Ever wanted to own an Idaho ranch that’s bigger than most national parks? If you have a spare $25 million lying around, now’s your chance.
The 825,000-acre Lava Lake Ranch, 45 miles east of Hailey and bordered on the east and south by Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, hit the market in late June. The ranch is bigger than Yosemite National Park in California (762,000 acres), and more than twice as big as Wyoming’s Grand Teton (310,000 acres) and Utah’s Canyonlands (338,000).
The property is being sold by Kathleen and Brian Bean, who initially purchased the ranch in 1999 to conserve and restore the land by using good grazing practices. Lava Lake Ranch encompasses 125 miles of land, from the Snake River Plain south of the ranch to the 12,000-foot peaks of the Boulder and Pioneer mountains north.
“Large ranches in the Sun Valley area, particularly a ranch with the size, scale, beauty, productivity, and reputation that Lava Lake offers, tend to remain in multi-generational ownership and rarely change hands,” Trent Jones, a ranch broker with Hall and Hall, said in a press release.
“In addition to preserving open space and agricultural resources, this land tenure situation has helped to insulate the area from growth and development pressures experienced elsewhere in the northern Rockies,” Jones continued.
Whoever purchases the ranch will also have the opportunity to continue the Beans’ conservation mission. The pair entered into conservation easements with The Nature Conservancy — a nonprofit that Kathleen Bean worked with for several years — and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A conservation easement is a voluntary but legally binding agreement that limits the use of the land to protect its conservation values. The Beans entered into 12 separate easements that span nearly 21,000 acres of the property, in which subdivision is not allowed, but livestock grazing is permitted.
The property can be considered a rancher’s dream. At the peak of its operations, the Beans owned up to 9,000 sheep and several hundred cattle. With such a vast amount of livestock, the Beans could sustain the wilderness through grazing and sell 100% grass-fed lamb and beef across the country.
“We have implemented an ambitious conservation plan to preserve the lands where we raise our animals,” Kathleen and Brain Bean said on their website. “With over 17,000 acres permanently protected by conservation easement and over 60,000 acres of certified organic pasture and rangelands, we are committed to land stewardship and sustainable practices.”
The Beans are now running the operation with minimal input as they look forward to retirement.
What else comes with the ranch?
Lava Lake Ranch is equipped with a collection of building improvements to help with ranch operations. The Beans improved the property over the years to include a manager’s home, barns, a ram shed and lambing sheds, a calving corral, stack yards, a machine shop and equipment shed, and a kennel for ranch-working dogs.
But looking further afield than ranching, the property offers a wide range of recreational activities.
The ranch falls under Idaho Hunt Unit 49, which offers big game hunting such as deer, elk and moose, as well as upland bird and waterfowl hunting.
“The area is rich with upland birds and waterfowl,” the online listing said. “Chukar partridge and forest grouse are plentiful on the hillsides, ridgelines, and rock outcroppings throughout the ranch.
“Hungarian partridge and sage grouse can be found in good numbers in sagebrush stands and grasslands adjacent to agricultural fields. The area is an important stopover for migrating ducks and geese on their way to wintering grounds further south along the Snake River.”
The ranch qualifies for landowner appreciation permits, which allow the owner to control hunts on their property.
There are also opportunities for anglers. Muldoon Creek, a tributary of the Little Wood River, runs through the ranch for about 2 miles and offers private fishing for rainbow and brook trout. Stillwater fishing can also be found at nearby reservoirs, while the nearby Pioneer Mountains offer dozens of alpine lakes, according to the listing.