Arrowsmith Niobrara River Ranch

$4,995,000 Bassett, NE 4,400± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

Arrowsmith Niobrara River Ranch is located along the federally designated Scenic River corridor that has shaped the landscape for centuries and provided endless opportunities for cattlemen and recreation. The ranch consists of 4,400± deeded acres of hay meadows, upper bench grassland, timber, and over three and a half miles of river frontage. It is home to one of the finest Red Angus operations in the great plains and offers Nebraska’s best all around hunting opportunities including elk, deer, turkey, quail, grouse and pheasant. The sky is the limit with this highly-diverse ranch property.

Just the Facts

  • 4,400± deeded acres
  • 500± sub-irrigated acres
  • 1,300±- timber acres
  • Three and a half miles of Niobrara River Canyon
  • Tarbell Creek flows over three miles of the property
  • 250 cow/calf year-round operation
  • 500 cow/calf summer grazing operation
  • Bow hunted by Fred Bear with remnants of his old wooded tree stand
  • Outlaw Doc Middleton hideout remnants
  • Resident elk herd
  • Bull elk pushing 400”
  • Deer pushing 200”
  • Owner eligible for Niobrara landowner elk and deer tags
  • Hay meadows producing over 4 ton per acre
  • World-class wildlife habitat
  • Excellent upper bench meadows for grazing
  • Pine, cedar, oak, and ash trees predominantly
  • County road access

General Description

Arrowsmith Ranch lays along the banks of the famed Niobrara River with very fertile hay meadows abutting up to the river. The hay meadows have deciduous trees such as cottonwood, oak, ash, and elm spread throughout the valley floor creating excellent wildlife habitat. From the valley floor, terrain gradually gains elevation and leads to steep canyon draws with pine and cedar trees interspersed with oak trees. The upper benches provide breathtaking sunrises glimmering of the valley floor and river.  The diversity and habitat of the ranch creates the perfect environment for cattle to graze amongst the deer and elk. The ranch has been managed for its world-class wildlife habitat along with the belly deep grass for livestock. The ranch provides a remoteness feeling, that society is searching for in today’s world.

Broker's Comments

The Arrowsmith Ranch is a splendid combination of a beautiful cow/calf or yearling ranching operation and an outstanding recreation ranch offering some of the best outdoor sporting that Nebraska has to offer up and down the Niobrara River. You can operate as a year-round ranch while still maximizing wildlife potential. Walk the historical footsteps of Outlaw Doc Middleton and Bowhunter Fred Bear while enjoying the serenity of the Niobrara River Valley.

Learn about the locale


Arrowsmith Niobrara River Ranch is located in Keya Paha County, Nebraska, 13 miles north of Bassett, Nebraska or 16 miles southeast of Springview, Nebraska. The ranch lays along the banks of the Niobrara River and on the north side of the historic Carnes Bridge.
Commercial air service is available at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport near Grand Island, 160 miles south of Bassett, and North Platte Regional Airport near North Platte, 183 miles from Bassett. Passenger, air freight, and air express services are provided. Great Lakes Aviation serves both airports with three flights daily to Denver.
Rock County Airport (RKO) serves Bassett and Rock County. The airport has a paved lighted runway extending 4,698 feet. The facility is at an elevation of 2,348 feet and located two miles west of Bassett.


Bassett is located in north-central Nebraska in the famed and unique Nebraska Sandhills. U.S. highway 20 and 183 intersect in Bassett, and Nebraska Highway 7 extends from Bassett to the north through one of the most scenic areas of the Niobrara Valley. Bassett is 34 miles from the South Dakota border. The basic economic activities of Bassett, the county seat of Rock County, include farming, cattle feeding, and retail trade. Bassett offers both elementary and high school.

The area is steeped in rich history of the finest quality cattle in the world. As a result, local cattle sale barns have historically brought highest returns anywhere in the U.S. for the area’s cattle producers.


Bassett and the Arrowsmith Ranch enjoy a mild climate with a relatively long growing season. The average length of growing season is 137 days with an annual precipitation of around 24 inches. Winter snowfall is less frequent, and usually disappears during the mild periods. Coldest winter months average highs fall in the 30’s with summer month highs average mid to upper 80’s.


Arrowsmith Family put their roots down in the Niobrara River Valley in the 1930s. The river valley has long been steeped in history of outlaws and settlers. The most famous outlaw of the area was Doc Middleton. He was a horse thief and murderer that traveled the plains and used the Niobrara River Valley for a hideout. In 1878, Wyoming Stock Growers Association sent out a posse and tracked down Doc Middleton in the Niobrara River Valley, where, after a shootout, in which Middleton was shot and finally captured after years of violence. Unique to the ranch is the remnants of a hideout that Doc Middleton used during late 1800s. History does not say, but the hideout could be the end of Doc Middleton’s scourge of the plains.
Also, the great bowhunter Fred Bear spent many days stalking deer on the ranch. The current owner can remember the days that Fred would spend on the ranch and can point to the remnants of an old wooden tree stand that Fred used.

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

Deeded Acres: 4,400± Acres
Sub-irrigated Hay Meadows: 500± Acres
Timber: 1,300± Acres
Upper Bench Grassland: 2,600± Acres

Deeded Acres: 4,400±
State Leased Acres:
Private Leased Acres:
BLM Leased Acres:
Indian Leased Acres:
Other Leased Acres:
Total Leased Acres:
Total Acres: 4,400±

Water Resources

The Niobrara River begins in the high plains of eastern Wyoming and flows 535 miles to its confluence with the Missouri River in northeastern Nebraska. Hundreds of springs feed the Niobrara as it flows through the Sandhills region, one of the largest grass-stabilized dune regions in the world. The Niobrara River drains 12,600 square miles in Nebraska and cuts through several rock formations including the Ash Hollow, Valentine, Rosebud, and Pierre. These unique geological formations include fossils of many mammalian species including beaver, horse, rhinoceros, and mastodons; as well as fossils of fish, alligators, and turtles.

The National Park Service oversees management of the Niobrara in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Niobrara Council, The Nature Conservancy, local governments, and citizens. All are committed to preserving this valuable resource.

The Niobrara is a relatively undammed river for most of its 535 miles. The only dam that currently exists on the Scenic River stretch is Cornell Dam. Cornell Dam is located on the Ft. Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge and has a significant historical context for the Niobrara River Valley and the nearby town of Valentine. The dam was built in the early 1900s but has not been operational since 1984. It now exists as a “run-of-the-river” dam; however, it still serves as an impediment to upstream migration of aquatic species. It also continues to alter the hydrology of the upper portion of the Scenic River stretch. 

Springview, with a population of 244 is the county seat of Keya Paha County. It was named for the Keya Paha River that runs through it, which in turn was named from two Lakota words, Keya (turtle) and Paha (hill or butte).
Tarbell Creek flows for over three miles of the property through a timbered canyon draw. There are numerous springs and dams that provide livestock and wildlife water. A new solar well has been placed on the valley floor to water livestock grazing the meadows.

Mineral Rights

All sellers owned mineral and water rights will be transferred.


Annual taxes are estimated to be $19,750.

Learn about the recreational amenities

Wildlife Resources

Niobrara River valley is home to a big diverse wildlife variety and Arrowsmith ranch is no exception. The ranch has historically produced trophy deer scoring up to 200 inch, as well as bull elk pushing the 400 inch mark. A resident herd of elk call the ranch home and can be heard bugling in the crisp fall air during the rut, with property owner eligible for the highly coveted Niobrara east landowner elk tags. The ranch has not been commercially hunted and deer can go a lifetime without confronting humans. Quail and pheasants can be heard along with the gobble of long spurred turkeys. The river terrain also supports a breeding population of mountain lions. If Nebraska has the wildlife, it will be found on the ranch.

Recreational Considerations

Visitors can float the river by tube, canoe, kayak or raft from mid-April to mid- October. Local outfitters provide boats, tubes and kayaks for rent. Most floaters come on weekends in June, July and August, when summer temperatures can soar from the 90’s to low 100’s.

The Niobrara River is known for its beauty, biological significance, and paleontological resources, and is enjoyed as a superb canoeing river of the northern Great Plains. In 1991, Congress designated 76 miles of the Niobrara east of Valentine, Nebraska as part of the National Scenic River System - a river that merits special protection and recognition.
Additional recreational opportunities include all terrain vehicle trails that can take days to cover all of them. The remoteness of the property along with it varied terrain and timber gives a feel of enchantment while meandering through the ATV trails.

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

The ranch will easily support a cow/calf or a yearling operation and is owner-rated at 250 mother cows plus replacement heifers for a year-around. Additional cows could be added with the installation of additional fencing and a pipeline to develop stock water.

Water on the ranch is provided by three windmills and the balance from live water. Tarbell Creek flows through the ranch for over three miles, along with numerous springs and dams offer livestock water year around. Water on the ranch is shallow and additional stock-wells are easily developed. Summer grazing stocking rate could be increased by as many as 200 cows with water development on west end of ranch.
Hay on the ranch is provided from 500± acres of sub-irrigated and upper bench meadows along the Niobrara River and will typically produce over three ton per acre, which provides adequate winter feed. Winter protection on the ranch is exceptional with oak and pine trees in the numerous canyons along with oak brush and cedar trees. Do note that the ranch is managed mainly for wildlife habitat and that operational considerations could lead to a much higher cattle stocking rates and still maintain wildlife habitat.

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