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Category: Summer


Virtuoso Best Family Program: Little Grizzlies

On Top of the World with Virtuoso Travel

This summer, we have a lot to celebrate. We’re just completing our new Rod & Gun Club. We’ve added yoga to our list of all-inclusive activities. We’re launching a premiere event, Whiskey & Water, in just one month! Our most recent achievement has us feeling like we’re on top of the world—we’ve just received the “Best of the Best” Virtuoso Travel award for Best Family Program!


General Manager Jon Martin accepts our “Best Family Program” award at Virtuoso Travel Week.

This an elite award is from an elite group of travel advisors who strive to elevate luxury travel for each client. Here at The Ranch, we see hundreds of little ones and their families come through our doors every year. Family programming is not an afterthought; it’s part of the foundation of our activities program. Our Little Grizzlies Kids Club provides an ever-evolving wealth of experiences, each one aimed at heightening kids’ love of outdoor exploration.

On behalf of the team at The Ranch at Rock Creek, we are honored to accept the Virtuoso best family program award and look forward to continuing to provide amazing, memorable experiences for the family clients of our Virtuoso partners. ~ General Manager Jon Martin

Behind-the-Scenes at the Little Grizzlies Club

Guests aged four to 12 enjoy an authentic Montana experience with themed days focusing on anything from honing horsemanship skills to gaining an appreciation of Montana’s ecosystem and the beautiful Rock Creek running through our property. Our Little Grizzlies Guides are trained to impart their knowledge about adventure in the great outdoors.

While most children are well-suited to free play, they may not immediately understand how to play safely and creatively in the forest or mountains. One themed day focuses specifically on outdoor skills and safety, so that kids have the tools to navigate their place in a still-wild world. We hope by inspiring our younger generations in our unique valley, each family can head home as responsible stewards and seasoned adventurers.

“Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.” – Thomas Berry

In addition to the Little Grizzlies program, kids are welcomed to join in our Ranch-wide events like our weekly summer rodeos. Between rough-stock rides and barrel races, they join in some fun rodeo-themed games. These events allow our Ranch guests to join in and be a part of our Ranch family.

A New Den for Little Grizzlies

The newest addition to our family programming is in construction at this very moment! Though our outdoor world is the greatest asset to our guests’ experience, we are adding a children’s specific indoor play space.

Our Little Grizzlies Den will cater to our youngest guests on those days that are less conducive to outdoor play. It will have ample area for indoor games and crafting. We not only pride ourselves on maintaining a wide array of high luxury amenities for our guests, but we’re always striving for improvements, like this new den. Thank you to Virtuoso Travel agents for this prestigious acknowledgement! This Best Family Program award inspirits our work to innovate experiential travel for guests of all ages.

A multi-generational family spends a day skiing at Discovery Ski Area during their trip to The Ranch at Rock Creek
This winter, The Ranch will continue to include downhill skiing and snowboarding for all guests.

We hope to see you and your family here at The Ranch at Rock Creek soon. You are always welcome in our home.

Category: Summer


How to Bird Your World for the Year of the Bird

2018 is the year of the dog in the Chinese zodiac, but man’s best friend has to share the limelight with another vertebrate, the bird. 2018 marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In recognition of the most powerful piece of bird protection legislation ever passed, the National Geographic Society – and by extension its Unique Lodges of the World – are taking part in worldwide conservation efforts to protect migratory bird species, a key cornerstone of our ecosystems.

Sustainability through Conservation

From the very first day of 2018, we began celebrating Montana’s incredible bird population and supporting conservation efforts in a program we are calling Bird Your World. On New Year’s Eve we even decorated the Silver Dollar Saloon with majestic raptors and on New Year’s Day on a snowy Raptor Hike to learn about the hawks, eagles, osprey and other birds of prey that call Rock Creek home.


A bald eagle sits on a fence post near Philipsburg, Montana. Photo by Activities Director Patrick Little.

The Ranch at Rock Creek has been part of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World since 2015. We began as the only US Charter Member. As this eco-tourism collection has expanded, we’ve sought to double our efforts to make our ranch more sustainable. Our main areas of focus are conservation efforts and investment in our local community. National Geographic’s 2016 Unique Lodges Sustainability Report showed the great strides this collection is making to promote sustainable tourism. Read more…

Category: Summer


Sweet Life of Bees, Year Two

Join us as we follow our new colleagues—the bees—through their second year homesteading in the Rock Creek Valley. The story is in reverse chronological order so scroll down to start from the beginning, or read more about their first year on The Ranch.  

Chapter Two: A Live Hive That Thrives

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


Spring Turns to Summer

Spring in Rock Creek Valley was quite a dramatic season. This past winter we had an above average snow pack and thus, in return, we have had an extended high water season for Rock Creek. We hope the extra precipitation will mean a healthier eco-system in the long run.


A honeybee on a rosebush. Photo by Kelsey Bruns.

Now that the water is down, the fly fishing is up! As spring progresses into summer, the hives are busy, gathering pollen and trying to recuperate from the long winter.


Beekeeper Kelsey fishing in Southwest Montana. Read more…

Category: Summer


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. 

Chapter 1, Spring: Welcoming Bees to Rock Creek

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


New Arrivals


The Pintler Mountain range from the Edith Lake trail. Photo by Kelsey Bruns. 

Summer has arrived and the buzz is high here at The Ranch at Rock Creek. The local Pintler Mountain range is slowing losing its snowcaps, which means the Rock Creek is flowing high and the salmonfly hatch is upon us.


The large salmonfly beckons trout and fishermen on Rock Creek. Photo by Patrick Little.

In addition to fantastic fly fishing for our guests, the local flora is rushing into its full summer bloom. Lupine, larkspur and arrowleaf balsamroot are a few of our native wildflowers that put on a show for us during our mid-summer Montana landscapes. Our new naturalist classes teach adventure-loving guests about the connection between the flora, fauna and landscape.

A hillside of arrowleaf balsamroot. Photo by Patrick Little. 

As a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection, we strive to offer guests the chance to delve deeper into the very eco-system that makes our corner of Gold Country so special. Our new National Geographic narrative photography workshops also help them use their knowledge of the environment to capture incredible moments throughout their vacation.


Activities Director Patrick Little and Kelsey Bruns share images during a National Geographic photography training session. Photo by Ned Derosier.

As an addition to our sustainability program and to highlight the connection between the local produce used in our farm-to-table dining, we recently added some new livestock to The Ranch. It’s not a new herd of cattle or addition to our thriving horse herd; our new stock is the extremely important and completely captivating honeybee.


Honeybees outside of their new hives. Photo by Kelsey Bruns. 

Our first bees arrived at The Ranch in April. Their arrival meant that I could share another one of my passions with my colleagues and friends. With our long summer days, I know our honeybees will be very busy these coming months and will have a positive impact on The Ranch’s ecosystem. Our hope is that once these hives become established, guests will soon be enjoying the fruits of their labor. Read more…

Category: Summer


Guest Blog: A Week at The Ranch

Behind the Lens During a Summer Stay

A couple of Adirondack chairs sit ready for a moment of reflection on Welcome Pond at The Ranch at Rock Creek
Photo courtesy of Benjamin Morgan.

As one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, we often host photographers looking to capture migrating wildlife, iconic ranch scenes and high country views. We delight in seeing our wild landscape from different perspectives. Thanks to Instagram and Facebook, we’re able to share guest and staff member talents with our international community every day. Read more…

Category: Summer


Celebrating Culinary Arts Month

Gourmet Food with Big Sky Balance

National Culinary Arts Month couldn’t come at a better time. Summer produce is rolling in and The Ranch kitchen is highlighting Montana’s freshest food with creative, ever-changing menus. We want to recognize the chefs, servers, managers and purveyors that make The Ranch’s dining experiences shine.

As part of the Relais & Châteaux commitmentsExecutive Chef Josh Drage and his talented team focus on making our cuisine a reflection of local tradition while delivering a first-rate luxury experience. We want to thank our staff members who achieve this precise balance every day of the year.

In a recent TripAdvisor review, Claire V., wrote, “The freshness of the food rivaled that of my favorite restaurants in New York City. The service was remarkable and is clearly a top priority of management. While the Ranch at Rock Creek is certainly ‘high-end,’ it is not stuffy.”

Members of our evening culinary arts team enjoy the Fourth of July celebration
Members of our Evening Culinary Team on Fourth of July. Left to Right: Executive Chef Josh, PM Servers Alex, Kaylen, F&B Event Manager Christina, Executive Sous Chef Ben, PM Server Willie. Photo by Willie MacDade.
Read more…

Category: Summer


Ranch Traditions: Saturday Barn Dance

After Memorial Day weekend, guests start seeing a Saturday barn dance on our list of weekly activities, along with the Friday breakfast ride, Tuesday rodeo and Sunday Wells Fargo stagecoach rides. They are now a feature of our summer itineraries and most of our seasonal celebrations, like Autumn Harvest Weekend, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

A driver picks up guests in a restored Wells Fargo Stagecoach at The Ranch at Rock Creek

“Out of all the great and amazing activities we do here at The Ranch nothing receives more positive feedback than the barn dance night.”~Former General Manager Jade McBride

Our barn dance was inspired by a treasured piece of Western history. We hope to restore and share a community celebration that’s sorely missed in modern society. Read more…

Category: Summer


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: Summer


What’s a Ranch Rodeo? Photo Essay on a Montana Tradition

IMG_4072-2Photography by Robert A. Cole

A staff member and talented photographer, Robert Cole, spent his summer at The Ranch documenting our weekly ranch rodeo at Camp Roosevelt Arena. Robert traveled from Northern California to work in Montana this summer. Although he has photographed sports before, the rodeo was a new experience. Trying to balance the cultural significance with the athleticism is always a challenge. In this week’s blog, we explain the historical significance of rodeo events to modern competitions and working ranches, while Robert explains his approach to photographing this important Montana tradition.  Read more…

Category: Summer


Ranchspiration on a Montana Vacation

Ranchspiration-Montana

Guests use many words to describe inspirational moments during their Montana vacation. However, no one word seems to encapsulate the surprise and delight that you get from Montana experiential travel—so we invented one! “Ranchspiration” signifies any special moment at The Ranch that might pique the senses or inspire introspection and adventure. At the start of our summer season, Tracy Larson visited The Ranch at Rock Creek for a stay with her husband. Although she’s already a lover of off-the-beaten path experiences, she brought her expertise to bear on how experiential travel can change your perspective and open (barn) doors. Thanks, Tracy, for sharing your thoughts, photos and adventurous spirit!


Destination Ranchspiration

by Guest Blogger Tracy Larson

When I travel, I want to feel a sense of place, the daily life, local flavors, sights, sounds and smells. I want to unlock what is unique about the destination. From the moment my husband and I pulled on to the dirt road leading up to The Ranch to the moment we pulled back on to the pavement headed for home, I was enjoyably immersed in the ranch life of Montana. Read more…