West Boulder Reserve Lot 14

$975,000 McLeod, MT 15± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

The West Boulder Reserve is a 1,300 plus acre ranch that was at one time a popular dude ranch. Over 40 years ago, it was turned into what is likely the first “shared ranch development”. The concept of a shared ranch is that individuals (20 in this case) each own a small lot with the right for one building site and the balance of the ranch is shared. The concept sold out almost overnight over 40 years ago and it has been notoriously difficult to buy an undeveloped lot there for many years. The offering of Lot 14A represents just such an opportunity. It is one of the very few lots that is a riverfront parcel that allows one immediate access to the river.

Just the Facts

  • LOCATION: Approximately 20 miles southeast of Livingston and 27 miles southwest of Big Timber. 
  • ACREAGE: 14.623 acres plus 1/20th undivided interest in 1,000 plus acre common area. 
  • WATER RESOURCES: Approximately 2.5 miles of the West Boulder River flows through the Reserve property.
  • LOT DESCRIPTION: This lot lies above and below the main road through the Reserve. Two approved home sites.
  • THE RESERVE: The West Boulder Reserve consists of 20 homesite lots which average 17.4 acres each and around 1,000 acres of common area. It adjoins and/or has access to a huge area of national forest. Annual dues are currently $4,375 per share.
  • SUMMARY: This represents a very rare opportunity to buy an unimproved lot in a sought after shared ranch development that has been sold out for over 40 years.  

General Description

The West Boulder Reserve lies at the upper end of the West Boulder River Valley just below the point where the river flows out of the Gallatin National Forest. The main feature of the Reserve is approximately 2.5 miles of the West Boulder River that flows through the middle. The land rising from the river on both sides consists of a mix of aspen groves, pine forest, and open meadows. It is fair to say that this diverse mix of habitats is about as aesthetically pleasing as one could imagine. One does not feel hemmed in by too many trees and the views of the surrounding mountains are dramatic, to say the least. 

Lot 14A lies towards the upper end of the Reserve and is one of the few lots that fronts on the river. Two homesites have been approved. The lot is divided by the main road. The two homesite options give one the ability to build below the road overlooking the river or above the road offering expansive views up the valley. The lot itself offers a mix of meadows and timbered areas and has good views and, of course, river frontage. 

Broker's Comments

The West Boulder Reserve stands on its own as one of the most beautiful properties in the Greater Yellowstone. It is no surprise that it sold out almost immediately and that these lots are highly sought after. In short, this is a rare and modestly priced opportunity to become a part of what is arguably Montana’s most sought-after river valley. 

Learn about the locale


The property is located an hour plus drive from Bozeman and the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport which services American, Allegiant, JetBlue, Frontier, Southwewst, Sun Country, Delta, United, and Alaska airlines as well as two FBO’s for private air travelers. Big Timber is about 27 miles to the northeast and Livingston is about 20 miles to the northwest. Both towns have airports and FBOs that accommodate most private aircraft. 


The West Boulder Reserve is located in the West Boulder River valley that is generally dominated by small ranches owned by conservation-oriented individuals and families. It is a very tightly held valley strategically located between Big Timber and Livingston with easy access to both towns. Two small areas in the valley have been developed to accommodate smaller holdings. The West Boulder Reserve is one of these. Many of the larger ranches are either in strong hands or have been protected by conservation easements. A lot in the West Boulder Reserve represents a modestly priced alternative that allows one to be a part of one of Montana’s most desirable and protected river valleys. 


While the county road to the ranch compound is kept open in the winter, the Reserve receives a fair amount of snow, so there is very little winter use of the property. Spring, summer, and fall are all magical times to be there. Spring is the heavier time for precipitation which makes for lush grass and wildflowers going into the summer. Summer temperatures are moderate and comfortable, and fall colors are amazing with the aspens turning and the diverse vegetation all contributing their own colors to the show. 

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

14.623 deeded acres plus a 1/20th undivided interest in around 1,000 acres of common land.

Deeded Acres: 15±
Total Leased Acres:
Total Acres: 15±

Additional Information


Originally the Bar 20 was a traditional dude ranch in the early part of the 20th century. The concept of turning it into a shared ranch came about in the early 1970s by a group of far-sighted conservation-oriented individuals and families. The idea was to create 20 parcels of around 20 acres each that each member could own outright subject to common rules and regulations regarding building and behavior. The original group was very oriented toward minimizing impact and building modest cabin type dwellings as opposed to large houses. The desirability and beauty of the West Boulder River Valley has brought in a less “thrifty” group of owners who have raised the standards from the early days. Even so, the lot owners continue to try to minimize their impact on their surroundings. Each lot owner owns one share of stock in the West Boulder Reserve Association which holds title to the one thousand plus acres of common land and manages the property. The owners have kept it simple with only one caretaker and the only common facility is a two-bedroom seasonal guest house with a bathroom, full kitchen and living room for the use of owners. This was the original ranch house for the Harry Brewer Ranch which bought out the old Bar 20. The adjacent ranch compound is where the caretaker lives in a separate house. 

Annual dues as of this writing are $4,375 per share. There are currently ten homes on existing lots and, due to some building sites having been retired, there is the potential for seven more homes to be built on the remaining lots. The Association donated a conservation easement on the common land to the Montana Land Reliance, so there can be no further development of the property. In general, homeowners have tended to fence their yards, but it is common practice for the remainder of their lots to be treated as common land for walking and riding. The Reserve also retains a right of first refusal on the sale of a lot to a non-Reserve member. This has virtually never been exercised, but buyers of this lot need to be aware that there will be a 30-day waiting period before an acceptable offer can be finalized. 


The annual property tax is estimated to be $1,735 based upon past years. 

Learn about the recreational amenities

Recreational Considerations

The Reserve is primarily about fishing, riding, and hiking in a spectacularly beautiful part of Montana. Obviously, proximity to world-class hunting and fishing in the neighborhood and in the adjacent national forest is a real draw as well. The West Boulder River is arguably one of the most beautiful places in Montana to fish, and that amenity is literally on one’s doorstep. The main Boulder River and the Yellowstone River are less than an hour’s drive – a drive which also gets one into the famous spring creeks just south of Livingston. Riding and hiking into the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area south of the ranch running all the way to the Yellowstone Park boundary is extraordinary.

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