Sandwiched between the borders of West Yellowstone and Big Sky, the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch is a rustic collection of log cabins and stables cradled in a valley of the Rocky Mountains. It’s here one finds Kameron Kelsey, the third-generation steward of the 9QC. The Kelsey family pride themselves on their adherence to tradition, as the ranch exists in something of a time warp, its practices mostly unchanged over the past 70 years.
Due to the high elevation of the ranch, weather during the winter months is exceptionally perilous. Every fall, the ranch’s horses are taken down to a lower elevation pasture to live out the cold months in more favorable conditions. Each June, come rain or shine, the Kelseys, along with a group of a dozen or so wranglers, family, and friends, come together to push the herd 20 plus miles back up to the ranch, in a near sacred ritual they dub “The Round Up”. Of all the 9QC practices, this one is perhaps the most antiquated, and is the one the Kelsey family are most proud to preserve. It’s an exhaustive three-day marathon, one that takes them across a variety of terrain.
Would it be simpler to gather the animals and truck them up to the ranch? Absolutely, but this isn’t about being easy. It’s about holding onto tradition.