As I swing open my cabin door and walk across the green lawn to the dining room at Lone Mountain Ranch, I spy a brown and white pinto grazing contentedly in front of a neighboring cabin. I quickly access the situation, thinking the horse has escaped from his corral. I spot another horse from the corner of my eye, this one is wearing a halter, his lead rope trailing in the tall grass.
Clearly, these horses are not escaped convicts. They know the drill and don’t roam far from the ranch. When they are called back to the corral by the wranglers, they fall in line. All is well at Lone Mountain Ranch and I continue on to the dining room for a Big Sky breakfast.
Outdoor adventure at Lone Mountain Ranch
After looking over the wide array of activities, I have decided to try my hand at fly fishing, followed by lunch at the ranch and an afternoon horseback ride. My guide, Kurt Dehmer, outfits me in waders at the Orvis endorsed lodge and we jump in his pick up truck, bound for Montana’s Gallatin River and some blue-ribbon trout fishing.
While Kurt patiently explains the light touch needed on a fly rod, years of deep water salmon fishing in Alaska have me gripping my rod as tightly as a cowboy’s hand strapped on a bucking bronc. My casting skills are not any better as I raise my pole back and forth and snap the line expecting to hear the crack of a whip. Needless to say, the fish are not biting this morning.
Big Sky Dude Ranch
After lunch I swap out waders and dry flies for jeans and cowboy boots. I am much more comfortable surrounded by horses, their tails swishing at flies that buzz in the air. I am ready to begin my Montana horseback riding vacation.
Lone Mountain Ranch wranglers
Wrangler Alexis Moeder oversees the horseback riding program at Lone Mountain Ranch. With 90 horses on this Montana dude ranch, there is a horse for every type of rider.
Alexis, an English rider from Belgium, has adapted easily to the Western style of riding at Lone Mountain Ranch. The horses, ranging from Arabians, to draft cross breeds and Quarter Horses, are well trained, yet respond to each rider’s ability.
My horse, Betty, patiently waits next to the mounting block. After my total hip replacement, I am thankful for the mounting block and the fact that I am able to enjoy horseback riding again. The fact that our group of advanced equestrians is able to trot and lope through a field of wild flowers is icing on top of the cake!
Montana Dude Ranch
Whether you are an accomplished equestrian or a first time cowgirl (or cowboy), you’ll find a horseback riding holiday tailored to you. Horse riding is offered numerous times through the week with trail rides ranging from two hours to all day horseback rides. Advanced riders may arrange trail rides into Yellowstone National Park and all day rides may also be planned for families or small groups.
Big Sky rodeo
While my children are now teenagers, I was very impressed with the kid’s program at Lone Mountain Ranch. Naturalist Denise Wade tries to teach experiential learning in all of the Lone Mountain Ranch programs.
Towards the end of the four or seven day program Lone Mountain Ranch hosts a children’s rodeo. I’m not sure what the kids enjoyed most; the rodeo clown, painting horses or the picnic bbq on the mountain top looking out onto Big Sky country!
Needless to say, there is plenty to do at the ranch for the non-horseback riders in the group.
Need to know
Lone Mountain Ranch is a summer and winter family guest ranch in Montana. The Big Sky dude ranch offers 4-7 night all-inclusive ranch vacation packages. Summers include horseback riding, daily kids program, canoeing, fly-fishing and trips into Yellowstone Park. Winter programs include horse drawn sleigh ride dinners, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and snow coach trips into Yellowstone National Park.
Summer Rates (2013)
Adults: $2500-$3100/ week
Teens: $2350-$2800/ week
Child (6-12): $2100-2500/ week
Kid (3-5): $1550-1850/ week
Baby (0-2): $250/ week
Winter Rates (2013-2014)
Adults: $1850-2500/ week
Teens: $1665-2300/ week
Child (6-12): $1250-1875/ week
Kid (3-5): $925-1250/ week
Baby (0-2): $250/ week
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Lone Mountain Ranch (406) 995-4644
Box 160069, Big Sky, Montana 59716
Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Lone Mountain Ranch.