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.
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.
Activities Director Patrick Little and the entire Ranch team focus on additions that deepen the cultural experience of a Montana vacation.
Winter culture can be quite a challenge to navigate without the right knowledge and resources. The Rod & Gun Club is tasked with providing state-of-the-art equipment, in-depth instruction and a safe experience.
Three-Peaks Ranch Tour
For several years, Ranger Utility Task Vehicles (UTV) have allowed us to bring winter guests from one end of The Ranch to the other. Guests found the journey so enjoyable that this year that we’ve created an on-Ranch experience aimed at traversing more of our landscape than ever before.
This three-hour Three Peaks tour (no Gilligan’s Island reference intended) will take you up 1,000 feet in elevation gain to visit three distinct peaks—Top of the World, Mary Beth’s and Hidden Peak.
You’ll depart the Rod & Gun Club with a warm beverage in hand and enjoy an exhilarating ride to some of the most majestic vistas on our property. To get a taste of what it’s like riding in a Ranger, watch this video of the UTV in action.
Our Bike Wranglers have got their work cut out for them this year. Usually, it’s a seasonal job, but this winter they are busy keeping our fleet of fat bikes in top condition. Over the past several years, fat biking has made its way into Montana’s mountains. These bikes with behemoth wheels can be seen on city streets, on trails and deep in wilderness areas. Adopting this sport was only natural, as our activities program aims to be a reflection of Montana pursuits, past and present.
The best part of fat bikes is their versatility. They can be used on Rock Creek Road for a flat and scenic ride, or they can be a main mode of transportation to and from meals in the Granite Lodge. Later, you can get suited up at the Rod & Gun and take them on our groomed trails across Ranch lands and mountains.
Although the 4.5-inch tires are suited to the snow and handle the terrain with ease, the added resistance from Mother Nature means you could burn up to 1,500 calories per hour. We know we’ll soon be adding this activity to our list of 10 top calorie-burning snow sports at The Ranch.
Along with one of Montana’s newest winter sports, we’ve added one of Montana’s oldest, ice fishing. Guests have two options: they can enjoy the activity on our own Mallard Pond or take a 30-minute drive and half-day excursion to Georgetown Lake for some of the best ice fishing in the Rockies.
Ice fishing was essential to previous generations who lived off the land. It is only possible in the depths of winter, when strong ice forms and you can safely walk from one end of a 3,700-acre lake to the other without worrying about breaking the surface. Guests must dress for the task in our warmest of winter gear. They can learn the process of this classic activity from using an auger to catching a trout, all the while sitting in a warm hut sipping hot drinks.
The Georgetown Lake excursion is an off-Ranch activity, meaning there are additional costs incurred. It’s perfect for gatherings of friends who want to balance the serenity of the catch with good conversation, laughter and hot drinks or whisky tastings. (It’s also one of the special inclusions featured in our Indulgent Frontiersman special offer).
These additions channel the camaraderie born of braving the elements and gathering around the fireside. Each experience is tied together with expertly paired food and drink from The Ranch’s culinary team.
Granite County, Montana has a storied Scandinavian heritage. If you look through the phone book you’ll see name after name ending with “son” or “sen.” Even your humble blog writer’s family came to the area from Sweden in 1876. Scandinavian cultures are known for their approach to wintertime wellness and revelry. Our new weekly Nordic Bonfire celebrates the gathering of friends around a roaring fire, delicious food and winter warmers.
On most winter Saturdays, guests will snowshoe, ski or sleigh ride to the Welcome Pond pasture to enjoy a Nordic Bonfire. They might nibble on Executive Chef Josh Drage’s gourmet fish cakes, fondue and sausages cooked over the open fire.
It’s a family-friendly event, but also fun for a group of friends or a couple’s getaway. Our Bar Manager Ned Derosier provides mulled cider, alpines (cocoa with peppermint schnapps) and hot toddies, along with aquavit tastings. He sources several types of this spiced Scandinavian spirit from Missoula, Montana’s Montgomery Distillery.
Our Ranch provides a very private approach to travel, but our Nordic Bonfire and barn dances supply some of the feeling of community that you would expect if you lived in our valley.
Twilight Mountain View Cocktails
One of the best parts of the short winter days is that you almost never miss a sunset. At the end of the afternoon, when guests are returning from their activities, we fill the gazebo with hors d’oeuvres, hot drinks and blankets. While the sun sets, guests can skate on Bikini Pond under the lights or view the light show from the warm gazebo.
Snowga at Bikini Pond. In 2016, we added weekly complimentary snowga classes to our winter activities.
Those who are feeling competitive can stay for a twilight hockey game and an extended social hour before heading back to the Granite Lodge for dinner.
Homestead Supper Club
Over his six years at the helm of The Ranch’s culinary team, Executive Chef Josh Drage learned that there’s a special feeling guests get during our Wednesday night dinner. The focus was always on authentic ranch culinary traditions and homestead hospitality.
This winter, he sought to enhance that feeling by channeling Montana’s beloved supper clubs. Supper clubs popped up in Montana towns like Great Falls, Butte and Anaconda when mining operations accounted for some of the biggest payrolls in the world. They were usually Italian restaurants that served the freshest seafood and best cuts of meat available. From time to time, everyone from day laborers to mine managers would get dressed up and treat their families to the best dining in town.
From the moment you arrived at a supper club, you were welcomed with open arms. The staff treated customers like family. Then, you might order an old fashioned, Manhattan or martini at the bar before being escorted to your table. Dinner might consist of four to five courses and you stayed at the table a little longer to savor the company and the cuisine. Everyone left with a full belly and a feeling of contentment.
Executive Chef Drage has created his own version of Montana’s best night out. Classic cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and traditional recipes are served in Granite Lodge style, meaning they are ever-changing, fresh and inspired by local farms and ranches. The chefs serve the freshest flown-in seafood and delight in featuring some of the best grass-fed beef, elk, bison and produce available in the region.
The Homestead Supper Club and Twilight Mountain View Cocktails are just two of almost a dozen different nighttime dining experiences. To view the full list of winter experiences and activities, comb through our sample winter itinerary.
Our Ranch Ambassadors ensure that all itineraries are customizable, but these additional weekly activities will make you feel a little more at home in Montana.
We’ve also added curated winter experiences, like Frost & Fire Winter Celebration, the Indulgent Frontiersman, the Winter Spa & Yoga Retreat, Unlimited Ski & Snowboard Adventure and Romantic Winter Getaway. Read about each of these special trips and how they can help you seize the winter.
Inspired by the snow? Read more about winter experiences on our Montana guest ranch: