Montana, 2002

Our desire is to build a large home suitable for a Bed and Breakfast that has the flavor of a "lodge" out in the wilderness, but which is actually close to some interesting civilization. Our trip to Montana was in large part a scouting trip to see if we liked the area and to see what properties might be available. We actually had a pretty good idea of the situation before we left because we had spent a lot of time on the web researching properties, recreational opportunities and cultural facilities in the Bozeman area.

We did find something we like. It is 196 acres of land 7 miles from the center of Bozeman, Montana, and about 9 miles from Bridger Bowl Ski Area. Bozeman is a small university town with lots of interesting history and culture; Bridger Bowl is legendary among extreme skiers. The area is also known for the Big Sky Ski Resort, Yellowstone National Park and great fishing.

The current status is that we have made an offer, gone back and forth on counters, and now the purchase will be completed in early 2003 if the land passes our inspections. The main contingency is getting a conditional use permit from the zoning commission to allow us to operate a B&B on the property.

This is the Lower Bridger School — once a one-room school house for the children in Bridger Canyon, now a historic site. The school is not part of the property, but it does serve as an excellent landmark to help locate it.

Looking north from the Lower Bridger School towards the property (compare the two small dead trees in the immediate foreground with the previous picture). In the background are Baldy Mountain (8,914’), Bridger Peak (8,634’) and Saddle Peak (9,159’).

State highway 86 runs across the bottom of this picture, and Kelly Canyon Road is at the lower right. The large green tree (left of center) and mousy brown bushes (just below center) are on the lower left corner of the triangular portion of the property (see the diagram below) The open slope at the right of the picture is part of the triangular portion. Place Creek runs near the large tree. The faint track of a dirt road can be seen winding just to the right of the large green tree, leading into the bushes.

Most of the property is in the trees up the gully.

The property is a rather odd shape. The blue outline below is an approximation of the property boundary superimposed on a topographic map. Highway 86 curves around the lower triangular portion (approximately 36 acres). Kelly Canyon Road can be seen at the lower right coming in directly from the east and then heading north to intersect the highway.

The upper square portion is a 160 acre quarter section (1/2 mile on each side). Altitudes range from 5,200' to 5,500'. A dirt road (the faint track from the previous picture) and Place Creek can be seen running down through the property. When we visited in late August, there was a small amount of water flowing in the creek; a good sign that there is water even after a dry year. There are no structures on the property.

Note how Kelly Canyon Road lines up with the eastern edge of the upper 160 acres and compare that with the picture below.

Below is a view looking south south east almost directly down the eastern fence line of the upper 160 acres. A portion of Kelly Canyon Road can be seen heading south (almost directly in line with the fence), then east through the trees just below center.

Note that Highway 86 and Lower Bridger School are obscured by the topography. This is one of the things we like about the property: the upper area is very private, but has places that afford nice views of the valley and mountains. Unfortunately, the day was cloudy and rainy, so the mountains are rather hazy.

Below: looking west from near the same vantage point as above gives some idea of the character of the upper 160 acres. Due to this rugged terrain, we are concerned about how to locate a home and driveway. We figure a driveway would be over 1/2 mile long – a real chore to plow in winter!