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Category: Holidays


Eggnog the Ranch Elf: A Travelogue

After Thanksgiving celebrations ended, a surprise guest arrived on our doorstep, direct from the North Pole. It was Eggnog, the Ranch elf. We suspect he traveled all this way to make sure the many families who celebrate at The Ranch are well taken care of, and we were happy to show him the ropes of our country Christmas. While he’s been here, he’s crossed a few things off his bucket list. In true Rancher spirit, he also pitched in to help out when possible.

As he looks to depart on Christmas Eve to head back to Santa’s workshop, we’re sharing his travelogue with our Blog at Rock Creek readers.

An Elven Itinerary

Each Ranch guest, young or old, receives their own customized itinerary. Eggnog was no exception. Ranch Ambassador Kendra Foster worked diligently on an itinerary that would be worthy of one of Santa’s helpers. First she noted down the things that were important to Eggnog, next to her own to-do list. (See below). Then, she incorporated included Ranch activities, Little Grizzlies Kids Club outings and special Christmas events into Eggnog’s elven itinerary.

Decking the Halls

Come December, our Activities team forages for Christmas trees across The Ranch’s forestland. The hunt required lots of strong arms, and even a Ranger UTV or two. One of Eggnog’s twice-daily included activities was a Montana Master Naturalist trek in the snow with Ranch Naturalist and Beekeeper Kelsey Bruns. Eggnog scouted his own tree while learning about our eco-system. When the time came, he chopped it down and carried it back to his accommodation.

Western Mercantile Style

In order to feel like a real rancher, he visited Mercantile Manager Cat Johnson. He requested a new Western outfit worthy of his next adventures. He also looked around to see if our Western Mercantile was supplying goods that were up to Santa’s standards. The smile on his face says it all. With mostly locally sourced goods, and some even made by our Ranchers themselves, Eggnog was happy to see that quality gifts were available for any last-minute holiday shoppers.

Life Between the (Pointy) Ears

Dressed in his new bandana, vest and boots, Eggnog was keen to see The Ranch from the saddle. He hopped on a horse and ascended Mary Beth’s Peak. Eggnog’s considerable expertise with sleighs was also invaluable as our wranglers trained our draft horse teams for their Christmas Day sleigh rides.

After his trail ride, he inspected the barnyard to make sure the goats, the sheep, cattle herd and 80-strong horse herd were ready for the holidays. He even had time to work up an appetite for Executive Chef Josh Drage’s farm-to-table cuisine while visiting the chuck wagon.

The Fire is So Delightful

Eggnog attended Yule Night, a local celebration in our hometown, Philipsburg, and he was a welcome guest at our holiday party. That night, he warmed his hands by the bonfire and sipped on s’mores hot chocolate. If you’re searching for a hot cocoa recipe this Christmas, we highly recommend this festive one from our “Eat, Drink & Be Merry” blog—tested and approved by Eggnog himself.

Later that weekend, he enjoyed Mixology Hour with Bar Manager Ned Derosier, and enjoyed a frosty Yule Mule mocktail in a copper mug. Adults can visit the blog to get this tasty recipe, or try Silver Dollar Saloon cocktails, the Resolution or Grand-Fashioned—recipes fit for your rustic-luxe New Year’s plans.

Snow Angels, Snow Sports & Yoga

Eggnog spent his days ice skating, sledding, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and making snow angels. As his stay neared its end, he resolved to rejuvenate his muscles in our Granite Nature Spa.

He enjoyed a fireside yoga session with Granite Spa Manager Karen Piacuqadio. The Ranch offers a number of styles of mind & body classes, including yoga, natural movement training and forest bathing, but Elf Yoga was entirely new to us. All spa services are customized, so Karen made sure Eggnog’s practice was to his liking.

Eggnog’s Little Workshop

Before he left, Eggnog had time to make a bespoke birthday bouquet for Lead Wrangler Mindy Avila. Our own Groups & Events Team Members Christina Wernikowski, Kate DeMello, Lauren Messmore, Ashley Atkinson and Chris Lane were impressed by his work. These professionals value perfection and lead the holiday decorating effort at The Ranch. This season they even designed their own Festival of Trees Nordic Christmas Tree, which made over $8,000 for local healthcare projects.

Eggnog was a wonderful addition to The Ranch’s family this year. We hope you have as much fun relishing the holidays as we do. Stay tuned on Instagram to see how our White Christmas unfolds. Happy Holidays from our Ranch family to yours!


Ranch sign designed by Groups & Events Team Member Kate DeMello. 



The Ranch at Rock Creek hosts seasonal celebrations throughout the year. See our winter specials and our tips for top-notch multi-generational family travel. 

Category: Holidays


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: Holidays


5 Luxe Ways to Celebrate and Savor the Fall Harvest

The Ranch’s New Fall Harvest Festivities

This early October, we are channeling The Ranch’s beehives and buzzing around diligently in preparation of one of our biggest celebrations of the year, Autumn Harvest Weekend. Although we celebrate most major holidays here, our fall harvest celebration is a labor of love – the love of food grown, raised and made in Montana.


Photo by Lynn Donaldson

Everything about this celebration is inspired by Western Montana and its purveyors, pioneers and culture. If you’re looking for an unparalleled culinary journey through the legendary West, we have a few select accommodations remaining, like Bear House below. Contact our Reservations Specialists today for last-minute availability.


Bear House is a one-of-a-kind luxury home, perfect for groups of friends or families. 

Click here to see the full Autumn Harvest itinerary, or stay on this page to see five ways we’re celebrating Montana’s bountiful fall harvest this October. Read more…

Category: Holidays


New World, Old West: Thanksgiving Travel

A Rustic-Luxe Thanksgiving at The Ranch

A grove of aspen trees lines Rock Creek, a Blue Ribbon trout stream that runs through The Ranch at Rock Creek

Welcome to fall at The Ranch at Rock Creek! This season is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque times to experience Montana’s wilderness. When the leaves start falling, we start thinking about Thanskgiving travel and put the finishing touches on our festivities. This year’s itinerary is going to be one of the most gratifying and serene seasonal celebrations we’ve ever planned. Read more…

Category: Holidays


Montana’s Multi-Generational Travel Experience

Finding a Family’s Happy Place

There’s no denying that the Internet has streamlined travel research and booking. Despite the amount of information at our fingertips, many leisure travelers desire a chance to unplug, decompress and reconnect with nature. They are eyeing a return to more meaningful experiences, slower paces and home-away-from-home style family vacations. Both Virtuoso and AARP have reported for the past three years that multi-generational travel is the biggest trend in the travel industry.

An outdoor yoga practice at The Ranch at Rock Creek

At The Ranch at Rock Creek, we’re hosting more groups of three or more generations than ever before. The term “family-friendly” doesn’t really encompass what it means to be an ideal destination for multi-generational travel. (To many people it just implies that children are welcome). But, in reality each generation must be able to find their “happy place” during these vacations. Grandparents don’t want to sacrifice a first-class tasting menu for an extensive children’s menu and an uncle may not want to sit by the pool watching the kids when he could be out fishing on a Blue Ribbon trout stream. Read more…

Category: Holidays


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: Holidays


Category: Holidays


Comfort & Joy: Winter Glamping in Montana

Wintertime Glamping at The Ranch

We’re switching gears to our winter glamping season. If you’ve fallen in love with luxury glamping like we have, you may picture gourmet picnics amidst wildflower meadows and bespoke tents within earshot of a babbling stream. Now, it’s time to update that image to include all the possibilities of glamping in the snow.

The sun sets on a day of winter glamping at The Ranch at Rock Creek

What makes winter glamping so enjoyable is that it’s not summer glamping disguised in wool and down. Instead, it’s comprised of an entirely different set of adventures and amenities. Following on the heels of winter features in Collective Quarterly and Architectural Digest, we wanted to attest to the reasons why winter glamping is fit for your wanderlust list. To take advantage, check out our winter special offers. For example, The Indulgent Frontiersman special highlights the frontier experience, along with the best Big Sky comforts.  Read more…

Category: Holidays


Holly Rancher: Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

Christmas boots hang from the mantel at The Ranch at Rock Creek

There’s no one-size-fits-all way to celebrate the season; however, the instructions “Eat, Drink and Be Merry” might be the perfect recipe for a good holiday party and a “Holly Rancher” (someone who is celebrating the season in Ranch-inspired style). In anticipation of upcoming holidays at The Ranch, our culinary team has shared some recipes for winter comfort food. They believe that the key to a memorable celebration is putting a lot of care into what you serve and then taking the time to savor it.

We hope you’ll enjoy these delicious recipes and use them to channel a country Christmas wherever you celebrate this year. Happy Holidays!

Read more…

Category: Holidays


A Mystical Mountain Christmas

The 2015 Granite County Festival of Trees

This year, we started celebrating Christmas early. With Thanksgiving still on the horizon, we had the opportunity to welcome the Granite County community to The Ranch at Rock Creek for the second annual Granite County Festival of Trees. Fifty decorators on 17 teams gathered to transform the Buckle Barn into “A Mystical Mountain Christmas,”the theme for this year’s event.

The Ranch at Rock Creek's Buckle Barn hosted the 2015 Granite County Festival of Trees

This fantastic local event allows friends of The Ranch to gather for “the season of giving” to celebrate charity, creativity and community, as well as Christmas. It is the main fundraiser for the Granite County Medical Foundation, a local non-profit that we’ve supported for several years. Our Mercantile Manager, Shannon Drage, sits on the board and several staff members volunteer their time to support its projects. Each year, The Ranch aims to give back to local charities that we believe will improve the quality of life for local residents. Read more…