The Worton Ranch is a classic small operating ranch with a full complement of recreational features located just over 61 miles southwest of Jackson. Most notably, while it offers some magnificent homesites, it is not saddled with any residential improvements – leaving the possibility of building one’s own personal residence. There is a pole barn and a full set of livestock working facilities sited along the highway for easy access. Recreationally it includes nearly a mile of a prime stretch of the Salt River just before it enters the Narrows. This is a highly regarded trout stream. The ranch lies in two parcels separated by the highway with an appropriate underpass allowing passage for livestock and ATVs. The west 370± acres includes 180± acres of irrigated hay along with a rich riparian corridor along the river. The east 390± acres are primarily uplands rising over 500 vertical feet to a timbered ridge. This easterly parcel is best suited as a complement to the river parcel. It offers summer grazing for livestock or horses as well as numerous potential homesites that would be well removed from the highway and highly private with stunning views of the river, the valley, and the Caribou Range. Together the two parcels make up a balanced small recreational ranch within an hour of Jackson, which lies 61 miles to the north.
Co-listed with Ken Dunn of Sage Realty Group.
Just the Facts
- Location – Eight miles north of Afton and 61 miles south of Jackson Hole.
- Acreage – 760± Deeded acres.
- Taxes - $2,132 estimated based upon past years.
- Acreage Breakdown – 180± irrigated, 580± native range.
- Water Resources – Extensive including good irrigation rights for 180± acres, one developed spring, and over 2.5 miles of the Salt River with its associated riparian corridor and springs.
- Improvements - Livestock corrals and equipment storage shed.
- Operation – Balanced 70 cow operating ranch with excellent grazing and hay production – all leased to a local rancher.
- Recreational attributes – Combination of river and riparian corridor make for excellent fishing, birding, boating, and water fowling. Moose, elk and deer are present, and hiking, riding, four wheeling, and snowmobiling are all excellent.
- Summary – Outstanding small recreational ranch an hour from Jackson.
The ranch consists of two clearly defined parcels. The east parcel lying east of the highway is 390± acres consisting of steep to rolling rangeland that is best utilized as seasonal grazing. It also offers some amazing building sites, ideal for a summer home or cabin overlooking the river ranch below and with staggering mountain views in all directions. These sites would provide good separation from the highway and a high degree of privacy. The west parcel consists of 370± acres of highly productive river front land, which varies from a lush riparian corridor to 180± acres of excellent irrigated hay meadows. There is a pole barn and a good set of livestock corrals on this parcel. If one wished to reestablish the Worton as a year-round working ranch, this would be the site for the operating compound. The ranch’s river frontage is recognized as one of the more productive sections of a very well-regarded fishery. This upper reach of the Salt River is known for its abundance of spring creeks which feed into the Salt River. The wetland complexes of the Worton Ranch, along with many other spring fed parcels throughout this upper reach make this area a waterfowl mecca in the fall months.
The Worton Ranch is a highly desirable operational and recreational ranch just over an hour south of Jackson on the Salt River. It represents a larger ranch by Star Valley standards as much of the river ranches have been broken up into smaller parcels. The Worton Ranch is precisely what one cannot get in the Jackson market – a respectable sized trout fishing and cattle ranch with no restrictions and the opportunity to enjoy private trout fishing and waterfowl hunting along the river, along with the privacy and tranquility of the upper bench setting and endless mountain views.
Situated just eight miles north of Afton and 61 miles south of Jackson in a less developed section of the Salt River Valley, the Worton Ranch is convenient to most services in the nearby Star Valley towns such as Afton. It is also an easy and beautiful drive into Jackson which offers a broad cross section of social, commercial, medical, and cultural amenities. Jackson has a commercial airport that features good service year-round to Denver and Salt Lake City as well as seasonal nonstop service to many major U.S. cities. Additionally, the town of Afton has a full service FBO with a runway of just over 7,000 feet in length by 75’ wide.
Star Valley has become a highly desirable home base for people who work in Jackson but prefer to live away from this heavily visited and highly sought-after resort town. The Star Valley is literally surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of publicly accessible mountains and valleys. The centerpiece is the Salt River, one of Wyoming’s best trout fishing rivers. There is also the massive, picturesque Palisades Reservoir, which lies at the confluence of the Snake River, the Greys and the Salt River and is surrounded by mountains. Floating the South Fork of the Snake, below Palisades, is one of the great float fishing adventures in the West featuring the native Yellowstone cutthroat trout, rainbow and brown trout along with spectacular scenery. It is considered one of the best fly fishing rivers in the world. Besides a solid base of local residents, Star Valley also boasts multiple small ranches like the Worton. It is an ideal location for people wishing to take advantage of Jackson’s many cultural offerings, galleries, shops, and world-class gourmet restaurants while also enjoying immediate uncrowded access to the many recreational opportunities closer to home. It goes without saying that a small ranch on a trout stream in the immediate Jackson area would add at least one zero to the asking price of the Worton Ranch!
The average annual precipitation is approximately 18.16 inches in nearby Afton, with most months receiving over an inch of precipitation and May and June being the heavy months averaging over 2 inches. This ranch lies at over 6,000 feet in elevation and is west of the continental divide. This results in very comfortable summer temperatures rarely getting much above 80 degrees with very little wind throughout the year. Winters are cold with high temperatures just below freezing and average lows around 5 degrees on the Fahrenheit gauge. Average snowfall is approximately 87 inches. The growing season averages a frost-free period of 70 days.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
There is no conservation easement on this property, which is essentially zoned rural and allows for agricultural uses and low density (above 5 acres) residential. The potential for the donation of a conservation easement is definitely there as the property would be prime for subdivision.
The owners of the Worton Ranch are also offering the 240± acre Shoshone Ridge Ranch approximately one-half mile south of the Worton. It brings two other important dimensions to the Worton besides providing additional summer pasture. It offers both a significant spring creek complex and an existing six-bedroom residence that occupies an amazing view site overlooking the valley. The Worton and Shoshone Ridge together are offered at $6.5 Million.
The property is perimeter fenced and includes a 3,321± square foot barn/equipment shed and a set of livestock corrals.
Besides a wetland complex in the riparian corridor of about a mile of the Salt River, the ranch has good water rights from the river for approximately 180 acres of productive irrigated cropland. Stock water for the uplands parcel is provided by a spring tank development in the southeast corner of the unit.
Sellers will convey 100 percent of the mineral rights that they own. The Buyer should plan to include a mineral right search as part of their due diligence since the owners do not know what mineral rights they own.
Real estate taxes based upon past history are estimated to be $2,132 per annum.
The following is quoted from the Fish the Fly Guide Service website (please note the yellow highlight which specifically refers to the Worton Ranch section below Afton):
"Fly fishing the Salt River in Wyoming is a more intimate fly fishing experience than other Jackson Hole area waters. The Salt River begins its 84-mile course above 10,500 feet on the slopes of Mount Wagner in the Salt River range. It flows south briefly before veering north through the pastoral ranches of Star Valley, WY on its way to Palisades Reservoir. Along the way it picks up several springs and creeks that add to the flow and keep this smaller river cool all Summer long. Below Afton, WY is where it really takes shape as a trout fishery and floating the Salt River becomes a reality."
Fly fishing on the Salt River in Wyoming is best from mid to late June all the way into November. The Salt River often clears before some other major rivers in the area. Salmonflies and Golden Stones are the first insects to pop and the Cutthroat and Brown trout take notice. Gray Drakes, Yellow Sallies, Caddis and Pale Morning Duns are also on the menu through July. August is terrestrial time on the Salt River where Grasshoppers, Ants, and Beetles bring the river’s best trout to the surface. September continues with terrestrial action, but Mahogany Duns and Blue Winged Olives dominate as October nears. Nymph and streamer fishing are the ticket towards the end of October and through November as the trophy Brown trout from the Palisades swim upstream on their spawning run.
Wildlife on or migrating through the ranch include elk, mule deer, moose, and waterfowl. One of the desirable qualities of the Worton Ranch is that it includes a cross section of habitats from the river and associated wetlands to drier foothill pastures and elevated bench ground with some timber.
Within the ranch itself, one can enjoy wade fishing along its banks or floating on the river along with bird watching and water fowling in the associated corridor and wetland complex. Four wheeling, cross country skiing and snowmobiling are all very popular in season on the ranch, as well as in the nearby national forest trailheads in all directions Riding and hiking in the uplands are available to the more ambitious members of the family. The Worton Ranch, however, lies in a true recreational mecca. The Salt River itself, the Palisades Reservoir, and the South Fork of the Snake all offer a great cross section of water and fishing opportunities nearby. In addition, if one looks at the ownership surrounding the Star Valley, there are vast tracts of readily accessible public lands that encapsulate the valley, which is made up of a relatively narrow strip of private lands lying between the much larger areas of public lands.
The current owners lease the grazing and the hay ground to a local rancher. He reports that he puts up around 1.5 tons per acre on the meadows which he splits with the landlord (70% to tenant and 30% to landlord). The grazing is leased out on a per head per month basis. Tenant estimates that there are 560 Animal Unit Months of grazing on the property.
The Worton Ranch as it is currently configured does represent a well-balanced small ranch that would put up enough hay and offers enough grazing to carry a small cow herd year-round (estimated in the range of 80 to 90 head). However, the winters at this altitude generally dictate a scenario that suggests that the highest and best use of the ranch would be seasonal grazing, reserving the winter months for recreational activities.
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