One of the most luxurious Western guest ranches, opened in 2005, the Resort at Paws Up, in Greenough, sprawls over 37,000 acres of classic Montana landscape: elk-filled meadows, rocky peaks, and ponderosa pines in the Blackfoot Valley, with the river of the same name running through it all. The most sought-after accommodations are the “glamping” tents on the banks of the Blackfoot or along Elk Creek that are available May through October and organized into five separate camps, taking just six guests each. The camps combine a Western lifestyle with an African safari formula: canvas suites with private baths, a communal dining pavilion with fireplace and fire pit, private camp chef, and butlers to help organize guest activities. Families and friends who prefer four walls between themselves and nature stay in enormous wood-and-stone villas with heated hardwood floors, fireplaces, leather furniture, huge flat-screen TVs, and panoramic windows; some of these homes come with outdoor hot tubs and tented bedrooms for kids.
All guests have the opportunity to hike, rappel, canoe, play paintball, take cooking classes, and more, but the main action is on-site fly-fishing and horseback riding for all levels on 100 miles of private trails or in a 23,000-square-foot equestrian arena; adults and kids 12 and up can help move small herds of Black Angus cattle on sample stock drives. If parents want private adventure time, kid wranglers entertain young’uns. In the evening, communal entertainment takes place in a renovated barn that serves as stock sales venue, dance floor, and movie theater. Despite the busy activity menu and flow of golf carts transporting guests to and fro, the ranch is large enough, and accommodation so widely spaced that guests can survey the landscape and not see anyone.
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Neighborhood Vibe The ranch lies 35 miles northeast of Missoula and just down the road from the preserved mining town of Garnet, but most guests never leave the ranch during their stay. The tented camps offer the privacy, intimacy, and service levels of luxury African safaris. Cabin guests can choose between reclusion or joining the convivial atmosphere of the ranch “village” where the restaurants, shop, and barn are located.
Need to Know
Rooms: 28 vacation homes, 30 luxury tents. From $444 per person—full board, activities extra. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Trough offers casual all-day dining; try the pancakes with ranch-picked wild huckleberries, and bison and brown ale chili. Pomp, the dinner restaurant, serves a European-inspired menu in a rustic setting using local and regional ingredients; dishes might include a bison tenderloin with butternut squash risotto, oven-dried goat cheese and Flathead cherry demi-glace. Chuck Wagon offers a moveable BBQ feast. Spa and gym details:Spa Town, set in a meadow clearing, has a fitness cabin with cardio equipment, a yoga studio, and tents for a vast menu of treatments that includes moonlight massages, kid and teen facials, and free massages for pets. The meadow is the start of a mile-long fitness trail with workout stations constructed from native timber. There is no pool.
Who’s it for: Couples and multi-generational families who want active adventures mixed with creature comforts and decadent luxury. Our favorite rooms: The honeymoon tent at Cliffside Camp has views of the rushing Blackfoot River, even from the copper bathtub. River Camp has a small swimmable beach that kids particularly love. Morris Ranch House is a restored vintage family home, white picket fence and all. Know ahead: Romantic couples and privacy seekers should avoid school holiday periods. The cost of the larger cabins is offset somewhat by the provision of a complimentary car for getting around the property.
Ensuite bathrooms. Heated floors and jetted tubs. Terry robes and slippers. Hairdryer.
The Last Best Bed® with fine linens. Down duvet and pillows. Electric blankets for beds in luxury camps.
Cell service throughout property. Wireless Internet. Electricity, air conditioning, fans, and heaters in homes and tents. Paws Up App with one-touch contact to Concierge.
All-glass fitness cabin at Spa Town—includes a treadmill, stationary bike, weights, yoga equipment, and more. Yoga—classes including yoga and/or yogalates.
Spa Town—full-service luxury spa set in a private meadow.
Skilled camp chefs. Nightly bonfire with s’mores. Pomp—fine dining featuring local ranch cuisine. Trough—western home cooking. Chuck Wagon—authentic chuck wagon dinner on the Blackfoot River. 8 Annual Special Culinary Events.
Tank—casual full-service bar. Sommelier's extensive, award-winning wine menu.
The resort features an array of authentic activities over the 37,000-acre working ranch including: Hot Air Ballooning. Cattle drives. Drive a horse-drawn wagon. Helicopter tours of Glacier National Park. Fly your own drone helicopter. Mountain biking.
Situated at the foot of Lewis & Clark's famous Lookout Rock, Moonlight Camp is a collection of six safari-like luxury tents featuring private ensuite bathrooms and a The Last Best Bed. The camp also has a dining pavilion and camping butler.
On the banks of Elk Creek, Creekside Camp has six spacious luxury tents: four two-bedroom suites and two one-bedroom suites. Each of the luxury tents comes with The Last Best Bed and an ensuite bathroom with a vanity, two sinks, and a large slate shower. The dining pavilion features a stone and timber fireplace and an outdoor fire pit.
Stay on the Blackfoot River in a well-appointed tent complete with The Last Best Bed, electricity, a spacious deck, ensuite bathroom, twice-daily housekeeping service, meals, and a personal camping butler. River Camp features six tent suites and a dining pavilion that serves gourmet cuisine.
This camp offers the most expansive views of the 37,000-acre property. Pinnacle Camp features six large tent suites (including Tango Point, an exquisite honeymoon tent) that include spacious ensuite bathrooms with a jetted tub and shower, a plush dining pavilion, and various luxury resort amenities.
The newest and most luxurious camp at Paws Us, Cliffside Camp is located across from the covered bridge and atop a cliff overlooking the Blackfoot River and Elk Creek. Accommodations include four two-bedroom tent suites and two one-bedroom (adult-only) honeymoon tents. Each tent features an ensuite bathroom and air conditioning. Guests can relax in the dining pavilion, taste cuisine cooked by the camp's chef, and enjoy a fire prepared by the camp's butler.
These spacious guest ranch accommodations each have two large bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a laundry room, and a four-person hot tub. The fully equipped kitchen has a range, refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher. The great room features seating areas, a 70-inch flat-screen satellite TV with an Xbox One, and wireless Internet access.
Big Timber Homes
These vacation homes accommodate four to eight guests and are available in three sizes: 1,200 square-foot homes with 1 bedroom, a lofted bedroom, bath, and a spiral staircase; 1,600 square-foot homes with 2 bedrooms/2 baths; and 2,100 square-foot homes with 3 bedrooms/2 baths. The well appointed master suite has a big master bathroom. The loft has two full beds (loft guests share first-floor bathroom) and a comfy seating area. Each Montana vacation home has a lengthy front porch with a view of the wilderness, a back deck with a six-person hot tub, a flat-screen satellite TV, and wireless internet.
This collection of luxury ranch homes are all discretely hidden behind gated chaparrals. The private, expansive luxury ranch accommodation comes complete with panoramic vistas, a vaulted ceiling, a cook's kitchen, a loft game room, private deck, six-person hot tub, and entertainment system. The three master suites feature en-suite master bathrooms outfitted with a slate shower, a jetted spa tub, sumptuous spa products, and plush towels. Each Wilderness Estate comes with a complimentary personal vehicle for your use during your stay.
The Morris Ranch House
Situated among cottonwoods and adjacent to Elk Creek, this historic four-bedroom, five bathroom home is luxurious and secluded. The house comes with a complimentary personal vehicle for transportation around the resort as well as a private tent.
The Blackfoot River Lodge
Nestled on the banks of the Blackfoot River, the newly-renovated lodge has four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The space features a master bedroom suite with an enormous master bath; private office; full, modern kitchen; dining room; living room with stone fireplace; laundry room; four decks and views of the mighty Blackfoot. This well-appointed Montana dude ranch cabin also features a luxury tent in the expansive backyard.