Open Range

B Bar Ranch, Absaroka Range, Montana

Cross-country skiing is encouraged.     Photo: Courtesy of B Bar Ranch

Winter Lodge Smackdown

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It's a rare Montana guest ranch that values its cattle as highly as it does its tourists. B Bar is one of them: The working ranch, a two-hour drive west of Bozeman, is open to regular visitors in winter only, when the cows are carted off to warmer climes. By January, the 9,000-acre spread, surrounded by the horseshoe of the Absarokas, is covered in up to six feet of snow. The staff here understand that cross-country skiing and snowshoeing should be unguided whenever possible, so guests are let loose to roam. Rent skis in nearby Livingston, then zigzag through lodgepole-pine forests on 19 miles of groomed trails. At night, guests gather for grass-fed-beef tenderloin and veggies from the year-round greenhouse. Home is one of six cabins or three lodge rooms. Opt for the master suite, which has a private hot tub. From $240, including meals; bbar.com

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