Locomotive Butte towers over the horizon along the northwest edge of this historical and versatile ranch. A meandering trail leads to the top of Locomotive Butte where it surrenders sweeping views of Rafter J Ranch at Big Coulee. The sandstone rimrocks pile up in astonishing landforms while the fields below sprawl out among 2,104 deeded acres.
Located 19 miles south of Ryegate, Montana, Rafter J Ranch provides advantages surpassed by few. The luscious grazing acres, fertile and nutrient-rich soils, and remarkable mountain views offer an outstanding blend of recreational and rural ranch living. Embrace this opportunity to own a diverse and efficient property with renewable water, the source that ranchers and farmers aspire for. With the improvements in place, little to no overhead is needed. The fertile farm ground can be leased to neighbors or utilized to grow your own feed. Draw in desirable wildlife such as elk by planting sainfoin and enjoy your recreational paradise. The sainfoin can double as a nutritious feed source for cattle that can be bailed and stored for winter.
The south central Montana ranch will support 130 pairs or 260+ yearlings seasonally with proper management and can support 100 pairs year-round. Rafter J Ranch boasts an Artesian well with geothermally heated water that gravity feeds every pasture. Concrete stock tanks are located in each of the five pastures. A perennial stream traverses the ranch in addition to the 2 seasonal springs.
With native grasses encompassing the valley floor, an elk herd of 120 head frequently visit Rafter J Ranch. Other wildlife that utilizes life-giving waters and nutrient vegetation and can be seen wandering the landscape include mule deer, antelope, black bear, mountain lion, and bobcat. The windrows provide excellent cover for pheasants and game birds. Recreational opportunities to hunt are endless.
The Montana ranch has a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom manufactured home well equipped as living quarters or a fabulous hunting base camp. The ranch is fully operational with working corrals, sorting pens, and numerous outbuildings.
A well-maintained gravel road gives suitable access at two different points. The commute is an easy 80 miles to Billings, 46 miles to Harlowton, or 17 miles to Ryegate. Yellowstone National Park is 138 miles via the extraordinary Beartooth Highway, a nationally depicted highway. Trust your instincts and pounce on this productive and efficient ranch where recreational pastimes are available on a whim and a historical landmark forms a picturesque scene worthy of a postcard!
Rapelje is a small farming community about twenty-five miles north of Columbus between Hailstone National Wildlife Refuge and Halfbreed National Wildlife Refuge. Both are a part of the Big Lake Complex and the most productive areas in central Montana for waterfowl and shorebirds. The refuge is a breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.
Ryegate, Montana lies on Highway 12 where the Musselshell River flows among sandstone and rimrock cliffs. The community is immersed in farming and ranching and serves as the county seat for Golden Valley County. South of Ryegate is Hailstone National Wildlife Refuge where waterfowl, shorebirds, pronghorns, and prairie dogs live harmoniously. The surrounding area is diverse and offers multitudes of recreational opportunities.
Harlowton, Montana is home to the largest wind farm in the state. Additionally, Harlowton is the county seat of Wheatland County and lies among the three mountain ranges of the Crazy, the Little Belt, and the Big Snowy Mountains. The area is part of the Lewis and Clark National Forest where hunting and fishing opportunities are abundant. Agriculture remains the predominant industry in the economy where the main products are wheat, barley, oats, hay, cattle, sheep, and honey. The Musselshell River flows through the town. Billings, Montana is 92 miles from Harlowton.
Deadman's Basin Reservoir
Deadman's Basin Reservoir is 20 miles from Harlowton and is 1,849 acres in size. At 3,892 feet in elevation, the reservoir is stocked with Rainbow Trout each year. The reservoir also provides good fishing for Brown Trout, Smallmouth Bass, and Whitefish. It is also popular for winter ice fishing.
Little Belt Mountains
The Little Belt Mountains are a section of the rugged Rocky Mountains. They lie mostly in the Lewis and Clark National Forest. The unspoiled nature is used for logging and recreation. The mountains have been mined for silver since the 1880s and for sapphires since 1896. The famous Yogo sapphire is mined near Yogo Creek. The highest peak of the range is Big Baldy Mountain towering at 9,175 feet. Ponderosa pines and Douglas-firs predominantly fill the forest providing cover for black bear, elk, white-tailed, and mule deer. Rifle and archery hunting is excellent, and during the fall, hunter's orange can be spotted trekking up the trails. The hum of motorized vehicles can often be heard as it is a popular sport here as well.
The Crazy Mountains are the most prominent in Montana located northwest of Big Timber, Montana. The island range is approximately 30 miles by 15 miles in size and climbs to 7,000 feet in a dramatic transition from prairie to peaks! The highest pinnacle in the range is Crazy Peak at 11,214 feet. Ice, wind, and water sculpted the saw-toothed ridges and created more than 40 jewel-like lakes.
The Musselshell River is a premier location for the catfish angler. Channel Catfish, Stone Cat, and Black Bullhead swim in these waters. Lack of access makes the river relatively peaceful and untapped. The average Channel Catfish is 6-7 pounds, and the best time to catch one of these whiskered fish is in the spring when they are headed upstream to spawn. Trout can be caught on the west side of Harlowton, and the catfish are best hooked toward the east side of town.
Fishing Access Sites
Looking to wet a line and get out in the fresh air? The Harlowton Fishing Access Site consists of 5 acres with the Musselshell River and picnic areas. Other access sites include the Selkirk Fishing Access Site, the Highway Bridge 191 Access, and the Two Dot Road Access Site.
Take a day trip and experience the great outdoors with the picturesque scenery. Hiking trails exist in the area to accommodate beginners and expert hikers. The Neil Connection Trail is 3 miles long and well-traversed by mountain bikers. The Haymaker Canyon Trail drops down into the Haymaker Canyon and crosses several creeks. Take it up a notch and tackle the 13.5-mile East Fork Spring Creek Trail #608.