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Category: Winter


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: Winter


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…

Category: Winter


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: Winter


Winter Yoga, Serenity and Wellness in Nature

“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

As The Ranch’s Granite Spa developed from a traditional luxury spa to a holistic nature spa, we sought to approach our spa offerings with the same customization that our entire activities program affords.

No person desires the same wellness retreat. This is why we offer fall and winter retreats that are customizable, including two treatments and two mind & body classes of your choice, in addition to The Ranch’s all-inclusive guided outdoor activities, newly featuring downhill skiing and snowboarding; luxury accommodations; farm-to-table meals; and stress-reducing amenities, like airport transfers, winter gear and fireside cocktail hours. From December 1 to March 31, guests can also receive a complimentary fourth night.

Granite Spa Manager Karen Piacquadio starts a forest bathing class in fresh snowfall.Granite Spa Manager Karen Piacquadio

Our Granite Spa Manager Karen Piacquadio takes the helm of the blog this week and invites you to step into her idea of the perfect winter retreat. After reading, consider crafting your own ideal getaway from our versatile spa menu.




A Bespoke Winter Spa Retreat

“I fell in love with The Ranch, Philipsburg and the magnificent landscape. The solitude and beauty of winter on The Ranch triggers a desire to step back and focus on your own health and wellness. I would like to share with you what a perfect day on The Ranch in winter looks like through my eyes.” ~ Granite Spa & Wellness Manager Karen Piacquadio

Journey to The Ranch at Rock Creek for a little winter respite. Our Winter Luxury Spa & Nature Retreat allows you to fully embrace the winter season as a time for introspection and restoration.


Sweet Grass Canvas Cabin, a year-round glamping cabin along blue ribbon Rock Creek.

Imagine waking up in a luxurious mountain cabin or lodge room engulfed in warm bedding. Gazing outside, you see the beauty of winter, and the silence of a world waking up slowly, under a cover of fresh fallen snow. A family of deer walk past your window as you step out of bed to start the first day of your winter vacation.

A group of deer cross the valley during snow squall in Montana

Wander down to the Granite Lodge, where you can indulge in a chocolate croissant and cup of tea. When your tea cup is ready to be refilled, move to the dining room for a healthy and robust breakfast created by our AM chef, Tom Gillespie.


A plate of Huevos Rancheros in the Granite Lodge dining room. Photo by Groups Coordinator Kate DeMello.

Following breakfast, bundle up for a guided naturalist trek on property with Montana Master Naturalist Kelsey Bruns. Learn about our winter ecosystem and gaze at the amazing views of The Ranch’s 6,600 acres. Finish your morning trek by warming up next to an outdoor fire while sipping a warm beverage.

After working up a sweat on your trek, it’s time to return to the Granite Lodge for a grilled steak salad and tomato soup lunch. With a happy stomach and tired eyes, retreat back to your accommodation for a little cat nap, reading or journaling. If you’re feeling energized, channel it into one of our outdoor winter activities, like cross-country skiing, a mountain peak tour, horseback riding or ice skating.

Mid-afternoon, regroup with your friends and walk to the Granite Spa for a Bulletproof Coffee Detox Wrap or Adventurer’s Massage.

Winter mind & body classes at The Ranch come in many forms, from adventurous natural movement classes to meditative forest bathing to customized indoor sessions overlooking beautiful vistas. You’ll be escorted to the gazebo to watch the sunset during a private candle-lit restorative yoga class with me.


Spa & Wellness Manager Karen Piacquadio teaches a flow class in the gazebo.

Round out your day with a culinary delight, our Chef’s Tasting Menu. Enjoy the craftsmanship and creative passion that our Executive Chef Josh Drage and Executive Sous Chef Ben Miller put into each bite, and feel the magic and mystery of our winter space come to life.

Your evening can be spent quietly in your accommodation or, you can spend some time sipping cocktails made by our bar manager Ned Derosier and then move into the Silver Dollar Saloon for some friendly competition in bowling or billiards.

After all, you are on vacation. Tomorrow will usher in more chances for relaxation through yoga, Granite Spa treatments, outdoor splendor and farm-to-table cuisine.

Picture your entire retreat unfolding when you read the sample itinerary. Friends or family members can join you on this experience or choose another of our curated winter adventures.




The Ranch’s Granite Spa is one of the few optional, additional-cost amenities at The Ranch, along with off-Ranch excursions and Mercantile. It has become an integral part of The Ranch at Rock Creek’s experiential travel offerings. Our Winter Luxury Spa & Nature Retreat allows guests to enjoy $800 worth of spa services included with their stay.


Further Reading, Winter Yoga and More:

Granite Spa Manager Karen Piacquadio

What is Forest Bathing?

Granite Spa & Little Barn Apothecary

Finding Winter Wellness in the Wild

Winter Getaways: 10 Calorie-Melting Snow Sports

 

Category: Winter


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: Winter


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…

Category: Winter


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 three new special offers for leisure travelers. 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. 



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…

Category: Winter


Supporting Discovery Ski Area, Our Best-Kept Secret

With just a few days left in the downhill ski season, we’ve got plenty of fond memories of gorgeous powdery days on Discovery Mountain. It seems mother nature missed the memo that spring has sprung and decided to send some last minute snow storms—even as we have enjoyed 60+ degree days in the valley.

In 2014, National Geographic chose Philipsburg as one of the Best Secret Ski Towns in North America. We are inclined to agree, although it’s anything but secret in Western Montana.

Enjoy free downhill skiing at Discovery ski area when you travel to The Ranch at Rock Creek

Read more…

Category: Winter


Cross It Off Your Bucket List

10 Dreams Turned Reality at The Ranch

Every vacation is a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream. Here are 10 classic bucket list adventures that The Ranch at Rock Creek fulfills each year.

1. Become a Horseback Rider.

Notice, we didn’t say, “go horseback riding.” The Ranch teaches horsemanship, so you can go from being a greenhorn to a rider during a week’s vacation. The Ranch’s equestrian program is a customized, robust experience, with guests deciding how far they want to take their riding skills. When English riders arrive at The Ranch, they leave with new skills and appreciation for a different world.

Horseback riding is one bucket list adventure you can have at The Ranch at Rock Creek

You can learn how to saddle and care for a horse before your first trail ride. In the next several days, you may summit higher terrain and start roping. After the better part of a week, you might be comfortable enough in the saddle to learn pole bending or barrel racing in the rodeo arena. See a 4-day sample equestrian itinerary for a taste of this adventure.

Read more…

Category: Winter


Silver Dollar Saloon: Val-Gal-Pal-entine’s Cocktails

DSC00533

Welcome to the Silver Dollar Saloon

As Valentine’s Day approaches, our bartenders in the Saloon and Great Room aren’t content to just chill the champagne in anticipation of the celebration. They have been busy creating a seasonal cocktail menu that will give guests a taste of winter in Montana with Big Sky spirits and local ingredients. Just like Chef Drage’s menus, the cocktail menus change frequently, highlighting the holidays and activities that we enjoy. Read more…