In 2007, hedge fund investor Jim Manley bought a working cattle ranch on the site of a historic silver-mining claim to stake as his bigger-than-life family retreat. In 2010, he opened up the Ranch at Rock Creek, a toy-filled haven in southwest Montana’s Big Sky Country, with 13 houses with one to five bedrooms, luxurious canvas cabins for “glamping,” or a nine-room granite lodge. All are decorated by designer Jet Zarkadas and feature Oriental carpets, deep leather chairs, cow skin and woven Navajo rugs, custom duvet covers, and period Western photos and memorabilia. Despite the remote location and 5,200-foot elevation, all accommodations have landline, working Wi-Fi, and cell phone coverage; some have moose antlers, a private sauna, outdoor hot tub, and indoor copper bathtub.
Open year-round, the 10-square-mile property encompasses meadows, high country lakes, grassy ridges, and stunning vistas of the Pintler and Sapphire mountains. This self-contained adventureland offers horseback riding; heli-hiking; fly-fishing; river floating; high-tech mountain biking; rope courses; trap shooting; and archery on a 3D course using powerful hunting bows to shoot life-sized models of animals. Weekly rodeo and stagecoach rides underscore the Western theme; in winter, guests cross-country ski, ice skate, and snowshoe on-site. A kids’ club frees parents for spa time and other pursuits.
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The nearest town, Phillipsburg, mainly offers an airstrip for private jets, so most guests stay on property (which has an active social scene) to enjoy its excellent food, a bar, and more than enough activities to fill a week’s stay. During the day, guests disperse to scheduled morning and afternoon activities. In the evening, those who want to hobnob gather in the Great Room over cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. After dinner there’s more socializing in the Silver Saloon, where staff join in bowling, guitar serenades, and karaoke.
Need to Know
Rooms: 28 accommodations include lodge rooms, a restored three-suite barn, bunkhouse, luxury tents, and luxury log homes for families or groups of friends. From $800 per person, inclusive of meals and most activities. Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: The Lodge Dining Room’s lunch and dinner set menus, featuring premium wine pairings with dishes of local meat and produce, earned the ranch its Relais & Chateaux listing. The cuisine is inspired by the world’s cattle-producing regions. The more casual Blue Canteen has an all-day coffee bar with fruit and fresh-baked goods; entrées include bison burgers and fresh, wild-caught Alaskan salmon that’s flown in. For guests who prefer virtual horseback riding, the Silver Saloon serves Montana Mules (whiskey and ginger beer) atop bar stools made from western saddles. Spa and gym details: There’s an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi. The full-service Granite Spa and 24-hour fitness center with yoga classes is set in a former guns and ammo storehouse.
Who’s it for: Wealthy dudes and dudettes who seek over-the-top pampering and dining along with rugged outdoor adventures. Our favorite rooms: The 700-square-foot hayloft suite, which sleeps up to four, is in a restored 19th-century barn. Perfect for privacy-seeking couples, the Trapper glamping tent two miles from the main lodge has a deck with hot tub overlooking Rock Creek. In summer, families with kids benefit from booking a cabin within walking distance of the main lodge and pool area. Get outdoors: The lodge loans guests cowboy boots, Marmot jackets, and fishing gear. The four miles of Rock Creek running through the ranch have high catch records for westslope cutthroat, rainbow, cutbow, brown, bull, and brook trout, as well as Rocky Mountain whitefish. The salmon fly hatch starts in late May and lasts into July. Bring mosquito repellent.