Photo by Lazy E-L Ranch
Lazy E-L Ranch
Still run by the descendants of its founder, Malcolm Mackay, this 114-year-old family-owned working cattle ranch in Roscoe, Montana, has been hosting guests—Roy Rogers and Robert Redford among them—since the 1980s. Lazy E-L Ranch is often booked a year in advance due to a capacity of just 14 guests who stay in three period cabins furnished with Western art, family pictures, and Navajo rugs. Instead of a formulaic schedule of staged chuckwagons, cowboy sing-alongs, roping practice, and nose-to-tail trail rides, guests have the option of a more authentic experience, joining ranch staff as they manage stock on 12,000 acres roamed by moose, deer, and bald eagles. The main draw here is integrating into ranch life, feeding chickens and horses, cleaning barns, and helping prepare family meals (though chores are optional). There are no guest cattle drives, but experienced riders can occasionally join or observe Lazy E-L professional cowboys moving 2,000 head of cattle. For guests preferring play to work, there’s horseback riding and hiking across pristine alpine pasture and barren plateaus; non-horse people can mountain bike down the terrifying Beartooth Highway, play soccer, baseball, and croquet, fish a private six-mile section of the West Rose Bud River, or raft the Class IV Stillwater River.
By Susan Hack, AFAR Contributor
Roscoe, MT 59001, USA