Gallatin Preserve’s distinctive properties

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Story and photos by Tyler Allen

A giant bugling elk helped close the deal on the first 160-acre parcel sold in the Gallatin Preserve in Big Sky, Montana.

Martha Johnson, owner of the real estate brokerage Montana Living, Big Sky Real Estate was with a client touring the 1,632 acres when they stopped for a view of prominent Lone Mountain, its peak dominating the western skyline. A bull elk ambled out of the brush and let loose its plaintive mating call.

The nine remaining properties for sale on the private, gated Gallatin Preserve offer a mix of Douglas fir, lodgepole, and whitebark pine forests dividing open meadows. The craggy Spanish Peaks loom to the north, with views of the Gallatin Range to the east and the mountains of Yellowstone National Park to the south.

When Bill Schwab purchased the land in 2005 he sought to reorganize the property – which at the time was zoned for 80 home sites – into 10 parcels, each with five acres of development capability.

gallatinpreserve_map“Each five-acre building site was painstakingly selected for ease of access, panoramic views and remoteness from other building sites,” Schwab said.

The land also sits in prime elk country and will allow private hunting and fishing to its owners, one reason the Montana Land Reliance was interested in helping protect the open space when Schwab approached the organization in 2006.

“The thing that Bill wanted to do is give people a nice building envelope and leave the rest as open space for owners to hike, enjoy the outdoors, and [have] views that were not obscured by someone else’s structure,” said Jay Erickson, managing director of MLR. “It’s a lot of open space for an area that close to a destination ski resort in Montana.”

Building on properties with this much open space, according to Johnson, is alluring to clients that are “Rocky Mountain savvy” and people who have visited Big Sky, but want their second home to be a large-acreage ranch close to amenities.

While these parcels offer solitude, expansive views and the prospect for buyers to see bugling elk in their backyard, the proximity to Big Sky’s Town Center ensures easy access to all the amenities a ski town offers. “It fits the Montana dream that we deliver,” Johnson said.

A mere 2-mile drive from Gallatin Preserve’s entrance brings you to the community’s shops, restaurants and the movie theater. Another 10 minutes and you’re at the doorstep of Big Sky Resort’s 5,800 skiable acres.

“Showing real estate like this is an adventure,” Johnson said. “We take snowmobiles and snowshoes to tour [the property] in the winter, and horses, fly rods and four-wheelers in the summer. You really get to know a piece of property from the ground up.”

Johnson says Montana Living is known for selling “distinctive properties,” and Gallatin Preserve parcels fit perfectly into the area’s elite real estate offerings. The properties have a private, members-only access road into the Yellowstone Club, yet the density of development at the Gallatin Preserve is vastly different.

“People are buying 1-2-acre lots at neighboring private clubs for a similar price you could have a 160-acre ranch,” Johnson said. “It’s a nice option for the neighborhood, and those properties will forever be surrounded by open space for [owners’] exclusive use. These are legacy properties.”

This story was first published in the winter 2015 issue of Mountain Outlaw magazine.

Owners and prospective buyers at the Gallatin Preserve can take advantage of the luxurious accommodations at the Homeowners Association cabin, which sits above the South Fork of the West Fork of the Gallatin River.

Owners and prospective buyers at the Gallatin Preserve can take advantage of the luxurious accommodations at the Homeowners Association cabin, which sits above the South Fork of the West Fork of the Gallatin River.