A working cattle ranch, the 14,000-acre Rana Creek Ranch includes a private lake, riding arena, two barns and a 2,900-foot landing strip. The estate is anchored by a 5,413-square-foot main house with one bedroom, one bath and two half-baths. A covered walkway connects it to a two-bedroom guest wing, and there is also a separate two-bedroom guesthouse. The ranch has offices and homes for the manager and staff.
Just the idea of a ranch conjures up images of wide open spaces, cattle and shimmering lakes, the perfect excuse to buy cowboy boots. Country living doesn’t get more idyllic than Rana Creek Ranch. Currently being operated as a cattle ranch and owner’s retreat, there are many options for a future owner to expand operations.
The ranch is about eight miles long by over four miles at its widest point with water resources in the form of creeks, ponds and an aquifer. The land is punctuated with oak trees.
“The great lion’s share of the value in that property is in the fact that you’ve got over 14,000 acres,” says Bill McDavid, a director and real estate partner at Hall and Hall in Missoula, Montana.
McDavid adds, “You’ve got more than 20 square miles surrounding you, and there’s a tremendous amount of value that is in the dirt without even looking at the improvements made. The improvements definitely have value to them, but as a percentage of the whole, if there wasn’t a single thing in the way of the home or any other improvement on that property, it would still be worth many, many millions of dollars because of the landscape that you can’t recreate.”
Markkula enjoyed riding horses on the property after he bought the original 8,000-acre Rana Creek Ranch 35 years ago for $9 million.
“It was a retreat for him and his wife, Linda, and that’s how they used it. They just don’t get there much anymore.” says McDavid.
Markkula was Apple’s first angel investor and the second CEO of Apple Computer Inc., providing critical early funding and managerial support. He served as chairman of Apple from 1985 to 1997.
The pandemic is underscoring the importance of physical space. “These big ranches are going to be more popular now for those that can afford it,” he says. “Probably a lot of people out there who thought about this ranch a few years ago and didn’t buy it are now wondering why didn’t I buy that ranch. I could be there right now.”
Residential improvements at Rana Creek include a main house, guest house and five other homes. Agricultural upgrades include several barns, equipment storage, greenhouse, corrals and fencing. A large office building/conference center has potential for several alternate uses. There are also plenty of equestrian improvements including a large riding arena.
Sure, there’s a 2,900-foot paved airstrip, but there’s also a helipad. “If you were coming in from New York, you could fly into Monterey. That’s less than an hour away from the property,” says McDavid. “Or, I suppose if somebody wanted, they could fly into Monterey and jump into a helicopter and be there in a matter of minutes. At the end of the airstrip there’s a paved area for a helicopter.”
Guests can pick and choose where to stay. “They could be out in the guest wing or guest house or wherever,” explains McDavid. “It just makes it so that at the end of the night everybody has their own space.”
Recreational opportunities on the ranch are extensive. Equestrian enthusiasts, trail runners and hikers will find miles and miles of trails throughout the ranch.
“For somebody who likes to be outdoors, watching wildlife, hunting, riding horses, if you like getting on a horse and pushing cattle around to different pastures you could do that,” says McDavid.
Who knew a city slicker like Markkula could appreciate Old West values? “It’s one of the things Mr. Markkula loved about the ranch more than anything,” says McDavid. “Just kind of being a cowboy and moving the cows to their pasture. But beyond that, you’ve got hiking, ATVs or you can sit on the deck and enjoy the view.”
The ranch’s long-time manager is highly respected. “Mr. Markkula said he walks on water,” says McDavid. “And it’s pretty clear when you visit the ranch that it’s taken care of in a way that it means something. I get a lot of ranches. That’s all I sell, and I see a lot of them that are just not in the kind of shape that Rana Creek is. Everything is top shelf and cared for in a big way. And that’s largely due to the manager.”
McDavid believes that whoever buys the property could leave an enduring legacy. He says, “A lot of people who buy these places want to feel as they enter retirement years that they not only have a place they can enjoy, create some memories with their families, but leave behind something that means something. You can leave somebody a stock portfolio, which is fine and good, but it’s a far cry from leaving something that your grandkids will someday own and maybe their grandkids will have memories there of being with you. And when you leave that behind, it’s more of a legacy than leaving behind a pile of cash.”
Explaining the attraction of huge ranches, McDavid says: “People are typically drawn to properties like this simply because of the breathing room. There are a lot of other things that fall under that, but at the end of the day, Earth is just getting more and more crowded. Population density is what it is.”
He adds, “People love privacy, especially those who are in the hustle and bustle and especially public figures. Perhaps more than anyone, public figures love to have that kind of privacy built in so they can do what they want without having to worry about paparazzi or whatever. So that’s the number one thing beyond that there are differences among buyers. Some people want to buy a place like this because they just like riding a horse. Other people really like to hunt or hike or ride their mountain bike or do it all. In the case of the Rocky Mountains, some people like the winter activities. Of course, you’re not going to do that in Carmel. I would say that’s why these properties have kept us in business for as long as we’ve been in business. And now with COVID-19, it just makes it all the more attractive for obvious reasons.”
To get across his point on how vast the ranch is, McDavid explains: “I was talking to Mike yesterday, and he was telling me a story about how soon after he and wife bought the property, he jumped in the station wagon and drove it all the way to the top of the ranch where you can see the ocean from there. And then it started to get dark, and they started heading back down and had trouble getting through the gates. He quickly realized that he was lost on his own property. Mike told me that if anyone wants to know how big the ranch is, you can tell them it’s big enough to get lost on your own property.”