12 Top-Rated Resorts in Montana
One of the most rugged and scenic of the western states - it's often associated with the traditional "Wild West" images of America's past - Montana is also one of the most popular for travelers, especially those interested in resorts with access to exciting wilderness opportunities. Montana is affectionately referred to as "Big Sky Country" for its vast plains and mountains. Popular choices of accommodations for those wanting to explore the state include the top-rated Ranch at Rock Creek and Triple Creek Ranch, both of which offer first-class wilderness experiences. Classy yet authentic is also very much the kind of experience you'll find at other properties, including The Resort at Paws Up and the Lodge at Whitefish Lake, two luxury resorts that offer plenty of excuses to indulge yourself while enjoying a back-to-nature experience. Whatever your budget, find the best place to stay with our list of the top-rated resorts in Montana.
1 The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg
Rated as the world's only "five-star" ranch, The Ranch at Rock Creek in west Montana also has the distinction of belonging to the Relais & Châteaux group, one of the leading purveyors of luxury accommodations. Set amid a vast 6,600-acre site that boasts everything from views of mountain ranges to meadows, The Ranch at Rock Creek is a nature lovers' dream. Guests not only have a choice of some 20 guided outdoor adventures, from trail riding to cattle herding, they can enjoy first-class amenities, too. The resort's Silver Dollar Saloon is where much of the action takes place, from bowling to movies, karaoke to billiards, as well as shuffleboard and ping pong. There is also a spa on-site.
And with only 29 units - ranging in size from studio suites to huge five-bedroom log homes - it never feels crowded. A popular choice are the luxurious two-bedroom family suites. These spacious, western-themed deluxe suites come with quality custom furnishings, a master bedroom with en suite bathroom, and plenty of living space with pullout couches (some of the largest units even have kitchens). Whatever your selection of unit size, you can expect quality services such as all meals, twice daily housekeeping, snacks, plus a stocked mini-fridge, and comfy bathrobes and slippers
Accommodation: The Ranch at Rock Creek
2 Triple Creek Ranch, Darby
Another great wilderness experience worth sampling is provided by Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, where a highlight of a stay is having your own luxury log cabin or ranch home from which to explore. A great choice for couples are the one-bedroom cabins, each richly decorated in an authentic Western style and boasting such features as large open living areas with real fireplaces (wood provided), log king beds, and spacious bathrooms with two-person bathtubs and showers. The best part, though, are the large wrap-around decks, each of which comes with a private hot tub. A larger two-bedroom/two bathroom version is also available that sleeps up to four guests comfortably.
In addition to the many year-round outdoor adventures on offer, guests can also enjoy a variety of great on-site amenities. Highlights include tennis, horseback riding, or more relaxing pastimes such as lounging by the swimming pool. The dining is certainly a big draw, with different menus being offered daily (meals and packed lunches are included with your stay). In-room dining is also available.
Accommodation: Triple Creek Ranch
3 The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough
One of the largest of Montana's many fine ranch resorts, The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough covers an impressive 37,000 acres. It's a great choice for those wanting to experience a taste of the Old West as it's very much a working cattle ranch, ensuring guests a truly authentic and downright unique vacation. The accommodations here are definitely luxuriously appointed and include everything from glamping in safari-style tents to large multi-bedroomed homes boasting vaulted ceilings, full-kitchens, games rooms, and en suite bathrooms. These larger units also come with spacious decks with hot tubs.
Your outdoor experience will include plenty of horseback riding, whether you're assisting with a round-up or hitting the ranch's 100 miles of trails. Other activities include fly fishing (the area is famous for its trout), clay pigeon shooting, ATV tours, as well as plenty of hiking and mountain biking, along with kayaking, rafting, and even paintball. Programs are also provided for kids, including educational activities and riding. Also available is dining in a choice of two restaurants, a swimming pool, a fitness center, and hot tubs.
Accommodation: The Resort at Paws Up
4 The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, Whitefish
Those looking for a good quality stay in the Whitefish area would do well to consider the
The Lodge at Whitefish Lake. Built in the style of a traditional wilderness lodge, it's a wonderful spot for those seeking to experience the great outdoors while still enjoying all the mod cons. A highlight of a stay is enjoying the various activities that take place on Whitefish Lake, from boating (the resort has a marina offering rentals and slips) to kayaking, leisure cruises, swimming, and fishing. While there's plenty of other activities to enjoy close by, from shopping to skiing - along with the shuttle services to get you there - there's also plenty of fun on-site. Notable features include a private beach; an outdoor lakeside swimming pool and hot tub (plus the same indoors); a fitness center; day spa, including couples' massages and outdoor cabanas; restaurants; and bike rentals.
A variety of accommodation options are available, ranging from cozy lodge rooms and suites to spacious two- and four-bedroom cottages. Depending on the size and configuration you choose, you can expect to enjoy such features as furnished balconies or patios, full kitchens or kitchenettes, wet bars, and large bathrooms with soaker bathtubs and stand-alone showers. Some of the larger units even come with additional bathrooms, as well as expanded living areas and dining rooms.
Accommodation: The Lodge at Whitefish Lake
5 Lone Mountain Ranch, Gallatin Gateway
Thanks to its location in Gallatin Gateway, just 18 miles away from the many attractions of Yellowstone National Park, Lone Mountain Ranch is a popular place to stay for those wanting to explore this most famous of American wilderness areas (something it has been for more than 100 years). In addition to the spectacular scenery that surrounds it, the ranch is popular for its outdoor activities, which include everything from fly fishing and trail riding, downhill and cross country skiing, as well as guided tours of Yellowstone. Mountain biking and white-water rafting adventures can also be arranged. A restaurant is also located on the ranch.
The ranch's rustic private cabins, all fully renovated, are also a big draw. There are 27 in total, with a popular option being the one-bedroom cabin consisting of a bedroom with a king bed plus living space with a pullout sofa. Highlights include large bathrooms with classic clawfoot bathtubs and walk-in showers, authentic woodstoves, and furnished decks. Larger two- to six-bedroom versions are also available.
Accommodation: Lone Mountain Ranch
6 Rainbow Ranch Lodge, Gallatin Gateway
Rainbow Ranch Lodge is another popular Gallatin Gateway getaway. The year-round fun includes guided hiking and outdoor adventures (both on-site and in nearby Yellowstone and Big Sky national parks) including fly fishing, trail riding, kayaking, and white water rafting. When the snow falls, it's all about winter activities, such as skiing, snowshoeing, or simply relaxing indoors and enjoying the ranch's amenities. These include a restaurant, a lounge area with regular live music, a spa, fitness equipment, plus a hot tub.
The ranch offers a variety of comfortable, rustic accommodations. An affordable option for many are the standard lodge-style rooms, which come with custom furniture, queen beds, living areas with pullout couches, work desks, real fireplaces, mini-fridges, and spacious furnished decks with views toward the Gallatin River. A more luxurious option are the king rooms, which come with larger bathrooms and separate showers. (Pets are permitted, but be sure to let the lodge know in advance of arrival.)
Accommodation: Rainbow Ranch Lodge
7 Marina Cay Resort and Conference Center, Bigfork
Those who enjoy their outdoor activities on water won't go wrong with a stay at Marina Cay Resort and Conference Center in Bigfork. From dockside dining to bringing your own boat (or renting one), there's plenty of fun on and near the water. Other watercraft available for rent include jet skis (plus inner tubes to pull the kids), wakeboards, kayaks, and canoes, while fisher-folk can take advantage of a variety of fun charters or, come winter, enjoy some ice fishing. Other amenities include a swimming pool and hot tub, and a spa.
The resort offers just 60 rooms to guests, ensuring you'll never feel lost in a crowd. A great choice for families are the condo-style units. Available in two- and three-bedroom formats, these spacious units come with full kitchens and plenty of living space. A number of smaller units are available, some of which come with handy kitchenettes.
Accommodation: Marina Cay Resort and Conference Center
8 Meadow Lake Resort, Columbia Falls
A popular year-round destination for vacationers in Montana, Meadow Lake Resort in Columbia Falls offers no end of outdoor activities. Regarded as one of the state's top golfing spots, guests can enjoy a round (or two) on the resort's 18-hole course, popular for its dramatic Rocky Mountain backdrop and the streams and water hazards that dissect it (there's also a pro shop). Other summer activities include hiking, biking, kayaking, and rafting. Come winter, it's all about the ski action at nearby locations, including Big Mountain and Glacier National Park. Other amenities include a fitness center with an adjoining swimming pool, sauna, steam room, and hot tub, along with a full-service spa, and on-site dining.
In any of the 24 rooms, you can enjoy such standard features as king or two queen beds, living spaces with pullout couches, spacious bathrooms, mini-fridges and microwaves, coffee makers, along with verandas or patios boasting superb mountain views.
Accommodation: Meadow Lake Resort
9 Kandahar Lodge, Whitefish
Another great family vacation destination to consider in Whitefish is Kandahar Lodge. The lodge consists of just 50 recently renovated guest rooms. Features of the standard hotel rooms (suitable for two) include comfortable beds and bedding, spacious bathrooms, mini-fridges and microwaves, coffee makers, plus seating areas with tables and chairs. Larger suites are also available, and consist of the standard room plus a studio, sleeping up to six guests thanks to a pullout sofa. Other features of these larger units are small kitchens with appliances, dining areas with tables and chairs, and two bathrooms.
In addition to relaxing by the fire in the large lounge in the main lodge, you can enjoy other amenities, including a fine-dining restaurant and a spa offering massage services in the wellness center, which also features fitness equipment, an outdoor hot tub, plus a steam room. Outdoor activities include skiing, along with hiking and biking during the warmer months. A continental breakfast is included with your stay.
Accommodation: Kandahar Lodge
10 Summit at Big Sky
Notable as a favorite haunt of former President Barack Obama, Summit at Big Sky is a great choice for those wanting to strut their stuff on the ski slopes. Boasting a number of
high-capacity lifts just seconds from your room, this alpine-village type development offers a mix of luxury accommodations that makes it a must-stay when wanting a Montana Rockies getaway. A popular choice of rooms are the well-appointed and high-quality standard units, which come with a choice of two queens or a king bed. Upgrade to the studio, and you'll have additional space for kids on the pullout couch, as well as a handy kitchen to feed them. Better still if you can afford it are the one-bedroom condo units. These spacious accommodations come with a choice of beds (queens or a king), a pullout sofa, two full bathrooms, living areas with fireplaces, and full kitchens (be sure to request one with a hot tub on the deck). A three-bedroom version of this unit is also available.
On-site amenities you'll want to try include the large Solace Spa, which also offers beauty treatments and a hair salon. In addition to being close to popular parks like Yellowstone, the resort boasts 40 miles of its own trails for guests to explore, as well as biking trails. There's plenty of dining on-site, including kid-friendly locations. Other outdoor fun besides skiing includes zipline experiences, a "high ropes'"course at treeline height, scenic lift tours, and ATV adventures. The resort also has a large fitness center offering regular classes, including yoga.
Accommodation: Summit at Big Sky
11 North Forty Resort, Columbia Falls
Located in Columbia Falls on its own 40 acres of woodland, the family-owned and operated North Forty Resort offers plenty of affordable outdoor adventure. A variety of accommodation options are available, one of the most popular being the resort's cozy log cabins. There are 23 dotted around the property (plus a "glamping" tent), each equipped with features such as genuine log furniture, kitchenettes, living areas with gas fireplaces, plus spacious bathrooms, covered porches, and picnic tables. While the majority of cabins can sleep up to five comfortably, a number of larger units sleeping up to eight guests can also be booked.
On-site amenities include a meeting and communal cooking space, a recreation center, plus laundry facilities, as well as plenty of seating inside and out. There are also two hot tubs plus a sauna. The resort has a hiking trail, used for cross-country skiing in winter.
Accommodation: North Forty Resort
12 Grouse Mountain Lodge, Whitefish
As popular with families as it is for couples, Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish is a great choice for those seeking an affordable weekend getaway or extended vacation in Montana. Its standard lodge-style rooms come with a choice of a king or two queen beds, a desk and chair, mini-fridge, HDTV, plus Wi-Fi. A great upgrade if it's available is to one of the spacious loft suites. These luxuriously appointed units come with a king plus two twin beds and can sleep up to four adults comfortably. They also have large bathrooms with separate bathtubs and rain showers, separate living and seating areas, plus mini-fridges and microwaves. A number of pet-friendly units are available, so please be sure to request one when booking.
While a restaurant is available on-site, a complimentary shuttle bus is there when the urge strikes to visit nearby Whitefish for dining or shopping. Other amenities include a gift shop; fitness center; plus a large, heated, outdoor swimming pool.
Accommodation: Grouse Mountain Lodge