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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 Sage & Cedar 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 Manager Cat Johnson 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, Ariat and Lucchese that Montana ranchers and outdoorspeople 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

Cat says, “We keep 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

Cat is constantly looking for new, original products to feature in the Mercantile, and she’s putting out a 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

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Pet-Friendly Hotels Earn Four Paws Up (& a Tail) | Zeus the Dog’s Travel Blog

A Doggone Good Time at The Ranch at Rock Creek

Zeus the dog reviews The Ranch at Rock Creek compared to other pet-friendly hotels.

Striving for Pet-Friendly Perfection

This week we welcome Zeus, an imposing and good-natured Leonberger dog, and his better (human) half, Katie Jackson. A native of rural Montana, Katie has lived in urban areas and traveled all over the world writing for U.S. News & World Report, FoxNews.com, OutsideOnline, USA Today, The Active Times and Yahoo Travel. When Katie recently visited The Ranch, she brought Zeus and they tackled the fresh powder together, researching our Indulgent Frontiersman special offer. We are proud to be a pet-friendly hotel, and accommodate adventurous canines year-round. Read Katie’s article about learning to be a Five-Star Frontiersman, or stay right here and read Zeus’ take on pet-friendly hotels and life as a Rancher.



Sunday 7 a.m.


Writer Katie Jackson at the rimfire range during her stay at The Ranch. 

Her bags are packed. Again. She’s always leaving. Even though she doesn’t kennel me when she travels, I can’t help but throw myself a puppy pity party. I have a serious case of FOMO—fear of missing out. Yes, dogs suffer from it too.

Some people argue I’m a pony. Weighing in at 150 lbs., I can’t argue with them. I’m a big boy. I tell myself my size is why she never takes me on her trips. But I’m not sure if it’s true. I heard from the gossipy golden retriever next door that pet-friendly hotels are rare. When the wise old poodle around the block confirmed it, I knew it wasn’t just hearsay.

She usually stays at fancy hotels, so I’m surprised to see her cowboy boots piled next to her bags. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but I still go over to investigate. Upon further examination I discover an even more startling find. My leash is dangling from the exterior pocket of her duffle bag and my bag of dog food peeking out of the main compartment.

My blood begins to boil. Is she seeing another dog? And letting it wear my leash and eat my food? How rude!

Read more…

Lasso the Stars: Inclusivity, Culture & Wild Luxury

The all-inclusive guest ranch, The Ranch at Rock Creek, was awarded Forbes Travel Guide's Five-Stars

The Ranch Receives Fourth Consecutive Five-Star Rating

We are thrilled to announce that we’ve just received the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award for the fourth straight year! We want to thank all our current and former staff for their commitment in achieving this honor. As Gerard J. Inzerillo, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide explained today in a press release, the 2017 winners demonstrate “a strong culture of service,” based on 800 separate standards.

A Ranch at Rock Creek bartender serves a Pressed Cider Martini cocktail to a guest

“The Ranch at Rock Creek is honored and proud to receive the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award for the fourth consecutive year. Forbes Travel Guide is our industry’s leader in quality assurance, ensuring we consistently deliver the finest service and unforgettable Montana guest ranch experience for our valued guests. We extend our appreciation to Forbes Travel Guide for their recognition of The Ranch as the world’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star guest ranch again in 2017. Congratulations to the fine staff of The Ranch for their commitment to the Forbes Travel Guide standards of excellence and for their passion in delivering exceptional guest experiences every day of the year.” ~ Steve Shotsberger, General Manager

A group enjoys a snowga excursion at The Ranch at Rock Creek

Only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Ranch

We are in excellent company, with 352 hotels across the world and 77 hotels in the U.S. achieving this year’s five-star rating. As our General Manager mentioned, we remain the world’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star guest ranch and one of the only glamping destinations.

A young moose crosses Rock Creek Road near beautiful Philipsburg, Montana

We are proud of these notable and even curious facts. Our Western hospitality makes The Ranch unique and distinctive among more traditional Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotels or resorts. It’s our casually-sophisticated service culture and can-do approach to the guest experience that is referenced time and again in our reviews. We invite you to experience this generous spirit of our staff and the pristine, untamed nature that makes The Ranch so stellar.

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Winter Yoga, Serenity and Wellness in Nature

“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you…only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.” ~ Author and Gardener Ruth Stout

As The Ranch’s Granite Spa developed from a traditional luxury spa to a holistic nature spa, we sought to approach our spa offerings with the same customization that our entire activities program affords.

No person desires the same wellness retreat. This is why we offer fall and winter retreats that are customizable, including two treatments and two mind & body classes of your choice, in addition to The Ranch’s all-inclusive guided outdoor activities, newly featuring downhill skiing and snowboarding; luxury accommodations; farm-to-table meals; and stress-reducing amenities, like airport transfers, winter gear and fireside cocktail hours. From December 1 to March 31, guests can also receive a complimentary fourth night.

Granite Spa Manager Karen Piacquadio starts a forest bathing class in fresh snowfall.Granite Spa Manager Karen Piacquadio

Our Granite Spa Manager Karen Piacquadio takes the helm of the blog this week and invites you to step into her idea of the perfect winter retreat. After reading, consider crafting your own ideal getaway from our versatile spa menu.




A Bespoke Winter Spa Retreat

“I fell in love with The Ranch, Philipsburg and the magnificent landscape. The solitude and beauty of winter on The Ranch triggers a desire to step back and focus on your own health and wellness. I would like to share with you what a perfect day on The Ranch in winter looks like through my eyes.” ~ Granite Spa & Wellness Manager Karen Piacquadio

Journey to The Ranch at Rock Creek for a little winter respite. Our Winter Luxury Spa & Nature Retreat allows you to fully embrace the winter season as a time for introspection and restoration.


Sweet Grass Canvas Cabin, a year-round glamping cabin along blue ribbon Rock Creek.

Imagine waking up in a luxurious mountain cabin or lodge room engulfed in warm bedding. Gazing outside, you see the beauty of winter, and the silence of a world waking up slowly, under a cover of fresh fallen snow. A family of deer walk past your window as you step out of bed to start the first day of your winter vacation.

A group of deer cross the valley during snow squall in Montana

Wander down to the Granite Lodge, where you can indulge in a chocolate croissant and cup of tea. When your tea cup is ready to be refilled, move to the dining room for a healthy and robust breakfast created by our AM chef, Tom Gillespie.


A plate of Huevos Rancheros in the Granite Lodge dining room. Photo by Groups Coordinator Kate DeMello.

Following breakfast, bundle up for a guided naturalist trek on property with Montana Master Naturalist Kelsey Bruns. Learn about our winter ecosystem and gaze at the amazing views of The Ranch’s 6,600 acres. Finish your morning trek by warming up next to an outdoor fire while sipping a warm beverage.

After working up a sweat on your trek, it’s time to return to the Granite Lodge for a grilled steak salad and tomato soup lunch. With a happy stomach and tired eyes, retreat back to your accommodation for a little cat nap, reading or journaling. If you’re feeling energized, channel it into one of our outdoor winter activities, like cross-country skiing, a mountain peak tour, horseback riding or ice skating.

Mid-afternoon, regroup with your friends and walk to the Granite Spa for a Bulletproof Coffee Detox Wrap or Adventurer’s Massage.

Winter mind & body classes at The Ranch come in many forms, from adventurous natural movement classes to meditative forest bathing to customized indoor sessions overlooking beautiful vistas. You’ll be escorted to the gazebo to watch the sunset during a private candle-lit restorative yoga class with me.


Spa & Wellness Manager Karen Piacquadio teaches a flow class in the gazebo.

Round out your day with a culinary delight, our Chef’s Tasting Menu. Enjoy the craftsmanship and creative passion that our Executive Chef Josh Drage and Executive Sous Chef Ben Miller put into each bite, and feel the magic and mystery of our winter space come to life.

Your evening can be spent quietly in your accommodation or, you can spend some time sipping cocktails made by our bar manager Ned Derosier and then move into the Silver Dollar Saloon for some friendly competition in bowling or billiards.

After all, you are on vacation. Tomorrow will usher in more chances for relaxation through yoga, Granite Spa treatments, outdoor splendor and farm-to-table cuisine.

Picture your entire retreat unfolding when you read the sample itinerary. Friends or family members can join you on this experience or choose another of our curated winter adventures.




The Ranch’s Granite Spa is one of the few optional, additional-cost amenities at The Ranch, along with off-Ranch excursions and Mercantile. It has become an integral part of The Ranch at Rock Creek’s experiential travel offerings. Our Winter Luxury Spa & Nature Retreat allows guests to enjoy $800 worth of spa services included with their stay.


Further Reading, Winter Yoga and More:

Granite Spa Manager Karen Piacquadio

What is Forest Bathing?

Granite Spa & Little Barn Apothecary

Finding Winter Wellness in the Wild

Winter Getaways: 10 Calorie-Melting Snow Sports

 

Fresh Experiences in Fresh Powder

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.

The Nordic Bonfire is one of our new winter experiences that mixes gourmet cuisine with fireside camaraderie
The Nordic Bonfire is one of our new, popular winter experiences. 

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. Read more…

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…

Winter Corporate Travel: Board Room to Bucket List

Montana Group and Corporate Travel

This week we’re reposting a blog that one of our ranchers wrote for Glacier Country Tourism, Montana by guest blogger Heather Rue, a former Ranch at Rock Creek employee. Over her career in marketing, she has produced hundreds of corporate, nonprofit and cause-marketing events and programs. Heather is active in her local community and is raising country kids, chickens and labs while soaking up all life in Montana has to offer. Read the original blog here


Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of producing hundreds of corporate meetings and events in some of the world’s greatest destinations. While the purpose, scope and locations of these gatherings have varied, all of them were designed to inspire excellence, trust and community while nurturing new thinking about business relationships and value creation. More often than not, we aspired to showcase the event destination in a creative way, as we provided a unique and enriching experience for the attendees. As planners, we didn’t want to duplicate our company’s conference room in a different locale; we wanted to draw from the culture of the destination and inspire them through novel experiences, like skiing after a morning meeting or receiving a handmade box filled with local treats at turn down.

A group gets ready to ride a run at Discovery Ski Area in Philipsburg, Montana

Throughout the last decade, my passion for event planning and marketing has continued to blossom because of that essential, powerful ingredient—experiential travel. After living and working in many US cities, I am grateful to call Montana my home, especially since Montana is a place where travelers are instantly captured by a sense of wonder. Montana, through my lens, is an extraordinary, transformative destination for everyone from homebodies to globetrotters; a place where bucket-list experiences are checked off left and right.

Read more…

Seize the Winter! New Specials that Celebrate Snow

As winter gets fully underway, we’re welcoming a 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.

jose-villa-eagles-perch-winter-landscape
Photo by Jose Villa Photography

Shivani Vora of the New York Times 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.

Winter Specials Celebrating Montana Lifestyle & Culture

Every year we try to showcase Montana culture and sports by curating 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.

Skiers ride the lifts at Discovery Ski Area. The hill is known for beautiful slopes and no lift lines.

Between December 1 and March 31, 2018 (stay restrictions may apply),  all winter specials include a complimentary fourth night and all-inclusive downhill skiing and snowboarding at our local hill, Discovery Ski Area, considered by National Geographic a best secret ski destination in North America.

“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

We encourage you to seize the winter with these three trips that you can only experience when the snow falls at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

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Wedding in a Winter Wonderland at Laurie Arons’ Masterclass

As the forecast hints of snow, we’re starting to think about our exciting winter season. This year we’re offering three new special offers for leisure travelers. However, we don’t want to ignore a very special kind of travel to The Ranch—destination weddings.

We’ve had the privilege to work with Laurie Arons, one of the world’s premier wedding planners, for the past two years. Laurie has been featured on Vogue’s “The Ultimate Wedding Planner Master List,” and we have the pictures to prove that she deserves her title as a “master.” In 2015, we did a Q&A with Laurie after her spring Wedding Planner Masterclass. This week, we welcome her as a guest blogger as she showcases her experiences at the 2016 winter Wedding Planner Masterclass. 



Planning the Ultimate Winter Wedding by Laurie Arons

As a wedding planner, I’ve long been inspired by the beauty of winter weddings—so cozy, intimate and romantic.

Masterclass attendees enjoy a farm-to-table feast during their winter wedding welcome dinner
Masterclass attendees enjoy a farm-to-table welcome dinner in the Blue Canteen. Photo by Jose Villa.

The past two winters I’ve spent at The Ranch at Rock Creek opened my eyes to the potential of a winter affair where guests get to snuggle by the fire and warm their hearts when it’s cold outside.

Guests to The Ranch at Rock Creek can enjoy a roaring fire in the Sweet Grass glamping cabinSweet Grass Canvas Cabin – A three-room glamping tent open year-round. Photo by Jose Villa. 

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Fresh Picks From Autumn Harvest Weekend

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We’ve just enjoyed one of our favorite times of the year—our annual Autumn Harvest Weekend. While our Instagram followers experienced this celebration in real time through video “stories,” we wanted to hand pick some farm-to-table festivities to share with our Blog at Rock Creek readers. Before this blog ends, you’ll find a recipe for a cocktail that’s sure to be as bright and invigorating as a harvest moon.

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