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Announcing Exclusive, Inclusive Downhill Skiing at The Ranch

As summer winds down, now is the time to dream of the next blissful getaway that takes advantage of all a season can offer. We’re thrilled to announce that a winter stay at The Ranch will now include virtually every way to delight in Montana’s snowy splendor. We’ve just added downhill skiing and snowboarding excursions to our list of over a dozen fully inclusive winter activities!

Skiers ride the lifts at Discovery Ski Area. The hill is known for beautiful slopes and no lift lines.
The Anaconda-Pintler mountain range provides an epic backdrop for skiing at 8,158 feet. 


Downhill Skiing, Complimentary Nights & More

Winter guests will now enjoy reduced all-inclusive rates, airport transfers from three local airports, all meals and premium beverages, twice-daily on-Ranch activities, plus excursions to our local ski mountain, Discovery Ski Area.

What’s more, winter guests staying three nights at The Ranch will receive a complimentary fourth night! Winter travelers can also take advantage of one of three winter special offers that includes over $800 in added value and allows them to discover new curated adventures, like a romantic winter getaway, a frontier-inspired legendary adventure or a luxury spa and nature retreat.


Effortless Winter Planning

We offer curated adventures to channel inspiring, even transformative, experiences within our long list of experiential travel options. However, a stay at The Ranch is the anti-thesis of a pre-packaged holiday or a crowded ski vacation. These additions are incorporated into individual customized itineraries that reflect a guest’s desires for relaxation or adventure.

A snowboarder enjoys a sunny day on the slopes at Discovery Ski Area
Discovery boasts an annual snowfall of approx. 215 inches. There are eight lifts, runs for all skill levels and a terrain park. 

Guests will find themselves savoring a relaxed setting where their chosen daily activities seamlessly combine with exceptional dining experiences on thousands of acres of unspoiled snowy terrain.

General Manager Steve Shotsberger noted, “The aim of our all-inclusive rates and these curated winter offers is to provide an expertly planned, enriching winter getaway that is unequaled in the luxury world. We encourage our guests to have higher expectations of what they can experience on their next winter vacation. They are invited to soak up the beauty of our pristine natural setting through new and inspiring winter sports while experiencing warm hospitality and excellent service.”


Eagle’s Perch is a two-story luxury log home in a pristine winter setting along Rock Creek.  Read more…

Sweet Life of Bees: A Montana Apiary Story

Join us as we follow our new colleagues—the bees—as they homestead in the Rock Creek Valley. To read from the beginning scroll to the end of the page. 

August, Chapter 2: The Buzz on Honey

by Kelsey Bruns, Beekeeper, Master Naturalist and Little Grizzlies Kids Club Coordinator


Summer Flow

Montana summers are glorious. For me, this time of year is defined by when the sunrise beckons you to get out and enjoy the long lighted days of the Northern Rocky Mountains. When that sun rises over the Rock Creek Valley, the bees also awaken and instinctively know it’s time to get out and collect nectar.


The sun rises in the Rock Creek Valley. Photo by Rancher Lindsay Roberts. 

In June and July, the nectar flow has been strong. Rain in the evenings combined with warm summer days allows flowering plants to produce nectar. Without moisture or warmth, plants may flower but will not produce nectar. Lucky for us, Montana summer has treated us well and the bees have been collecting.


A worker bee enjoys flying local on Ranch property. Our landscaped areas also provide opportunities to gather nectar and pollen. Photo by Kelsey Bruns. 


Montana’s Honey Industry

For Montana, honey is a multi-million dollar industry. According to the Department of Agriculture, Montana is the second largest producer of honey in the United States. In 2013 our Treasure State alone brought in 15 million lbs. of honey!


The hives are full and the bees are busy.  A typical hive in the summer can have up to 80,000 bees! Photo by Kelsey Bruns.


Nectar to Honey

The process of making honey begins when the bees ingest nectar on a foraging flight.  It is not uncommon for foraging bees to fly up to three miles to find nectar, but the real work in processing nectar starts at the hive.


Wildflowers galore in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness. Bees fly up to three miles to enjoy the beautiful array of wildflowers along with us hikers. Photo by Kelsey Bruns.

Once in the hive, female worker bees pass the nectar mouth-to-mouth. This process is a way to dehydrate the nectar to decrease moisture content. Nectar only becomes honey once the moisture content is below 20%. Once this is achieved the honey is capped with honeycomb wax, and then it is used to feed baby bees (larvae) or it is saved for winter food stores.


Worker bees attend to the frames of honey by passing nectar mouth to mouth to dehydrate the nectar into honey before it is capped with wax. Photo by Kelsey Bruns.


Our Local Blend

At the moment our hives on Rock Creek have produced one full box of honey, which will in turn yield about 60 lbs. of honey per box once extracted.

From the recent nectar flow, much of the honey in the hive now consists of a lovely blend of white clover and a few wildflowers. If we get more rainfall in the next month, there will be another round of nectar flow before the days become shorter and cooler. In that case, I will likely have a bumper crop of honey.

You don’t get more fresh and local than this! The first taste of our honey resembles a balanced mix of white clover and local wildflowers. Photo by Kelsey Bruns.

As a lover of honey, I can never resist tasting honey as I work a hive. A single honeybee produces less than a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime, knowing this makes honey taste even sweeter.

Read more…

Mixology Hour: Bringing Home the Art of Craft Cocktails

While whiskey straight up may be the stereotypical cowboy drink, it’s certainly not the only option for wetting your whistle in the West. The Ranch at Rock Creek is an experiential oasis, perfectly suited to a martini before the Homestead Supper Club, a Negroni as a fireside aperitif, or a margarita by the pool.

The Motherlode Cocktail sits ready to be enjoyed after mixology hour in the Great Room
Read on to find the recipe for this cocktail, The Motherlode. 

Cocktails are a cultural experience, steeped in centuries of creative pairings. The beauty of mixology is that you can adapt recipes to the setting, the season and the individual.

Bar Manager Ned Derosier’s cocktail menus in the Silver Dollar Saloon and the Great Room change frequently to highlight local spirits and seasonal abundance. For example, summer cocktails might feature foraged sage, huckleberries and Flathead cherries. You’re sure to get a taste of wild Montana when you saddle up to the bar.

Artisan cocktails in the Silver Dollar Saloon at The Ranch at Rock Creek luxury guest ranch
In fact, you can literally saddle up to the bar in the Silver Dollar Saloon. 

Read more…

What is Experiential Travel?

Since The Ranch at Rock Creek opened in 2010, we’ve centered our guest experience around the Montana traditions of outdoor adventure and family ranching. Guests discover a still-pristine natural world through a spirit of play.



What is Experiential Travel?

As a dedicated experiential travel destination, we want to share our hard won expertise. Immersion is a passion that reaches every Ranch staff member and department. Some of us grew up here and carry on the traditions of ranching through our work. Others of us came for a season and found such a deep connection to Southwest Montana that it changed how we wanted to live our lives.

Over the past seven years, we’ve also spoken to our guests about what they take away from their visits. So often we hear about a life-changing moment, an unforgettable vacation or a once-in-a-lifetime event. Here, we’ve distilled the criteria that we believe are essential in making a vacation a life-changing experience. We hope you’ll take time to ensure these elements are included before you journey to a culinary class in Italy, the hot springs near Machu Picchu or a ranch vacation in Montana.

Read more…

National Geographic & An Inspiring Year of Sustainable Tourism

Unique Lodges of the World: Sustainability In Action

The National Geographic Society was not content to simply change the face of travel reporting and photography. In 2015, they set out to make “tourism a catalyst for positive change.” They created the Unique Lodges of the World Collection, in order to seek, recognize and promote hotels that made sustainability paramount in their mission. The Ranch at Rock Creek has been part of this incredible collection since its inception—the only US charter member.

A Ranch wrangler proudly caries the stars and stripes during the Fourth of July rodeo at The Ranch at Rock Creek in southwest MontanaPreserving The Rodeo Tradition:  The Ranch’s summer and celebration rodeos involve local rodeo athletes and Ranch staff.

In order to showcase efforts made in the first full year of the collection, National Geographic just released their 2016 Unique Lodges of the World Impact Report. The efforts that our sister lodges are involved in are truly inspiring, and today, we’re even more honored to be a part of this esteemed group. As a group, Unique Lodge members have helped conserve 3.7 million acres of terrestrial and marine habitat, and contributed a collective US $76 million to cultural heritage preservation, in addition to US $4.3 million for community development initiatives. The investment of time, money and manpower across 50 contributing lodges shows their formidable passion for making sustainable tourism the norm, not the outlier in the travel industry. Read more…

A Treasure State: 4 Emerging Artisans in “the Merc”

Mercantile Style: Local Luxuries

One of the reasons we’re committed to expanding the frontiers of experiential travel is that a story really is the best souvenir. But often, our guests want a memento to commemorate their bucket list adventure, family reunion or corporate getaway. This might be a cowboy hat that they wore on their first trail ride, a copper Moscow Mule mug from Butte (Montana) Copper Company reminiscent of nights in the Silver Dollar Saloon, or custom Sage & Cedar bath products formulated to evoke the scents of hiking through our pine forests or sagebrush flats.

A guest enjoys a signature Yule Mule cocktail during a Twilight cocktail hour
A custom-engraved copper Moscow Mule mug with RC logo on the front and recipe on the back. Engraving by local Missoula company, All American Trophy.

Our Mercantile is designed in the spirit of the original Western mercantiles. It’s full of adventure clothing and gear, sundries and handcrafted artisan goods vetted for their originality and quality. Our Retail Manager Cat Johnson tries to anticipate our guests’ seasonal needs, so that they can purchase an extra layer for sunrise yoga on a mountaintop or bring home leather baby moccasins for a new family member. The outdoor gear and ranchwear available in the Merc and Rod & Gun Club is the same Patagonia, Filson, Simms, Ariat and Lucchese that Montana ranchers and outdoorspeople use for work and play. What is our day-to-day uniform features nicely in a nature-lover’s capsule wardrobe.

Our Ranch Mercantile is filled with Western essentials, like cowboy boots, hats and seasonal ranchwear

Cat says, “We keep a balance of luxury, local, Western and RC personalized items year-round. The greatest luxuries are found in the handcrafted objects, like local leatherwork, metalsmithing or woodworking. You can see the time and detail that went into each item—making it a perfect way to remember The Ranch at Rock Creek’s distinctive balance between luxury and Montana’s raw beauty. We have a commitment to stocking as many one-of-a-kind, Montana-made luxury items as we can.”

The Ranch's Mercantile caries locally made James Behring knives
A custom-made knife from Missoula-based James Behring, and handcrafted box from Philipsburg woodworker Scott Shake.

Call To Artisans & Purveyors

Cat is constantly looking for new, original products to feature in the Mercantile, and she’s putting out a call for submissions on our website. Montana artists, makers and purveyors are invited to submit images and information to see if their goods would be a welcome addition for our discerning guests.

Mercantile Artisan & Purveyor SubmissioN FORM

Read more…

Pet-Friendly Hotels Earn Four Paws Up (& a Tail) | Zeus the Dog’s Travel Blog

A Doggone Good Time at The Ranch at Rock Creek

Zeus the dog reviews The Ranch at Rock Creek compared to other pet-friendly hotels.

Striving for Pet-Friendly Perfection

This week we welcome Zeus, an imposing and good-natured Leonberger dog, and his better (human) half, Katie Jackson. A native of rural Montana, Katie has lived in urban areas and traveled all over the world writing for U.S. News & World Report, FoxNews.com, OutsideOnline, USA Today, The Active Times and Yahoo Travel. When Katie recently visited The Ranch, she brought Zeus and they tackled the fresh powder together, researching our Indulgent Frontiersman special offer. We are proud to be a pet-friendly hotel, and accommodate adventurous canines year-round. Read Katie’s article about learning to be a Five-Star Frontiersman, or stay right here and read Zeus’ take on pet-friendly hotels and life as a Rancher.



Sunday 7 a.m.


Writer Katie Jackson at the rimfire range during her stay at The Ranch. 

Her bags are packed. Again. She’s always leaving. Even though she doesn’t kennel me when she travels, I can’t help but throw myself a puppy pity party. I have a serious case of FOMO—fear of missing out. Yes, dogs suffer from it too.

Some people argue I’m a pony. Weighing in at 150 lbs., I can’t argue with them. I’m a big boy. I tell myself my size is why she never takes me on her trips. But I’m not sure if it’s true. I heard from the gossipy golden retriever next door that pet-friendly hotels are rare. When the wise old poodle around the block confirmed it, I knew it wasn’t just hearsay.

She usually stays at fancy hotels, so I’m surprised to see her cowboy boots piled next to her bags. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but I still go over to investigate. Upon further examination I discover an even more startling find. My leash is dangling from the exterior pocket of her duffle bag and my bag of dog food peeking out of the main compartment.

My blood begins to boil. Is she seeing another dog? And letting it wear my leash and eat my food? How rude!

Read more…

Lasso the Stars: Inclusivity, Culture & Wild Luxury

The all-inclusive guest ranch, The Ranch at Rock Creek, was awarded Forbes Travel Guide's Five-Stars

The Ranch Receives Fourth Consecutive Five-Star Rating

We are thrilled to announce that we’ve just received the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award for the fourth straight year! We want to thank all our current and former staff for their commitment in achieving this honor. As Gerard J. Inzerillo, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide explained today in a press release, the 2017 winners demonstrate “a strong culture of service,” based on 800 separate standards.

A Ranch at Rock Creek bartender serves a Pressed Cider Martini cocktail to a guest

“The Ranch at Rock Creek is honored and proud to receive the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award for the fourth consecutive year. Forbes Travel Guide is our industry’s leader in quality assurance, ensuring we consistently deliver the finest service and unforgettable Montana guest ranch experience for our valued guests. We extend our appreciation to Forbes Travel Guide for their recognition of The Ranch as the world’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star guest ranch again in 2017. Congratulations to the fine staff of The Ranch for their commitment to the Forbes Travel Guide standards of excellence and for their passion in delivering exceptional guest experiences every day of the year.” ~ Steve Shotsberger, General Manager

A group enjoys a snowga excursion at The Ranch at Rock Creek

Only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Ranch

We are in excellent company, with 352 hotels across the world and 77 hotels in the U.S. achieving this year’s five-star rating. As our General Manager mentioned, we remain the world’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star guest ranch and one of the only glamping destinations.

A young moose crosses Rock Creek Road near beautiful Philipsburg, Montana

We are proud of these notable and even curious facts. Our Western hospitality makes The Ranch unique and distinctive among more traditional Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotels or resorts. It’s our casually-sophisticated service culture and can-do approach to the guest experience that is referenced time and again in our reviews. We invite you to experience this generous spirit of our staff and the pristine, untamed nature that makes The Ranch so stellar.

Read more…

One Fine Day: Winter Yoga, Serenity and Wellness

Retreating with Our New Granite Spa Manager

“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you…only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.” ~ Author and Gardener Ruth Stout

It’s time to make fresh tracks. Whether you’re doing this literally in Montana’s new-fallen snow or figuratively as you plan for the year, January is the time to break out of ruts and establish new paths in work, relationships and travel. We know the value of striking out on a path all your own. We’ve created a robust activities program with over two-dozen year-round activities that allows guests to try new adventures and hone in on what’s meaningful to them.


The Ranch herd lays fresh tracks through the snow. Photo by Housekeeping Supervisor Zachary Jones. 

Over the past few years, we’ve curated experiences that allow guests to immerse themselves in one aspect of The Ranch’s offerings or another, such as a yoga retreat, frontiersman-style adventure, unlimited ski vacation or private romantic getaway to highlight these different travel experiences. Many of these special offers feature inclusions from our award-winning Granite Spa, and one special offer – our Winter Yoga & Spa Retreat – focuses on the mental repose only our nature-focused spa can offer.

The Granite Spa at The Ranch at Rock Creek

Our Granite Spa is one of the few optional, additional-cost amenities at The Ranch, along with our off-Ranch excursions and Mercantile. It has become an integral part of The Ranch at Rock Creek’s experiential travel offerings. In 2016, we saw The Granite Spa winning the Spafinder Wellness 360 Travel Awards for Best Spa for Couples and Best Spa for Outdoor Adventure and Activities.  We also launched a pioneering new partnership with Little Barn Apothecary as the first professional spa to use their bloom-to-bottle products in our treatment rooms. Organic Spa Magazine listed us as a “Spa with a Wild Side” and The Robb Report and New Beauty Magazine delved into our signature Raindrop Therapy treatment.

A treatment room at The Granite Spa in Montana

 

While mountaintop yoga has been part of our luxury resort since the beginning, in 2015, the Spa expanded our yoga program to include hybrid yoga/activity practices like snowga, zip line yoga and cowboy/girl yoga. We offer complimentary weekly snowga each winter, as well as fitness classes like yoga, country cardio and group treks. The Hollywood Reporter just identified snowga as one of 2017’s biggest wellness trends.

Three Ranch at Rock Creek staff members enjoy Snowga at the Top of the World viewpoint overlooking Montana's Rocky Mountains Read more…

Fresh Experiences in Fresh Powder

New Winter Experiences at The Ranch

The New Year is a chance to start fresh, so we have a slate of new winter experiences—adventure and culture-based—that are unique to our luxury guest ranch.


View a video of a typical winter getaway at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Every year, since we opened in 2010, we’ve looked to heighten our commitment to experiential travel. Watch our new video above to see what experiential travel means to us. Each activity must aid guests in forging a deeper connection with Montana’s environs or culture. The list of novel adventures and cultural additions below is aimed at ensuring our travelers enjoy the ultimate Montana getaway.

The Nordic Bonfire is one of our new winter experiences that mixes gourmet cuisine with fireside camaraderie
The Nordic Bonfire is one of our new, popular winter experiences. 

If you’d like to celebrate the best that a Montana winter has to offer, please join us for our Frost & Fire Winter Celebration from February 14 through 21, where all of these new winter experiences are coupled with festivities, like a barn dance, brewfest and a Valentine’s celebration to warm you to the core. Read more…