Montana: A Rootin’ Tootin’ Good Time!

TRRC_AFLAGI have always wanted to go to Montana…land of “big skies,” meadows, mountains, moose, cowboys, and lupins. I am here to tell you that MT lived up to all expectations when I visited last month!

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My requirements were few: no sleeping bags, meals at group tables or motels. After MUCH research, the MT options I found were camping, motels, all-together-all-the-time-with-your-fellow-guests ranches or ritzy ranches. Guess which one I chose? Mimi’s Travel File decided on the Ranch at Rock Creek. Heaven!

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parts of the Ranch at Rock Creek look like a John Constable painting

My goal: to experience the West, albeit a fantasy version. Advice from Ranch staff: riding, roping and fishing are their most Western activities. Giddy up!

Riding and Wrangling

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The Ranch has 80 horses, so the instructors (aka, wranglers) have the luxury of assigning horses to riders based on experience. My ride was just me and my wrangler, versus a nose-to-tail ride in a group of fellow guests, as I have heard is the case at many a dude ranch.

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Every day at 4:30, the wranglers drive the horses from the lower pasture to the great, big, wide upper pasture, which is quite an exhilarating sight to see! The horses are so happy.

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The Ranch even provides lasso-ing lessons. So practical! So fun!

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To top all this Western-ness off, the Ranch has the ONLY Wells Fargo coach still in active use…albeit to provide rides to dudes like us around the 6,600-acre Ranch at Rock Creek.

Fishing

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Fly Fishing

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Our fly fishing instructor was such a good guide that my husband caught several fish quickly…thrilling! After our lesson, our guide went elk hunting…just kicking back after a day at work.

Glamping (that’s Glamor+Camping)

The Ranch’s maximum occupancy is 125 guests, spread out over 10 square miles. You can choose between four different styles of accommodations: nine suites in the Granite Lodge, 10 charming canvas cabins (see below), seven luxury homes and three Historic Barn accommodations.

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We stayed in this cabin/tent/cabin combo. The cabin on the front has a screened-in porch. The bedroom is in the attached tent. The bathroom is in the little cabin attached to the back of the tent.

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The inside of our tent/cabin: The potbelly stove is gas and set on a thermostat. So pretty to sleep with fireside flames lighting the room at night…not to mention, warm!

Nice Touch: Every night when we returned to our cabin, we found a small gift on our pillows left by housekeeping…one night it was a bandanna; the next a salted caramel; the next night we found a jar of gourmet salt.

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This sparkling creek runs in front of the glamping cabins.

What if You Aren’t Into Riding and Fishing? There’s always…

hiking, biking, shooting (sporting clays, skeet, and more), ATV-ing and in the summertime, pool-lounging and rodeo watching. Year-round, you could take a photography class or yoga, get a spa treatment or two, go bowling, peruse the Ranch’s bookshelves, and hit the little gift shop, a.k.a. the Mercantile (though not wildly tempting because they neglect to sell the charming decorative items sprinkled around the Ranch’s public rooms and bedrooms).

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Hiking the Ranch’s 6,600 acres

The Ranch’s naturalist drove us off-property, in search of moose, while educating us about the flora and fauna.

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“Don’t Fence Me In”

What Price Glory?

All of this wonderfulness doesn’t come cheaply, of course…but we felt it was worth it because our stay at the Ranch at Rock Creek was a unique experience. The Ranch is beautiful. The staff is genuinely friendly and knowledgeable about the land and various sports each teaches/guides. The food is pretty, copious and good, though not memorable. Drinks are part of the package, including decent champagnes—unless you want something really expensive, like Dom Perignon. And best: management cares about and protects its guests’ privacy.

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Of Note: One staffer told us that the Kardashians had wanted to come stay at the Ranch with their camera crew. Management turned them down because they thought Kardashian & Co. would be too disruptive for the other guests. Love it!

When to go? Summertime is busiest and winter is least busy, and the seasons are priced accordingly. Our early fall visit was spectacular and the Ranch was at 33% occupancy.

Literary Traveling Companions

“Lonesome Dove,” by Larry McMurty and “The Best of the West, An Anthology of Classic Writing from the American West,” edited by Tony Hillerman

Git Along, Little Dogies!

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4 thoughts on “Montana: A Rootin’ Tootin’ Good Time!

    • Hey, Leenda—Glad you liked it! The drive from the Missoula airport to the Ranch is 1.5 hours. The transfer from the airport to the Ranch is included in the all-inclusive price of your room. Hope you giddy up to MT soon! xo, Mimi

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