Clear Creek Ranch is a 1,000± head mountain cattle ranch that operates on 10,457± deeded acres and a single permittee Bureau of Land Management grazing allotment that covers 48,370± contiguous acres and supports 2,995 animal unit months. The ranch is located in the Grass Valley 15 miles south of Winnemucca and connects to Interstate 80 by way of State Highway 294. The ranch controls virtually all of the water in Clear Creek, one of the longest year-round streams in the northern Great Basin. Clear Creek is fed by snowmelt and sustained during summer months by 80 published springs and many more unpublished springs. Water from Clear Creek is stored in three impoundments at the mouth of Clear Creek Canyon and delivered by gravity to six center pivots that irrigate 790± acres. Clear Creek produces reliable flows into the summer (the lowest recorded flow rate was 1.15 cfs/538 gpm during the drought of 2003) and is supplemented by two irrigation wells later in the season. These wells respectively produce between 1,300-1,500 gpm and 1,800-2,000 gpm from 150 feet to 200 feet. Grazing on the ranch’s deeded pastures and associated BLM allotment is all contiguous and private. This is an efficient one-hand operation, with outside help only necessary during farming and hay harvesting. Improvements are also efficient with steel pipe corrals, hydraulic squeeze chute, digital scale, and manager’s home. In addition, the ranch features a two-story, hand-peeled log cabin that is located in a secluded spot in Clear Creek Canyon. Built in 2001, this high-quality, well-built structure is off-grid with outdoor plumbing. Clear Creek has been rated as a blue ribbon trout stream with the opportunity to catch trophy class rainbow and brook trout, while the irrigation ponds support a robust population of largemouth bass and provide additional fishing opportunities. The ranch is also home to mule deer, mountain lion, bobcat, quail, chukar, and Hungarian partridge.
Just the Facts
- Located 15 miles south of Winnemucca on State Highway 294
- 58,820± total, contiguous acres including 10,457± deeded acres and a 48,370± acre, single permittee BLM grazing allotment with 2,995 AUMs
- Estimated year-round carrying capacity of 1,000 animal units typically running yearlings until January and selling excess hay
- Nearly five miles of Clear Creek plus three irrigation storage reservoirs, each over two acres
- 790± pivot irrigated acres with 500± acres of senior rights from Clear Creek dating back to 1870
- Two irrigation wells pumping between 1,300-1,500 gpm and 1,800-2,000 gpm from 150 to 200 feet
- Residential improvements include a high-quality 600± square foot log cabin, a single room log cabin adjacent to the irrigation ponds, and a 1998 manufactured home used by the ranch manager
- Efficient ranch improvements that include metal pipe corrals, digital scale, and hydraulic chute
- Rainbow and brook trout in Clear Creek and bass in the irrigation ponds
- The ranch controls access into the Sonoma Mountains where there is superior habitat for mule deer, quail, chukar, and Hungarian partridge
- Annual property taxes are approximately $6,000
- Elevation at the ranch headquarters is approximately 4,500 feet
The Clear Creek Ranch contains approximately 10,457± deeded acres and an additional 48,370± acres of contiguous BLM lease. The private lands, in conjunction with the public lands, include the Clear Creek drainage and encompass one of the longest contiguous, perennial streams and riparian systems within the north central portion of the Great Basin, comprising of approximately 22,000 acres.
The ranch headquarters lies in Grass Valley at 4,500 feet in elevation surrounded by the 8,000-foot East Range mountains on the western horizon and the 6,000-foot-tall Sonoma Range to the east. The ranch entrance is in the valley floor on Grass Valley Road. There are six clustered pivot sprinklers irrigating 790± acres. Here too are located the working improvements, including a house and metal pipe corrals, digital scale, and hydraulic chute. From this setting between two mountain ranges the ranch sprawls eight miles to the east and 18 miles north and south, comprising one single block of private grazing.
As one travels up into the Sonoma Mountains, the road follows Clear Creek into its tree and willow-lined canyon and up to the top of the mountain. Adjacent to the creek and at the base of the canyon are located three ponds and the high-quality log cabin.
The Clear Creek Ranch is a unique high-quality combination of ranching efficiency, reliability, and profitability with superior water, wildlife, and fishery resources. Combine these with its mountain beauty, moderate climate, and convenient location relative to town and the interstate, and this ranch is about the best of the best.
The Clear Creek Ranch is located 15 miles from the goods and services located in Winnemucca directly off a well-maintained county road. To get to the ranch from Winnemucca, head south on Highway 294, aka Grass Valley Road, for fifteen miles. A few miles from the ranch this road turns from paved to graveled. The headquarters is located directly off of Grass Valley Road. From the ranch, Elko is an easy 140 miles of interstate highway travel and offers commercial air service through Salt Lake City on Delta Airlines.
The ranch is in northern Nevada in Humboldt and Pershing counties outside of Winnemucca. This is part of the northern reaches of the Great Basin, a 200,000 square mile area of valleys, basins, lakes, and mountain ranges comprising the largest area of contiguous watersheds in North America that drains internally. All precipitation in the region evaporates, sinks underground, or flows into lakes. During the 1848 California Gold Rush immigrants crossed the Great Basin on the California Trail along the Humboldt River through Winnemucca. Also following the river through Winnemucca, in 1869 the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed. The town was named for the 19th-century Chief Winnemucca of the local Northern Paiute tribe, who traditionally lived in this area. Basque immigrants worked as sheepherders starting in the mid-19th century. In honor of this heritage, Winnemucca hosts an annual Basque Festival. Winnemucca is home to the Buckaroo Hall of Fame and Heritage Museum. The city, with a population of 7,400, offers a complete set of goods and services. Many of Winnemucca's residents are employed by large mining companies such as Newmont and Barrick Gold and by many companies servicing the gold mining industry. Winnemucca also has a decent and growing Nevada tourism base. Other area employers include casinos, hotels, motels, and restaurants located in the city. Also, the Winnemucca area is one of the largest potato farming areas in the world. There are three K-4 elementary schools and a high school, who’s mascot is the Buckaroos.
Winnemucca receives an average of 8-9 inches of precipitation per year, including an average annual snowfall of 21 inches. Summer high temperatures average into the low 90’s during the hottest months of July and August, while nights cool to around 50 degrees. In the coldest months of December through February, highs average in the low 40s with nights around 20 degrees.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
The ranch headquarters improvements consist of a doublewide, manufactured home built new in 1998 or 1999. Nearby it is a large set of metal pipe corrals with a hydraulic squeeze chute, lighted loading chute, and a set of digital scales. Located at the mouth of the Clearwater Canyon along Clear Creek sits a two-story peeled-log cabin. It was built in 2001 with 640± square feet on each floor. It is rustic, with no plumbing or electricity but includes a separate outhouse with a Biolet, self-contained waste disposal system. Nearby and overlooking one of the ponds is a one room wooden cabin, also with no plumbing or electricity.
Clear Creek is snow fed and retains its flow during the dry summer months from approximately 80 published springs, and multiple unpublished springs. The lowest recorded flow rate was 1.15 cubic feet per second (approximately 538 gallons per minute), measured at the mouth of the canyon during the drought of 2003. Winnemucca was settled in 1866 and the ranch’s water rights are dated 1870, giving the ranch some of the first rights recorded on this stream. Of the almost 800± acres of irrigation, about 500± acres are irrigated with creek water and 300± acres with well water. There are two irrigation wells. The largest pumps 1,800- 2,000 gallons per minute, and the smaller pumps 1,300-1,500 gallons per minute. Both are between 300 and 350 feet in depth, though pumping from 150 to 200 feet. Together their pumping costs are $8,000 to $10,000 per month.
Annual property taxes are estimated at $6,500 based upon past years.
The long contiguous riparian values associated with the Clear Creek drainage are what set this system apart from others within the north central portion of the Great Basin ecosystem and provide consistent and stable fish and wildlife habitat. The published and unpublished springs on the mountainsides enhance the ability of the watershed to maintain such a diverse ecosystem. Clear Creek flows approximately 11 miles from Sonoma Peak to the Clearwater Ponds. The stream is snow fed and retains its flow during the dry summer months from approximately 80 published springs, and multiple unpublished springs, in the 22,000-acre drainage.
One of the major resource values of the canyon is the fishery that has been rated a Blue-Ribbon trout stream. A scientific evaluation of the stream fishery concludes that Clearwater Creek and the related pond are exceptional. Though small, the stream contains opportunities to catch trophy class rainbow trout and trophy brook trout. The ponds contain bass. The mountainside and riparian area have produced and sustained wildlife habitat, in both summer and winter. These animals include mule deer, mountain lion, bobcat, chukar, Hungarian partridge, quail, multiple hawks and eagles, including both golden and the occasional bald eagle, great blue herons, night herons, and an extensive variety of smaller birds.
With few exceptions, just one man runs this very efficient ranch. In the spring he does get a little help with farming and he pays the neighbor to put up the hay. The owner represents the carrying capacity as 900± to 1,000± plus selling excess hay and running yearlings until January. Typically, the ranch has been run with 700± to 800± cows and either selling an average of 3,000 tons of excess hay or running yearlings.
The cattle rotate through the ranch starting on the bench land in the spring. In mid-April the bulls are put in with the cows and are left until October. Between the first and 15th of May all the cattle go up on the mountain and stay there until October when they come down to the base lands. They are then weaned and the separated cows and calves feed on the hayfields until January. Calving begins in January and runs through March with 80% completed in 90 days. It is all done in the open, with no calves pulled in barns.
The first cutting of hay will typically be taken between the first and 15th of June. In 2020 the ranch took a total of two cuttings and then pastured the remaining growth. Area farmers typically get four cuttings totaling 6 to 7 tons per acre, on average The pivots were all new between 2008 to 2010 and are all made by the Valley brand. Four of them have eight towers, one has seven towers, and one has 10 towers. They are all full circles. The plantings are all alfalfa-grass mix, except for two new plantings in 2021 to triticale and other grains. Early in the season there is no irrigation water pumping as, during this period, the ranch uses only creek water to run all the pivots. Pumping usually starts in June or July and ends in September.
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