Do you ever feel the need to break away from the routine, step back in time, soak in the beauty of the land,or to just get remote without sacrificing any comforts? Montana may be the perfect place for escapism, for cleansing the soul, for reconnecting, and recharging.
I have had the privilege this week of being a guest at The Ranch at Rock Creek where I gazed at Montana’s infinite blue sky, gulped lung-fulls of the freshest air, and hiked, rode and biked over her rolling, suede-covered mountains. The Ranch at Rock Creek is the only Forbes 5 Star Guest Ranch and is a member of prestigious Relais & Chateaux, but most importantly, she is a slice of western paradise. Ideal for a romantic escape, the most perfect family reunion, a guys or girls trip, or simply best-family-trip-ever!
A stay here feels warm, discreet, privileged, relaxed, and incredibly fulfilling! The design alone is reminiscent of an 1800s mining town outpost with authentic and tastefully appointed lodge rooms, cabins, homes and canvas tents – each accommodation is different and each is special, so let us discuss your particular needs so I can best guide you.
As with any Relais & Chateaux property, food and beverage is taken very seriously, and for those who follow my blogs and travel recommendations, they know that I only stay places where the palate is nourished, surprised and delighted. Chef Josh delivers from morning breakfast, to picnic lunches, to barbecues and 5 course tasting menus for dinner. Even the cocktail appetizer plate, is a yummy treat. But don’t worry, everything is healthful, carefully sourced, and proportioned in a way to make you feel indulged but not over-done. That said, it is up to you if you visit the freshly baked chocolate chip cookie platter more than once each afternoon!
The Ranch’s “Big Three” are fly-fishing, horseback riding, and shooting, but mountain biking and hiking are also hot pursuits. The archery range and ropes course, are truly the best I have ever seen – nothing is an after thought, right down to tons of discussion on the absolute best place to build each entity. In the winter time, the ranch is truly a wonderland complete with snow shoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and nearby a downhill ski mountain with absolutely no lines.
Everything is included at the ranch. Yes, the pricing may make your eyes pop but only for a second; remember ALL activities, including top of the line equipment and guides, are included. Forget gloves, cowboy boots, rain gear – don’t worry, they got it covered! All of your super meals and snacks, including in tent/cabin/house honor bar, waters, premium wines, spirits, beers. I have stayed at other guest ranches and believe me, you won’t leave here wishing you had spent less somewhere else!
At night time, the fun really gets going in what I deem every ones dream game room – The Silver Dollar Saloon. Saddle up to the bar, play some pool, enjoy a round on the 4-lane bowling alley, let the kids do dinner and a movie in the screening room. This is where the heart of the ranch comes alive. You may have come alone on this trip, but you are sure to make friends at the saloon.
The ranch is at perfect occupancy with about 95 guests, so on 6,600 acres, you can imagine, it is serene but there is always a gathering spot that brings everyone together. There is something about a ranch retreat that makes everyone feel and behave human again – guests were from New York, LA, the Midwest, the Deep South, and all in between – couples, a celebrity wedding couple, a girl friend’s group, and families playing and reconnecting with their kids. People relax, talk, smile – nothing is contrived and you get what you want from the experience but it is clear, we have arrived to our own personal special. I saw some families really enjoying time with each other. Nothing says family like a 4-mile down hill race on a single-track cycling course, a friendly competition on one of the many rifle, pistol, and shotgun ranges, a game of paintball, horseback riding through the mountains on one of the stunning 77 ranch horses!
I opted for some “me” time this morning and did a solo 6 mile hike up to the “Top of the World”. I hear the ranch will hold yoga up here for guests that request it – would be very cool to do – but I certainly found my own peace of mind just making my own way. Stunning! (My blogs are all always done with iPhone images and the view can just not be captured here but I hope you can imagine!)
The time, thought, and money to make the experience authentic, western, Montana and so true to the period when this area prospered is evident. Every building, every furnishing, piece of art, the land, fences, and even the spa, retail shop, and lovely but discreet pool. Guests are encouraged to use the bikes to cruise around the property and I loved racing my son on the bridge over the river back to Camp Roosevelt where our canvas tent was located. Sleeping is a dream as the fall temperature drops from the sunny high of 60 to the overnight low of 30 – we are snuggled in a supremely comfortable bed with a huge down comforter and two hot burning stoves that give off warmth and a gentle hue of ember through the night. The family tents are charming with a king bed in the main room and two twins in the secondary room. All accommodations have en-suite bathrooms but the original bathhouses also exist in case you want some extra space and send the kids out for a shower in your tent’s designated bath house.
Everyone at the ranch has multiple roles and are glad to give you a lift, serve you a glass of sauvignon blanc or arrange for an extra fly fishing session before the suns goes down. The team loves to show off as many venues for meals as they can during your stay – in addition to the main dining room, some meals are served al fresco around the fire pits, in the incredible barn, even at the top of the world if requested. The team is there to please. The place is absolutely spotless, and ironically, I still have yet to spot a housekeeper. How do they do it!?
Ranch at Rock Creek is expensive, but most definitely worth it. And at the end of day, knowing you are paying for the entire expense on the front end only rewards your experience while on property in priceless ways! Summer is peak and fabulous, but frankly I can’t imagine a more wonderful place to spend Thanksgiving or a long winter weekend. Perhaps the best time of all may be right now – Fall – it is dry, and crisp, the colors are radiant, and the snows have not yet arrived, all is quiet and all is well!