s property. The agreement for these corrals has about 25 years left to run. The entire ranch is off the grid with power approximately 1.25 miles away from the lowermost boundary but would be over 4 miles to the homestead site.
Wallrock has extensive filed water rights which include both irrigation and stock water rights. A complete list from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is available from any Hall and Hall office. It should be noted that the ranch has a full ditch system for irrigation but it has not been used in recent history.
The owners believe that they own 100% of the mineral rights and are prepared to share them 50/50 with a new owner. It goes without saying that the ability to control 50% of the mineral rights on a ranch is almost impossible these days and to further know and be able to work with the owner of the other 50% is even more unusual.
Annual real estate taxes are estimated to be $4,389.
Learn about the recreational amenities
Major big game species such as mule and whitetail deer, elk, antelope, black bear, and moose are found on the ranch. In addition a portion of the ranch is licensed as a game bird farm. When weather conditions are right, Hungarian partridge thrive along with a sustainable population of sharptail grouse. Little has been done to enhance this resource, but simple strategies such as the addition of grain crops in key locations could be implemented to not only increase the bird populations but also make them more durable to weather events. This would of course also benefit the other game and none game species that live on these lands. The creeks that emerge on this ranch collect and become more sizeable as they leave the ranch and enter into the adjacent Pulis Ranch (See Special Note) forming Cottonwood Creek. Cottonwood Creek supports a small population of trout.
Learn about the general operations
The current owner, whose family have owned the ranch for over 60 years, has a home base near Big Timber and uses the Wallrock to run approximately 300 mother cows from late June to March depending on weather conditions and hay production. In addition he runs around 140 yearlings from early June to mid October. The cows that remain on the ranch generally graze out with a protein supplement and utilize the hay on hand should the weather turn bad. They are trucked back to the home place near Big Timber for calving. This has been a very successful method of operating but of course is dependent upon having another ranch for calving. Wallrock is also well suited for a traditional seasonal grazing operation. We are estimating that the current grazing regime produces around 3000 animal unit months. The ranch’s operational potential is only limited by the lack of improvements. It was clearly a vital and vibrant operating ranch in it’s day with productive meadows balancing its grazing component and a full set of improvements. A new owner will be able to develop the ranch as he or she sees fit. It can be as simple as leasing it out to another rancher and letting it carry itself as pure land investment or as fulfilling as bringing it back to its former stature. It is one of the most beautiful and private settings we have seen and, in our opinion, it literally cries out to be rebuilt in some way and restored to its former glory.
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Cash at closing and the seller requires that this transaction be structured as part of a Section 1031 tax deferred exchange. There will be no cost or additional liability to the buyer.