Big Blue Sky (and Zan) at the Ranch at Rock Creek in March
With Memorial Day behind us, we’re currently in the thick of summer travel plans (and the hassles that go along with them). I’ve got be honest– I much prefer shoulder season travel to summer. My husband and I don’t have children (or their various school schedules to take into account when making our vacation plans) and so many summer hot spots– including Montana– have benefits and charm that come with non-peak tourist season.
Scenes from Montana in March
When I got invited to visit the Ranch at Rock Creek in March I was really excited to visit one of my favorite summer destinations- Montana- during a time of the year I’d never been. And truth be told– I loved it. The Ranch at Rock Creek has a high staff to guest ratio and the personalized service couldn’t have been better.
Snow in March in Montana
While fun in the sun is what most people look for in a Spring Break destination, there’s something to be said for a little weather, too. There were true spring sunshine-y days, another filled with “wintry mix” but the evenings were cozy around the fire and all the families that were at the resort seemed to be having fun and enjoying braving the elements together.
This hot tub looked highly inviting on a sunny March morning in Montana
Left: Signage above the Ranch at Creek Right: Moose House
The interior of Sweet Grass Tent
March is probably not the best time to sleep under canvas in Montana, but it’s a perfect time to stay in one of the Ranch’s private loghomes. We stayed in Cattail Cabin– a two bedroom cabin with two masters that works perfect for couples traveling together. In my case, my husband and I were in one room and my BFF, Zan, and her dog, Sally, stayed in the second master. We had a great time on our spring glamping adventure.
The lobby of the Granite Lodge
This was Zan’s first trip to Montana, and her first glamping adventure. She described it as, “when you go camping you’re miserable, but when you go glamping you have fun.” We definitely had fun. With the Silver Dollar Saloon, a three lane bowling alley and The Granite Spa on property we had a lot of options of where to hang out. Three days wasn’t nearly enough time to take advantage of all the other activities available.
Grilled cheese & tomato soup: perfect comfort food for March in Montana
I talked to many of the staff members during my stay at the resort, and they confessed that not all shoulder season is created equal. April seemed to be the least favorite month among the staff members I spoke to, mostly because the nearby Discovery Ski Area in Philipsburg is closed, and the weather isn’t predictable enough to be fully committed to outdoor activities. October seemed like a favorite month too.
Left: Pintler range kale salad Right: veggie burger for lunch
Any time of the year you visit the Ranch at Rock Creek you’ll be well fed. Chef Josh Drage uses a lot of local produce and protein for his daily menus. He told me he was thrilled that foodies got hip to kale since it grows like a weed in Montana. Between the fresh baked cookies and Missoula Mules (served in copper mugs), we were grateful there was a fitness center on property. Zan borrowed her yoga mat for the entire stay and used it in our cabin.
The Rock Creek Ranch Syrah was impressive
The Staff at the Rod & Gun Club had no problem helping us arrange activities– including sporting clays, which were fun and challenging. It was nice to take horseback ride on a snowy morning with cowboy Joe, a former rodeo star. I’m not sure I would have gotten to hear as many of his entertaining stories if my stay was during maximum occupancy.
Pool table in the Silver Dollar Saloon
Saddle Seats at the Silver Dollar Saloon
Bluebird Cabin Exterior
The Ranch at Rock Creek has a wide range of accommodations– from hotel rooms in the Granite Lodge to multi-bedroom homes that could sleep 10 people. There are also some canvas glamping tents available during the summer season. Cattail worked great for us, with a full kitchen, a cozy living room, two master baths (complete with chandeliers over the claw foot bath tubs) and a fireplace that was easy to light at night.
Zan and Sally touring a log cabin at the Ranch at Rock Creek
Detailed decor doesn’t let you forget where you are: Montana
The Bedroom of Trapper
Interior shots of the Rod & Gun Club
Sally didn’t mind that they didn’t have cowboy boots in her size
Left: Zan Goofing around inside Bluebird Cabin Right: Zan’s first time at Sporting Clays
Zan and Sally agree: March in Montana can be delightful
A snowy last morning outside the Granite Lodge
Farm Fresh scramble with organic spinach and Birdman toast
Left: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes were yum Right: An omelette with bison sausage
Pacific Northwest Steelhead Salmon, Beluga lentils and Fiddlehead ferns came as room service
After spending the day in Philipsburg, where we toured the local brewery and candy store, we were in a bit of sugar coma and feeling lazy about dinner… and were thinking about skipping it. But as a Relais & Chateaux property, The Ranch at Rock Creek doesn’t really let you get away with skipping meals.
Apple Crisp with Nutmeg Ice Cream
We asked for dinner to delivered to our cabin. It came room service style and while we swore we were only going to have a bite or three, it was delicious and hard to stop eating. Especially the apple crisp, served in personal sized cast iron skillet with homemade nutmeg ice cream.
Blue Sky and barn at the Ranch at Rock Creek
Left: Saddles in the tack Room Right: Zan and a stagecoach
Cowboy Joe getting horses ready for a ride
Since the Ranch wasn’t 100% booked, it was easy to get activities scheduled at our preferred times and personalized service. Cowboy Joe led us on a horseback ride near the river, and the gentle snowfall was nicely atmospheric.
Snowy ground cover made for an atmospheric horseback ride
Zan and can lead a horse to water and make it drink
Cattail Cabin’s fireplace at night.
You can read more detailed trip reports of my stay at the Ranch at Rock Creek on the Glamping.com Blog:
First day at the Ranch at Rock Creek
First Night and Second Day at the Ranch at Rock Creek
Third Day at the Ranch at Rock Creek
Left: Night lights in Montana Right: Returning to Cattail Cabin after dark
Zan, a local jackalope, and me at the White Front Bar in Philipsburg
Rates in shoulder season are typically lower than peak summer season. At the Ranch at Rock Creek October rates start at $850.00 per person per night. All rates include full board with breakfast, lunch & dinner in the Granite Lodge and/or the Blue Canteen. Also included are all wines and drinks during meals from The Ranch wine list or in the Silver Dollar Saloon.
Rates include the following activities:
-Horseback riding: trail rides, arena lessons
-Fly fishing: Rock Creek & trout ponds
-Shooting: sporting clays/shotgun, rifle & pistol,
cowboy & skeet shooting
-Little Grizzlies Kid’s Club
-Outdoor swimming pool & hot tub
-Ice fishing (upon availability)
-Entertainment in the Silver Dollar Saloon:
bowling, billiards, shuffleboard, movie cinema &
The Ranch at Rock Creek
79 Carriage House Lane
Philipsburg, Montana 59858
Much thanks the staff at Ranch at Rock Creek for hosting my stay. Without them this post would not be possible.