The Ranch at Rock Creek

Sample Itinerary—Summer Adventure

Curated exclusively for National Geographic

Encounter the spirit of old Montana at a working cattle ranch in the Rockies. Spend your day with top-notch guides, fly-fishing in cool mountain streams teeming with trout, or riding horseback through the hills. Hike or mountain bike on empty trails, or test your skills with a bow and arrow. Back at the lodge, enjoy world-class meals, live music at the saloon, and—in summers—the weekly rodeo.

Your experience at the lodge will be tailored to your interests. The sample itinerary below was designed for National Geographic travelers and can be customized as you wish. Some experiences featured in this itinerary incur an additional cost.

Highlights

  • Join a ranch ambassador on a private excursion by foot or Jeep to one of the highest peaks on the property, and enjoy refreshments at the top with a view of the Rockies (National Geographic Exclusive).
  • Immerse yourself in the Montana wilderness while fly-fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, or enjoying a session of mountaintop yoga.
  • Cheer on the cowboys and cowgirls at a rodeo held on the lodge grounds (summer only).
  • Experience frontier life as you challenge yourself on the ropes course and work on your aim at the lodge’s sporting clays, pistol range, and 3-D archery course.

Day 1—Arrive Western Montana Wilderness

Upon arrival, enjoy a farm-to-table lunch, followed by an afternoon of testing your aim at the lodge’s sporting clays. This evening, mingle with fellow travelers over craft cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, then sit down to a chef’s tasting menu.

Day 2—Big Sky High

Kickstart the day with a private excursion to one of The Ranch’s highest peaks with a ranch ambassador. Drive or hike to a scenic overlook, where you’ll sit down to a delicious picnic breakfast as you watch the sun rise over the Rockies. Hear the history of the local homesteaders and surrounding area along the way. Return to the lodge for a fly-fishing primer, and learn casting techniques at the lodge’s spring-fed ponds stocked with cutthroat and brown trout. After lunch, saddle up and head out on a trail ride through sagebrush flats (kids stay back for pony rides). Later, convene for lawn games and pre-dinner refreshments, and embrace the Wild West spirit with dinner prepared on a wood-fire grill, followed by a barn dance.

Day 3—Learn the Ropes

Enjoy a fireside breakfast in the rustic open-air canteen, then spend the morning tackling the ropes course. Take in vistas of the Sapphire Mountains from atop 13 elevated ropes elements that include zip lines, rope bridges, and other airborne challenges. After lunch, get fitted for a suspension mountain bike and helmet, then ride a shuttle to the top of a 1,000-foot descent for a thrilling downhill ride. This evening, step into the frontier days with a grounds tour on an original, restored Wells Fargo stagecoach pulled by two Belgian mares. Savor dinner cooked in a Dutch oven over a wood fire—a cooking technique the chef has been perfecting since his childhood in Alaska.

Day 4—Equine Excursions

After breakfast, head out on horseback to explore The Ranch’s 6,600 acres and miles of trails, ranging from flat creek-side trails for beginners to rolling pine trails and treks to peaks for more advanced riders. This afternoon, enhance your riding skills with a family arena lesson with The Ranch’s experienced wranglers, then head out on a hike in search of The Ranch’s abundant wildlife. Swap sightings and stories with fellow travelers over cocktails, and sample the bounty of western Montana’s ranches and farms with the chef’s tasting menu.

Day 5—Cowboy Culture

Set out on an optional guided tour of the historic mining town of Philipsburg (additional cost applies). Explore its restored main street and sample local beers with a brewmaster. Continue your explorations in the ghost town of Granite, which thrived during the 1890s silver boom. Return to the lodge for lunch, then pull on some waders and head into Rock Creek for an afternoon of (catch-and-release) fly-fishing with an expert guide. This evening, head down to The Ranch’s arena and grab a hay bale to watch the weekly rodeo. Snack on roasted peanuts and Flathead cherries, and sip beer or soda while you take in the raucous scene, then join the cowboys and cowgirls for a barbecue dinner in the barn.

Day 6—Home on the Range

After breakfast, hit the trails on a horseback ride through pine forests and rhyolite outcroppings to Paradise Peak. This afternoon, channel the cowboys and outlaws of the Wild West as you learn to shoot at the covered pistol range, while kids join the trained staff of the Little Grizzlies Kids Club on a guided nature hike to learn about eagles, moose, elk, deer, and other area wildlife. This evening, slip into the realm of 1900s Montana supper clubs, beginning with a cocktail and moving on to fresh fish, local cuts of meat, and other classic fare. Wind down the night with a bowling tournament in the convivial Silver Dollar Saloon.

Day 7—Wade All Day

Enjoy breakfast in the open-air canteen, then wade into shimmering Rock Creek to spend the morning casting for trout. After lunch, send the kids on a geocaching adventure with the Little Grizzlies Kids Club while you go for a dip in the pool or relax at the spa (additional cost applies). This evening, sit down to an alfresco meal fresh from the chef’s grill, and linger on the flagstone with s’mores around the bonfire.

Day 8—Wagon Wanderings/Depart

On your final morning at The Ranch, climb onto the horse-drawn wagon for a special breakfast ride through scenic meadows en route to picturesque Piney Pond, where a canvas glamping tent and kitchen await. Breakfast on cowboy coffee, biscuits and gravy, and Dutch oven delicacies as you soak up the idyllic surroundings. Back at The Ranch, get a taste of authentic Montana bow-hunting at the 3-D archery course, with foam animals stationed along a short hiking trail. Enjoy your final lunch at The Ranch before departing this afternoon.

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