LEK Ranch represents one of those very rare occasions when a significant property becomes available between Buffalo and the Montana state line on the eastern front of the Bighorn Mountains. Like LEK, most of these mountain front ranches are protected by conservation easements. This is one of the most tightly held areas in Wyoming. LEK consists of approximately 1,359 deeded acres in a solid contiguous block that backs up to a large parcel of State of Wyoming land that directly adjoins the Bighorn National Forest, offering direct private access to hundreds of thousands of acres of wild and beautiful mountain land. LEK is a nicely balanced small ranch with around 75 acres currently dedicated to irrigated pasture and hay production, and the balance is open to partially timbered foothill range. The comfortable, expansive 3-bedroom owner’s home is tucked into a private valley, and the barn, shop, and caretakers apartment are located just below near the ranch entrance. Abundant wildlife such as deer, elk, bear, and upland birds are at home here where a live creek and multiple spring-fed drainages make their way through the ranch.
Just the Facts
- Location: Three miles south of Story, approximately 26 miles south of Sheridan and 16 miles north of Buffalo. The ranch fronts on a good county road.
- Acreage: 1,359± deed acres in a contiguous block with 75± acres used for irrigated hay and pasture.
- Terrain: Tucked into a series of small valleys and gulches at the base of the Bighorn Mountains.
- Improvements: Tasteful and well planned three bedroom home with big stone fireplaces and extensive patios and outdoor spaces. Also horse barn, shop, caretakers apartment, outdoor arena, and additional storage buildings.
- Water: Two lakes and multiple springs and flowing streams.
- Operation: Leased out to the neighbor to summer 120 cows and put up hay on shares.
- Access: Excellent year-round access just off a well-maintained county road.
- Views: This is a lush and intimate ranch that lies in its own valleys and looks up at the Bighorn Front
- Wildlife: Deer, elk, black bear, moose, coyote, and mountain lion are all permanent or occasional visitors to this diverse property that fronts on the Bighorns.
- Summary: Easily accessible, beautiful, comfortably improved private retreat with a modest livestock operating component.
As one drives south from Story, one almost immediately leaves the busy area of modest well-kept homes on small lots and one begins to drive by what are clearly larger ranches tucked up under the mountains to the west of the road. As the road begins to turn away from the mountains and make its way down Little Piney Creek toward Lake DeSmet, there is a thoroughly understated turn off to the right that takes one into the headquarters of the LEK Ranch. The headquarters consists of a well-designed horse barn with an attached apartment and a shop/equipment storage building. An excellent well-maintained gravel road takes one by the headquarters working compound and up to the main house tucked into the trees with expansive views to the west of the frontal uplift that marks the beginning of the Bighorn Mountains. The site is thoroughly protected and comfortable and beautifully landscaped but with big open views.
Essentially the northern half of the ranch consists of meadows, aspen groves, and evergreens along with lush open pastures. The southern half of the ranch includes additional meadows and more open foothill range. This is terrific grazing land with well-sodded pastures and the irrigated meadows have excellent water rights.
It is extremely rare for ranches of any size to come up for sale on the Bighorn Front. LEK Ranch is, for that reason alone, a rare offering. It is competitively priced, immaculately improved, and lies in the lushest, most intimate setting that one can find along the front.
The LEK Ranch is located about three miles south of Story adjacent to a good graveled county road that is maintained year-round. The ranch also lies about the same distance west of Interstate 90 which places it an easy 16 mile drive from Buffalo and about 26 miles south of Sheridan. Sheridan offers commercial air service from Denver and an active Fixed Base Operation. Buffalo has a good public airport with a 6,143’ by 75’ asphalt strip in good condition with a somewhat smaller FBO.
Story, immediately north of the ranch, lies on a high divide that abuts the mountains and runs easterly out into the plains. It is higher than the land to the north and south, and it attracts moisture as it passes over the mountains and causes this area to be particularly lush and cool. One cannot help but notice the change in the country as one moves north and south from Story. It has served to attract people from Sheridan and Buffalo to use this charming small town as a base for summer homes that are now also used for winter recreation with the advent of various forms of motorized over-snow vehicles. The added elevation also makes it one of the easiest places to access the Bighorn Mountains.
As one leaves Story in a southerly direction, one immediately gets into larger acreages and small recreational ranches, many of which are owned by wealthy families. LEK Ranch is one of these and its major neighbor to the south is the expansive HF Bar Ranch, one of the oldest active dude ranches in the U.S. dating back to the early 1900s and still a successful ongoing operation. There are major ranches in strong hands running all the way south to Buffalo and beyond along the mountains.
As one moves easterly out into the rolling foothills and plains from the ranch there have been pockets of subdivision near Interstate 90 but, by and large this is still ranching country and considered by many to be amongst the best in the State.
The main towns of Buffalo and Sheridan each have their own unique character. Sheridan is larger and arguably more vibrant with a bustling downtown and more social and cultural amenities – including its two world-famous polo clubs and the wonderful new Brinton Museum. Many, however, prefer Buffalo which is more of a ranching town with a strong sense of community. They both offer a full array of basic services and are an easy drive from the ranch.
As stated earlier, the Story area is a particularly lush pocket at an elevation of just over 5,000 feet above sea level. The ranch is very slightly higher at around 5,100 feet. Annual precipitation in Story is 27.29 inches with annual snowfall averaging 138 inches. Average highs in the summer run around 80 degrees and average lows in the winter around 13 degrees. From a recreational point of view this makes for beautiful cool, lush summers and good winter snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Most ranchers in the area utilize these mountain front ranches for summer grazing.
There is no question that LEK is one of the most beautiful ranches in the Story area. It is tucked into its own series of valleys and small drainages, each one with iunique characteristics.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
The ranch consists of approximately 1,359 deeded acres of which approximately 75 is utilized for hay production or irrigated pasture (ten of which are certified weed-free).
The ranch is protected by three separate conservation easements. The larger parcel allows for three building compounds and each of the other two allow for one extensive building compound. In addition, besides the fact that each eased parcel can be sold separately, the larger parcel allows for additional parcels to be sold separately. Complete details are available upon request.
The LEK is blessed with an impeccable set of improvements described as follows:
Main House: This 5,077 square foot cedar shake sided home is ideally set up for a single owner or a couple with family or visiting friends. The main floor contains a large master bedroom suite with a cozy adjacent library with rock fireplace that gives onto a great room which includes a living room area, a dining area, and a big open kitchen with a second stone fireplace. The upstairs overlooks the living room and has two bedrooms and a bathroom at one end and a large exercise room at the other end. The house has lots of storage and closets as well as a two car garage and extensive stone patios.
A second building is nearby, and it currently provides kennels for the owner’s dogs and storage for lawn equipment. It is also set up as a processing place for wild game including hangers in the rafters and a meat saw.
A live creek flows down through the compound.
Barn Apartment: Located in the headquarters compound, the barn apartment is a lap-sided 3,190 square foot building with four horse stalls and an open loft at one end. The other end of this building is a 1,340 square foot caretakers apartment which includes three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a kitchen and living room, as well as a half bathroom that is accessible to both the apartment and the barn area.
Shop Storage Building: This 1,395 square foot building includes a two-bay insulated and heated shop complete with a separate tool room and workbench area. Additionally, this building has considerable covered space for dry storage.
Loafing sheds: LEK Ranch has several paddocks with loafing sheds and waterers set up for horses.
There is also an outdoor arena and round pen for working horses in the headquarter compound area.
Located at the “Zimmerman Place” on JA Creek is a full set of working corrals and a small dry storage barn. This compound also has an artesian well which is shared by a neighbor who has an easement for a water line. When originally purchased, there was a home on this site, so it also has available power, telephone, and a septic system.
The main water rights on the ranch consist of flood rights plus 160 shares of Willow Park Reservoir Company shares and 8 shares of the Rock Creek Ditch and Reservoir Company. The ranch also has springs, live creeks and two reservoirs along with wells at both building sites and at the “Zimmerman Place” where an artesian well is shared with a neighbor. This is an exceptionally well-watered ranch by any standard.
All minerals appurtenant to the property and owned by the current owners will be conveyed to the buyer.
Based upon past years the annual real estate taxes are estimated at $12,000.
As with all the ranches which adjoin the Bighorn Mountains, LEK Ranch is the full or part-time home of deer, elk, black bear, mountain lion, moose, coyote, and upland birds. Lush pastures, productive hay meadows, patches of brush, aspen groves, scattered timber, and abundant water with the attendant riparian corridors along the streams and spring-fed coulees all combine to offer comfortable and diverse habitat for all species.
This price includes furnishings in the main house. Sellers will remove only their personal items and photos. A list of excluded items will be provided by sellers within 10 business days of an accepted offer.
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Our Hall and Hall broker, Randy Shelton, kept us in the loop as though it were. Our sale hinged on that of larger surrounding parcels, and when an initial offer fell through, Randy went back to the drawing board and found a suitable buyer who shared our values. That meant a lot to us, as our property had been in the family for more than 100 years.
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In 1988, Joel Leadbetter became a partner at Hall and Hall where he has been instrumental in completing complicated, high-profile deals such as the recent sale of Texas’ historic 512,000-acre Waggoner Ranch.
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