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Category: Sustainability


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: Sustainability


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: Sustainability


National Geographic & An Inspiring Year of Sustainable Tourism

Unique Lodges of the World: Sustainability In Action

The National Geographic Society was not content to simply change the face of travel reporting and photography. In 2015, they set out to make “tourism a catalyst for positive change.” They created the Unique Lodges of the World Collection, in order to seek, recognize and promote hotels that made sustainability paramount in their mission. The Ranch at Rock Creek has been part of this incredible collection since its inception—the only US charter member.

A Ranch wrangler proudly caries the stars and stripes during the Fourth of July rodeo at The Ranch at Rock Creek in southwest MontanaPreserving The Rodeo Tradition:  The Ranch’s summer and celebration rodeos involve local rodeo athletes and Ranch staff.

In order to showcase efforts made in the first full year of the collection, National Geographic just released their 2016 Unique Lodges of the World Impact Report. The efforts that our sister lodges are involved in are truly inspiring, and today, we’re even more honored to be a part of this esteemed group. As a group, Unique Lodge members have helped conserve 3.7 million acres of terrestrial and marine habitat, and contributed a collective US $76 million to cultural heritage preservation, in addition to US $4.3 million for community development initiatives. The investment of time, money and manpower across 50 contributing lodges shows their formidable passion for making sustainable tourism the norm, not the outlier in the travel industry. Read more…

Category: Sustainability


A Treasure State: 4 Emerging Artisans in “the Merc”

Mercantile Style: Local Luxuries

One of the reasons we’re committed to expanding the frontiers of experiential travel is that a story really is the best souvenir. But often, our guests want a memento to commemorate their bucket list adventure, family reunion or corporate getaway. This might be a cowboy hat that they wore on their first trail ride, a copper Moscow Mule mug from Butte (Montana) Copper Company reminiscent of nights in the Silver Dollar Saloon, or custom Body Bliss bath products formulated to evoke the scents of hiking through our pine forests or sagebrush flats.

A guest enjoys a signature Yule Mule cocktail during a Twilight cocktail hour
A custom-engraved copper Moscow Mule mug with RC logo on the front and recipe on the back. Engraving by local Missoula company, All American Trophy.

Our Mercantile is designed in the spirit of the original Western mercantiles. It’s full of adventure clothing and gear, sundries and handcrafted artisan goods vetted for their originality and quality. Our retail team tries to anticipate our guests’ seasonal needs, so that they can purchase an extra layer for sunrise yoga on a mountaintop or bring home leather baby moccasins for a new family member. The outdoor gear and ranchwear available in the Merc and Rod & Gun Club is the same Patagonia, Filson, Simms and Ariat that Montana ranchers and outdoors people use for work and play. What is our day-to-day uniform features nicely in a nature-lover’s capsule wardrobe.

Our Ranch Mercantile is filled with Western essentials, like cowboy boots, hats and seasonal ranchwear

The Mercantile keeps a balance of luxury, local, Western and RC personalized items year-round. The greatest luxuries are found in the handcrafted objects, like local leatherwork, metalsmithing or woodworking. You can see the time and detail that went into each item—making it a perfect way to remember The Ranch at Rock Creek’s distinctive balance between luxury and Montana’s raw beauty. We have a commitment to stocking as many one-of-a-kind, Montana-made luxury items as we can.

The Ranch's Mercantile caries locally made James Behring knives
A custom-made knife from Missoula-based James Behring, and handcrafted box from Philipsburg woodworker Scott Shake.

Call To Artisans & Purveyors

We are constantly looking for new, original products to feature in the Mercantile, and we put out the call for submissions on our website. Montana artists, makers and purveyors are invited to submit images and information to see if their goods would be a welcome addition for our discerning guests.

Mercantile Artisan & Purveyor SubmissioN FORM

Read more…

Category: Sustainability


Giving Back: A Christmas Season of Stories

Third Annual Granite County Festival of Trees

While we are just finished decking our halls for the upcoming holiday celebrations, we’ve been in the Christmas spirit for over a month.

Sunset at the Buckle Barn before the 2016 Granite County Festival of Trees - hosting is one of the ways we're giving back to the communityThe sun sets before the Gala Auction. Look closely and you’ll see the Christmas trees glowing inside the Buckle Barn. Photo by Rancher Katie Forbes.

On November 11 and 12, we hosted the Granite County Festival of Trees for the second year in a row. The Festival has become a tradition for The Ranch—we’ve been a sponsor for three years. We joined 18 other regional sponsors in supporting this year’s event. Read about last year’s Mystical Mountain Christmas and the first annual event.

Hands go up as people bid on trees during the Granite County Festival of Trees, one of The Ranch at Rock Creek's giving initiatives
A scene from the live auction. The event filled the Buckle Barn. 

This wonderful event serves so many purposes. It supports local healthcare initiatives through the non-profit Granite County Medical Foundation. It showcases the incredible artistic talent we have in a community with only 3,000 residents. Lastly, it allows the community to come together and unite for a worthy cause. This year, the Festival raised over $36,000. Read more…

Category: Sustainability


Sowing Seeds for Autumn Harvest

Anticipating Our Annual Farm-To-Table Festival

Guests enjoy a night in the Silver Dollar Saloon during the Autumn Harvest Weekend

We don’t want to wish a beautiful Montana summer away, but we are already planning for one of our favorite celebrations of the year—the farm-to-table festival we call Autumn Harvest Weekend. When the hay is baled and stacked, the pumpkins are picked and kids are back in school, we’ll take a weekend to appreciate Western Montana’s rapid and abundant growing season. Here are three reasons why we can’t
wait for October to arrive. Read more…

Category: Sustainability


Securing Sustainability

Sustainability in Wild Montana

The Ranch at Rock Creek is embarking on its sixth year in operation as a guest ranch. As we head into the summer season, we’re examining our commitment to sustainability and how we are responding to the evolution of the travel industry. While we seek high standards, we must also ensure we are growing in a healthy way, in order to provide an unmatchable travel experience for our guests and steady, supportive jobs for our dedicated employees. Just like the frontiersmen who settled in Granite County over the last 150 years, we need to be able to sustain our business in an untamed land—the still wild peaks and valleys of the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Our mission as a travel destination is to stay as close to our authentic Montana Ranch roots as possible while providing an unmatchable luxury experience. For this reason, we’re committed to making improvements each year that allow us to create a lasting home in Granite County, reduce our footprint and support our efforts to be better stewards of the land.

A springtime scene in the Rock Creek Valley with green grass, mountains and stormy skies

Read more…

Category: Sustainability


Big Fly Country: Spring Fishing on Rock Creek

Montana Fly Fishing During “The Hatch”

We’re biding our time in the Rod & Gun Club, because the spring melt has begun in the lower elevations. We know that with the end of spring runoff comes a series of fly hatches that make Montana a world-famous fly fishing destination. Our spring specials are in full swing, and one of them is designed for anglers who want to take advantage of prime seasons—spring and fall—in 2018.

Soon we will be immersed in the six-week period known as the salmonfly hatch to avid fly fishermen. This period generally stretches from late May through early July on Montana’s “big bug” rivers. The celebrated period of fishing takes place on several waterways, including the Madison, Yellowstone, Gallatin, Big Hole, Smith, and our very own Rock Creek. We want to take a moment to let our waders dry off and share the three big reasons why these late spring weeks might be considered the “Carnivale” of the fishing calendar. Read more…

Category: Sustainability


Clark Fork River Cleanup

Since The Ranch at Rock Creek opened as a guest ranch in 2010, we have become increasingly invested in the Granite County, Montana community. Our staff has delved into the local causes that improve environmental sustainability and the lives of its residents. Throughout the year we look to give back in ways that will make a lasting impact. As a charter member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, it’s also been an important part of our mission to be responsible stewards of the land, protect wildlife and maintain clean waterways.

montana-wildlife

We are dedicated to keeping Rock Creek’s waters clean year-round. However, this Spring, as Activities Director Patrick Little began floating a little further afield, he noticed that the Clark Fork River, 47 miles North of The Ranch, was accumulating some litter. The refuse ranged from old farm equipment to highway trash to forgotten recreation supplies. People leave cans, water bottles, clothing and other items on the bank, which get washed into our fisheries. As Little noted, the section of the Clark Fork River in Granite County needed a little love.

clark-fork-cleanup Read more…

Category: Sustainability


Local Food: Lambing Season in Springhill

Living in the land of the cowboy, cattle and horses are often the stars of this blog. This week’s guest post allows us to feature Montana-raised lambs as well as Montana-made writer and photographer, Lynn Donaldson. The Ranch at Rock Creek’s Executive Chef Josh Drage drew our attention to this excellent story about lambing after Donaldson visited one of our producers, Willow Spring Ranch. Chef Drage invites local purveyors to attend our Autumn Harvest every year, so that we can appreciate the people whose hard work emboldens The Ranch’s delicious, locally sourced cuisine. This post illustrates the close relationship that most Montanans have with their food–whether it’s foraging for morels, hunting for elk or visiting the farms and ranches that produce our vegetables and stock. We hope you’ll take this opportunity to experience good food at its source. (Spoiler alert: This post contains images of birthing, so be prepared.)

 

Lambing Season in Springhill

montana-lambs

Last Tuesday, I interviewed Katy Harjes—who raises certified organic, grass fed and finished lamb with her husband Rich outside of Bozeman—for an upcoming post by Wyatt Nelson & myself about their annual Willow Spring Ranch Sheep Shearing Party. The Harjes’ are smack in the middle of lambing season, so Katy & I spoke on the phone between her walks to the pasture to check on laboring ewes and various bottle feedings. Though my family has attended a Willow Spring shearing, I mentioned that my kids had never bottle fed a baby animal. “Bring them out!” encouraged Katy, who is passionate about increasing awareness of sustainably grown, organic lamb and loves sharing hands-on ranch experiences with children. Read more…