Erickson Creek Cabin
The Medicine Lodge Valley is in a little traveled area of southwestern Montana, south and west of the town of Dillon, MT. To get there from Dillon, one travels approximately 25 miles south of Dillon on Interstate 15 to Clark Canyon Reservoir. Clark Canyon is an impoundment of the Beaverhead River and now inundates the site of Camp Fortunate, where Lewis and Clark camped in August of 1805. From Clark Canyon, travel west on National Scenic Byway 324 following the Corps of Discovery’s route toward Lemhi Pass. Just a few miles west of the reservoir the Medicine Lodge Road heads south between the Bitterroot Range and the Tendoy Mountains. The ranch is located on the west side of the valley, below the continental divide in the Bitterroots. The nearest private airport is in Dillon, which has two asphalt runways of approximately 3,500 and 6,500 feet. The Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, Montana is approximately a two-hour drive from the ranch and offers regional air service with Delta connection flights to Salt Lake City. Montana’s busiest airport at Bozeman is approximately two hours and forty-five minutes away. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is serviced by Alaska, Allegiant, Frontier, and United Airlines and handled almost one million passengers in 2014.
The town of Dillon, Montana provides the nearest services and is approximately an hour’s drive on National Scenic Byway 324, past Clark Canyon reservoir. Dillon is the Beaverhead County Seat and has a resident population of under 5,000 which is made up of a combination of ranchers, cowboys, fly fishers and outdoor enthusiasts. University of Montana Western is located in Dillon and has an enrollment of approximately 1,500 students. While Dillon is an attractive town with a broad range of services, one of the qualities that makes this region of Montana special is that it is off the beaten path from many of the more heavily traveled recreational areas in Montana. This is an area where public lands dominate the landscape and you are not likely to find other vehicles in the parking lot at any given trail head. The Continental Divide Trail runs over 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada. The trail follows the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains, which carries it within a few miles of the ranch at the crest of the Bitterroot Range. There are a myriad of other trails and unimproved roadways in the area that can be utilized for recreation. The abundance of public lands in the area offers a lifetime of back-country adventure. The Medicine Lodge Valley was inhabited by the Shoshone Indians into the early 1900s, most notably led by Chief Tendoy whose name is immortalized by the mountain range to the northeast. The area was, and still is, rich in game and the Shoshone utilized this area through the summer months for hunting. This is evidenced by the multitude of tipi rings and pictographs on the limestone rock walls and in the many caves that are scattered throughout the area. The pictographs depict scenes of buffalo hunts and many other activities. The main attraction for the Shoshone was the availability and ease of harvesting the bighorn sheep and jackrabbits which inhabit the area.
Erickson Creek Cabin encompasses 680± acres of deeded lands that are surrounded on three-and-one-half sides by public lands. The Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest and some Bureau of Land Management acreage adjoining the national forest makes up the west boundary. The north and east boundaries are entirely bordered by BLM, as is a portion of the south boundary. The remaining southern boundary is the only portion of the ranch that adjoins private lands. The ranch is made up of a combination of rolling sagebrush meadows, willow lined creek bottom and evergreen timber. The cabin is sited at approximately 7,600 feet in elevation along the edge of the timber, overlooking a branch of Erickson Creek. Tucked into the evergreens, the cabin is very secluded and enjoys spectacular vistas of the Medicine Lodge Valley, Tendoy Mountains to the east and the majestic Bitterroots and the Continental Divide to the west. The national forest can be accessed by foot, horseback or recreational vehicle directly from the cabin.
There is a grazing lease for 180 AUM’s (animal unit months) on the adjoining BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands included in the Morrison Creek Allotment.
The rustic cabin was built for the current owners in 1999 with reclaimed logs from nearby homestead cabins. The logs were re-sawn and re-stacked and the interior finished with reclaimed barn wood. Trees cut on-site were utilized for cabinet tops and other accents, which adds to the rustic ambiance. There are two bedrooms and a bathroom on the main level and a loft bedroom and half bath upstairs. The fully enclosed basement is unfinished. Drinking water is supplied by a developed spring. Heat is provided by a wood stove in the basement and propane wall heaters in the bedrooms. A generator produces electricity for evening lighting.
The ranch has traditionally been used for summer cattle grazing. The deeded lands and adjoining BLM lands are fenced as one pasture and the Morrison Creek Allotment #20621 provides for 180 AUM’s (animal unit months) grazing on the deeded and adjoining BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands included in the allotment. Stock water is provided by both branches of Erickson Creek.
Wildlife is abundant with elk and deer frequenting the property. Moose also utilize the creek bottom habitat and pronghorn antelope are a common sight. Sage grouse populate the native range land and mountain grouse species reside in and around the aspen and conifer stands. A wide variety of raptors are also commonly seen. The ranch adjoins an expansive wilderness where almost any variety of wildlife common to the northern Rockies may be found.
All of the small mountain streams in the area hold trout. Sheep Creek (approximately 20 miles south of the ranch) is the most significant. Essentially, Sheep Creek gains flow from seeps in the limestone cliffs providing a cold, nutrient rich, water cress laden environment perfect for supporting a vibrant population of brown, rainbow and native cutthroat trout. Sheep Creek flows east into the Red Rock River which feeds Clark Canyon Reservoir and in succession forms the Beaverhead, Jefferson and eventually the Missouri River, merging with many of the fabled southwest Montana trout fisheries enroute. The Beaverhead River is a renowned tail water fishery that flows out of Clark Canyon Reservoir. Just 40 minutes’ drive from the ranch, the Beaverhead is known for large, strong fighting fish and some of the highest fish densities found in the state. To the north of the ranch anglers will find the tumbling Wise River, a classic freestone mountain stream, and the world famous Big Hole River, which is fed in part by the Wise River.
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