When you think of the ideal place to visit in the American West you think of a lodge or a ranch in a vast, dramatic setting. You want to be in an open space that makes where everything feels big and enchanting.
As you get older, if you’re honest, you might admit you want a few comforts—an insightful wine list, nice sheets, maybe even a spa. And why not, you deserve it.
Well you can have all that and so much more at the Ranch at Rock Creek, a truly exceptional property in northern Montana. This is a hotel that meets all the standards of what might be considered modern luxury: immaculate service, wonderful rooms, one beautiful building after another. But what really makes the Ranch at Rock Creek stand apart is their desire (and ability) and to get their guests out into the world. Yes, you can relax in the pool, in the spa, in one of their smartly appointed cabins. But what you really want to do is go take advantage of everything that a special place out West has always promised: ride horses, shoot skeet, short archery, go hiking, go rafting.
In my case, it means going fly fishing on Rock Creek itself, and of course that’s a brilliant way to spend your time. The staff is at your disposal not only to teach you any of these activities but to encourage you to get out there and do them and each day is focused around getting you into action. Everywhere you turn is a eager young expert who’s ready to help you improve your cast or get on a horse.
The Ranch has countless outbuildings an each of them makes sense in this remarkable universe. There’s a canteen that serves what might be the best egg sandwich I’ve ever had—it’s the perfect way to start the day. There’s the Rod & Gun Shop that helps you get outfitted for whatever’s on your agenda on a given day. There’s a bike shop—you ditch your cars when you arrive so you walk to your cabin or bike, and it’s a very civilizing experience. There’s a building with a bar and a screening room and a bowling alley. There is, in effect, just about something for whatever you are passionate about doing in Montana.
That’s not to say the comforts are lacking. I stayed in the remarkable Trapper Cabin, which is a canvas cabin with a wooden floor, a perfect example of understated rustic sophistication. It sits at the end of a dirt road, a short drive from the main compound. After a day of fishing the Salmon Fly hatch on the river (aim for the first week of June if you’re like me and care about such things), I had a relaxing dinner in the dining room. Then I returned to my cabin and lit a small bonfire next and sat in a soaking tub. As the air cooled, the stars came out and maybe I opened a bottle of wine (not the worst idea!), and thought that everything felt just about perfect.
That’s the thing about a place like the the Ranch at Rock Creek: they help you get out into the world and experience the extreme pleasures of being out West. The staff is enthusiastic, knowledgeable and seamless in what they do. And part of what they do is to is help you make an equation turns out to be extraordinary.