MCGOVERN RANCH - Price Reduced

MCGOVERN RANCH - Price Reduced

Historic Southwest Montana Ranch

Nevada City, Montana

  • Reduced to $3,450,000
  • Approximately 3,550 Total Acres
  • Agriculture and Recreation

The historic McGovern Ranch, situated in one of the most beautiful areas of Southwest Montana - the Ruby River Valley, is nestled between the Tobacco Root Mountains to the north, the Gravelly Range to the south and the Ruby Range to the west.  With frontage along Alder Creek and in close proximity to the gold-mining towns of Virginia City and Nevada City, the Ranch affords a rare opportunity to own productive ground in an area rich with history.

The Ranch spans over 3,550± acres including 2,645± deeded acres of native pasture, 105± deeded acres of pivot-irrigated land and 800± acres of BLM lease land.  The Ranch provides solid grass production in the native range and is further enhanced with good water rights from Brown’s Gulch Creek, making the irrigated-pivot ground highly productive.  The grazing land has been carefully managed and enhanced with numerous stock water facilities.  The topography of the Ranch is diverse and inviting, transitioning from the riparian land along Alder Creek, to the lush meadows on the pivots, to the native rangeland dotted with juniper and sage and punctuated with majestic mountain views.

The combination of live water and irrigated farmland also provides for exceptional wildlife habitat on the Ranch attracting big game from the surrounding land.  Elk, deer, moose and a variety of game birds frequent the Ranch.  A modest set of improvements are well maintained, including a historic cabin, a set of working corrals, and a tastefully-designed shop which was built in 2012.

Within a two hour drive of Bozeman and Butte, the Ranch’s proximity to commercial airports, private FBOs and interstate travel make it readily attainable at all times of the year. McGovern Ranch offers a unique opportunity to experience ownership of a productive ranch in a spectacular setting.



McGovern Ranch is located in Montana's Madison County 17 miles south of Sheridan in the town of Nevada City, along State Highway 287.  A short drive southeast on State Highway 287 leads to historic Virginia City and on to US Highway 287 in Ennis.  Bozeman, Montana is only 68 miles to the north and Yellowstone National Park is 87 miles to the south.  Heading north from the Ranch takes you to Whitehall and Interstate 90.  Interstate 15 is accessible just 55 miles to the southwest at Dillon.


Sheridan, Twin Bridges and Ennis are classic rural Montana towns and provide important services to the area.  Each community offers banking, grocery stores, various churches, fishing supplies and guides, mechanics and repair shops, and ranch supply stores.  A complete complement of services, restaurants, shopping and entertainment can be found in the vibrant community of Bozeman, just over an hour’s drive.

Both Sheridan, Montana and neighboring Ennis provide outstanding kindergarten through high school educational opportunities, and Alder offers schooling from kindergarten through sixth grade.  Small class sizes and ample individual attention make these rural schools some of the most protected and finest educational opportunities available today.  Several of Montana’s best colleges and universities are within a two-hour drive of the Ruby Valley.  The proximity of these campuses provides diverse cultural and educational opportunities for the people of Western Montana.

Recently upgraded, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport at Gallatin Field in Belgrade, MT offers several full-service FBOs and excellent commercial services through Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier Airlines and  United Airlines.  The seventh-busiest passenger airport in the Pacific Northwest, Bozeman offers direct flights to over a dozen major airports around the nation.

Distances to other Montana cities and points of interest from McGovern Ranch are listed below:

Ennis, MT
Sheridan, MT
Twin Bridges, MT
Dillion, MT
Bozeman, MT
Butte, MT
Helena, MT
Missoula, MT
16 miles
17 miles
27 miles
55 miles
68 miles
74 miles
121 miles
191 miles


McGovern Ranch ranges in elevation from approximately 5,460' above sea level along Alder Creek to approximately 6,675' above sea level at the southern reaches of the Ranch in the foothills of the Gravelly Mountain Range.  Flanked by the Tobacco Root Mountains to the east and the Ruby Mountains to the west, the Ranch enjoys a relatively mild climate with little wind.

The average annual precipitation is approximately 15.32'' with the majority occurring in May and June.  The area’s average growing season is approximately 110 days.

Average maximum temperatures in June, July and August range from 75ْ  to 81ْ F.  In December, January and February average maximum temperatures are between 34ْ and 40ْ F.

Summer nights average about 45ْ F and winter average minimum is between 10ْ  and 15ْ F.  There is plenty of sunshine throughout the year.


McGovern Ranch operates approximately 3,550± acres classified as follows:

Deeded Acres of Native Range and Pasture
Deeded Acres of Hay under Center Pivot Irrigation
Acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Leased Ground
 Lease Number – 00957 McGovern Allotment (162 AUM’s)
 Note: AUM = Animal Unit per Month

This Montana Ranch has been utilized for the past several years to run a herd of between 85 and 98 cow/calf pairs grazed in the summer months – BLM recommends 100 pair for best yield and resource use.  Cattle are pastured from June 1st through October 31st as per a National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) recommendation and lease agreement.  Cattle are rotated among pastures utilizing the BLM and deeded land.  Pastures are grazed for short periods of time with high intensity.  Grass utilization is carefully monitored and cattle are rotated based on use.  Fall regrowth under the pivots is also utilized for late fall and early winter grazing.  The hay production from the two Zimmatic pivots produced 150 tons in 2013, 328 tons in 2014, and 365 tons in 2015.  Today, even to the untrained eye, it is apparent that the current owners have managed the grazing resource of the Ranch conservatively.  The remarkable condition of this resource is the product of years of masterful stewardship and pride of ownership.

Alder Creek crosses the northeast corner of the ranch and Brown’s Gulch Creek flows along the western boundary providing excellent live water access for livestock and wildlife habitat.  Numerous natural springs and water seeps provide for additional livestock-water availability.

The present owner has participated in the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) further enhancing the property.  Other enhancements include an upgraded pipeline serving the pivots, spring development, stock-water improvements, pest management and plantings in critical areas to protect the ecosystem.


All improvements, including interior and perimeter fencing, on this Montana Ranch have been well maintained.  The next owners will not be paying for unneeded or unwanted improvements. 

Historic Cabin

The historic 1,350± square foot log home, dating back to the early 1900s, has a living room, kitchen, pantry-utility room, one full bath, three bedrooms and an enclosed porch entry.  It operates on a separate domestic well and septic system which was installed in 1996. The home is propane heated.  Conveniently sited among mature cottonwood trees in a central area of the Ranch, the hand-chinked cabin offers a cozy haven from which to enjoy the property.


Machine Shop


Constructed in 2012, this 40' x 70' modern structure offers a tasteful addition to the Ranch and blends well with the natural landscape.  The shop features spray-foam insulation, electricity, oversize-bay doors, concrete floor, loft storage and exterior stone accents.

Working Corrals and Fences

A full set of working corrals includes a squeeze chute, and a 30,000 pound digital livestock scale.  This set of corrals is also easily accessible by tractor-trailer rigs and is used for shipping and receiving livestock.  There are several outbuildings used for storage, tack and livestock cover.  Corrals and outbuildings are in fair condition.  Fence lines are in good condition and appear to require little immediate maintenance.


The real estate taxes for 2015 were approximately $1,705.


The Sellers will convey with the Ranch 100% of whatever mineral, oil, gas, geo-thermal, hydro-carbon and gravel rights they actually own, subject to reservations by previous owners. The Sellers make no representation as to the quantity or quality of any mineral or other sub-surface rights appurtenant to the Ranch.


Electricity is provided by NorthWestern Energy.  Telephone and internet services are provided by 3 Rivers Communications.  Cellular communication is available on the Ranch via Verizon.  Domestic water is provided by wells and the sewer system is septic.  Cellular service is available on the Ranch.  Propane is provided via a rented tank and filled by Northern Gas.  Electric costs for 2014 for the cabin and shop were approximately $640.  Electric costs for 2014 for the irrigation pivots were approximately $555.


Please download the complete offering brochure or contact Swan Land Company at 866.999.7342 for information regarding water rights on McGovern Ranch. 


Surrounded by the Beaverhead National Forest, the Ranch rests in the lap of a host of mountain ranges.  The Tobacco Root, Ruby, Gravelly, and Madison mountain ranges provide unlimited opportunities for high-mountain recreation and enjoyment including hiking, horseback riding, camping and back-country skiing.

The trout-filled waters of southwest Montana are legendary among anglers.  The waters of Alder Creek on McGovern Ranch are rich with brook and rainbow trout.  However, anglers wanting to venture off the Ranch can experience high-mountain lake and blue-ribbon trout streams a short distance away.  The world-famous Madison River is only 15 minutes to the east, the Beaverhead, Big Hole and Jefferson Rivers are within 20 minutes to the west and northwest providing the devoted angler miles of river to enjoy for a lifetime.

A testimony to the reputation of this area’s world-renowned trout fishing is the internationally known R.L. Winston Rod Company headquartered in Twin Bridges.  Numerous fly-fishing shops and guide services (both hunting and fishing) are located in Sheridan, Twin Bridges, Ennis and Dillon.

Opportunities abound for the big game and bird hunter on the Ranch itself.  The diverse ecosystem of the Ranch provides prime habitat for elk, mule deer and whitetail deer.  A variety of bird species inhabit the Ranch including ducks, Canada geese, and occasionally doves.

A visit to nearby historic Nevada and Virginia City give the visitor a taste of life in the Wild West during the gold rush days.  Museums, shops, restaurants and staged gunfights recapture the 19th-century atmosphere.  The Opera House in Virginia City, established in 1949, remains the oldest continuous summer theatre in the northwestern United States.  Home of the Virginia City Players for over 50 years, vaudeville theater performances are nightly from mid-June through Labor Day.

The Madison County Fair in Twin Bridges runs for approximately four days in mid-August each summer.  Livestock exhibitions, craft fairs, a parade, rodeo and the 4-H livestock auction make for a fun filled celebration and social time as the summer winds down.  Over the hill in Ennis, the annual 4th of July Rodeo and Parade attracts some of the region’s top cowboys and cowgirls to compete every year.

The vibrant community of Bozeman, just over an hour’s drive away, provides extensive shopping, dining and cultural opportunities.  Bozeman is also home to Montana State University, a NCAA Division I-AA university, where Bobcat athletic events are as social as they are entertaining.  Also in close proximity to the Ranch are two of the West’s premier ski resorts, Bridger Bowl and Big Sky Resort, offering miles of groomed trails and runs for all levels, both downhill and cross country alike.


McGovern Ranch, just to the southwest of Nevada City overlooking Alder Gulch, is located on the old McGovern Stagecoach route between Virginia City and Bannack.  The area surrounding the Ranch is best known for the “gold fever” that took place in and around Virginia City in the 1860s.

Late in the afternoon on May 26, 1863, a trail-weary party of six men decided to rest beside a mountain stream.  After making camp in the Alder Gulch, with the intention of leaving the following day, Bill Fairweather and Henry Edgar spread out and panned the creek.  Before nightfall, they began to find gold and soon realized they had made an important strike.  Before a year had passed, 7,000 people had arrived in the area around Alder Gulch.

On June 16, 1863, a new settlement, Varina, was established and officially registered.  This spelling of “Varina” was in honor of the wife of the president of the Confederate States – Jefferson Davis.  Comprised primarily of Southerners, Varina soon became known as Virginia City.

The 19th-century mining bonanza turned Virginia City into the most important industrial city between Denver and San Francisco; and it turned destitute prospectors from all over the world into millionaires.  They built mansions, hospitals, churches, opera houses and schools, and imported furniture, fashions, and entertainment from Europe and the Orient.  They helped finance the Civil War, and went on to build empires around the world.  Among the finest examples is San Francisco, a city built with Comstock silver.  In the years between 1863 and 1889, at least $90,000,000 in gold had been extracted from Alder Gulch – a figure which represents a present-day equivalent of no less than $40,000,000,000.

By 1875, mining activity in Alder Gulch had greatly diminished, as had the area’s population. Most of the Gulch camps had been abandoned and Virginia City’s population was less than 800 people.  However, the mining would begin again in Alder Gulch in 1898 with the introduction of the mechanical dredge.  The tailing piles evident up and down Alder Gulch are reminders of these gold dredging operations.  One such dredge, the Maggie Gibson, was a wood-burning steam-operated dredge that would move nearly a million cubic yards of gravel over the course of four and a half years in Alder Gulch.  By the time the era of the dredges had passed, several additional millions of dollars in gold would be shipped east, and the landscape of Alder Gulch was left forever altered.

Virginia City is one-of-a-kind in Montana.  Many original buildings from one of Montana’s oldest towns still stand where they were built.  By the 1940s, however, Virginia and Nevada Cities had decayed and needed preservation.  In 1997 the Montana Legislature voted to buy and restore Virginia and Nevada Cities.

Today, Virginia City’s main street provides an exceptional example of commercial architecture from the latter eighteen hundreds and Victorian era.  Many of the buildings that are open for viewing contain original artifacts from this time period.


McGovern Ranch provides the unique opportunity to acquire a working ranch in Montana’s historic Ruby River Valley.  Consisting of 2,750± acres of deeded land and an additional 800± acres of BLM lease land, the well-cared for Ranch furnishes all the necessary ingredients for a successful working-investment, full-time residence or recreational property.

The lush irrigated hay meadows produce outstanding hay and pasture and attract large populations of wildlife. The current owners have done an outstanding job of managing the Ranch; conservative-grazing patterns and enhancements to the land have benefited this historic property.

The Ranch could run a nice herd of cattle to manage the summer grass and generate enough revenue to help pay the operating expenses.

The plentiful water resources combined with abundant big game, upland game birds and private fishing with close proximity to the conveniences of Bozeman make this well-blocked ranch an extremely desirable holding in today’s market.

McGovern Ranch is free of vast and ill-designed improvements.  Rather than reluctantly tolerating “improvements” that are too expensive to replace, a new owner will be afforded the opportunity to carefully construct a personal residence on this wonderful property to entice family and friends for many decades.


McGovern Ranch, has been reduced in price and is available at $3,450,000.00 Cash or Terms acceptable solely at the discretion of the Sellers.  The conditions of sale as of September 2016 are as follows:

  1. All offers to purchase or letters of intent must be in writing and accompanied by a wire transfer of 5.0% of the purchase price to the escrow account at First American Title Company in Ennis, Montana;
  2. Earnest money deposits will be placed in escrow with First American Title Company, which may place the funds with local banks at nominal rates of interest accruing to the  benefit of the Buyer until Closing;
  3. All Prospective Buyers must demonstrate  to the satisfaction of the Sellers absolute financial capability to purchase the Ranch prior to scheduling an inspection of the Ranch;
  4. The Sellers will provide and pay for a standard owner’s title insurance policy.  Any endorsements requested by the Buyer or any lender will be at Buyer’s expense.  Title to the real property will be conveyed by a deed;
  5. All of the water right claims controlled by the Ranch will be transferred to the Buyer at Closing, and all of the mineral rights which the Sellers actually own will be conveyed to the Buyer at Closing;
  6. Buyers’ Brokers are welcomed and invited to contact Mike Swan or Steve Leibinger in our Bozeman Office for information regarding Cooperation Policies.

The Sellers reserve the right to effect a tax-deferred exchange for other real property in accordance with provisions in Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code.  The Buyer will not be required to incur any additional expenses nor to step into the chain of title on any property which the Sellers may acquire.

This entire Offering is subject to errors, omissions, prior sale, change or withdrawal without notice and approval of purchase by the Sellers.  Information regarding land classifications, acreages, carrying capacities, crop yields, potential profits, etc., are intended only as general guidelines and have been obtained from sources deemed reliable; however, accuracy is not warranted or guaranteed by the Sellers or Swan Land Company.  Prospective Buyers should verify all information to their sole and complete satisfaction.

Email Us866.999.7342