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Category: Around The Ranch


A Joyful Kickoff to the Season of Giving

Giving Thanks

Before thanks have even been given in the traditional American way, we’re giving thanks to our community through a local tradition. This Friday and Saturday, we will host the 4th annual Granite County Festival of Trees in our bedecked Buckle Barn. Though Santa doesn’t make his appearance for another month and a half, it’s fair to say our elves are busy as ever preparing for this charity event. Read on to garner the recipe for our Bar Manager’s wassail-worthy mulled wine. 

17 Christmas trees lit up the Buckle Barn before the Festival of Trees gala auction
“It’s a Wonderful Life” plays in the Buckle Barn before the 2015 Festival of Trees Gala Auction.

Joy in Montana, Joy to the World

The Granite County Festival of Trees is the only major fundraiser for the local non-profit organization, the Granite County Medical Foundation. Since the event’s inception, The Ranch has been a sponsor, and for the last three years we’ve served as angel sponsor and host. The first year, the event raised over $10,000 and last year’s event it raised $35,000 for local health projects.

The outside view of the Buckle Barn after the 2015 Granite County Festival of Trees
Peeking into the windows of the Buckle Barn before the 2015 Gala Auction. 

These projects have ranged from buying new beds for the long-term care and acute care patients at our local medical center to supplying AEDs to local law enforcement vehicles and to helping provide car seat checks and bike helmets to the area’s youth. When you live in a remote mountain environment, you truly appreciate emergency and preventive health services that help your staff, family, friends and neighbors.


Mercantile artisan, Pat Siler of Philipsburg’s Back Creek Pottery, created commemorative ornaments for the event. 

In addition to the Festival of Trees, The Ranch also hosts our hometown’s Granite High School prom and supports a long list of charity projects throughout the year. We believe one of the most important parts of our commitment to sustainability is giving back to local organizations and supporting local businesses and artisans.

“Our whole Ranch team truly enjoys helping to produce this community event. We are proud of our angel sponsorship and look forward to our participation every year. Our group coordinators and culinary team are very talented and create memorable family reunions, corporate retreats and weddings throughout the year. But this greatly anticipated event is extra special because it brings our community together for a wonderful cause and represents the official start to The Ranch’s holiday season celebrations.” ~Steve Shotsberger, General Manager

We are happy to be recognized for our giving and sustainability initiatives through our National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World affiliation, but these charity projects also signify a personal connection to many of our employees, who volunteer their time to serve on local non-profit boards, volunteer for projects and even work as Ski Patrol or volunteer fire fighters to ensure the safety and health of local residents. Read more…

Category: Around The Ranch


What is Forest Bathing?

Travel & Nature Therapy: Shinrin-Yoku/Forest Bathing

“The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise…I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”
~Henry David Thoreau, “Walking.”

Montana ranks 44th in population size, but this allows us to be leaders in another way—in our access to nature. The Ranch itself is mid-way between America’s first National Park, Yellowstone and the Crown of the Continent, Glacier National Park. Montanans love having a homestead and venturing out into our vast public lands. It seems the more wide open spaces you see, the more you crave them.


Photo by Caleb Lee

Conversely, the world in general is growing ever more industrialized. Eighty-two percent of North Americans live in an urban setting. With that number projected to grow, scientists are studying the unforeseen physical and mental cost of moving away from natural settings. At the same time the research mounts, we’ve spent the better part of 2017 developing programs that help guests connect with our natural setting, from Montana naturalist classes to Nat Geo narrative photography lessons to natural play environments in the Little Grizzlies Kids Club and natural movement and forest bathing Granite Spa classes.

This week we look at the role of nature in restoring mental and physical health, as well as society’s skepticism toward nature therapy and the power of vacations to get us out of our routine and try new things. Read more…

Category: Around The Ranch


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. Chapters are in reverse order so that followers can read the latest updates first. To read from the beginning scroll to Chapter 1 near the end of the page. 

Chapter 4, Winter: Ranch-to-Table Honey

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

Honey is an amazingly diverse food that can enhance a dish or soothe symptoms of the common cold. It has been harvested and used for thousands of years, thus, working its way into cultural and medicinal practices worldwide. This year at The Ranch, we have been able to harvest 10 gallons of our very own honey that reflects our local ecosystem, and it’s going to make the farm-to-table culinary experience just a touch sweeter as we move into the winter months.


Photo of winter glamping on Rock Creek by Joey Wong of Kava Studios.


Dining with Honey

At The Ranch, Executive Chef Josh Drage and his culinary team use an average of 25 gallons of honey per year!  Though honey is often only thought of as a sweetener, this product is far more dynamic. Our culinary team uses honey as a seasoning and flavoring agent in everything from soups and sauces to marinades for our local meat products. Its floral and earthy flavor components can accent savory dishes in addition to sweet treats.

A Ranch server pours tea to drink during a fireside event


Pairing Power

Just like wine, honey takes on the flavors of its ecosystem. Honey can be sweet, musky, and malty — to name just a few tasting points. Those flavors can be emboldened by pairing them with certain ingredients. We look forward to using this flavor enhancer multiple ways in our ever changing seasonal Montana menus.

As part of our winter seasonal offerings, our Bar Manager Ned Derosier is also incorporating our honey into the drink menus. As the days are getting colder and the snow flies onto our valley floor, there is no better way to warm up than with our simple, but very special, Honey Harvest Hot Toddy!


Honey Harvest Hot Toddy Recipe

Ingredients: Read more…

Category: Around The Ranch


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…

Category: Around The Ranch


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…

Category: Around The Ranch


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…

Category: Around The Ranch


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…

Category: Around The Ranch


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…

Category: Around The Ranch


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…

Category: Around The Ranch


Montana Moments: Photo Essay by Server & Photographer Willie MacDade

As the seasons change and the holidays approach, we are reminded that a photograph of the exact same spot in the summer looks entirely different in the spring, fall and winter. But, things don’t only change season to season; they change moment to moment. The serenity of a flowing stream may be interrupted by an eagle swooping down to catch a fish, or a cow and calf moose might decide they want to try glamping (Watch a recent guest’s video of a moose sighting).

Four seasons on Rock Creek, Four Montana Moments
Four Seasons on Rock Creek. Fall Photo by IG user @mpbroderick; Winter Photo by Granite Spa Massage Therapist Lindsay Roberts; Spring Photo by Jose Villa Photography; Summer Photo by Robert Cole Photography.

Our Favorite Montana Moments

This changeability is why we love the Montana Office of Tourism’s “#montanamoment” hashtag. We’re grateful to guests and staff members who share their pictures with us on social media or by email, so we can see the wild beauty of our home through their eyes. This week, we are pleased to bring you a new perspective from one of our Ranchers. Willie MacDade joined us last May and has seized every spare moment to explore our landscape and wider Montana. In many ways, seasonal employees experience Montana in a similar way to first-time guests; they are let loose on 6,600 acres of secluded wilderness and are given dozens of ways to explore it. If you’re inspired by Willie’s travels, we invite you to peruse the Indulgent Frontiersman special for an intriguing take on winter exploration.



Life as a Rancher with Willie MacDade

When I graduated college last May, I had no plans of working on a guest ranch. I did not know what my immediate future had in store for me. I did not know a place like The Ranch at Rock Creek even existed.

Photographer and Server Willie MacDade wades into Rock Creek for a self-portrait
Hey there! My name is Willie and I am a server and photographer at The Ranch.

Read more…