Cheyenne River Ranch

$21,600,000 Rapid City, SD 20,555± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

This is a tremendous working ranch and recreational property. Conveniently located less than 30 minutes from Rapid City, South Dakota. Cheyenne River Ranch totals 21,756± acres which includes 20,555± deeded acres, 1,078± acres of National Grassland grazing permit, 108± acres of BLM lease and 15± acres of the proposed town of Creston. The ranch has varied topography that ranges from grass-covered hillsides, pastures, irrigated pivots to tree-covered creek and river bottom. The Cheyenne River runs through the ranch for more than five and a half miles and Rapid Creek meanders through the ranch for almost 13 miles. The ranch has a nice set of improvements consisting of two homes, five sets of working facilities and numerous outbuildings. The property is well watered with approximately 30 miles of pipeline, stock tanks and water wells. There are approximately 110 acres of pivot irrigated hay ground and an additional 1,800± acres of hay ground. For the hunter, the ranch provides very good whitetail and mule deer hunting as well as wild turkey and upland birds.

Just the Facts

  • 21,756± acres total with 20,555± acres deeded
  • 110± acres irrigated acres
  • 1,800± acres of additional hay ground
  • Over five miles of the Cheyenne River
  • 13 miles of Rapid Creek
  • Great whitetail, mule deer, antelope, turkey and some upland bird hunting
  • 30 miles of pipeline, 40-50 stock tanks and numerous stock dams 
  • Five sets of working facilities
  • Owner currently runs 850 pairs on the ranch
  • Newer home with tremendous views overlooking the ranch, plus a ranch manager home

General Description

Cheyenne River Ranch has the feel of a Legacy Cattle Ranch and it is exactly that!  The ranch has tremendous history as part of an even larger cattle operation dating back to the late 1800s. A large contiguous block ranch like this rarely comes on the market in South Dakota. The main entrance to the ranch leads to one set of working facilities, a historic ranch house, and the main house, which was built on the side of a ridge overlooking Rapid Creek and the south side of the ranch. The diverse terrain varies from tree-covered creek and river bottoms to large hay meadows, numerous pastures, and countless draws throughout the rolling hills. 

To say this ranch is well-watered is actually an understatement. In addition to the river and creek, the property features more than 30 miles of pipeline that feed more than 40 stock tanks and multiple stock dams. 

Bordered by national grassland to the south and surrounded by private deeded ownership on the other three sides, the ranch provides seclusion and privacy despite being located off Highway 44. Tremendous panoramic views of the Black Hills can also be seen from various points on the ranch.

Broker's Comments

Cheyenne River Ranch is currently one of the largest contiguous block ranches on the market in South Dakota. The versatility of the property makes it a well-rounded cattle and recreational investment asset with incredible views. Significant hay production and water resources bolster the cattle operation and wildlife. With trophy whitetail deer, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, wild turkey, and some upland bird hunting, there are plentiful hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities. The property has a good set of working facilities but is not over-improved. This is truly a one-of-a-kind Legacy Ranch Offering!!!

Learn about the locale


Cheyenne River Ranch is located less than 30 minutes southeast from Rapid City, South Dakota. The property is situated in prime western ranch country along the Cheyenne River and Rapid Creek. The property can be easily accessed right off Highway 44. Rapid City Regional Airport is located 22 miles from the ranch and is also on Highway 44. Regular commercial air service is available at the airport and it can also accommodate all types of private aircraft.


Rapid City is the largest city in western South Dakota and is the gateway to the Black Hills. The population is approximately 75,000. Rapid City is full of all necessary services, fine restaurants, shopping, arts & culture, Native American history, and numerous activities and attractions. The Black Hills are home to Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, ski resorts, Deadwood, Sturgis, numerous parks, and countless other attractions. Recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, biking, skiing, snowmobiling, and sightseeing abound in the area.


Climate in this area is outstanding with warm summer days followed by cool evenings. Elevation for the property is approximately 2,300 to 2,800 feet, allowing year-round use.  Average annual precipitation is estimated at 18.35 inches.  Average annual snowfall is 26 inches.  It is sunny an average of 226 days a year. The average July high is 85 degrees and the average January low is 14 degrees.


The ranch has a long history that dates back to the late 1800s.  The book The Badlands Fox contains the history of Pete Lemley, who was known as the Badlands Fox. Mr. Lemley was a well-known figure who lived a colorful life in southwest South Dakota in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He ranched on what was known as the Quarter Bar Circle Ranch, which was located on the same site as the current ranch but was 30,000± acres at the time. The Circle Bar was originally owned by J.R. McGrew, who was one of the owners of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad but was eventually bought by Pete Lemley. Mr. Lemley knew Jesse James, rode 90 miles to buy Calamity Jane a beer, rode with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, was an Indian Fighter who knew the Lakota language and was an integral part of South Dakota’s pioneer ranchers. Pete Lemley was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 1986. It is said that almost everything he did or lent a hand to somehow shows the determination and love for the area and ranching it that helped the new territory to survive its tough years. He became friends with Buffalo Bill Cody and later his employee, Russ Madison, and Pete furnished bucking horses for Cody’s Wild West Show. Pete broke and sold thousands of horses to the government as Calvary mounts. Russ is in the Rodeo Hall of Fame. Pete’s great loves were horse and the wide-open spaces. He carried on a personal war with the coming of barbed wire and limitations on the range he called his home. He didn’t like fences and he didn’t like taxes. Pete Lemley provided the 100 acres that made up the historic town of Creston, which is located on the ranch. See The Badlands Fox and South Dakota Hall of Fame Website.

The railroad town of Creston was well known for the “Creston Dinosaur” which was built by Ike Murphy to get people to stop in the town and visit the general store. The 60 foot long and 20 foot tall dinosaur, which was built in 1933, is still on the ranch. The abandoned Cheyenne River truss bridge and the Rapid Creek deck plate girder bridge are also still on the ranch.

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

Deeded Acres: 20,555±
Private Leased Acres: 1,078±
BLM Leased Acres: 108±
Other Leased Acres: 15±
Total Leased Acres: 1,201±
Total Acres: 21,756±

Additional Information

Soils and Vegetation
Soils located on the ranch are sandy loam, silty loam, and clay. A soils map can be provided. Grasses on the ranch consist of gramma grass, western wheatgrass, buffalo grass, needle grass, and crested wheatgrass. 

Conservation Easements
The ranch is unencumbered from any easements and may be a great candidate for a conservation easement in the future.


Cheyenne River Ranch is nicely improved but not overdone. The primary improvements are located on the southwest part of the ranch and a long private road leads to the main house overlooking the valley below. The main house was built in 2000 by the prior owner. It is a 2,275 square foot Earth Berm home with four bedrooms, two and a half baths, and a one car garage. The house is built into the side of a hill and has a grass roof. The front of the home is encased in rock and the views are tremendous!

There is also a historic home down by the working facilities that was built in 1908 and it is in good usable condition. It could use some work and be used for a ranch manager or guests. Pictures of this historic home are in the book The Badlands Fox about Pete Lemley who owned the ranch in its early days and ranched more than 30,000 acres. This home is 1,922 square feet.

Adjacent to the historic home is a 30’X60’ steel shop with a cement floor, a 31’X56’ machine shed, a 24’X60’ open cattle shed, a 23’X100’ cattle shed. and a 32’X32’ barn. Working facilities also exist at this location.

There is also a very nice new set of steel pipe working corrals on the north side of Highway 44 in the pasture east of the main house. These corrals have a livestock scale, well and loading chute. Corrals are set up to hold 1,000!

Two miles from the main improvements on the south side of Highway 44 is another set of corrals, grain bin, and a 24’X48’ utility shed. These corrals have waterers, a loading chute, and feature a scale house.

On the east side of the Cheyenne River there are some older improvements that consist of a 768 square foot home built in 1950, a mobile home, a 32’X64’ pole barn, and some other older outbuildings.

Water Resources

Cheyenne River Ranch has an abundance of water resources. With more than five miles of the Cheyenne River and almost 13 miles of Rapid Creek meandering through the ranch, water is never hard to find! The water is used for irrigation, cattle and wildlife resources. Water rights from Rapid Creek are used to water the pivots. With more than 30 miles of pipeline, 40 to 50 stock tanks and numerous stock dams, cattle never have to go too far for water. The current owner installed more than 21 miles of additional pipeline and a new deep well in the northwest part of the ranch in the last three years.  A lot of the stock tanks were also replaced in the last few years. Three other wells are also used on the ranch.

Mineral Rights

All mineral rights associated with the ranch and owned by the seller will transfer with the sale. However, the seller reserves the right to remove approximately 250 acres with sand deposits from the offering prior to any contract for purchase. The sand deposits are located on the very southeast corner of the ranch.

Learn about the recreational amenities

Wildlife Resources

Cheyenne River Ranch is virtually an untapped great hunting property. The current owner is not a big hunter and has only allowed a few hunters on the property over the years. Trophy whitetail hunting is available on the property. Several 200± inch deer have been harvested on the property along the tree-covered Rapid Creek. In addition, mule deer, pronghorn, and wild turkeys are plentiful on the ranch. The cover, food sources, and habitat are astounding for wildlife to flourish. There are several stock ponds that could easily be stocked with fish, and some upland bird hunting is also available.

Sellers' have only allowed 4 private tags/yearly on the ranch during the tenure of their ownership. All of the tags were filled within hours of every season opener!

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

The ranch is used as a cow-calf operation and for hay production. The owner runs 850 pairs currently, but it is estimated that it could run 1,000 cows. The ranch has two T&L diesel powered wiper irrigation pivots that water approximately 110 acres for hay production. Production on the pivots averages five to six tons per acre if watered consistently. Additionally, there are 1,800 acres of ground that is used strictly for hay production. The production on this ground averages one and a half tons per acre. 

The ranch has good perimeter and cross-fencing. Forty pastures allow efficient rotational grazing on the ranch. Water sources are available in each pasture for cattle. A new owner should independently evaluate ranch carrying capacity to suit their own management style. The ranch has a National Grasslands grazing permit on 1,078± acres which allows grazing for 82 pairs from June 1st to July 15th. There is also a BLM lease on 108± acres.

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