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.
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.
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
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.
1. The Indulgent Frontiersman (Or Woman)
As Philipsburg approaches its 150th anniversary next year, we wanted to do something that honors the heritage of our area in a playful way. (We love the spirit of play!) We are part of a region known as “Gold Country.” Miners, trappers and ranchers settled into the area in hopes of benefitting from Montana’s natural treasures. If you’ve seen The Revenant, you know that centuries ago, the beauty of an untamed wilderness was always tempered by incredible frontier struggles. Luckily we’ve made winter life a lot easier thanks to the internal combustion engine, indoor plumbing, heating and state-of-the art equipment. But local culture still holds fast to its relationship with the land.
Photo Courtesy of Collective Quarterly
The Rod & Gun Club wanted to help people who were struck by Hugh Glass incredible real-life experiences to form a deeper connection with this beautiful land during their stay. They can embrace the contrast of frontier experiences with Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star luxury. We all know a cedar sauna or hot bath feels a lot better after a wintry trek.
Photo Courtesy of Collective Quarterly.
The Indulgent Frontiersman allows guests to choose two bespoke adventures inspired by Montana’s brave frontiersmen and women. Choices include ice fishing, a survival skills challenge, a snowmobiling expedition with campfire lunch and a horseback riding and target shooting excursion.
Photo Courtesy of Collective Quarterly
We recommend booking a stay in our most secluded accommodation, Trapper Cabin, built from a stone, wood and canvas for the ultimate winter glamping experience. Guests can ski in and out of their accommodation, hitch a ride or borrow a Ranch vehicle to get to the Granite Lodge. They can also fish from their doorstep and enjoy a cedar soaking tub under the stars. If this sounds like heaven to you, book quickly, since Trapper is one of our most sought-after accommodations. Other great choices are Sweet Grass Canvas Cabin and the Historic Barn. Of course, there are many more distinctive accommodations to discover.
Also, included in this winter special is an optional Saddle Sore Soak treatment in the Granite Spa. Beyond selecting these unique adventures to experience with your comrades (family and friends), guests will have access to a host of other inspiring winter sports and enjoy inventive Western cuisine, including a craft whiskey and beer tasting.
The days can be filled with relaxing solitude or rousing nights in the Silver Dollar Saloon. Each guest itinerary is custom-built, so that you can write your own story of winter renewal.
2. The Snowgi
Snow is an essential part of our healthy eco-system. Every year the snowpack supplies the water that keeps our Rock Creek fish population happy and our local purveyors producing. In fact, Montanans talk about the precipitation quite a bit, because it has such an important connection to our livelihood. It’s rare to meet a Montanan who doesn’t wish for more snow.
It’s easy to confer the benefits of winter and snow to our travelers. Snow sports provide some of the best, most intense workouts you can find. The snow also serves as an amazing backdrop—rich with pristine winter scenes and wildlife migration. In 2015, we bolstered our yoga program, encouraging guests to try the centering benefits of outdoor yoga throughout the year. Our instructors have created several adventures that tune a guest’s senses to the season. Travelers looking for a wellness holiday will find a yoga and spa oasis at The Ranch thanks to our Winter Spa & Yoga Retreat winter special.
As the Granite Spa has expanded its fitness classes and yoga programs, it’s also expanded its seasonal treatments. We use foraged and local ingredients at the height of their efficacy to create therapeutic treatments. To complement our local ingredients and scents, we recently partnered with Little Barn Apothecary. This innovative “bloom-to-bottle” company creates bath and body products that have simple elements and powerful benefits.
Our spa just won two 2016 Spafinder Wellness Travel Awards for Best for Couples and Best for Outdoor Adventure and Activities. We’re honored and excited to be curating spa experiences that enhance a stay at The Ranch.
The Winter Spa & Yoga Retreat winter special includes daily yoga, a guided nature trek, an essential oils workshop and a Granite Spa facial or massage. Guests can choose between our signature treatments, like the Rock Creek Custom Facial or Restorative Massage. Spa enthusiasts who want more indulgence, can try our seasonal treatments like St. Nick’s Facial or the Winter Cleansing Ritual. (We love the addition of Little Barn Apothecary’s peppermint bath salts!) Guests will enjoy both indoor and outdoor yoga experiences, including Snowga. This relatively new type of yoga starts with a snowshoe or cross-country ski trek to a mountain top or snowy meadow, followed by a standing yoga series and enhanced with hot tea.
This winter special is four days of wellness in nature augmented by healthy, locally sourced meals, hot tea, winter activities and fireside relaxation. More time in nature is a New Year’s resolution that all of us at The Ranch can appreciate.
3. The Powder Hound
Montana is a skier’s paradise. The majority of our staff members have season passes to our local ski area, Discovery, and are champing at the bit to get on the slopes.
Meanwhile on The Ranch, there are very few winter sports that we don’t offer. On our 6,600 acres, we offer cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skating, sledding, horseback riding, geocaching, UTV Ranger tours, sleigh rides and hockey. Our target sport ranges are also open. Our Unlimited Ski & Snowboard Adventure winter special allows you to live like a local powder hound, splitting your time between the 67 runs at Discovery Ski Area and some of the best high country snow sports in the states.
If you yearn for more time on the slopes, you will love Discovery. National Geographic named Philipsburg one of the top secret ski towns in North America, calling it the best town for skiers (or snowboarders) with cowboy fantasies. For this list they chose, “places without gloss, the unknown gems, where the locals are friendly and shops are locally owned.”
“Eighteen miles up the Pintlar Scenic Highway is one of the best under-the-radar ski areas in the Northern Rockies—Discovery, or Disco to the locals…The only thing missing—in town, the surrounding mountains, or the wide ranching valleys sprawling out below—are crowds.” – National Geographic
Guests on this unlimited adventure can book as many ski days as they desire during their stay. Ski Concierge, transportation, equipment, on-mountain excursion coordination and gourmet lunches are provided. They can also choose to stay on The Ranch and enjoy snowy activities closer to home. Guests will have an opportunity to live like a local skier with an après-ski trip to Philipsburg to visit the Philipsburg Brewing Company, Sapphire Gallery, filled with locally mined sapphires, and Sweet Palace Victorian candy shop.
Visit the Unlimited Ski & Snowboard Adventure page to view a sample itinerary, but remember it’s customized to your powdery preferences, whether they include Après-Ski Yoga or bonfire cocktail hour before a night in the Silver Dollar Saloon.
4. The Cozy Cupid
If you’re looking to pamper someone, it’s great to get off the beaten path and enjoy a private, cozy holiday away rather than fight with crowds. We know everyone loves the idea of a Valentine’s Day away, but not everyone is able to make a Tuesday trip fit into their busy February schedule. Our Romantic Winter Getaway is designed to be the perfect Valentine’s Day escape. Since it lasts all winter, you can take it when your schedule allows between December and March.
Sip champagne or wine in your accommodation or cozy up for social hour in front of the Great Room fireplace. With gourmet meals, snacks and premium wine, beer and spirits included, you can leave the planning up to us and relax into private luxury.
In addition to our all-inclusive amenities this getaway includes special features like a full-day excursion at Discovery Ski Area, a privately guided winter adventure with refreshments, two restorative Granite Spa massages and yoga.
Schedules are always customized to your preferences and abilities, so if you’d rather set off on your own or read by a wood-burning stove, your Ranch Ambassador will work hard to create your vision of cloud nine in Big Sky Country.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Read the details of Holidays at The Ranch. We’re toasting to the holidays and the 75th anniversary of the Moscow Mule with our Yule Mule. Find the recipe here.