Personal Journey: Roving, riding, relaxing in beautiful Montana

Posted: November 18, 2013

As the plane drew closer to Glacier Park International Airport, the mountains were the first indication that this area of America is, without a doubt, one of its most beautiful. The wealth of green mixed with snow, still surviving the 90-degree heat, was breathtaking. My husband, Marc, and I were taking this trip as a way to relax the best way we know how - in natural settings. We planned to explore Glacier Park for two days, then spend one week at a guest ranch in Whitefish.

Our first day at Glacier it poured rain, but we were undaunted. We drove the entire Going to the Sun Road, through the rain clouds, on the edge of the mountains, and saw scenery we could only imagine before. Our second day was perfect, beginning with chill and rain and ending with sunny warmth. Our hikes along the Hidden Lake Trail and part of the High Line Trail were inspiring. We got up close to mountain goats, ground squirrels, and bighorn sheep, and enjoyed moderately difficult hikes.

We left Glacier to stay at the Bar W ranch outside Whitefish. This small ranch sees a maximum of only 30 guests per week, treats guests like family, and encourages everyone to participate in all the activities, no matter your riding level. We enjoyed three home-cooked meals each day, family style, in one large dining room. A cozy living room was a welcome place to relax with others at day's end. Though guests included families, couples, and singles, from as far away as England and Germany and many U.S. states, we were comfortable together.

We rode most of the day, either on ranch and state park trails or from Eureka, where we spent the day on trails near the Canadian border. One day, a group of us took an advanced trail up the mountain - what a memorable ride! Even better, we learned to cut (separate) cattle, lasso cattle, barrel race, and wind through poles on our horses, chosen for us by the ranch and which we rode the entire week. Monty, my horse, and Blue Duck, my husband's, didn't let us down. Blue Duck was ridden by the bachelor in an episode of The Bachelor filmed on the ranch last season.

Night activities included square dancing, a country-western cookout, a bull-riding rodeo, or simply gazing at the magnificent sky. We had to stay up until at least 10:30 to see the stars, though, pretty late when the breakfast bell rings early. The crowning glory of the week was our participation in our own Bar W rodeo, where we performed all the skills we learned and earned prizes for our performances, all in good fun.

Though sad to leave Montana, we knew this vacation was one we'll treasure, giving us memories to last a lifetime.


Marcia S. Wexler writes from Philadelphia.

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