Posts Tagged ‘things to do in Montana’

Exploring Montana: A Stay at the Ranch at Rock Creek with Dogs

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Horsing around at the Ranch at Rock Creek

I’m a big fan of Montana and try to visit the Treasure State as often as I can. Last month my husband made a repeat visit to The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg and this time we took our two Labrador Retrievers with us.

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Wildfires in the area made the Montana skies less picturesque than usual

There is a huge difference between properties that tolerate pets and those that are truly pet-friendly. The Ranch at Rock Creek is the latter. While the resort does charge a pet fee of $50 a pet per night, it’s totally worth it to be able to wander the Ranch and hang out at the bar with your dogs. Our labs weren’t the only dogs on the property. They made a few friends including an extremely friendly Golden Doodle named Tex and Flint, a black lab who lives at the RRC.

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Charming porch outside Eagle’s Perch

Wildfires have been a big problem in the west this year, and Montana had a lot of them during the time we visited. This gave the air a constant chargrilled scent and the skies a bazaar cast that made it look they had a sunset filter on from sun up to sun down. But that didn’t hamper the three days of fun we had at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

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Morning view of the Welcome Pond

The Ranch provided pick up and transportation for us (and our two labradors) from the airport to the property. The nearest major airport is Missoula, which is approximately 90 minutes by car. We arrived at the Ranch in time for lunch, which we enjoyed outdoors since the fall weather was still warm enough to dine outside. Lunch was delicious, as the RRC is an all-inclusive property as well as the world’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star ranch.

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Supermodel Horse

We wanted to stay in the Loft of the Historic Barn because the room stood out during our last trip to the Ranch. It was very nicely situated close to the Barn and the Rod & Gun Club which were the staging area where most of our activities started.

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The western chic bathroom in the Loft of the Historic Barn

You never go hungry at the Ranch at Rock Creek. It’s a Relais & Châteaux property and chef Chef Josh Drage’s food program keeps getting better. The day started with morning coffee in the Granite Lodge and breakfast a bit later. Our dogs enjoyed joining us for Social Hour with Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres at 5 pm.

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Grilled steak salad in the Granite Lodge

Breakfast and lunch are served in the Granite Lodge, and for dinner they mixed things up. One night we had a great BBQ. We also enjoyed long trail ride followed by a picnic lunch at The Top of the World, the highest viewpoint of the ranch. Normally the Top of the World is is known for it’s stunning views of Big Sky Country. The views were hampered by the smoky air but we still enjoyed the experience, complete with homemade lemonade and locally brewed beer.

Fun fact: Montana is #2 in number of microbreweries per capita (only Oregon has more)

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Ribeye and Zeppelin enjoying Montana life

We took a lot of long walks around the property because the the dogs really enjoyed roaming and running and playing in the creek (which was pretty shallow this time of the year). RRC has hired naturalists on staff to help show you around the property, and we loved loved it.

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Girl goats at the barn

My younger lab, Ribeye was less charmed by the three goats who roamed the grounds. They were friendly but he’s definitely not a fan.

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Dog day afternoon at the Ranch at Rock Creek

We like to get on horses in Montana and took daily trail rides. My husband especially enjoyed the shooting sports raving about the pistols and rifle range.

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Getting ready for a trail ride

I passed on the guns and hung out at the bar where the bartender made a great margarita and delicious Montana Mule served up in a copper mug made from locally mined copper from nearby Butte.

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trail riding fun

We were even given two Ranch at Rock Creek copper mugs as a welcome amenity.

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Scene from a trail ride

The staff at the Ranch at Rock Creek is great and laundry service was speedy (riding clothes get dusty quick). The barn even has quite an array of loaner boots in case you forgot a pair that is suitable for riding.

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Obligatory cow photo

During the summer months, the Ranch at Rock Creek has a rodeo on the property. Riding lessons can also take place in the ranch’s arena.

 

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Good to go trail riding

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Left: Montana Craft Beer Right: Smoky views at the Top of the World

The dogs were sad when our three day stay at the ranch came to an end. I hope to bring them back during another season, since winter and summer have different experiences to offer.

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Morning ride

The Ranch at Rock Creek is also a popular spot for corporate retreats, destination weddings, and family reunions since it has lots to offer in a fun yet luxurious atmosphere and can accommodate 125 guests.

 

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targets from the shooting activities 

In the winter, there is even an ice skating pond complete with a warming hut. I’d love to spend the holidays here!

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Creek Crossing

The RRC is constantly improving and upgrading. The property is closed from late mid- January to mid-February and this is when some of the improvements happen. We heard a new Rod & Gun Club in is the works.

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Left: BBQ goodness Right: Grilled veggies and ribs

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Spicy beans

We had so much fun at the Ranch at Rock Creek. Our dogs did too. The staff was even helpful locating a hose so we could rinse off our dogs after a particularly dust-filled day of exploring.

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Flint, the ranch dog, joined Zeppelin and Ribeye for a game of fetch

The other guests at the Ranch at Rock Creek are also cool. We socialized over cocktails and everyone had interesting tales from their day of adventure.

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Zeppelin on the wagon

 

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Left: Ribeye enjoying nature Right: Zeppelin on the go

It was pure joy watching our labs play in the creek and run free at the ranch. They don’t have this kind of freedom at home in Seattle.

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Zeppelin and Ribeye enjoying Rock Creek

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Smoky mid-day sun at the Ranch at Rock Creek

My trip to the Ranch at Rock Creek was booked through Linda Clark of Lake Forest Travel Bureau. You can reach her via the email below.

linda@lakeforesttravel.com

(All inclusive rates at the Ranch at Rock Creek begin at $900)

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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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