The Ranch was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. In 1915, Clarence Lytle homesteaded the current property as a working ranch. Under the Forest Homestead Act of 1906, a claim was 160 acres. The requirements were U.S. citizenship (single women were allowed) and the claim had to be placed in the claimants own name. The filing fee was $10, and claimants had to live on the land for five years, make improvements, and raise a crop. Because of the high elevation here, the crop was almost always wild hay.
Fred Butler, a Chicago paper mill tycoon, bought the Ranch in 1926 for $50 an acre. Butler, his wife and daughter and son-in-law, Florence and Don Kilburn, built the first buildings, which have been so well maintained that they are still in use today.
In 1946, the Ranch was sold and operated as a boy’s camp. It was the first place in Montana to install underground electricity in 1948. Through successive years, the Ranch was a logging operation and cattle ranch. When guest ranching became popular in the area and Yellowstone a popular destination, the Ranch became a well respected guest ranch, drawing visitors from all over the world.
Sometime in the early 1950’s the Ranch was purchased by Don Corcoran of Minnesota and he used the Ranch to run a logging operation. Due to the large number of families living on the Ranch at the time, the B-K and Hilltop cabins (as we know them today) were converted into schoolhouses for the children.
In 1955, the logging operation abruptly ended and Jack and Elaine Hume purchased the Ranch and successfully ran it as a dude ranch/ hunting and fishing camp. They were the first ones to refer to the Ranch as Lone Mountain Ranch.
In 1962, Sam and Florence Smeding purchased the Lone Mountain Ranch and continued its long tradition in western hospitality. Much like today, the Smedings would greet their guests in Bozeman and bring them back to the Ranch for a week of horseback riding and other adventures.
In the early 1970’s, the late newscaster, Chet Huntley, along with Chrysler, Conoco and several other large corporations purchased the Ranch. The “Ranch at Big Sky,” as it was referred to, was used as their headquarters for the development of Big Sky resort and as a place to entertain possible investors.
In 1977, the Ranch at Big Sky was put up for sale and anyone wishing to be considered was required to submit a proposal for consideration. Bob and Vivian Schaap had plans to run the Ranch as a cross country ski and guest ranch operation. With year round plans, they were selected and soon acquired Lone Mountain Ranch. For over 30 years, the Schaaps established a successful summer and winter guest ranch, welcoming guests from all over the world and providing them with quality adventures in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem and exceptional customer service.
As many of the owners of the Ranch have done for close to 100 years, we provide the finest in guest ranch vacations with unforgettable experiences and unparalleled service.