Situated on the eastern front of Montana’s iconic Beartooth Mountain Range lies Trout Creek Ranch, a remote refuge that offers true “end-of-the-road” seclusion and privacy. With 1,896 deeded acres ranging from 5,200 to 5,800 feet in elevation, the property is diverse and well balanced, featuring two distinctive yet contiguous zones. The upper ranch consists of approximately 880 acres of rolling pastoral meadows with colorful wildflowers, rocky bluffs and jaw-dropping vistas of the towering Beartooth Mountains to the west. Moving off the upper ranch, one winds down into the private valley of Trout Creek Canyon where steep walls drop down to a lush riparian area surrounding approximately 2 miles of the meandering stream that’s filled with feisty brown and brook trout. The far western edge of the property rises up into a sweeping basin with several wild draws where elk, deer, and other wildlife migrate from the mountains to the valley floor in fall. An off-grid cabin is sited on the rim of the basin where panoramic views of the ranch, wildlife and the Beartooth Wilderness Area are awe-inspiring.
The main ranch improvements are sited centrally within the property in an open meadow by the creek where tall cottonwood stands create the perfect homestead. Trout Creek Ranch’s structures are historic and have been thoughtfully reconstructed to offer modern comforts and conveniences. With a total of 15 bedrooms, there is ample room for family and guests.
Trout Creek Ranch spans approximately 1.5 miles east to west, and almost 3 miles north to south and has a distinctive mix of land types and topography within its borders. Trout Creek flows north to south and the associated canyon runs a linear path down the low-lying center of the property. The riparian area around the creek is a winding oasis of tall cottonwood stands and willows that are protected by rocky cliffs and steep escarpments on both sides. The grassy parks along the creek bottom are a major wildlife draw and are shielded from wind and weather. A lush meadow is situated on the upper part of the creek which was historically irrigated to produce grass hay. East of the creek, several finger-like draws reach up to sprawling grasslands. This portion of the property consists of about 880 acres and is classic Montana cattle grazing ground characterized by gently rolling terrain, natural springs, and rocky bluffs. The ranch headquarters is sited in a picturesque open area along the Trout Creek drainage near a natural spring. Behind and to the west of the improvements, the topography rises up again into a protected bowl-shaped basin with open glades and outcroppings. On the north side of the basin lies the honeymoon cabin that overlooks the terrain below and enjoys the majestic backdrop of the Beartooths in the distance.
Trout Creek Ranch is set within the eastern foothills of the Beartooth Mountain Range, which contains almost one million acres of pristine Wilderness Area and endless exploration. The famous Beartooth Highway connects the eastern side of the mountain range to Yellowstone National Park on the western side. As a seasonal road, it winds its way around steep mountain tops and across high alpine ridges leading to incredible vistas. This pocket of south central Montana is known as a stronghold of large agricultural and multi-generational legacy ranches with high conservation values driven by strong natural resources. The closest town is Absarokee, which was named after the Crow Indian Tribe, and is now home to approximately 1,200 people. Absarokee has most modern amenities including a grocery store, shops, restaurants, bars, and a small medical clinic. The Stillwater River is the main waterway through the region, draining the eastern side of the Beartooths and is a blue ribbon trout fishery. The Stillwater eventually flows into the mighty Yellowstone River about 45 minutes north. The Yellowstone is one of the west’s most prominent rivers and is the longest flowing freestone river in the United States. Red Lodge Ski Area, one of Montana’s cherished small-town ski mountains, is about an hour south of the property. The Stillwater Valley is also home to the unique cultural attraction of Tippet Rise Ranch and Art Center, a revolutionary concept marrying land conservation, ranching, fine art, and live musical experiences.
The ranch is located in rural Stillwater County about 15 miles west of the town of Absorkee. Access is via Stillwater River Road (County Road 420) west from town, then crosses the river and proceeds up Spring Creek Road through several large cattle ranches to eventually arrive at the Trout Creek Ranch gate.
Billings is about 1 hour and 45-minute drive east of the ranch on I-90, while Bozeman is a little over 2 hours west. Both Billings and Bozeman have commercial airports with airline service.
Trout Creek Ranch features custom and very tasteful improvements, but is not overbuilt. The main house is built on the foundation of a historic homestead from the early 1900s. The home is primarily constructed with river rock stone imported from eastern Montana. The house consists of two levels with a total of four bedrooms and three bathrooms and approximately 1,700 finished square feet. The master bedroom is on the ground floor and occupies its own wing with adjoining walk in closets and a 5-piece bath. Another bedroom with its own bath is on the main floor, and two additional bedrooms with a shared bath as well as an office fill out the second level. The interior includes many unique and custom-built features including a central wood burning fireplace with a walk-around stone hearth. The living area is very comfortable with lots of natural light and picture windows. The exhibition style kitchen is open to the dining and breakfast nook and features top of the line appliances including an executive range and oven and overhead exhaust system in addition to a farm style sink and beautiful granite countertops. The basement level has been set up as an entertainment and game room along with a modest wine cellar, storage and utility room. To finish it off, the outdoor living spaces are well designed with two covered patios, an outdoor grilling area, and platform terrace along the spring with a hot tub, outdoor shower, and sun deck.
Immediately behind the main house is a detached three car garage with a second-floor studio apartment. On the first floor, there is a full bathroom and commercial style kitchen perfect for cooking for large groups and events.
The Spring Cabin is a completely restored homestead from the turn of the century. The structure is almost all original hand-hewn logs and sits right next to a picturesque natural flowing spring and small pond. The cabin is perfect for guests where they have everything they need including living area, full bathroom, and kitchenette on the first floor and two bedrooms and a sun deck on the second level.
The barn is a pole frame modern metal structure built in 2006 and includes a heated shop and large equipment storage. The second story has an additional apartment loft with eight bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and a full kitchen and living area that is great for overflow guests.
The Honeymoon Cabin is an offsite and off-grid studio style structure located on the remote western portion of the property with spectacular views for hunters and wildlife enthusiasts.
Meandering through the center of the property for almost 2 miles is the ranch’s namesake stream, Trout Creek. This stream is a main spawning tributary of the famed Stillwater River and supports a healthy population of brown and brook trout ranging from 8 to 12 inches, with the occasional fish in the 15 to 20-inch range. The stream consists of countless oxbows and features deep holes, undercut banks, gravel runs, and shallow riffles which present intimate and technical fly-fishing experiences to even the most discerning angler. Trout Creek Ranch is a classic small stream fishery that’s best approached with dry flies, a 3 or 4 weight rod, and a little bit of stealth.
In addition to Trout Creek, there are numerous blue-ribbon waters in close proximity of the ranch including high alpine lakes in the wilderness and the Stillwater River which is a prized Montana stream that’s off the beaten track.
Hunting on Trout Creek Ranch is very good for numerous species, including elk, mule deer, bear, mountain lion, and a variety of upland birds like sharptailed grouse and Hungarian partridge. In the fall, elk move down off the face of the Beartooth Mountains, through the ranch, and into the lower reaches of the Stillwater Valley. The ranch also provides year-round quality habitat for trophy mule deer. The property falls within MT Wildlife Region 5, and Elk & Deer District 520, providing very realistic opportunities for harvesting nice bulls and big bucks on the ranch in both archery and rifle seasons with a General License.
Additional recreation on the ranch and throughout the region include hiking, ATVing, mountain biking, and boating as well as downhill and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter months. With the abundance of public lands including Beartooth Wilderness Area and the Beartooth Highway leading to Yellowstone National Park, the resources for outdoor exploration are endless.
Trout Creek Ranch can support cattle grazing throughout the property, and historically the upper ranch pasture has been leased seasonally to a neighboring rancher who runs approximately 100 head through the summer months. This area of Montana is known for its high protein grass and healthy summer gains on cows. The property is well adjusted for grazing with watering sites, fencing, and protected areas.
Trout Creek Ranch is well watered with natural springs in numerous parts of the property and a modest irrigation right along Trout Creek. The ranch has a historic irrigation ditch right dating back to 1958 for 25 acre-feet. The ranch also has a registered stock well producing 20 GPM.