Philipsburg, MT -- Discard any preconceived notions you may have about camping - and say hello to glamping - a hybrid between camping and staying in a luxury rustic cabin. Glamping projects the guest into the wilderness, while providing all of the amenities of a five-star resort.
The glamping tents at The Ranch at Rock Creek are just some of the 28 accommodations available on the 6,600 acre opulent ranch. Accommodations include everything from turnkey homes to rooms in the ranch's picturesque lodge.
Back to glamping. The double layered canvas a-frame tents stretch the definition of the word "tent" to its limit. The tents include an elevated wood floor, electric and even a gas powered heater. The front quarter of each 600 to 1,000+ square foot 'tent' includes an outdoor deck and a porch complete with a table and refrigerator stocked with drinks.
The back quarter of the tent is equipped with a full bathroom including a tub and shower. The porch and bathroom sections are covered with tin roofs while the middle portion of the tent - its top and sides - is made of canvas. To round out its rustic appeal, three massive timbers support the canvas portion of the tent.
There are various "tent" layouts including one particular tent with a king-sized bed and sleeper sofa - named Apache. (The glamping tents are named after the many varieties of Montana trout.) Apache's location, nestled along the bank of Rock Creek, makes for a perfect vantage point to sit on its front porch and view the ranch's abundant wildlife. Some of the wildlife roaming the ranch include deer, elk, moose, wolves, coyotes, beavers and more.
The ranch's namesake, Rock Creek, is a major draw with an international reputation for trout fishing because of the seven different types of trout that can be caught...and must be released.
The Ranch at Rock Creek is about 1.5 hour drive from Missoula located just outside Philipsburg and its 956 residents. The Ranch is an all-inclusive resort where guests from throughout the world immerse themselves in the ways of the West. One fee pays for all activities, food and beverages.
The food is world class seasonally inspired cuisine that emphasizes locally sourced meats, fruits and vegetables whenever possible. One night's dinner in the formal dining room may include a multi-course meal that features nearby "Miller Farms" pork tenderloin with sweet corn sauce and roasted corn salsa - with potato leek soup as an appetizer. Beverages - including beer, wine and mixed drinks - are included in the all inclusive price.
If guests want a more relaxed dining experience, there is the Blue Cantina. Conveniently located within yards of the glamping tents, the Blue Cantina serves a lighter fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
From the moment a guest checks in until their departure, guests are pampered. The tents are made up each day and there is even the nightly turndown service. Everything is planned and prepared for - from a collection of drinks in the tent when the guest arrives - to mountain bikes for each guest already positioned at their accommodation for their use during their stay.
Stays at the ranch, however, aren't all about dining and being pampered - they are about getting outdoors and experiencing Montana's 'Big Sky' Country. The ranch borders the 3.35 million acres of the Deer Lodge/Beaverhead National Forest. It provides for inspiring views of the Flint Creek Range to the east. The land features of the ranch, which was originally settled as a mining claim in the late 1800s, include open meadows, high ridges, alpine lakes and rich creek bottom - four miles of Rock Creek frontage to be exact.
Each day guests choose between a morning and afternoon activity. The smorgasbord of activities includes: horseback riding, sporting clays, rifles and pistols, mountain biking, hiking, archery, fly fishing and paintball.
Horseback riding is the traditional and always popular option, but other atypical guest ranch activities are gaining in popularity.
The shooting program offers two options: sporting clays or the rifles/pistols program. It doesn't matter if someone has never shot a firearm or they are an expert shot, the staff at the ranch is prepared for both. The sporting clays program provides elements of both trap and skeet shooting. Shooters can take aim with the the ranch's 12, 20 or 28 gauge shotguns as an expert instructor provides coaching to conquer all 11 of the range's throwing stations. (Another shooting range is under construction.)
The rifles and pistols program is target shooting with various firearms. If you've never shot a semi-automatic rifle, this is your chance. Bolt action hunting rifles and pistols are also available for shooting - and in case you are wondering - everything is provided including the ammunition.
There is a 3D archery course that allows a hunter to improve or develop their archery skills on life size simulated targets of elk, bison, mountain lions and more. Paintball, especially popular with younger guests, is sure to get hearts pounding. The ranch provides all the necessities - clothing, padding and other paintball equipment.
After a busy day outdoors, it will be time to unwind. An outdoor 24-hour heated pool and hot tub are located adjacent to the main lodge, with both providing stunning views of the ranch and the nearby mountains. Treatments at the ranch's Granite Spa will relieve the mind and body of stress and impurities. (Additional fees are required for the spa services.)
After dinner, Rock Creek's Silver Dollar Saloon is the meeting place. The family oriented western style saloon serves up drinks to guests who sit at the bar on horse saddles. Of course, this isn't your normal bar, drinks are free. In adjoining rooms, movies play on a big screen and guests showcase their singing talents or their bowling skills. The ranch is equipped with a mini-bowling alley - four full sized, ultra modern bowling lanes.
For more information on the Ranch at Rock Creek, visit www:theranchatrockcreek.com.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary travel accommodations for the purpose of this review.