Sometimes the most relaxing thing you can do is book a getaway someplace great—and then stay put for a week or a few days. That's the idea behind Montana's iconic dude ranches, cabin, and lodges, where families or couples can play, recharge, and reconnect with one another. Here are eight of our favorites.
Glacier Country: Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge
It’s hard to beat a dude ranch on the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River, 35 miles south of Glacier National Park. Beyond sailing, swimming, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, fly-fishing, and feasting at a steak-fry cookout, guests return to this historic lodge over and over again because the third-generation Montana family that founded it 73 years ago makes them feel like family.
Glacier Country: Triple Creek Ranch
This exclusive, Orvis-endorsed, 600-acre ranch is etched into the Bitterroot Mountain range 75 miles south of Missoula, where horseback riding, fly-fishing, hiking, and panning for rough-cut sapphires are all on the menu. After cleaning up in their double-steam shower, guests can relax in their own private hot tub, read around the elegant new pool, or reserve a seven-course dinner with wine pairings at the chef’s table.
Yellowstone Country: Blue Sky Cabins
From the outside, these five cabins that sit on a high plateau in the shadow of Montana’s highest mountain, 12,799-foot Granite Peak, look as if they might have been built by a settler back in the 1860s. Step inside, however, and the Jacuzzi tub, full kitchen, and plush beds tell a different story. Early risers can head out with the sun to scout for elk, moose, or black bears. Or linger in bed and save your energy for hiking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, or fly-fishing the Stillwater and Yellowstone Rivers, or exploring Red Lodge, a 20-minute drive away.
Yellowstone Country: Lazy M Mountain Cabin
If you’re looking for a secluded Montana base camp from which to explore Yellowstone National Park, horseback ride in the Custer Gallatin National Forest, whitewater raft the Yellowstone River, or explore Gardiner, then quickly retreat from the crowds, look no further than this unplugged oasis. Sitting on Cinnabar Creek, an idyllic trout stream northwest of Gardiner, the cabin offers the best form of entertainment: sitting back in an Adirondack chair on the porch and listening to the gurgling creek as the stars align overhead.
Central Montana: Deep Canyon Guest Ranch
Nestled into a canyon on the edge of the million-acre Bob Marshall Wilderness, 90 miles southeast of Glacier National Park, this dude ranch is for guests craving space. Fly-fish for cutthroat trout on the North Fork of the Teton River; horseback ride through the alpine meadows; scope out rufous hummingbirds, elk, or moose on daily hikes; or float lazily down the river in an inner tube. When it comes time for the evening meal, dine family style on local grass-fed beef or barbecue ribs back in the historic lodge, built in 1928.
Missouri River Country: Montana River Ranch
Practically a stone’s throw from the Montana–North Dakota state line, this private lodge near the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers is a deer and pheasant hunter’s dream. On the three-day, four-night guided ring-necked pheasant hunt, you’ll be tracking birds along the beautiful Missouri River Flyway.
Southeast Montana: Bighorn River Lodge
There are few other rivers in the world that contain 6,500 fish per mile. That’s why beginner and expert anglers alike return again and again to this log-cabin-style lodge on the bank of the Bighorn River. When they aren’t fishing, guests can explore nearby Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area by foot or chill out on the deck overlooking the Bighorn Mountain range. Bring a big appetite: Break-fasts are huge and bavette steak is the signature dinner dish.
Southwest Montana: Big Hole Lodge
Be prepared to rise at the crack of dawn and fish until you’re exhausted—this luxuriously rustic lodge on the bank of the Wise River is, after all, the 2017 Orvis Fly-Fishing Lodge of the Year. Guests who don’t want to spend all day casting dry flies into the Big Hole River can horseback ride up to a high-mountain lake or laze in a hammock until the huckleberry-glazed quail hors d’oeuvres are served.