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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. At first glance, there are many aspects of Montana wilderness that may seem incongruous with a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star luxury hotel. Yet, again, it’s the culture of service and can-do spirit that is referenced time and again in our reviews that allow us to bridge that gap for our guests without tamping down the pristine, untamed nature that makes Gold Country so magical. The Ranch has only been open for six and a half years, but it’s the commitment to perfecting this niche, authentic experience that has made four of those years 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…

Giving Back: A Christmas Season of Stories

Third Annual Granite County Festival of Trees

While we are just finished decking our halls for the upcoming holiday celebrations, we’ve been in the Christmas spirit for over a month.

Sunset at the Buckle Barn before the 2016 Granite County Festival of Trees - hosting is one of the ways we're giving back to the communityThe sun sets before the Gala Auction. Look closely and you’ll see the Christmas trees glowing inside the Buckle Barn. Photo by Rancher Katie Forbes.

On November 11 and 12, we hosted the Granite County Festival of Trees for the second year in a row. The Festival has become a tradition for The Ranch—we’ve been a sponsor for three years. We joined 18 other regional sponsors in supporting this year’s event. Read about last year’s Mystical Mountain Christmas and the first annual event.

Hands go up as people bid on trees during the Granite County Festival of Trees, one of The Ranch at Rock Creek's giving initiatives
A scene from the live auction. The event filled the Buckle Barn. 

This wonderful event serves so many purposes. It supports local healthcare initiatives through the non-profit Granite County Medical Foundation. It showcases the incredible artistic talent we have in a community with only 3,000 residents. Lastly, it allows the community to come together and unite for a worthy cause. This year, the Festival raised over $36,000. Read more…

Winter Corporate Travel: Board Room to Bucket List

Montana Group and Corporate Travel

This week we’re reposting a blog that one of our ranchers wrote for Glacier Country Tourism, Montana. Heather Rue is the director of marketing at The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg, Montana where she leads the cross-channel marketing efforts to build awareness of and tell stories about The Ranch’s exceptional Montana travel experiences. Over her career in marketing, she has produced hundreds of corporate, nonprofit and cause-marketing events and programs. Heather is active in her local community and is raising country kids, chickens and labs while soaking up all life in Montana has to offer. Read the original blog here


Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of producing hundreds of corporate meetings and events in some of the world’s greatest destinations. While the purpose, scope and locations of these gatherings have varied, all of them were designed to inspire excellence, trust and community while nurturing new thinking about business relationships and value creation. More often than not, we aspired to showcase the event destination in a creative way, as we provided a unique and enriching experience for the attendees. As planners, we didn’t want to duplicate our company’s conference room in a different locale; we wanted to draw from the culture of the destination and inspire them through novel experiences, like skiing after a morning meeting or receiving a handmade box filled with local treats at turn down.

A group gets ready to ride a run at Discovery Ski Area in Philipsburg, Montana

Throughout the last decade, my passion for event planning and marketing has continued to blossom because of that essential, powerful ingredient—experiential travel. After living and working in many US cities, I am grateful to call Montana my home, especially since Montana is a place where travelers are instantly captured by a sense of wonder. Montana, through my lens, is an extraordinary, transformative destination for everyone from homebodies to globetrotters; a place where bucket-list experiences are checked off left and right.

Read more…

Seize the Winter! New Winter Specials to Celebrate Snow

The excitement for winter is building. As the season begins to change, some people might think a ranch like ours would go into hibernation mode—quite the opposite actually. The winter is a whirlwind season of adventure, filled with activities that people in our area have been enjoying for 150 years, plus a few newer pursuits thrown into the mix.

jose-villa-eagles-perch-winter-landscape
Photo by Jose Villa Photography

Shivani Vora of the New York Times just published a story entitled, “How to Have a Culturally Rich Vacation.” She suggests ways to become more immersed, no matter your destination.

Travel company owner Ashish Sanghrajka points out, “Getting exposed to local culture is enriching and shows us a world beyond ourselves.”

We couldn’t agree more. This exposure to novel experiences is good for the body and spirit. Winter is also the perfect time to try something new. It’s a time that we often contemplate resolutions and direction for the year ahead. It is a time to get inspired by exploring parts unknown.

winter-arch

Vora further suggests that you try a local hotel instead of a chain and minimize big planned excursions. Again, we agree. Staying in a remote winter wonderland and relying on our local tips and guides allows guests to make the most of the Montana winter experience. These private on-Ranch activities help you optimize the weather, the cuisine and the culture.

Winter Specials Celebrating Montana Lifestyle & Culture

The Silver Dollar Saloon hosts bowling tournaments, private movie screenings, shuffleboard and karaoke-great activities during a snowfall

Every year we try to showcase Montana culture and sports by creating winter specials. In some cases, these are guest favorites and in other cases they are new experiences based on the traditions and history of Southwest Montana. Between December 1 and March 31, 2017 (stay restrictions may apply), we encourage you to seize the winter with these four new and custom-curated travels that you can only experience when the snow falls at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Read more…

Wedding in a Winter Wonderland at Laurie Arons’ Masterclass

As the forecast hints of snow, we’re starting to think about our exciting winter season. This year we’re offering four new special offers for leisure travelers and one special offer for groups. However, we don’t want to ignore a very special kind of travel to The Ranch—destination weddings.

We’ve had the privilege to work with Laurie Arons, one of the world’s premier wedding planners, for the past two years. Laurie has been featured on Vogue’s “The Ultimate Wedding Planner Master List,” and we have the pictures to prove that she deserves her title as a “master.” In 2015, we did a Q&A with Laurie after her spring Wedding Planner Masterclass. This week, we welcome her as a guest blogger as she showcases her experiences at the 2016 winter Wedding Planner Masterclass. Join her for a special takeover on Wednesday, November 16th on our Instagram account.



Planning the Ultimate Winter Wedding by Laurie Arons

As a wedding planner, I’ve long been inspired by the beauty of winter weddings—so cozy, intimate and romantic.

Masterclass attendees enjoy a farm-to-table feast during their winter wedding welcome dinner
Masterclass attendees enjoy a farm-to-table welcome dinner in the Blue Canteen. Photo by Jose Villa.

The past two winters I’ve spent at The Ranch at Rock Creek opened my eyes to the potential of a winter affair where guests get to snuggle by the fire and warm their hearts when it’s cold outside.

Guests to The Ranch at Rock Creek can enjoy a roaring fire in the Sweet Grass glamping cabinSweet Grass Canvas Cabin – A three-room glamping tent open year-round. Photo by Jose Villa. 

Read more…