J Bar L Ranch

Twin Bridges, MT 59754, USA

Peggy Dulany, a New York philanthropist and daughter of David Rockefeller, bought J Bar L to protect the 620-square-mile Centennial Valley, a former Native American hunting ground settled by a few cattle-ranching families in the late 19th century—and which still has no towns, let alone paved roads, gas stations, shops, or subdivisions. To conserve the rangeland way of life, she hired locals to run a holistic grass-fed cattle business on the principles of rotational grazing and natural stockmanship. To share the landscape with nature-loving travelers and to keep the valley looking as it was, Dulany restored several abandoned 19th- and early 20th-century homesteads. These self-contained vacation rental homes range from a Sears Roebuck family house, now solar-powered, to isolated cabins on a bend of the Red Rock River. All come with fully-equipped kitchens and are tastefully filled with Western-themed furnishings and antiques; some have outdoor hot tubs.

J Bar L no longer offers working weeks for would-be cowboys but will match guests with geologists as well as with hiking, bird-watching, and fly-fishing guides. Horse lovers can hire ranch mounts for guided daily rides on rangeland that is home to pronghorn, elk, and Black Angus cattle, or up the slopes of the 10,000-foot Gravelly Mountains where wolves, grizzly bears, and bald eagles roam.

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