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Swan Land Properties
Mountain Grazing and Big Game Hunting
Beaverhead County


  • Jackson, Montana

  • 6,342 Deeded

  • $7,800,000

Positioned in the southern end of the famed Big Hole Valley, the 6,342± deeded acres of Bull Creek Ranch range from the 900± acres of productive flood- and sub-irrigated fields along Bull Creek to the hard summer grass on the hillsides along the southern reaches of the Pioneer Mountains. Historically utilized for summer grazing, the Ranch provides sufficient mountain pasture to comfortably run about 730 head of brood cows and their calves for five and a half months of summer grazing. The pastures are well watered with several springs that complement a series of stock-water tanks scattered throughout the pastures. The adjacent USFS and Bull Creek, a perennial willow-lined stream that traverses the Ranch, attract abundant herds of elk in the fall and winter. The historic 2,100± square-foot cabin was completely refurbished by a local architect and builder to fit the historical appeal of the area.

Bull Creek Ranch, in Beaverhead County, is intersected by State Highway 278 about 4.5 miles east of the town of Jackson, and about 35 miles east of Dillon. Most residents travel to either Dillon or Butte for large grocery purchases, banking, movie theaters, agricultural supply stores and general shopping. St. James Community Hospital in Butte and Barrett Memorial Hospital in Dillon are both top notch medical care facilities and provide a good array of specialists and general practitioners.

The closest commercial airport, Bert Mooney Airport (BTM) located just south of Butte is about one and a half hours from the Ranch. Commercial carriers include Delta and Sky West. This airport also provides a full-service FBO at Butte Aviation for private aircraft.

Where cattle far outnumber people, Beaverhead County is the largest physical county in Montana and ranching remains its economic backbone. The Big Hole River drainage is predominantly comprised of large cattle ranches utilized for hay production and livestock grazing. Dillon, the county seat of Beaverhead County, is a bustling community of about 4,500 people and home to the University of Montana-Western. The college is a cornerstone in the area and provides both cultural and educational opportunities for the people of Southwestern Montana.

The Beaverhead County School District operates six rural kindergarten-to-eighth-grade schools, one of which is located right in Jackson. This high-quality elementary educational system continues at Beaverhead High School in Dillon – a Class “A” school with an enrollment of about 450 students – which offers a wide variety of academic, athletic, and extracurricular activities.

Approximate distances to other area cities and towns from the main home of Bull Creek Ranch are as follows:

Salmon, ID
Idaho Falls, ID
Great Falls

  8.5 miles
44 miles
93 miles
93 miles
142 miles
151 miles
157 miles
177 miles
247 miles

The topography of Bull Creek Ranch can generally be described as a mountain-to-prairie setting with strong water influences throughout.  The Sun River is a significant geographical attraction as it flows from west to east through the center of the Ranch for about 3½ miles, in places creating a deep canyon-like setting.  Much of the Ranch contains hills, valleys, and dramatic rock outcroppings and formations providing a diverse and awe-inspiring landscape.

Bull Creek Ranch encompasses approximately 6,342 deeded acres.  The deeded land is generally classified as follows:

5,092 ± Acres of Native Pasture
900 ± Acres of Irrigated/Sub Pasture
350 +/- Acres of Forest/ Recreation
6,342± Total Estimated Deeded Acres

Contact Swan Land Company for details.

According to the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, the Ranch has current filings on numerous stock water rights.  A complete list of Stock Water Rights is available upon request through our Bozeman Office.

All water rights in Montana are subject to eventual re-adjudication by the Montana Water Court and, as a result of that process, may be changed as to the validity, amount, priority date, place of use, and other such changes as the Court determines.  The Seller has made all of the filings currently required and will transfer the water rights as they currently stand with no warranty of future viability.

The Ranch headquarters sits at an elevation of approximately 6,830 feet above sea level with the highest elevation reaching 8,115 on the northern portion of the Ranch and6,620 at the far west corner.

The average annual precipitation of rainfall is 12 inches with the majority in May and June,  and about 47 inches of snowfall annually.  The Ranch is located in the USDA Hardiness Zone 4.

Average high temperatures in June, July and August range from 67° to 76° Fahrenheit.  In December, January and February average high temperatures are between 28° and 33°.

Summer average minimum temperatures range from 35° to 39°.  Winter average minimum temperatures are typically around 7° Fahrenheit..  There is plenty of sunshine throughout the year.

The Seller will convey with the Ranch 100% of whatever mineral, oil, gas, geo-thermal, hydro-carbon and gravel rights it actually owns, subject to reservations by previous owners.  The Seller makes no representation as to the quantity or quality of any mineral or other subsurface rights appurtenant to the Ranch.

Electricity is provided by Sun River Electric Cooperative based in Fairfield.  Telephone service is provided by Three Rivers Communications.  Domestic water for the homes and corrals is provided by a spring.  All residences are on individual septic systems.

Annual electric costs typically run about $9,000 and propane has historically been approximately $14,700 per year.

The taxes on the real estate and improvements for 2013 were $14,220.

All of the improvements on the Ranch, including interior and perimeter fencing, are very well maintained.  They are very functional and appear to reflect no large future deferred maintenance expenses.


Built in 1904, the historic Stage Stop which is utilized as the main residence has been completely renovated.  The remnants of the trail used by the stagecoaches are visible from the home. The exterior of the 2,300-square-foot cabin has been re-chinked, and stained and the trim has been painted.  The kitchen was completely remodeled with new cabinets, granite counters, and stainless-steel appliances. At the opposite end of the open floor plan, a gas fireplace and rock work have been added.  The wood floor in the living room has been replaced and the remaining original floors on the main level and upstairs have been refinished. Updated fixtures and granite countertops have been installed in the bathrooms on the main floor, and a second bathroom with a shower has been added upstairs.  Both upstairs bathrooms have newly tiled showers, updated vanity fixtures, and granite countertops.  One of the bedrooms also contains a vanity with a granite countertop and new fixtures. The laundry room was updated with new flooring as well as a new washer and dryer.  New light fixtures and window treatments have been implemented throughout the house. Upstairs windows were replaced as well as the storm windows on the main floor.  The gas furnace was also recently replaced.


Originally the shack where Hamilton’s cowboy camped, the 500-square-foot Bunkhouse was totally gutted and refurbished.  The well-designed layout incorporates plentiful storage into this small space. The use of reclaimed lumber maintains the rustic feel of the original structure. Heated with ___, the cabin with a new (what kind?) wood floor, has a kitchen, a small bedroom, a bathroom, and a small sitting area. The exterior has been restored including staining and re-chinking as well as a new roof.  The furnishings here are from Little Bear Interiors in Bozeman.

Caretakers House

The basement finish was added, including the bedroom and bathroom.  I also think the porch on the south side was enclosed at that time. The main floor was updated with flooring and I think some sprucing of the bathroom.  The kitchen cabinets had already been updated in this house. The exterior was stained/painted.

A water well was drilled and the water lines from the well to the buildings were redone. The spring still exists and I think the water source can still be switched back over to the spring. Although I don’t know why one would want to. Tom Miller’s crew did the work on the water lines and there is a schematic showing their approximate locations.

The landscaping/shrubs/rocks and drip lines were added. Dad can tell you the history of all the road work, irrigation ditch improvements and upgrades, new fencing, new stock tanks, and legal work on the water rights. Oh, and there was foundation work done on one of the log outbuildings, and the shop was enclosed and insulated with concrete floor and driveway.


Bull Creek Ranch, nestled in the North Rocky Mountains at the foot of the Big Hold Pass in the Big Hole Basin, holds a rich history. The basin was named by the early trappers signifying the landscape’s enormous basin surrounded by the vast mountain ranges. The town of Jackson was named for the first postmaster Anton Jackson in 1896.

The Big Hole Basin has seen its share of residences from the passing through of Native American Indians, homesteaders, miners and ranchers. In the early 1800’s the Flathead Indians frequented the Big Hole Basin. The Big Hole watershed was used as a natural buffer between rival Indian tribes including the Shoshone, Nez Pierce, Blackfeet and Coast Salish. Around that time, the Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled though claimed the “discovery” of the river and stopped off at the boiling hot springs now known as Jackson Hot Springs. The Nez Pierce Indians also traveled through the area in search of buffalo.

In 1877 a significant battle took place near Jackson called the Battle of the Big Horn. This battle involved Chief Joseph and Col. Gibbon and arose when a portion of the Nez Peirce Tribe refused to move to a reservation. The tragic Indian war was a turning point for the Nez Perce that continued on for 5 months. The war ended abruptly at the Battle of the Big Horn as the U.S. Government claimed victory. The battlefield is now a U.S. National Battlefield and offers self-guided tours.

Bannack State Park, named after the local Bannock Indians is located near Jackson was Montana’s first major gold discovery. Established in the mid 1800’s the gold rush sparked a bustling mining town. In 1862 it briefly served as the capital of the Montana Territory. Despite its population it was only tied to the rest of the world by the Montana Trail. Today the well preserved ghost town is a place to explore the historic log structures and stroll back in time.

As the homesteaders arrived into the area, wagons and sleds made their way over the Big Hole Pass and often stopped at the location of the Bull Creek Ranch to let the horse teams rest. The ranch was originally homesteaded in the early 1900’s and still holds on to its history. It is even rumored there was gold found of the ranch but then quickly covered up as to not draw attention.


The world famed Big Hole River with its majestic views of towering mountains, flows northwest and west while providing superior angling experience for all levels. The river begins at Skinner Lake near the Idaho border and hosts trophy size rainbow, brown trout as well as an abundant population of grayling, brook trout and cutthroat trout. The river provides adequate access for small boats and floaters.

The Jackson area is surrounded by several mountain ranges is flanked on both sides by the Pioneer Mountains and is the home of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The West Pioneer Mountains are heavily forested and draws hunters in pursuit of big game hunting for elk, moose, big horn sheep, mountain goats, antelope and deer. They contain numerous streams and high mountain lakes that are populated with Artic grayling. The East Pioneer Mountains are road less with rugged glaciated peaks but offer exceptions views.

When the snow begins to fall, Jackson becomes famous for its outdoor recreational opportunities and winter sports. With an abundance of powder snow, back country snowmobiling and cross country skiing are limitless as one heads into the wilderness.  For downhill skiing enthusiasts, the nearby Maverick Mountain is a 30 minutes’ drive without the crowds. Lost Trial Montana is also nearby.  Afterwards, the inviting Jackson Hot Spring offers mineral rich waters for a warm soak.

Bull Creek Ranch is located in Deer and Elk Hunting District 332.  Specific information regarding hunting regulations, resident and non-resident license application and permits is available through the Montana Fish and Game web page at


The Sun River Ranch enjoys a premier location along the Rocky Mountain Front – one of Montana’s most desirable locales, and is graced by stunning views and unrivaled recreational opportunities.  The privacy and sense of security the Ranch provides are highly coveted to those seeking solitude away from the masses of urban America.

The current management of the Ranch does a wonderful job maintaining the quality and condition of the improvements.  The absence of deferred maintenance on any of the buildings is readily apparent upon inspection of the Ranch.  The native pastures have been leased to a neighboring rancher who runs a small herd of yearling cattle on the Ranch during the late spring/early summer months in order to manage the resource.

The equestrian facilities and riding opportunities provided by the Ranch are unparalleled.  A new owner can enjoy the vast trail systems of the nearby Scapegoat and Bob Marshall Wilderness Areas directly from the Ranch.  The overall simplicity of ownership of the Ranch is also very attractive.  The current owner does not live at the Ranch full time; however, the Ranch would lend itself well to either a full-time owner who could utilize the manager’s house as a guest home or continue to run the Ranch with a full-time manager/caretaker.  The ownership model of the Ranch can be kept very simple, allowing one to enjoy all the Sun River Ranch has to offer without the encumbrances of a complex agricultural unit.

**The tasteful décor in the improvements compliments the architectural design of the Ranch and much of the furnishings, personal property and equipment could be purchased via a separate Bill of Sale.

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Michael S. Swan
It was growing up in Southwest Montana where that deep sense of love for the land was first instilled in me. Our family ranch was on the banks of the Jefferson River near Twin Bridges. Being raised on a sizable commercial cow-calf operation, my brothers and I learned the importance of being good stewards of ...
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Owner/Broker of Swan Land, Mike Swan

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