Tag Archives: Summer

A Weekend at Home in Augusta, Montana

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know by now that I’m a Montana girl through and through. I live here, love it here and my soul feels at home here. I currently live in one of the “big cities” of Montana and I have to tell you that while I love where I live, there’s no place like home. For me, home is a 2-hour drive over the mountains to a small town that sits along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front: Augusta.

Main Street, Montana.

Oh hi Augusta, Montana.

My family (which is big, wild and fun) is firmly entwined in the community of Augusta, Montana and each year I go home for one of the biggest weekends of the year—the Augusta American Legion Rodeo (which celebrated 80 years of rodeo this year)—to help my mom and dad at our family business, the general store that sits on Main Street. Plus, it’s not just the store that needs some attention during the weekend. I also work our family taco stand. Yep, you read that right. We have a taco stand that is only open one weekend each year. Years ago (as in 35+ years ago), my aunt started the stand when she was home for the summer and it’s an always-present staple during rodeo weekend. Growing up, I worked that taco stand every rodeo weekend and I’m kind of nostalgically happy that that tradition hasn’t changed. Sidenote: I didn’t get any photos of the taco stand or the delicious tacos we serve each year because the stand was insanely busy! 

Anyway, while we worked the entire weekend, it was one of the best weekends and visits home that I’ve had in a long time. Here’s a look at a weekend at home in Montana…

My mom was decked out and ready for the weekend. You can just call her "Cowgirl Sue."

My mom was decked out and ready for the weekend. You can just call her “Cowgirl Sue.”

The much loved and most demanding member of our family, the store.

The much loved and most demanding member of our family, the store.

Evening light lit up the store beautifully.

Evening light lit up the store beautifully.

Ready to ride.

Ready to ride.

The pick-up crew.

The pick-up crew.

Oh hey, cowboy.

Hey cowboy.

Taking in the view of the rodeo arena.

Taking in the view of the rodeo arena.

Night falls over Sawtooth Mountain. PS: this photo was taken at 10:06 p.m.

Night falls over Sawtooth Mountain. PS: this photo was taken at 10:06 p.m.

It was a good weekend.

Your turn: where does your soul feel the most at home?

xo,
TT

Meet Montana’s Best-Kept Secret: Bighorn Canyon

I’ve got a confession: while I’m a born and raised Montana girl who has spent extensive amounts of time traveling the state, there are still some places I’ve never been to. At the very top of my list: Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

Hello, you beautiful thing.

Hello, you beautiful thing.

I’d heard tales of this magical place from friends and family, but hadn’t had the opportunity to see it for myself. But that all changed earlier this month when my friend Nick (who lives in Billings, Montana) invited me down to his neck of the woods to spend a couple of days on a trip that would include a visit to my much-longed for love, Bighorn Canyon. Needless to say, I said yes to his invitation. After a night in Billings, we set off for Fort Smith and the Montana side of Bighorn Canyon (this recreation area is located in both Montana and Wyoming) for an afternoon on the canyon.

Here’s a look at our boat tour on Bighorn Canyon

Taking in the colorful walls on the north end of the canyon.

Taking in the colorful walls on the north end of the canyon.

Getting ready to jump on the boat.

Getting ready to jump on the boat.

Fishermen make their way to the dock.

Fishermen make their way to the dock.

In one word: stunning.

In one word: stunning.

The terrain here is almost other-worldly.

The terrain here is almost other-worldly.

After cruising in for about 5 miles, our boat captain took us down a small branch of the river to a campsite that is ONLY accessible by boat. Which, to me, is basically a dream come true.

Cutest campsite, perhaps ever.

Cutest campsite, perhaps ever.

More stunning topography.

More stunning topography.

The river still has some rising to do.

The river still has some rising to do.

This forest was a quiet oasis in Southeast Montana.

This forest was a quiet oasis in southeast Montana.

The water flowing into the river was so pure it was clear.

The water flowing into the river was so pure it was clear.

Our crew of boats, departing the campsite.

Our crew of boats, departing the campsite.

Happiness on Bighorn Canyon.

Happiness on Bighorn Canyon.

 

The views took my breath away.

The views took my breath away.

While I’m from the Rocky Mountain Front (or the “east side” as it’s commonly referred to) and now live in Western Montana, I have a genuine appreciation for the beauty of eastern and southeast Montana. I can blame it on my brothers playing 6-man football that caused me to drive all over the state growing up or the natural wanderlust that comes with exploring my massive home state, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the east side of the state.

Because the fact of the matter is this: southeast Montana is beautiful. And if you haven’t made it there yet, I recommend putting it on your travel list.

If you go:
-You can access the northern district of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area from Fort Smith, Montana and the southern district of the canyon from near Lovell, Wyoming.
-When visiting the canyon from the northern district, make a stop at Ok-A-Beh Marina just outside Fort Smith. The marina rents pontoon boats and is a great stop for food/beverage and fishing supplies.
-You can bring your own boat to recreate on the canyon and no special permit is needed. Read more on boating on Bighorn Canyon here.
Horseshoe Bend Marina (near Lovell) also has rentals and food/drink.

xo,
TT

Hello Glacier National Park (AKA for the Love, How is this Real Life)

Confession time: sometimes I wonder out loud to myself, “Is this real life?” Because you guys, I have to tell you that there are days where I legitimately wonder how in the world I’m in this exact spot at this exact moment to be able to experience this life.

This is my "REALLY LIFE?!" face. Or it's my "Don't cry because life really can be this good face." You decide.

This is my “REALLY LIFE?!” face. Or it’s my “I cannot believe this beautiful life” face. You decide. PS: sorry for this giant photo of me that’s currently staring you down from your computer/iPad/phone screen.

Take for example, a recent afternoon spent in Glacier National Park.

The view of our destination: Glacier National Park.

The view of our destination: Glacier National Park.

I was traveling with a group of friends and we had a few free hours to explore the Crown of the Continent. Since it was the first trip to Montana and Glacier Park for most of them, we did what any group should do: we took a red bus tour and boat tour.

Our chariot AKA one of the historic red buses that provide tours in Glacier National Park.

Our chariot AKA one of the historic red buses that provide tours in Glacier National Park.

A required photo stop: the west entrance into Glacier National Park. PS: I'm currently obsessed with these shirts from Montana Shirt Company.

A required photo stop: the west entrance into Glacier National Park. PS: I’m currently obsessed with these shirts from Montana Shirt Company.

After stopping to take in one of the best views in the world (Lake McDonald from Apgar Village), our red bus driver Glenn took us along the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Lake McDonald Lodge for a guided boat tour with Glacier Park Boat Company on the DeSmet—a historic wooden boat that calls the waters of Lake McDonald home. And for 45 blissful minutes we cruised the waters of the park while taking in snow-capped mountain peaks and learned about the history of the boat company and this region of the park from the boat’s captain.

This view never gets old.

This view never gets old.

Getting ready to board the DeSmet.

Getting ready to board the DeSmet.

See ya soon, Lake McDonald Lodge.

See ya soon, Lake McDonald Lodge.

Pro tip: if given the chance, always take a photo with a park ranger.

Pro tip: if given the chance, always take a photo with a park ranger.

This little lady is one of my favorite travel buddies.

This little lady is one of my favorite travel buddies.

I'll cruise with you any day, DeSmet.

I’ll cruise with you any day, DeSmet.

Showing our love for Glacier National Park.

Showing our love for Glacier National Park.

Needless to say, it was a good day.

xo,
TT

A Little Mayhem in Montana

Every once in a while, you meet someone, instantly click and know that this person is someone special. Take, for example, my friend Kristin (also known as Camels + Chocolate). She and I met several years ago on twitter when she was planning a western road trip with her husband, SVV. I weighed in with where they should go and what they should do and pretty soon, Kirstin and I were in Missoula having burgers at the Mo Club. Four years later and Kristin is still one of my favorite people.

Kristin and I in Glacier National Park.

Two twitter (and real-life) friends exploring Glacier National Park.

And as fate would have it, a little over a year ago, she introduced me to three of my new favorite people: Keith, Angie and “Mayhem” Keiser.
Sidenote: if you’re not familiar with the Keisers and Mayhem, be sure to check out Fashion by Mayhem. Long story short, Mayhem is known for making paper dresses and her mama Angie posts them on her instagram account. Mayhem also has a collection (that she designed when she was 4 years old!) with J. Crew. An added bonus: she’s adorable and hilarious. 

From the first time I chatted with Angie on the phone, I knew we’d be quick friends. Fast forward from there and this summer had the Keiser family in Montana, ready to make a week’s worth of memories in Big Sky Country. And the best news (for me anyway): I got to be their on-the-ground tour guide in Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

Mayhem brought me a present: a necklace she designed for her J. Crew collection.

Mayhem brought me a present: a necklace she designed for her J. Crew collection.

We spent a week playing in Glacier Country and soaking up as many Montana moments as possible. Their trip itinerary included two days at The Resort at Paws Up,  a stay in Missoula, a visit to the National Bison Range, a fun-filled day at Flathead Lake Lodge, playing in Whitefish and exploring Glacier National Park. But instead of just telling you about it, I thought it  would be better to show you.

Here’s a look at our Montana adventures…

My mini BFF and I at the antler pile at the National Bison Range.

My mini BFF and I at the antler pile at the National Bison Range.

Animal watching on the National Bison Range.

Animal watching on the National Bison Range.

This view of the Mission Mountains is perfection.

This view of the Mission Mountains is perfection.

Three photographers exploring Montana. Sidenote: the car was in park, off and not moving when this picture was taken.

Three photographers exploring Montana. Sidenote: the car was in park, off and not moving when this picture was taken. Safety first, people.

Watching the horses come in at Flathead Lake Lodge.

Watching the horses come in at Flathead Lake Lodge.

Mayhem trying her hand at bull riding. ;)

Mayhem trying her hand at bull riding. 😉

The views from Whitefish Mountain Resort never cease to amaze me.

The views from Whitefish Mountain Resort never cease to amaze me.

Riding the alpine slide at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Riding the alpine slide at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Mayhem and her mama cruising down the slide.

Mayhem and her mama cruising down the slide.

Two BFFs in Glacier National Park.

Two BFFs in Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park from the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Glacier National Park from the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

As always, "I want to see the mountains in your eyes."

Mountain reflections.

Taking in the view from just below Logan Pass.

Taking in the view from just below Logan Pass.

My favorite childhood destination: Glacier Park Lodge.

I introduced the Keisers to my favorite childhood destination: Glacier Park Lodge.

By the end of the week, I had three new friends and the cutest pint-sized BFF in the West. For this girl, it was a week I’ll always remember. If you want to see more of our week adventuring in Western Montana, just search #MayhemTakesMontana on instagram or twitter.

xo,
TT

PS: To see the trip through the eyes of the Keiser family, check out Angie’s blogs on Montana’s beauty, their stay at The Resort at Paws Up, Missoula and the National Bison Range  and an afternoon spent at Flathead Lake Lodge.

 

One Day in Missoula, Montana

I’m convinced that summer in Missoula, Montana is the stuff that dreams are made of. The days are long (like really long – in July the sun rises at 5:46 a.m. and sets at 9:34 p.m.) and there’s always something to do, from floating the river to perusing shops and art galleries downtown.

Hello, pretty.

Hello, handsome.

But to be honest, sometimes there’s so much to do in Missoula, it can be hard to fit it all in and know where to start. So, my friends, that’s where this bossy messy-haired girl comes in. If you only have one day to spend in Missoula, these are my top 5 recommendations.

1. Attend Downtown ToNight (or Out to Lunch) at Caras Park. 
While many cities have their regular events that bring locals and visitors together, there’s something incredibly cool about these two events that take place at Caras Park. Both Downtown ToNight and Out to Lunch feature entertainment from local musicians, a bevy of food trucks and perhaps the best people watching in all of Montana.

My recent view of Downtown ToNight at Caras Park.

My recent view of Downtown ToNight at Caras Park.

2. Go to the river. 
One of my favorite things about Missoula is that the Clark Fork Rivers runs through the heart of the city. And whether you’re a floater, fisherman or someone who just enjoys water, there are several places to play on the river. Check out the kayakers and rivers surfers at Brennan’s Wave, cast your fishing line just behind the DoubleTree Hotel or join fellow water lovers on black inner tubes and float from East Missoula to the takeout just past the wave.

Your next fishing hole: the Clark Fork River right behind the DoubleTree Hotel.

Your next fishing hole: the Clark Fork River right behind the DoubleTree Hotel.

3. Eat, eat and eat. 
Truth time: Missoula has some great restaurants. And if you know me, you know that I love food (read more about my recent food tour here) and I love to eat. My favorite places include The Catalyst (their tomato lime tortilla soup is amazing), Five on Black (where I literally always order the same thing – it’s that good), Biga Pizza and The Mustard Seed (their chocolate cheesecake is my absolute favorite).

Two words: Biga Pizza.

Two words: Biga Pizza.

4. Take a hike, walk or bike ride. 
Because it’s surrounded by mountains, Missoula has some of the best hiking, walking and biking trails around. For a view of the city, make the jaunt up Mount Sentinel to the “M” or run up Waterworks Hill. Located along the Clark Fork River, the Kim Williams Trail is easy to get to and is perfect for walking, running or biking. And if you want to get a bit further out of town, head to the trails in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area + Wilderness, Blue Mountain or Pattee Canyon.

Yours truly, taking in the view of Missoula.

Yours truly, taking in the view of Missoula.

5. Get ice cream. Right now. 
Whenever I have people from out of town come to visit, there’s always one stop we have to make—the Big Dipper. While you’ll often see people lined up and waiting in line for ice cream, especially on hot summer days or evenings, believe me when I tell you this: the wait is worth it. My favorite treats include coco-nuts, as well as huckleberry, vanilla-reese’s and mint oreo ice cream.

The queen of all ice cream shops.

The queen of all ice cream shops.

And just in case you have more than one day in Missoula, here are a few other not-to-be-missed activities and attractions:
-Take a guided tour of The Smokejumper Visitor Center. Located near the airport, these one-hour tours give a sneak peek into what it’s like to be a smokejumper.
-Go shopping. Missoula has two areas that are a must for shopping: Southgate Mall and downtown. Southgate Mall has a variety of box stores (it’s also where my beloved Mustard Seed is located), while downtown has locally owned boutiques.
-Attend a Missoula Osprey baseball game.
-Check out the markets. There are three different markets along Higgins Avenue in downtown Missoula: the Missoula Farmers Market, The People’s Market (jewelry, furniture, clothing, etc.) and the Clark Fork River Market.

xo,
TT

Playing in Montana’s Blackfoot Valley at The Resort at Paws Up

As you might remember, earlier this summer I visited Montana’s luxury ranches with a friend of mine who was coming to Big Sky Country from out of the country. We started our ranch visits at The Ranch at Rock Creek (read more about that here) and Triple Creek Ranch (check out that visit here), before venturing to our last destination in Montana’s iconic Blackfoot Valley: The Resort at Paws Up

Located about 30 minutes from Missoula, Paws Up is a luxury guest ranch that sits among 37,000 acres in Western Montana, including 7 miles of the Blackfoot River—one of the state’s premiere fly-fishing streams.

The welcoming committee.

The welcoming committee.

The largest of Montana’s guest ranches, Paws Up offers various lodging options throughout its property, including luxury homes, a ranch house, lodge and gorgeous luxury camps.
Sidenote: while Paws Up has various styles of accommodations, I wholeheartedly recommend staying in one of their luxury camps

Here’s a peek…

This is my favorite tent at Cliffside Camp.

This is my favorite tent at Cliffside Camp.

Some of the homes also have a private glamping tent.

Some of the homes, like Panfish Popper, also have a private glamping tent.

The living room in one of the wilderness estates.

The living room in one of the wilderness estates.

The resort is also home to "Spa Town." AKA the town where I'd like to spend all of my time.

The resort is also home to “Spa Town,” AKA the town where I’d like to spend all of my time.

One of the treatments tents at Spa Town. Sigh.

One of the treatments tents in Heaven…I mean Spa Town. Sigh.

Trough, the main dining location at Paws Up.

Trough, the main dining location at Paws Up.

While we were only at Paws Up for a short time, we filled our two-day stay with as much Montana fun as possible. During our time there, we saw a cattle drive, took an ATV tour, filled our tummies at a riverside chuckwagon dinner, heard cowboy poetry, met Pete + Repeat and listened to the rushing sounds of the Blackfoot River from our camp’s nightly campfire.

My favorite cow at Paws Up.

My favorite cow at Paws Up.

The view of the Blackfoot Valley from Lookout Rock.

As part of our ATV tour, we made a stop at Lookout Rock and had this view of the Blackfoot Valley.

Montana banditos.

Montana banditos ready for our ATV tour.

The view from the top of my ATV.

The view from the top of my ATV.

The chuckwagon dinner along the Blackfoot River was one of the highlights from our stay.

The chuckwagon dinner along the Blackfoot River was one of the highlights from our stay.

For some reason, food always tastes better outside.

For some reason, food always tastes better outside.

Hello, boys.

Hello, boys.

Each night at Cliffside Camp, all of the guests would gather around the campfire to make s'mores. And I loved it.

Each night at Cliffside Camp, all of the guests would gather around the campfire to make s’mores. Photo: Donnie Sexton

My favorite spot at Cliffside Camp overlooked the Blackfoot River.

My favorite spot at Cliffside Camp overlooked the Blackfoot River.

It was the perfect place to end our trip.

And just in case you’re planning a stay at The Resort at Paws Up, here’s a few things to note:
-Paws Up offers packages throughout the year, including notable events like Montana Master Chefs, Upper Crust and Cowgirls Spring Roundup.
-Paws Up has a phenomenal kids program, The Kids Corps of Discover, that’s great for various ages of children.
-Nightly rates include lodging, breakfast, lunch and dinner each day (as well as beverages), round-trip transportation to/from Missoula International Airport, on-property transportation and some recreational activities. Additional guided excursions and spa services are available at a-la-carte rates.

xo,
TT

A Chuckwagon Dinner at Montana’s Z5 Ranch

There’s a new sheriff in town. Okay, not really, but there is a new guest ranch in Western Montana (and that’s kind of like the same thing).

Last night, the folks at Z5 Ranch in Arlee had their first ever chuckwagon dinner and because I love all things ranch, Montana and—let’s be honest—food (you can read more about that here), I jumped at the opportunity to attend. I grabbed two of my best girls and we made the short drive (about 25 minutes) to the ranch from Missoula.

Upon arrival, the chaos of the day drifted away. Here’s why…

This view greeted us upon arrival.

This view greeted us upon arrival.

Yeehaw.

Yee-haw.

Z5 is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. An added bonus: guests can stay in the tipis at the ranch.

Z5 is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. An added bonus: guests can stay in the tipis at the ranch.

The view from the bed in the tipi.

The view from the bed in the tipi.

As part of their chuckwagon dinner event, the folks at Z5 also let you pet/visit the animals that call the ranch home. Last night’s furry guests include horses, baby chicks, rabbits, a cow that literally wandered around (she was cute) and adorable goats.

The goats and I quickly became BFFs.

The goats and I quickly became BFFs.

I may have fallen in love with this rabbit.  She reminded me of my own rabbits that I tricked my parents into getting me when I was little. Sidenote: my rabbit's names were Sally and Hot Stuff. I hope no one ever lets me name kids.

I may have fallen in love with this (super soft) rabbit. She reminded me of my own rabbits that I tricked my parents into getting me when I was little. Sidenote: my rabbit’s names were Sally and Hot Stuff. I hope no one ever lets me name kids.

Hey baby.

Hey baby.

Summer perfection.

Summer perfection.

I took advantage of the shade and tranquility by the pond.

I took advantage of the shade and tranquility by the pond.

Soon, the dinner bell rang (which I loved) and we all gathered in the barn for a dinner that was comprised of locally sourced bison steak, seasonal potatoes and a tasty peach and huckleberry crisp. After dinner we headed outside for the evening’s entertainment. And you guys, I have to tell you one thing about last night’s entertainment: it was kind of perfect.

Kyle and Zach Felsman kicked off the night with drumming and singing.

Kyle and Zach Felsman kicked off the night with drumming and singing.

This cowboy poet was, hands down, the best I've ever heard.

This cowboy poet was, hands down, the best I’ve ever heard.

Local musicians Matt and Dan (who are also in the popular Montana band Shodown) serenaded us.

Local musicians Matt and Dan (who are also in the popular Montana band Shodown) serenaded us.

The night's entertainment ended with Salish dancers.

The night’s entertainment ended with Salish dancers.

At the end of the night, I knew that I’d been part of something special. I’ve been a Montana girl my whole life, but there was something different and completely authentic in the way the stories of the evening (from the family history and being welcomed in Salish to the cowboy poetry and the American Indian dancing) came together to tell a beautiful, well-rounded story.

xo,
TT

PS: Z5 Ranch hosts chuckwagon dinners throughout the summer. For the most current schedule, be sure to visit their website.

Two Days at Montana’s Triple Creek Ranch

Truth time: some of the best meals I’ve ever had were at a guest ranch tucked into the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. The dining experience at Triple Creek Ranch was one comprised of culinary delights that you’d expect to find in a city, as opposed to the quiet mountains of Montana.

Located a short drive southwest of Darby, Triple Creek Ranch isn’t a typical ranch getaway. It’s comprised of beautiful log cabins, an outdoor pool, mountain meadows and trails that are ideal for horseback riding. Oh and in 2014 it was named the #1 hotel in the world by the readers of Travel + Leisure.

The entrance to the main lodge at Triple Creek Ranch.

The entrance to the main lodge at Triple Creek Ranch.

During the two days and nights I spent at Triple Creek Ranch, one of the elements that impressed me was how comfortable it was. Of course, you’d expect to be comfortable at any place with the word “ranch” in its name, but there was something extra special about Triple Creek Ranch. Maybe it was the elk that came to fill their tummies in the mountain meadows or the lush green landscape that seemed to surround the property no matter where I looked. Perhaps it was the extra attention to details made by their staff that had me (and my traveling partners) feel so welcome and comfortable. Or maybe it was the palate pleasing culinary delights that left me looking forward to the next meal and seeing what the chef would whip up. (Sidenote: Chef Jacob introduces a new dinner menu every night using fresh ingredients he has on hand. Um, hello deliciousness). More than likely, it was the effortless combination of all of those that left me with a big Montana crush on Triple Creek.

Welcome bags and handwritten notes greeted us in our cabin.

Welcome bags and handwritten notes greeted us in our cabin.

I LOVED the outdoor pool. I'd say it has one of the most beautiful pool settings in all of Montana.

I LOVED the outdoor pool. I’d say it has one of the most beautiful settings in all of Montana.

I spent a lot of time at this pasture. The reason: the brand new colt that made its debut two days before my arrival.

I spent a lot of time at this pasture. The reason: the brand new colt that made its debut two days before my arrival.

Hey baby.

Hey baby.

The bartender whipped up huckleberry cocktails. Rumor has it they were TASTY.

Unwinding with handmade huckleberry cocktails in the rooftop lounge. 

My favorite: the huckleberry lemonade.

My favorite: the huckleberry lemonade.

I loved my cozy room!

I loved my cozy room!

Yum.

Yum.

One of my favorite moments was at breakfast. I was trying to decide between the pancake and french toast and the waitress said "Get both!" I listened to her.

One of my favorite moments was at breakfast. I was trying to decide between the pancake and french toast and the waitress said “Get both!” I listened to her.

The ranch also offers a variety of activities both on- and off-property. My favorites included mining for sapphires and the on-ranch trail ride.

Mining for sapphires.

Mining for sapphires.

My buddy Ruger.

My buddy Ruger.

Upon our return to the cabin, we had these framed photos from our ride.

Upon our return to the cabin, we had these framed photos from our ride.

Taking in the view.

Taking in the view.

Needless to say, it was the best two days.

And if you’re planning a trip to Triple Creek Ranch, here’s a few things to keep in mind:
-The ranch is open year-round and is an adults-only getaway. All guests must be at least 16 years old to stay at the ranch.
-Throughout the year, the ranch offers signature and holiday events that include vitner, women’s adventures, fly-fishing and cowboy school getaways.
-If you’re coming to Triple Creek, be sure to spend some time in nearby Darby. I recommend a stop to see Jimmy at Double H Hat Company, check out Bandit Brewing and Old West Antiques Gallery & Candy Store.

xo,
TT

A Weekend in Montana at The Ranch at Rock Creek

Earlier this summer, one of my dear friends called and told me that he was planning a trip to Montana to visit the state’s luxury guest ranches. I (quickly) volunteered to travel with him while he was here and we soon made plans to visit The Ranch at Rock Creek

Located a short drive from Philipsburg in Montana’s Flint Creek Valley, The Ranch at Rock Creek encompasses 6,600 acres that include mountains, meadows and the blue-ribbon waters of Rock Creek. While I had been to the ranch before, this was my first time spending any amount of time there and I have to tell you one thing: I LOVED IT.

The view of the ranch.

Hello, beautiful.

From the setting to the activities and the food to hospitality, I was blown away by the beauty and attention to detail. Also, I’m fairly certain that The Ranch at Rock Creek has the nicest staff in Montana. I’m not kidding when I tell you that everyone we met was not only genuinely nice and kind, they asked (and remembered) each of our names.

One of the meadows at the ranch.

One of the meadows at the ranch.

The upstairs of the main lodge.

The upstairs of the main lodge.

Pre-breakfast in the lounge area of the main lodge. Because let's be honest, we all need a pre-breakfast treat.

Pre-breakfast in the lounge area of the main lodge. Because let’s be honest, we all need a pre-breakfast treat.

Another bonus: the activity center has rows and rows of cowboy boots and other western gear for guests to borrow.

Another bonus: the activity center has rows and rows of cowboy boots and other western gear for guests to borrow.

The bed inside the glamping cabin.

The bed inside the glamping cabin.

The best views are framed by Montana windows.

The best views are framed by Montana windows.

Our tent (Sweet Grass) had a soaking hot tub and a fire pit right outside the sitting area.

Our tent (Sweet Grass) had a soaking hot tub and a fire pit right outside the sitting area.

I'm a sucker for a soaking tub.

I’m a sucker for a soaking tub.

During our two days at The Ranch at Rock Creek, we packed in as much western fun as possible, including shooting lessons, a rodeo, fly-fishing and sitting outside our glamping cabin listening to the waters of Rock Creek rush past. We also attended a barn dance (where I sang with the band, Cold Hard Cash) and filled our tummies on tasty western BBQ.

Rodeos are my favorite.

Rodeos are my favorite.

This rodeo kicked off with the singing of the National Anthem, a tradition I will always support.

This rodeo kicked off with the singing of the National Anthem, a tradition I will always support.

Yee-haw.

Yee-haw.

Fly-fishing with Pat, the director of activities at the ranch.

Fly-fishing with Pat, the director of activities and a fishing guide, at the ranch.

We caught a ride to the barn dance in this old-fashioned stage coach.

We caught a ride to the barn dance in this old-fashioned stage coach.

This may be the prettiest barn I've ever seen.

This may be the prettiest barn I’ve ever seen.

After this, I cut a rug with that bearded cowboy.

After this dance, I cut a rug with that bearded cowboy. And he dipped me. We may be in love.

It was the perfect weekend.

And just in case you’re planning a trip to The Ranch at Rock Creek, here’s a few things to note:
-The ranch is open year-round and offers various packages throughout the year.
-A stay at the ranch is all-inclusive (lodging, meals, drinks, guided activities, etc.). This was something I really appreciated, because it meant we didn’t need to worry about taking money or credit cards around with us. Instead, we were able to just kick back and enjoy every moment.
-Plan to spend time in nearby Philipsburg and mine sapphires at Gem Mountain or The Sapphire Gallery, followed by a visit to The Sweet Palace. And if you want to meet locals, head to the Philipsburg Brewery around 5 p.m.

xo,
TT

Soaking up the Last Days of a Montana Summer

Summer is almost over. You know it, I know it — we all know it. And while it makes me a little bit sad, I’m trying to put on my big girl pants and relish in the last days of the Montana summer.

To make good on that goal, my best friend came out to Montana from Chicago for the long weekend. Call it lucky, blessed or fortunate, I grew up along the Rocky Mountain Front a literal stone’s throw from the Rocky Mountains. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite places in the world. So on Labor Day, we loaded up the troops (also known as my family) and headed into the heart of the mountains to one of our favorite places—Gibson Dam.

Along the way, we chatted, teased and just soaked in the surrounding scenery as it turned from rolling foothills to massive mountains of rock that lay before us.

The Rocky Mountain Front, where the rolling foothills meet the mountains.

The Rocky Mountain Front, where the rolling foothills meet the mountains.

The view from near Gibson Dam.

The view from near Gibson Dam.

My happy place.

Mountains and pine trees: my happy place.

Two BFFs taking in the view from Gibson Dam overlook.

Two BFFs taking in the view from Gibson Dam overlook.

A short (and seriously easy) hike takes you to this view.

A short (and seriously easy) hike takes you to this view.

No matter how many times I've seen it, I'm always amazed at the power of the water coming out of the dam.

No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I’m always amazed at the power of the water coming out of the dam.

The rock solid dam holds 99,000 acre feet of water. Side note: one acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons.

The rock solid dam holds 99,000 acre feet of water. Side note: one acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons.

This paved road greets visitors after they drive 18 miles on a gravel road.

This paved road greets visitors after they drive 18 miles on a gravel road.

Late afternoon shadows on Sawtooth Mountain.

Late afternoon shadows on Sawtooth Mountain.

It was a good day. And it’s been an excellent summer.

xo,
TT