The Padlock Ranch is located on 475,000 acres straddling the Montana and Wyoming state line. Our location between the Big Horn Mountains and the mixed prairies of eastern Montana and Wyoming. Elevations across the property range from 3500 to 10000 feet enabling visitors to experience an unparalleled range of plants, animals and landscapes.
The Audubon Society recognizes Padlock as an important bird area. The ranch is a part of a global network of places recognized for outstanding value to bird conservation. In addition, three conservation easements have been donated to the Wyoming Stockgrower's Agriculture Land Trust protecting the land from further development.
It is hard to describe in words the vast differences in landscapes that can be seen on the Padlock. That is the main reason we have devoted so much of our web site to photographs. The Big Horns are basically the western boundary. This is national forest land. It is made up of timber, mountain streams and mountain meadows. We have grazing permits so some of our cattle are in the Big Horns. When you drop off the Big Horns, you reach the valley floor around Dayton and the Padlock Headquarters. Most of the farming operation and the feedlot are located near the headquarters.
The North End Unit begins at Custer Battlefield and runs to the north and east. This unit is composed of about 140,000 acres and is mostly open grasslands. There are some timbered patches and the highest elevation is in the Castle Rock pasture, which has a rock feature that is often the prominent landmark in the area. This unit is entirely on the Crow Indian Reservation.
The South End Unit is similar in size to the North End but is different because the Wolf Mountains run down the center of the unit. Annual moisture is about 18 inches close to the Wolf's, which is about five inches more than average for the area. There is timber on the Wolf's and grasslands on either side of the summits. Moisture begins to diminish as you reach the eastern side of the unit where the country changes from lush grassland to more arid land. About 75% of this unit is on the Crow Indian Reservation. The lodge is located on the southerly side of this unit.
The Forks Unit lies further to the east and straddles the State line. This land is comprised of open grasslands with sagebrush. Streams are almost non-existent here and wells are the main source of stock water. There is a resident herd of about 1000 cows here. In the winter, we move about 4000 head out there to winter graze. This is our most isolated unit. It is about sixty miles to Sheridan from the Forks headquarters.