Posts Tagged ‘Montana’

A Pet Friendly Stay at The Resort at Paws Up in Montana

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Scarlet goes glamping at the Resort at Paws Up

If you have a dog that you think of as a furry family member and have ever tried to take it on your family vacation, you’ve probably learned that the term “pet friendly” does not necessarily mean “pets welcome.” Sometimes the the reality of traveling with your pet means getting the worst room in the hotel, which smells like a kennel, and the harsh realization that there is a huge difference between hotels that are merely “pet tolerant” and those that truly welcome them.

Thankfully there are also true pet friendly resorts where your dog is not only included, but appreciated. The Resort at Paws Up is the real deal. Pet friendly means just that. The staff is welcoming and enjoys having your dog along on your western adventure. This is one of the reasons I chose Paws Up for my recent family vacation to Montana.

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Garnet Ghost Town is an easy drive from The Resort at Paws Up

After my first visit to The Resort at Paws Up three years ago, I knew I’d be coming back. I spent many childhood summers in Montana and still love it to this day. Paws Up is such a great destination. It’s an easy 45 minute drive from the Missoula airport (and airport transfers are included in the rates). There is so much to do at Paws Up– you can try sleeping under canvas in the luxury glamping tents or checking out the unique and memorable activities the resort offers. Where else can you ride a horse on a cattle drive?

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Glimmerstone

At Paws Up, guest with pets must stay in the Luxury Homes instead of the Glamping Tents. The Big Timber home we rented, Glimmerstone, worked perfectly for our group of four adults, three teenagers, and two dogs. We were visiting during a heat wave and the reliable air conditioning was a real bonus. Our house also had a tent on the property, which we used during our stay.

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The tent in the yard at Glimmerstone

I was surprised that my nephews, all experienced scouting types, preferred to sleep in the posh comfort of the loft beds instead of the tent. They had two weeks of tents in their future at summer camp and had no problems with sleeping in a luxury cabin. My brother and sister-in-law spent a night in the on-site tent.

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A living room in one of the Luxury Homes at Paws Up

My dogs, Scarlet and Zeppelin, enjoyed being ranch dogs during our stay at Paws Up. They joined us on the patio for breakfast and lunch everyday at Trough and the staff was always quick to greet them and make sure they had a bowl of water. I felt the staff was warm and welcoming to them. A few even offered up belly rubs.

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Montana style French toast

Traveling with three teenage boys was definitely different for me. I was blown away by how much they can eat. My nephews, beanpoles all of them, can easily put away French Toast for breakfast and be ready for a buffalo burger a few hours later for lunch. Dinner, including dessert, was enjoyed by all. Paws Up’s rates include full breakfast, lunch and dinner for all guests. We only paid extra for alcoholic beverages and guided activities.

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The adults enjoyed the great margaritas at Tank

Some of my must have travel gear for pets
I have two 60 pound  labs and when they travel with me I always bring the following supplies:
This soft cover canvas crate is easy to break down and assemble. It stores flat and easily slips behind the drivers seat in my car for road trips. They come in a range of sizes for dogs weighing 10 – 70 pounds. My labs each have a 36 inch version.
Made of waxed canvas, this collapsable water bowl is a must for travel as well as hikes with my dogs. I always keep one in my car.
My touchless poop scoop of choice.

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My view from the cattle drive at Paws Up

The Cattle Drive was one of the highlights of our family vacation. It was fun to enjoy the gorgeous Montana scenery while learning how to round up and sort cows instead of taking a nose-to-tail horseback ride. We lucked out and were the only people on our cattle drive… and we kind of sucked.

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Left: sorting cattle Right: moving the heads of cattle

We lost six cows along the ways, which was funny, memorable, and made the activity seem all the more real.

Cows and Montana Scenery on the Cattle Drive

The Chuck Wagon dinner was another crowd pleaser.

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Scarlet and Zeppelin were big fans of the Chuck Wagon dinner

Draft horses Pete and Re-Pete driving us to the Chuck Wagon Dinner

While meat grilled in the open air is an eternal summer favorite, Dutch oven master Cee Dub was in residence during our stay and made a killer brisket at the Chuck Wagon.

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Left: Cee Dub’s amazing brisket Right: Tomahawk steaks on the grill.

We felt the need to taste it all, including the tomahawk steak. No one went hungry on this trip. We made sure to check out Cee Dub’s Dutch oven frittata at breakfast the next day.

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Cee Dub and the cowboy poets at the Chuck Wagon Dinner

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Scarlet and Zeppelin enjoyed sniffing around the banks of the Blackfoot River 

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Gorgeous Montana skies on the Clark Fork river

Paws Up offers tons of options for activities. We opted for whitewater adventure through the Alberton Gorge on the Clark Fork river during this trip, which was a perfect choice since our visit coincided with a heatwave. You can read more about our rafting trip in this post.

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Misty Montana morning at Glimmerstone

We also explored nearby Garnet Ghost Town. My nephews had no problem heading to the brand Wilderness Outpost activities center to check out the archery set up.

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Gorgeous scenery at River Camp

Every time I return to Paws Up there is something new. This trip I was impressed by the Paws Up app, which made communicating with the staff easy to do from my smart phone. It was really useful for making requests and communicating with the staff during our stay. I was a little bit sad when I deleted it from my iPhone after my vacation.

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The sunrise view from Glimmerstone

The thank you card I got from my brother, sister-in-law and nephews after the trip further convinced me that Paws Up was a great choice for our family vacation. A good time was had by all, and my nephews were already missing waking up to the fresh pine scent and drinking huckleberry lemonade.

The Resort at Paws Up

40060 Paws Up Road
Greenough, MT 59823
Toll Free: 877-588-7151
Int’l/Local: 406-244-5200
Fax: 800-473-0687
theresort@pawsup.com

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Rafting the Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork River in Montana

 

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Rapids on the Clark Fork River (photo credit:  Mike Malament of Montana River Photography)

I recently went to Montana on a family vacation in honor of my nephew’s graduation. My family has a long history of summer rafting trips, and I thought it would be fun to continue the tradition with my brother and his family, including my three awesome nephews.

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Kevin, my raft trip guide

My nephews are Boy Scouts and outdoors types, so we picked a full day rafting whitewater rafting adventure through the Alberton Gorge on the Clark Fork River near Missoula.

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Kevin in action on the Clark Fork River

The trip was a good combination of gorgeous scenery, peaceful floating, and class III+ rapids.

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A day on the Clark Fork River

Raft technology has improved greatly since the summers of my youth when you had to manually bail out the rafts. Now they are smaller, more mobile and self-draining. This made the whole experience pleasant.

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Montana’s Big Skies

About halfway through our trip, we stopped at Split Rock Beach for a nice lunch spread set up by our guides, Kevin and Jake.

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Scenic smooth water on Montana’s Clark Fork River

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My brother and I shared a raft, just like old times

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Split Rock Beach: A lovely spot for lunch

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Human mountain goats

Record warm temps made the Clark Fork River perfect for swimming. We spent a bit of time jumping off this this rock into the river.

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Rock climbing in the Alberton Gorge GIF.

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Left: Kevin led the way up the rocks Right: My nephew jumping into the Clark Fork River

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My nephew Reese has mad rock building skills

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Rockitecture on the Clark Fork River

Paddling a raft while photographing can be challenging. Fortunately, Mike Malament of Montana River Photo has a set up to photograph some of the best rapids of the day.

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Awesome rapid splashiness (photo credit: Mike Malament/Montana River Photo)

Our whitewater rafting trip ending mid-afternoon, just as temperatures were getting uncomfortably hot. We were craving a beer. Our trusty river guides Kevin and Jake suggested we stop at Big Sky Brewing Company‘s Tasting Room, which had free samples.

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Missoula’s Big Dipper Ice Cream made for the perfect ending to the day

Jake suggested we stop at Big Dipper Ice Cream in Missoula before heading back to Paws Up. After a cold adult beverage, ice cream was a good call for the kids.

My Clark Fork Raft Trip was arranged by the concierge staff at Paws Up.

The Resort at Paws Up

40060 Paws Up Road
Greenough, MT 59823
Toll Free: 877-588-7151
Int’l/Local: 406-244-5200
Fax: 800-473-0687
theresort@pawsup.com

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The Beauty of Garnet Ghost Town, Montana: a Photo Essay

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A cobblers station in Davey’s General Store

Montana’s best known treasures are it’s two National Parks, Glacier and Yellowstone. But the well-preserved ghost town of Garnet, Montana is one of the state’s biggest lesser-known gems.

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Tall grass in front of one of Garnet’s outhouses

Located in Granite County, Garnet is beautiful and not overrun with tourists. Unlike so many tourist attractions in the United States where rooms are often kept pristine behind plexiglass and rope, Garnet Ghost Town allows visitors to walk in into it’s abandoned buildings and wander pretty freely. The rooms that are unaccessible are cordoned off for obvious safety concerns.

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Garnet was built as a mining town in the 1890s

A thousand people once called Garnet home during the heyday of mining in the 1898. But the mining bubble burst and less than 200 people remained in Garnet in 1905.

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Left: Garnet’s old jail Right: a vista of Garnet’s historic district

You can still get a sense of what life was like by visiting the over 30 preserved buildings including the Wells Hotel, Kelly’s Bar, Davey’s General Store and the Blacksmith’s Shop.

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A vista spot near Garnet in the Lubrecht Experimental Forest

Garnet Ghost Town is a great place to discover the beauty of abandoned places. It’s accessible by car from late April until January. The gravel road and scenic ride to Garnet is also a big draw for ATVs, and mountain bikers.

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Left: Vintage bottles in Davey’s General Store Right: the former reception desk at Wells Hotel

In the winter, Garnet Ghost Town is a popular destination for snowmobilers and cross country skiers.

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Nothing feels more old timey than Prince Albert in a can

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Left: Ghost Town Kitchen Still Life Right: Vintage wooden skis in Davey’s General Store

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One of the decaying rooms in Well’s Hotel

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Left: A Victrola and peeling wallpaper at Wells Hotel Right: this chair was probably the epitome of comfort in the 1890’s

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Welcome to Montana’s Coolest Ghost Town: Garnet

Garnet Ghost Town

Admission price: $3 (per person over the age of 15)

Map and driving directions can be found here.

Bureau of Land Management
phone 406-329-3914
BLM_MT_Missoula_FO@Blm.gov
Summer: 9:00am – 5:00pm Inquire about winter hours.

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Montana Big Sky Cloud Lapse at The Resort at Paws Up

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A late summer sunset at Paws Up

Earlier this month I visited Montana with my family. In honor of my nephew’s graduation, we spent a few days at The Resort at Paws Up.

This summer has been very dry. The state banned fireworks on the 4th of July and wildfires were burning in Glacier National Park, which made Montana’s sunsets a bit less vivid than usual. The clouds, however, were fantastic!

Cloud Lapse at The Resort at Paws Up (shot on iPhone 6)

Summer sunsets in Montana are late. It was around 9:30 pm the evening I shot this one. I set up this time lapse on my iPhone 6 using the time time-lapse feature on the native camera. I clamped my iPhone to a fence behind the Pomp Restaurant using my In-Your-Face Viewbase and let the camera run while we were eating dinner.

I hope you enjoy the resulting cloud lapse. It’s a brief digital visit to my favorite resort in Big Sky Country.

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In Praise of Montana’s Shoulder Season: A Stay at Ranch at Rock Creek

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
-Archery
-Mountain Biking
-Hiking
-Paintball
-Little Grizzlies Kid’s Club
-Wildlife watching
-Stagecoach rides
-Horseshoes
-Outdoor swimming pool & hot tub
-Cross-Country skiing
-Ice fishing (upon availability)
-Snowshoeing
-Ice Skating
-Snowmobiling
-Snowcat Tours
-Sauna
-Entertainment in the Silver Dollar Saloon:
bowling, billiards, shuffleboard, movie cinema &
board games

The Ranch at Rock Creek
79 Carriage House Lane
Philipsburg, Montana 59858
877-786-1545

Much thanks the staff at Ranch at Rock Creek for hosting my stay. Without them this post would not be possible.

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