Five-star amenities, personalized activities and local cuisine add up to a raring good time at The Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana.
A Conestoga wagon is transformed into a spa during the creekside massage.
It’s all in the details at The Ranch at Rock Creek, a 6,600-acre active guest ranch in Philipsburg, Mont., situated between mountain peaks and among land owned by VIPs who find reprieve in this secluded sanctuary. Upon landing at the tiny airport of Missoula, we are whisked away in a private vehicle on the 90-minute drive to The Ranch. The air is crisp and clear in September, with average highs in the near-perfect mid-70s.
A guided trail ride is one way to explore the beauty of The Ranch at Rock Creek.
The all-inclusive Ranch at Rock Creek—the world’s first Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star ranch, and the only five-star property in Montana—offers four luxe accommodation types: 10 eco-friendly canvas glamping cabins; seven luxury log homes and cabins, with two more in development; the nine-room Granite Lodge; and the historic barn, a converted 19th century barn that lends itself to an authentic homestead-style getaway. We check into our Premium Granite Lodge room, named Appaloosa, which is both charming and elevated, with plenty of authentic Western appeal. Floorboards creak underfoot, and it’s refreshing to unlock the door with an actual metal key instead of tapping a plastic card. An ultimate sense of relaxation sets in, and deep, fulfilling breaths become the norm over the next several days. Refreshingly, no detail is overlooked. “My favorite luxury touches are the things that most people don’t even realize have been done, and when they do realize, it happens days later or toward the end of their stay,” shares general manager Jeremy Belnap. “Most people don’t realize it has been thoroughly thought through until they see the microfiber cloth placed under the sunglasses, the bookmark placed inside the book that the guest brought with them, and other small and thoughtful touches to make the guest experience that much easier and intuitive.”
Kick back at your own fire pit on the banks of Rock Creek.
The easygoing nature of this luxury destination continues with bicycles as the preferred mode of on-property transportation—when not on horseback or whizzing by on an e-bike, of course. We pedal from the Lodge down to the Rod & Gun Club, which acts as base camp for The Ranch’s robust activities program, for our first experience: archery. Each activity is led by a passionate professional who spends ample time teaching the ins and outs of their craft. Belnap encourages guests to try something new on-site: “If our guests are willing to step outside their comfort zones and go for it, they are often rewarded with some amazing stories and experiences they can share with friends and family.” He also touts The Ranch’s ability to customize and curate itineraries based on guests’ desires, skill levels and comfort levels. The activities roster boasts 35 year-round options, including mountain biking, horseback riding, disc golf, a ropes course, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, photography, flyfishing—and even good old-fashioned chilling out. “Our ‘Rock Creek Respite’ is always an activity that guests thoroughly enjoy but may not always expect to do so,” Belnap shares. “It is a special time to sit by the river in a hammock, maybe with a book or cocktail in hand, just relaxing and enjoying the sounds of nature. A lot of folks end up signing up for it a second time!” The 2,000-square-foot Spa at Rock Creek is another way to achieve total relaxation after a day of action.
The Granite Lodge houses dining, the saloon, the spa, the pool and hot tub, and nine luxury accommodations.
In between adventurous outings—or quiet moments—find delicious dining options at the Buckle Barn, a restaurant and event space that hosts weekly barn dances and serves breakfast and lunch daily, focusing on local Montana ingredients. (Don’t skip the freshly baked cookies in the entryway for an afternoon pick-me-up, or the must-order BLT and burger for lunch.
Grab a nightcap at the Silver Dollar Saloon.
Paired with a seasonal cocktail, you can’t go wrong.) Dinners are a daily treat in the Granite Lodge dining room, with special tasting menus, wine pairings and family-style barbecue dinners keeping guests satisfied and intrigued—in a cozy space with a fireplace, naturally. After dinner, the Silver Dollar Saloon is the spot for a nightcap or two (best enjoyed around the fire pit just outside its doors), and it’s home to a private movie theater and the only bowling alley in town.
Experience the chef’s tasting menu with dishes like aquavit smoked trout.
Our stay is equal parts relaxation and excitement, all coordinated by a dedicated ranch ambassador who tailored our itinerary to meet our needs before our arrival. “Many may think these touches and notes that we record about guest preferences are insignificant,” Belnap says, “but it is every little detail that adds up to making the guest feel like they are ultimately in their own house with their own team tending to all of their needs.” The Ranch at Rock Creek achieves ultimate luxury—seclusion, personalization, restoration—and a healthy dose of adventure.
Sweet Grass, a three-room glamping tent
Photography by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE RANCH AT ROCK CREEK