Granching Offers a New Opportunity to Experience Ranching Without all the Work.

When 50-somethings see retirement on the horizon, they want to wind down the have-to-dos and devote more time to pleasurable pursuits. Some who hear the call of the wild go “glamping”, a glamorous camping vacation that comes with tony tents and a full resort experience. Welcome to the Mild West.

Sun West Ranch, a 2,000-acre shared ranch development in the panoramic Madison Valley of southwestern Montana, offers an alternative for the more independent-minded. Let’s call it “granching”. Here, granchers build a home on their own piece of the wide-ranging property.

Shared ranch ownership offers a personal retreat where owners can experience authentic ranch living without attending to the day-to-day responsibilities of ranch management. Individual properties span three to eleven acres. For most owners, Sun West Ranch is their second home where they head whenever they hanker for room to breath, wide-open land to explore and second-to-none vistas to take in.

A working cattle ranch in the 1800s, Sun West still has the feel of a bygone era. Sixteen hundred acres of protected common land are home to wildlife including elk, moose, deer, coyotes, cranes and eagles. A few rustic homestead buildings remain.

Don and Anne Alstead, year-round residents, find Sun West Ranch’s wild beauty and ranching lifestyle irresistible. Don and Anne keep their horses at the ranch stable. Whenever he can, Don heads down to fly fish on the stretch of Madison River that runs along the ranch.

The couple’s home is what they call “rustic Western”, made of stone and plain timber. All homes built at Sun Ranch meet design standards that maintain the ranch setting.

“Sun West is different than a resort, more low-key. We get the remote ranch experience without all the chores. It’s very private, but the people are all very friendly and welcoming,” said Don.

Sun West Ranch At-a-Glance:

  • 2,000 acres, 1,600 of which are environmentally protected common areas
  • Home sites optimize views and maintain privacy
  • Several miles of blue-water Madison River offer a fly-fishing paradise
  • Equestrian center stable owners’ horses
  • Strong covenants and architectural guidelines maintain standards
  • On-site ranch managers tend to the ranch year-round