West Fork Ranch is found at the end of the road, in a very private drainage, just seven miles west of Big Timber, MT. The main and west forks of Little Timber Creek converge on the ranch as they flow toward the Yellowstone River, which forms the ranch’s southern boundary. To the northwest, the ranch enjoys dramatic, protected views of the often snow-capped Crazy Mountains. This 2,764± deeded acre ranch is teeming with fish and wildlife, including resident elk through much of the fall season, and ever-present mule deer, whitetail deer, and antelope. Waterfowl, wild turkey, and Hungarian partridge are numerous, and the Yellowstone River and lower Little Timber Creek offer excellent trout fishing. The ranch is exceptionally well equipped for a small cattle operation with a newly renovated historic barn and Temple Grandin-designed cattle facilities. Approximately 300 acres of irrigation, including two new gravity-fed pivots, balance the livestock operation, and create a lush riparian corridor within the surrounding cliffs and benches that is strikingly picturesque.
Just the Facts
- 2,764± deeded acres
- Private, end-of-the-road location seven miles west of the town of Big Timber, MT
- A one-hour drive from Bozeman and 68 miles from the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport
- Approximately 1.8 miles of frontage on the Yellowstone River with excellent trout fishing
- Approximately eight miles of Little Timber Creek and two miles of the West Fork of Little Timber Creek
- Trout habitat enhancements on Little Timber Creek
- Approximately 300 acres irrigated from Little Timber Creek, plus newly authorized Yellowstone River water rights
- Two new gravity-fed pivots with additional end-gun and flood irrigation
- Newly rebuilt historic barn with bunk room, bathroom, vet room
- New, Temple Grandin-designed cattle pens & facilities
- New equipment barn
- Reclaimed, historic granary converted to ranch office
- Site of Lewis & Clark camp at confluence of Little Timber Creek and the Yellowstone River
- Excellent elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, antelope hunting
- Hungarian partridge and waterfowl
- Conservation easement with Montana Land Reliance that allows two homes; one site specified, one floating
The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is a 68-mile drive west of the ranch. It is the busiest passenger airport in Montana and sixth busiest in the Pacific Northwest, serving the Greater Yellowstone region. Five airlines offer numerous daily flights. The airlines are Allegiant, Delta/Delta Connection, Alaska/Horizon, Frontier and United/United Express. They provide non-stop service to Phoenix/Mesa, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Houston, Chicago, New York City-LaGuardia, Newark, Salt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Atlanta and Denver. These non-stop flights are subject to the winter and summer schedules of each of the respective airlines. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport also has two first-class FBOs, Yellowstone Jet Center (a Signature facility) and Arlin’s Aircraft, to service private aircraft.
The Billings Logan International Airport is an 88-mile drive east of the ranch and is the second most-active airport in Montana. Its airlines include Allegiant, Delta/Delta Connection, Alaska/Horizon, Cape Air and United/United Express with daily non-stop service to many US and Montana cities. Edwards Jet Center is a high-quality FBO that handles private aircraft.
Private aircraft up to the size of small jets are accommodated approximately ten miles south of the ranch at the Big Timber Airport, and larger jets can land at the Livingston Airport about 35 miles to the west.
Big Timber is on the south side of the river seven miles from the ranch. Big Timber exhibits an excess of civic pride and is just “big enough” to support all the services one normally needs - from the gourmet fare at the restored Grand Hotel, to banks, car dealers, grocery store, pharmacy, hospital, art galleries, and restaurants. It is essentially a small agricultural town with a variety of overtones related to fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation as well as being a home base for the platinum/palladium mine that operates at the head of the East Boulder Valley. The residents of the area help to support its excellent restaurants, shops, and galleries that one would not find in most Montana towns of this size. The Grand Hotel on the National Register of Historic Places with its attractive rooms, bar and gourmet restaurant brings many travelers off the highway and acts as a social center for many of the area residents. There are numerous other “watering holes” including the Frostee Freeze where many locals “coffee up” and share news in the morning.
Historically, Big Timber was a cow town, home to multiple generations of ranching families. Due to its aesthetic beauty, multiple recreational opportunities and small-town friendliness, this ranching town has attracted absentee ranch owners - both individuals and families - who have moved to the area to take advantage of the recreational opportunities and to enjoy this dynamic small Montana town.
For a change of pace there is easy access to Livingston (30 minutes) and Bozeman (one hour), both of which offer a wider variety of services and social and cultural amenities. Montana’s largest city and its commercial center, Billings, is located 90 minutes east of the ranch.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Rangeland - 2,463± acres
Farmstead - 1± acres
2,764± Total Deeded Acres
In 2007, to protect the open space of Montana and continued agricultural use of this land, the then-current owner placed the ranch in a conservation easement with the Montana Land Reliance. In addition to the aforementioned reasons, the owner wanted to specifically protect the Yellowstone cutthroat trout and bald eagles which inhabit the ranch and its waters. Also of significance is the historically documented campsite used by Captain William Clark on his return journey to convene with Merriweather Lewis. Captain Clark and his company camped at the confluence of Little Timber Creek and the Yellowstone River on July 16 and 17, 1806. Although the property may not be subdivided, the conservation easement allows for the building of two residences. A copy of this recorded document is available from the offices of Hall and Hall.
Another attractively restored structure is the ranch office, which was once a granary. The structure was relocated from within the ranch to a central site along Little Timber Creek. Outside the office there is a round corral, and a newly constructed 40’ x 92’ equipment barn with three bays and 14-foot overhead doors. Near the calving barn is another 32’ x 48’ equipment building. Two Valley pivots, new in 2015, are located along the West Fork of Little Timber Creek.
The current owners reside near Big Timber and commute the few miles to the ranch, so there is no primary residence on the ranch. A new owner has free rein to construct a home to meet their personal taste with two permitted residential building rights. The primary envelope is located against the hills on the east side of Little Timber Creek. The other right is for the replacement of an original residential structure, which has been removed. This building envelope may be located anywhere within the permitted building area along the Little Timber Creek drainage.
Two new Valley pivots were installed in 2015 along the West Fork of Little Timber Creek. One pivot is five towers, and the other is three towers, irrigating a total of approximately 50 acres. Additional acres are irrigated by high-pressure portable guns. The system is entirely gravity-fed, and could be extended to provide sprinkler irrigation along the lower reaches of Little Timber Creek. The newly acquired Yellowstone River water rights could also be utilized to supplement an expanded sprinkler system.
The remainder of the irrigation water is currently distributed by three main ditches, served by Little Timber Creek, with laterals and gated pipe for flood irrigating.
A complete description of these rights is available through the offices of Hall and Hall, including plans and estimates for expansion of the existing sprinkler irrigation.
Rainbow and brown trout also inhabit the small streams on the ranch. Joe Urbani of Urbani Fisheries www.urbanifisheries.com completed a stream enhancement project on the lower reaches of Little Timber Creek which has provided some top-notch small stream fishing for both the resident trout and those migrating up from the Yellowstone River to spawn.
Mule deer inhabit the hills and irrigated meadows in profusion. Whitetail deer generally prefer the lower one to two miles of the Little Timber Creek bottom plus the river frontage and several islands in the river. Pronghorn antelope are typically scattered about the lower reaches of the ranch. The ranch provides opportunities for Pope & Young qualifying animals of all species on a consistent basis.
Ducks and geese are always resident along this river frontage as well as its channels, backwaters and sloughs, with numbers increasing during the fall with the influx of northern migratory birds. Wild turkeys are common on the ranch during the spring season. The most abundant upland game bird species is Hungarian partridge which find the combination of hills, native range, and irrigated meadows to be excellent habitat.
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