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Swan Land Properties
Unparalleled Elk Hunting and Excellent Summer Grazing
Gallatin County


Sale Pending
  • Wilsall, Montana

  • 13,250 Total

  • $29,750,000

Elk Ridge Ranch has been revised to include deeded access from the west side of the Ranch off Sixteen Mile Road. Elk Ridge Ranch is an extremely private mountain ranch with exceptional wildlife resources, incredible panoramic views, excellent summer grazing, and close proximity to all of the amenities in Bozeman, Livingston, and Yellowstone National Park. There are three resident herds of elk that utilize the Ranch, providing unparalleled elk hunting for big bulls during both archery and rifle seasons.  The Ranch encompasses 10,667± deeded acres that are a mix of native mountain pastures, riparian creek bottoms, timbered slopes, valleys, and benches.  The Ranch includes 1,280± State of Montana acres and 1,303±-acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for 2,583± very private leased acres making a 13,250±, total acre Ranch.
Under steady and very capable ownership for the last 50 years, this is the first time this ground has been on the market since the early 1970s.  As a testament to the extraordinary elk hunting, the same local outfitter has leased the Ranch continuously for the last several decades.  Elk Ridge Ranch is almost a blank canvas for the fortunate next owner but does have a modest cow camp cabin, extensive pasture fencing, and a stock water network.  There are several premier building locations that offer unparalleled privacy and some of the most majestic panoramic views you will find of the Crazy, Bridger, and Absaroka-Beartooth mountain ranges.
The Ranch has historically been utilized as a summer grazing unit with leased big-game hunting. The pastures on this low-overhead ranch operation have all been professionally managed, and the grass is in exceptional condition.  (The Sellers would be interested in leasing back the pasture seasonally should the new Buyer be interested in generating some annual income.)
Gallatin County has led the State of Montana in growth and real-estate demand for many decades. Opportunities, privacy, and the recreational amenities that Elk Ridge Ranch has to offer on this scale are few and far between. This Ranch will check all the boxes for buyers looking for privacy, mountain splendor, exceptional big game hunting, and all-season recreational pursuits all within an hour of the most vibrant communities in Montana.

The Ranch features two access points, one from the east side of the Ranch and one from the west side.  The east access is about 45 minutes from Bozeman via Bridger Canyon and a few miles north of Wilsall, Montana via Highway 89 to the Four Diamond Road, which follows the Cottonwood Creek drainage for about four miles to the Ranch boundary.  Wilsall, situated east of the Bridger Mountain Range between Livingston and White Sulphur Springs, is a quaint farm and ranch community with a population of around 300.  Local farmers have won world prizes for raising grain in the area.

The western side of the Ranch borders Sixteen Mile Road, which is a county road that runs between Maudlow, north of Belgrade, and Ringling.  Ringling has an interesting history and was named after railroad baron John Ringling, who also founded Ringling Brothers Circus with his brother, and utilized their local railroad spurs to transport their circus animals a century ago. More recently Ringling was made famous in the much-acclaimed book ‘This House of Sky’, by Montana author Ivan Doig.

Beginning in Wilsall, at the junction of US Highway 89 and Montana Highway 86, the Bridger Range Scenic Drive follows Highway 86 to the west toward the mountains to Bozeman. The thirty-one-mile Bridger Range Scenic Drive highlights the beautiful Bridger Range to the west and has amazing views of the Crazy Mountains to the east and the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains to the south.  These views are even more magnificent from the Ranch.

In the late 1980s, the school communities of Clyde Park and Wilsall consolidated forming Shields Valley Public Schools. The Shields Valley Elementary School, PK-6 located in Wilsall, has approximately 107 students and has a student-to-teacher ratio of 11:1.  Shields Valley Junior High and High School, located in Clyde Park, has an enrollment of about 68 students with an 8:1 student-teacher ratio.


There are several local and international airports within an hour and a half drive of the Ranch.  The Wilsall Airport (FFA Identifier: 9UI) is about 10.5 miles from the Ranch, and the Mission Field Airport (KLVM) in Livingston is about 39 miles and offers a paved strip capable of handling most small jets.

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) at Gallatin Field in Belgrade is about an hour and fifteen-minute drive from the Ranch. Recently upgraded, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport at Gallatin Field in Belgrade (BZN) offers several full-service FBOs, including the Yellowstone Jet Center, and excellent commercial services through Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, JetBlue, Sun Country, and United Airlines. One of the busiest passenger airports in the Pacific Northwest, and the busiest in the state of Montana, BZN offers direct flights to 25 major airports around the nation including direct flights to the west coast, east coast, Texas, the Southeast, and Florida.

Approximate distances from the Ranch to other Montana towns and cities are as follows:

Clyde Park
Great Falls

12 miles
12 miles
20 miles
40 miles
52 miles
134 miles
134 miles
144 miles


Elk Ridge Ranch encompasses approximately 13,250 total acres, including:


Deeded Acres
Acres State of Montana Lease
Acres Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
The southern end of the Ranch, which borders National Forest, features the headwaters of Timber Creek, which originates in a high valley on the southern end of the Ranch and flows north to join the Middle Fork of Sixteenmile Creek along Sixteen Mile Road on the western border of the Ranch.  There is scattered timber and high mountain meadows that form a perfect complement for wildlife habitat and productive summer grazing.  Timber Creek creates a dramatic private valley that is rimmed by a rock wall and runs north to the confluence with the Middle Fork of Sixteen Mile Creek. As you move north through the Ranch there is another private valley formed by Coal Creek, which originates on the east side of the Ranch and flows west through the dramatic and rugged Coal Gulch, where it joins Timber Creek just upstream of the confluence with the Middle Fork of Sixteen Mile. The iconic Wallrock formation is a portion of the eastern border that continues north to Elk Ridge and the headwaters of Cottonwood Creek.  The topography of the Ranch creates a visually stunning, wildlife-rich, and very private Ranch.  There are large parts of the Ranch that literally don’t see any lights at night, much less any neighbors.  The northern portion of the Ranch has less timber and more open rolling terrain with grass-filled meadows that stretch toward the small community of Ringling with views of the Little Belt Mountains.
Elk Ridge Ranch has been running 800± pairs of cows on a seasonal basis. Typically, winters in this high mountain country provide heavy snow cover to produce the lush summer grasses and wildflowers.  Ranchers will graze this mountain country for about six months – from June to November – contingent on their operational timing, weather conditions, and the start of hunting season.
Improving fencing and stock water has been a primary focus of the current owners. They have created a reliable and diverse stock-water network that provides a consistent combination of surface water, improved springs, and stock tanks for every pasture. This stock-water network allows every pasture to be used annually and provides operational flexibility.  The perimeter fencing on the Ranch is in good condition and is broken into 10 pastures.
*** The Sellers would be interested in leasing back the pasture should the new Buyer be interested in generating annual income.

The Ranch is minimally improved, but does have a functional, but modest ‘Cow Camp’ that includes a rustic cabin, a small barn and a set of corrals.  The cabin is off grid, but includes a full kitchen with propane appliances and furnace, wood stove, full bathroom, and domestic water via a year-round spring.  There is a small solar array that powers a few 12v lights that supplement the camping lamps that are typically used.  The cabin has received little use in recent years but could be easily updated into a functional base camp while more expansive improvements are planned.

Located in Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Hunting District No. 393, Elk Ridge Ranch abounds with elk and deer.  What distinguishes the Ranch from many other areas of the state are the abundant numbers of Rocky Mountain elk, which typically break into three large herds and travel from every direction to utilize the Ranch.  The Ranch provides cover, water, and plentiful feed for the migrating elk from the Bridger Mountains to the south, the Crazy Mountains to the east and the from the Elkhorn Ridge country to the north.
Elk Ridge Ranch boasts one of the most prolific herds of elk in the Crazy Mountain ecosystem.  Herds exceeding 600 animals begin using the Ranch during spring calving season and continue living in the high country that is filled with water sources and lush green grass through summer and into September when hunting season starts.  The Ranch has been leased to an outfitter who has guided clients to harvest many mature six-point bull elk that have easily scored high enough to place in both the Pope and Young and Boone and Crockett books. This is a general tag area that provides for its next owner, as a resident or non-resident, much easier access to bull elk and buck deer tags.
In addition to the abundant numbers of elk and deer, the Ranch harbors black bears, moose, antelope, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, upland birds, waterfowl, raptors, and sandhill cranes.


The Ranch is located in the Shields River Valley which affords some of the best trout fishing in Montana.  Park County contains the Yellowstone River and Shields River and portions of their many tributaries.  The Yellowstone extends north from Gardiner through Livingston then east towards Billings. The Shields River originates high in the Crazy Mountains and flows south where it joins the Yellowstone River halfway between Livingston and Springdale.
The Shields River, with good populations of trout and whitefish, typically receive less pressure than higher-profile rivers and can offer reliable action to the avid angler.  Fish dams have been installed by the State of Montana in several locations along the Shields River to ensure non-native species like browns and rainbows are prohibited from infiltrating the upper tributaries where native cutthroat breed and thrive.  The section of the Shields River downstream from the town of Wilsall to the confluence with the Yellowstone River is home to brown and rainbow trout and offers reliable fishing from many access points.  

“While fish populations are not exceptionally high, the combination of light fishing pressure, excellent habitat in some areas, and nutrient-heavy water allows the trout to become quite large.”

Shields River – Big Sky

The Ranch includes the origins of Cottonwood, Coal, and Timber Creeks, which are small mountain streams that run year-round.  As the very upper portion of these tributaries, the scale of the water doesn’t lend itself to being notable fisheries, but they do support populations of small trout. It has not been explored by the current ownership, but it may be possible that these creeks could be enhanced into higher-quality fishery resources.
Located about 40 miles from the Ranch is the Yellowstone River, which originates upstream in Yellowstone National Park and is the longest free-flowing river in the contiguous United States.  The Yellowstone is a well-documented and prized trout fishery enjoyed by anglers throughout the world.  With a backdrop of snow-capped peaks in every direction, the Yellowstone River provides consistently changing eddies, riffles, and deep pockets to explore.  Anglers cast nymphs, dries, or streamers in hopes of landing a native Yellowstone cutthroat, rainbow, brown trout, the prolific native mountain whitefish, and the occasional brook trout.  It is one of the seminal experiences in fly fishing to catch the famous ‘Mother’s Day Caddis’ or a salmon-fly hatch on the Yellowstone when it coincides with fishable water conditions during the annual runoff season in May and June.
The Yellowstone Region is renowned worldwide for its fly fishing, whether on the noted local rivers like the Yellowstone and Shields or the vast array of regional water that is within an easy day trip including the Boulder, Stillwater, Gallatin, Musselshell, Missouri, Bighorn, the famed spring creeks of Paradise Valley or the lifetime of angling in Yellowstone National Park.  There are also many lakes and reservoirs in the Crazy Mountains ideal for fishing if one is willing to venture into the rugged mountains.  With all of the available local fisheries located near the Ranch, there is literally always someplace to fish creating an excellent base for anglers.


Hiking in the Crazy Mountains is just minutes away.  The northern section of the Crazies hosts an impressive 20 peaks reaching over 10,000 feet.  A single trail runs the range’s 50-mile length with smaller spur trails that lead hikers back to the prairie below.
Winter entertainment includes cross-country skiing, sledding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing right from your doorstep.  Downhill skiing is within reasonable driving distance with the legendary powder skiing of Bridger Bowl just 24 miles away.
In June, the community hosts the annual Wilsall Rodeo, a two-day, small-town rodeo that attracts thousands of people.  Livingston hosts the annual Fourth of July festivities that are some of the largest in the state, and the nightly Livingston Roundup Rodeo includes fireworks and a full slate of pageantry that make this weekend a highly anticipated PRCA event throughout the state and region.
Chico Hot Springs in the Paradise Valley is located approximately an hour’s drive from the Ranch.  This rustic boutique resort offers two open-air natural mineral hot springs pools, a restaurant specializing in modern American cuisine, and a day spa. Dogsled treks originate from this location during the winter months and horseback riding in the summer.
The north entrance of Yellowstone National Park is about 83 miles from Wilsall.  From the North Entrance, which is open year-round, opportunities abound to witness the Park’s incredible wildlife as well as the famed Mammoth Hot Springs and Roosevelt Arch.  The North Entrance also hosts the Historic Hotel and dining room.
There is also shopping and a multitude of gourmet restaurants available in nearby Bozeman. This picturesque college town situated between four mountain ranges, is the home of Montana State University and has a charming downtown area, a vibrant cultural scene, and many art galleries.  Just over a half-hour’s drive away, the eclectic town of Livingston, nestled along the Yellowstone River, offers diverse dining opportunities, art galleries, and local stores making this town exceptionally welcoming and entertaining.


There are currently no utilities on the Ranch, but power and telephone are in the Four Diamond Road which provides access to the east side of the Ranch.  The development of the technology that provides off-grid electricity with a combination of solar and a propane generator would also be a very compelling option.  Propane service is provided to the area by a variety of vendors in Clyde Park, Livingston, and Bozeman, who will deliver propane to the Cow Camp Cabin.  There is a domestic trash site provided at the County Transfer Station in Wilsall.  Verizon cell coverage is available in certain locations on the Ranch and internet is available via satellite.

The Ranch is not currently encumbered by any conservation easements.  There are likely substantial tax benefits, should the new owner choose to place part or all of the Ranch under a conservation easement.

The mineral rights on the Ranch have all been severed by previous Ranch ownership and no mineral rights convey with the Ranch.

The Seller hereby makes known that there are variations between the deeded property lines and the location of the existing boundary and pasture fence lines on Elk Ridge Ranch.  The Seller makes no warranties with regard to the location of the fence lines in relationship to the deeded property lines, nor does the Seller make any warranties or representations with regard to specific acreage within the fenced property lines.
The Seller is selling Elk Ridge Ranch in its “as is-where is” condition which includes the location of the fences as they now exist. Boundaries shown on any accompanying maps are approximate. The maps are not to scale and are for visual aid only. The accuracy of the maps and information portrayed thereon is not guaranteed nor warranted.

According to the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Elk Ridge Ranch owns 39 stock water rights sourced out of tributaries of Middle Fork, East Fork, Coal Gulch, Timber Creek, and Little Cottonwood Creek.  For additional information regarding the water rights, please contact the Swan Land Company Bozeman Office at 406.522.7342.

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.  This water district is currently under the Preliminary-Temporary Decree as classified by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC).  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.

All water rights appurtenant to and for the benefit of the Ranch will be conveyed to the Buyer at closing of a sale.

The real estate taxes for 2021 were approximately $9,350.


The lowest elevation of the Ranch sits at around 5,500 feet above sea level at the northern edge, and the highest point is on the southern boundary at 7,400 feet.  The majority of the Ranch varies between 6,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level.  The elevation of Wilsall, Montana is approximately 5,057 feet.

The average annual precipitation in Wilsall is approximately 20.21 inches of rain and 89 inches of snow.  While not actively measured, the higher elevations on the Ranch certainly receive more annual snow.

Average maximum temperatures in June, July, and August range from 68° to 78° Fahrenheit. In December, January and February average maximum temperatures are between 33° and 36° Fahrenheit. Summer nights average about 40° to 45° Fahrenheit. Winter average minimum is 13° Fahrenheit.

This is an area that receives a good amount of sunshine throughout the year with an average of 186 sunny days per U.S. Climate Data.

Ringling is a small community a few miles north of the Ranch, at the intersection of Sixteen Mile Road and U.S. Route 89. Ringling was originally called Leader but was renamed for John Ringling of the Ringling Brothers Circus family when the White Sulphur Springs and Yellowstone Park Railway was built.  John Ringling was a financier of the railroad, as well as its president and owned considerable ranch land in the area. The town was a station stop on the transcontinental railroad that was historically dubbed the ‘Milwaukee Road’ and the Ringling Brothers and utilized the rail lines to move circus animals a century ago. Ringling has served as a community center for ranchers in the vicinity, but the town’s population has declined throughout most of the last two centuries as the region’s railroad lines were abandoned by 1980.  Fortunately, those hardy souls include the proprietors of the Ringling Bar, which offers up some of the best steak dinners in Montana.

The town of Wilsall is named after the son, Will, and daughter-in-law, Sally, of Walter B. Jordan who platted the townsite.  The town almost boomed during the World War I era, when wheat prices were high and the rains were abundant, but really got started when the Northern Pacific Railroad completed a spur line in 1909.  Five stops were made in the 28-mile stretch between Livingston and Wilsall, which was the end of the line.  Also, a passenger train made a run six mornings a week and a freight train steamed along the Shields River in the afternoons. The small trade town is still recalled by the tall grain elevator, abandoned railroad corridor and remnants of the depot.

“John Shields was with Captain Clark’s party during the return journey, exploring the upper Yellowstone to its confluence with the Missouri.  Captain Clark gave the name of Shields River to a tributary which flows out of the Crazy Woman Mountains, east of Bozeman Pass.  The name, “Shields River,” is shown on modern maps, preserving the legacy of America’s epic transcontinental exploration.”

Inside the Corps – Private John Shields

Gallatin County has led the State of Montana in growth and real estate demand for many decades, and opportunities of this scale, privacy, and recreational amenities of Elk Ridge Ranch are truly few and far between.  This Ranch will check all the boxes for buyers looking for privacy, mountain splendor, exceptional big-game hunting, and all-season recreational pursuits all within an hour of the most vibrant communities in Montana.



Elk Ridge Ranch, as previously described herein, is offered at US $29,270,000.00 Cash or Terms acceptable solely at the discretion of the Seller.  The conditions of the sale are as follows:

  1. All Prospective Buyers must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Seller’s absolute financial capability to purchase the Ranch prior to scheduling an inspection of the Ranch;
  2.  Earnest money deposit will be due upon completion of a fully executed contract, and all earnest money deposits will be held in escrow by Security Title Company in Bozeman;
  3.  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.  The title to the real property will be conveyed by a deed;
  4.  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;
  5.  Buyers’ Brokers are welcome and invited to contact listing brokers Tim Anderson or Mike Swan 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 Seller 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.


A 48-hour notice is requested to make proper arrangements for an inspection of Elk Ridge Ranch.

Swan Land Company has been authorized by the Seller to act as their Exclusive Real Estate Broker on the sale of Elk Ridge Ranch.  Since 2002, we have focused on the brokerage of significant ranches, farms, and recreational properties throughout the Rocky Mountain West.

This Offering is based on information believed to be correct; however, it is subject to errors, omissions, prior sale, and change or withdrawal without notice.  Information contained herein has been provided by the Sellers or obtained from other sources deemed reliable.  The Agent does not, however, guarantee accuracy and recommends that any Prospective Buyer conduct an independent investigation.

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Timothy Anderson
With over two decades of experience in real estate and a background in science and technology, I’ve been honored to serve and represent some of Montana’s finest farm, ranch, and recreational properties. Before my time with Swan, I co-founded Montana Real Estate Co. with my wife, where we guided the successful sales effort for Moonlight ...
Meet the Broker
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 ...
Meet the Broker

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