Tag Archives: Guest post

Top 5 Summer Highlights at Whitefish Mountain Resort

One of the best offerings summer in Western Montana’s Glacier Country affords is the variety of ways to get your group into the great outdoors. Often the biggest challenge for group travel is finding one locale to satisfy the desires of each member of the group. When it comes to mountain experiences that speak to everyone’s desires, look no further than Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Rising above the town of Whitefish just west of Glacier National Park, Whitefish Mountain Resort has been known for its skiing prowess and friendly staff for 70 years. Our aim is to provide an unmatched recreational experience in a relaxed environment free from everyday stress that allows people to connect with friends, family, locals and fellow travelers. The mountain is an easy 15-minute drive from the town of Whitefish, and offers activities and services amidst tranquility and beautiful scenery.

Although skiing is the main course here, summer offers a full buffet of activities served with the same personal service we’re known for in the winter. Many of our summer guests have not experienced mountain activities before and others are seasoned adventurers, so we’ve created a full menu of unique ways to experience the mountain at any comfort level. Additionally, we guarantee there is one experience everyone will enjoy, and that’s taking in the spectacular vistas our mountain offers.

Any group, regardless of age or activity level, will make unforgettable memories at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Here are five highlights of a summer getaway on the mountain:

1. Zip Line Tours For adventure seekers, zip lining offers quite the thrill. At Whitefish Mountain Resort, participants—referred to as “flyers”—soar above the slopes on a once-in-a-lifetime ride. The 2.5-hour tour encompasses more than a mile of airtime on seven different zip lines. Two flyers ride side by side up to 300 feet above the ground over ski runs, trees and ravines. If the exhilaration doesn’t take your breath away, the views certainly will.

Taking in the views from the zip line tours. Photo: Noah Clayton

2. Scenic Lift Rides For those looking to enjoy the scenery at a slower pace, ride our Scenic Lift to the mountain’s summit. Passengers can choose an open chair or an enclosed gondola, both of which offer breathtaking views on the 14-minute ride up. Once at the top, 360-degree views await, including the Northern Rockies, peaks of Glacier National Park and the Flathead Valley. Choose to return by lift or take a scenic hike down the 3.8-mile Danny On Trail. 

Relax in the gondola on a scenic lift to the top of Big Mountain. Photo: Whitefish Mountain Resort

3. Lunch With a View Once at the summit, whether arriving by the Scenic Lift or by hiking up the Danny On Trail, enjoy a delicious lunch and refreshing beverage at the Summit House. Huge windows allow guests to enjoy the stunning scenery. Montana’s only mountaintop restaurant (which was recently remodeled) features a summer menu with something for everyone: fresh salads and sandwiches, local game, classic grilled burgers and vegetarian fare.

Hike the miles of trails on the mountain. Photo: Whitefish Mountain Resort

4. Adventure Park This “obstacle course in the trees” is perfect for anyone who likes a challenge. There are five different courses classified by degree of difficulty, starting with the lowest to the ground (between 3 and 18 feet) and the “easiest” obstacles of all the courses. Obstacles include suspended bridges, cable walkways, nets, ladders, trapezes, tube traverses, zip lines and balance beams. There are 12 to 13 obstacles per course. Guests navigate their chosen course at their own pace, and, when finished, can move on to another course with new challenges.

Aerial Adventure on Whitefish Mountain Resort. Photo: Glacierworld.com

5. Hiking for Huckleberries Anyone looking to embark on a truly local adventure must try their hand at huckleberry picking. Huckleberries only grow in the forests of the northwestern United States and western Canada at 2,000+ feet above sea level. Our region here in northwest Montana just so happens to be a hotbed for the fruit, and our mountain is covered in huckleberry bushes. These delectable berries ripen at lower elevations first—typically in mid or late July—and continue to fruit at higher elevations into September.

The bounty of huckleberries. Photo: Whitefish Mountain Resort

Since 1947, Whitefish Mountain Resort has welcomed visitors seeking a mountain that is uncrowded, beautiful and affordable. It is the perfect base camp for a summer visit to Montana’s majestic Flathead Valley—home to water sports, fly fishing, whitewater rafting, and, of course, Glacier National Park. For more information, call 877-SKI-FISH or visit skiwhitefish.com.

See you on the mountain,

The author, Riley Polumbus

About the Author: Riley’s passion for the outdoors and writing has paved the way for her career in resort marketing. She moved to the Flathead Valley in March of 2011 to join the marketing team at Whitefish Mountain Resort and live closer to family. Riley enjoys telemark skiing, stand-up paddleboarding, mountain biking and hiking with her golden retrievers, Max and Maizy.


Guest Post: Top 6 Reasons Meeting Planners Love Whitefish Montana

Venue choice is one of the most important factors for the success of a meeting. Having hosted hundreds of meetings at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake in Western Montana’s Glacier Country over the past 10 years has shown us that while each event has its unique needs, certain aspects of Whitefish are universally gratifying for the planners with whom we’ve had the pleasure of working. Feedback from meetings professionals has taught us what they like most about our area.

Aerial view of The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

Location, location, location is not a new idea, and this phrase applies to meeting venues as much as anything. With that in mind, three of the top reasons meeting planners love Whitefish pertain directly to location!

  • Accessibility: While it’s true that Whitefish is off the beaten path, it’s quite accessible for attendees from around North America. Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) is located just 11 miles from Whitefish and offers daily commercial service from Salt Lake City, Denver, Seattle and Minneapolis, and twice-weekly service from Las Vegas. Seasonal flight service is added from Chicago, Atlanta, Portland and Oakland. Many hotels in Whitefish, including The Lodge at Whitefish Lake and The Firebrand Hotel, offer courtesy airport transportation for guests. This complimentary, personal service and quick transfer time provides a seamless and welcoming first impression for meeting attendees and sets the tone for a great experience.

    It’s easy to get to Glacier Park International Airport (FCA).

  • Geographic and recreational benefits: Whitefish is nestled in the west slope of the Northern Rocky Mountains and just outside Glacier National Park. The region offers a temperate climate (for a mountain destination) and abundant natural beauty. Temperatures average highs of 28 F in December and January and 80 F in July and August. Year-round recreational and sightseeing opportunities abound. Most meeting attendees have diverse interests, and Whitefish offers many different seasonal recreation opportunities to satisfy most participants. Here’s a taste of what’s available:
    Whitefish Mountain Resort offers winter and summer recreation from alpine skiing and snowboarding to zip lines, aerial adventures, lift-access mountain biking, an alpine slide, hiking and scenic chair and gondola rides.
    Whitefish Lake Golf Course offers two 18-hole championship courses, open from mid-April through October.
    Stumptown Art Studio offers year-round art classes and drop-in studio spaces for pottery painting, mosaics and glass fusing.
    Whitefish Trail provides easy access to experience nature with a hike, trail run, mountain bike, snowshoe or fat-bike ride. Guided and educational experiences are available.
    Glacier National Park is located just 30 minutes from Whitefish and offers incredible beauty and recreation opportunities ranging from scenic tours by boat or historic red buses to incredible day hikes.

    Glacier National Park is only 30 minutes from Whitefish.

    The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, situated on the outskirts of downtown and between Whitefish Lake and the Viking Creek Wetland Preserve, provides a premier setting to enjoy all that Whitefish has to offer. A seasonal marina with motorized and non-motorized watercraft and custom cruises on the Lady of the Lake 31’ Windsor Craft, indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, a full-service day spa, Viking Creek Wetland Preserve with interpretive nature trail, and a full-service concierge make planning free time simple for groups and individuals!
    Additional opportunities exist like fishing (ice, lake and fly), horseback and wagon rides, whitewater and scenic rafting, garden and museum tours and more!

    The Lodge at Whitefish Lake offers luxury accommodations & service year-round.

  • Cultural opportunities: Whitefish offers a condensed, pedestrian-friendly downtown area, retaining qualities of its western heritage with a metropolitan flair. You’ll discover businesses from The Firebrand, a newly opened boutique hotel, to Nelson’s Ace Hardware, with 60 years of history servicing the Whitefish community. A diverse selection of dining options from Cuban to Italian, New American to French Creole, eclectic and traditional delis, pizza parlors and coffee shops provide seemingly endless choices to satisfy the most discerning foodie and hungry adventure-seeker. You’ll also discover a variety of art galleries, custom jewelers, boutique shops, ski, bike and outdoor outfitters, bars, music venues, and several active theater companies including the professional Alpine Theatre Project featuring Broadway talent.

Explore downtown Whitefish.

Although location is important, it turns out it’s not everything.

  • Friendly community: We repeatedly hear stories of how “everyone was so friendly” and accommodating, from the valet to the front desk, restaurant and banquet servers, housekeepers and maintenance crew, “literally everyone we came across at the resort.” But that’s not all, around town, people say “hi” when they pass you on the street, and shop keepers thank you for visiting their stores, even when you don’t buy anything. Montana hospitality is alive and well in Whitefish, and this friendliness enhances our clients’ overall experiences in a meaningful way that makes them want to come back.
  • Pricing flexibility: While offering year-round benefits, Whitefish is a seasonal destination, and the proximity to Glacier National Park heavily impacts demand during the summer season. Clients who have flexibility to plan their meetings outside of the peak months of July and August enjoy the benefits of greater availability and value. At The Lodge at Whitefish Lake and The Firebrand Hotel, we seasonally accommodate meetings ranging for budget-conscious government groups to luxury incentive trips. This flexibility has surprised and delighted many of our clients over the years!
  • Professional service in a luxurious, comfortable setting: While you won’t find many suits and ties in Whitefish, rest assured you can still find professional service. The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, Montana’s only AAA Four Diamond rated property, is a great example of finding this balance. We invite you to experience our version of Montana hospitality firsthand!

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our corner of Montana.

See you in Whitefish!
Edna White

The author, Edna White

About the author: Edna White, Sales & Marketing Director for Averill Hospitality, has worked in hospitality in Whitefish for the past 20 years. She has a passion for Western Montana’s outdoor recreation and providing exceptional guest experiences. In her free time, you’re likely to find Edna riding a bicycle around town or on one of the many singletrack trails in the area. 

Guest Post: Top 4 Shoulder Season Adventures With Glacier Guides and Montana Raft

Travel is all about the experience. Forget collecting silver-plated spoons from each state—travelers these days are out in the world to create intangible experiences and memories that will last a lifetime, especially in America’s national parks—Glacier National Park in particular. As tour operators, you are challenged by the ever-growing popularity of the parks, and seek help creating the memorable, unique experiences your guests demand. Waiting in long, hot lines does not create happy guests or repeat customers. We can help.

At Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, we’ve been in the business of creating unforgettable adventures since 1983. Our focus is on the quality of the experience, and our mission is to provide one-of-a-kind travel vacations and getaways in and around Glacier National Park, while preserving and protecting the park’s unique ecosystem using the most ecologically sound practices possible.

Glacier National Park in spring.

What we hear from our guests—some of whom we’ve been guiding for over 30 years—is that part of the Glacier Park experience they are looking for is one that includes intimacy, solitude and peace. Even if they are interested in an adrenaline-packed whitewater rafting adventure, they are still looking for an experience that allows the time and space for introspection and reflection. And our guides know how to use our rivers and mountains to do just that, while also educating, entertaining and attending to safety at all times.

For this more intimate experience with Glacier National Park, offer tours in our less crowded times of the year: May, June, September and October. There are many reasons Glacier National Park is so popular in July and August, but there are better times of the year if you are in the business of experiential travel. Here are our top 4 Glacier National Park shoulder-season activities.

1) Spring Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road
The first sign of spring in Glacier Country is the announcement that the snow plows are out, scraping a winter’s worth of snow off the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. As soon as the plows have advanced a few miles up that gorgeous road, we strap on our helmets and go biking. The plowed portions of the road are open only to biker and hiker traffic until mid to late June, and pedaling a bike up the nearly empty, quiet, Going-to-the-Sun Road is nothing short of spectacular. Breathing in the fresh alpine air, watching spring waterfalls cascade off the mountains and catching a glimpse of a new moose or elk calf crossing a greening meadow is an experience travelers will not soon—or ever—forget.

Spring biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

These interpretive, guided bike tours on the closed sections of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are exclusive to Glacier Guides and Montana Raft. Nearly all ages and abilities can enjoy at least part of this Glacier National Park shoulder-season experience. Our guides will go as far as the group wants to go, and for some groups (especially those with young children) that might not be very far. That’s okay. We think every trip is less about the destination and more about the memories made on the journey, like sitting on a sun-warmed rock on the edge of the cerulean waters of McDonald Creek, relishing one of our homemade, locally sourced, largely organic sack lunches. For other groups, we might bike all the way to Logan Pass, the apex of the road. Either way, it is sure to be a day guests will never forget.

2) Spring Whitewater Rafting on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River
For some guests, adrenaline is a necessary part of the experience. We provide an unmatched whitewater rafting adventure on one of the most stunning rivers in the world. The Middle Fork of the Flathead River is designated a Wild and Scenic River. Its crystal-clear, turquoise waters flow over gorgeous red and green rocks left over from Glacier National Park’s glaciated past. The Middle Fork forms Glacier National Park’s border to the south and the Flathead National Forest to the north.

Adrenaline pumping whitewater adventures.

In the springtime, and particularly in late May when runoff is at its peak, the water is high and the river’s nine named rapids vary from Class II to Class IV. Our impeccably trained guides keep guests thrilled (and safe) as they navigate John F. Stevens Canyon and the fun, splashy Tunnel Rapids, Bonecrusher, Washboard, Big Squeeze, Jaws, Pin Ball, CBT, Repeater Rapids, The Notch and Pumphouse rapids. Following the guide’s simple commands, guests actually become part of the crew that maneuvers the boat. In the spring, this trip is about two and a half hours long. Generally speaking, we do not allow children younger than six on this trip in the spring. Guest safety is our #1 priority. Wetsuits and river shoes are always complimentary.

3) Shoulder Season Scenic Floating on the Border of Glacier National Park
Whether it’s spring or fall, if whitewater rafting is more of an adventure than guests are looking for, but the beauty and peace of a calmer section of the Flathead River appeals to them, then our Scenic Float is perfect. Suitable for nearly any age (ages three and up) and ability, this trip never fails to inspire and relax. The beauty of the Middle Fork is perhaps even more enjoyable when viewed at the slower speed of the Scenic Float trip.

Stunning scenery on this scenic river float.

The trip is approximately two hours long, and guests enjoy glimpses of Glacier National Park from the comfort of a boat as their guide discusses geological, anthropological and ecological matters pertaining to Glacier National Park. Guests also float through the confluence of the North and Middle forks of the Flathead River, which forms the park’s southernmost tip. This trip is mellow in the best sense of the word, offering a peaceful, relaxing experience on one of the world’s most pristine rivers.

4) Fall Day Hiking on the Highline Trail
Around here, we love to hike in every season, but fall is our favorite. By September, all of the high mountain passes and trails have completely thawed out, and most of our visitors have gone back to work and school. Glacier National Park turns to gold with changing tamarack needles and aspen leaves, and Montana’s famous big sky is never bluer. The cool, crisp autumnal air is invigorating. It’s simply an ideal time of year to go hiking.

Hiking in Glacier National Park.

Glacier Guides was chosen as the exclusive backpacking guide service in Glacier National Park. We offer a wide range of adventure hiking options, from day hiking and backpacking, to hut treks and vehicle-supported excursions. All of our trips are ecologically friendly, and family or custom adventures are available. Our friendly, experienced guides take care of every detail, use top-of-the-line equipment and prepare delicious, healthy meals. With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier Park is a hiker’s dream, and we provide trips to accommodate all ability levels. We can create a custom trip that’s tailored to your guest’s interests and desired activity level. We’d love to help plan the perfect Glacier National Park experience for your guests. For more information, visit glacierguides.com or call 406.387.5555.

Happy Adventuring,
Courtney Stone

The author, Courtney Stone

About the author: As Marketing Director for Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, Courtney strives daily to meet its mission of providing exceptional active travel vacations and experiences in and around Glacier National Park, while preserving and protecting the park’s unique ecosystem. Otherwise, you’ll find Courtney hiking, backpacking, rafting, skiing or cleaning up the trail of glitter her kids leave in the wake of their own daily adventures.

Guest Post: 5 Reasons Guest Ranches Are Perfect for Corporate Travel

One of the most common responses I get when talking to meeting planners and companies about hosting their meetings, retreats or incentive trips at Flathead Lake Lodge is ‘Huh…never thought about a guest ranch’. In an industry where success is based on the perception of the experience by leadership and the company, new can seem risky. So, head West with me and let’s walk through this risk and see how a place like Flathead Lake Lodge is suited to far exceed your meeting expectations.

1: Service. It all starts with service. No planner wants to put together a package that doesn’t provide their company or client great service. Often times this is measured in stars and plaques. Where Flathead Lake Lodge (a recipient of many stars and plaques) and other great guest ranches go even farther is the intangibles of western hospitality and the personal connection. Flathead Lake Lodge (FLL) and other family-owned ranches are hosting your company at their ranch, which is their home. This level of personal service, commitment and care cannot be matched by hotels and resorts relying on training models and hired staff.

Farm to table food served at every meal.

A great example I like to share is about a corporate group we hosted at FLL last fall. My father and I are at the fireplace in the Main Lodge every morning where we share a cup of coffee with our guests. We were talking about how the elk in the ranch’s preserve were starting to bugle and become more active, awesome to see! Before long we had talked enough people into jumping into our vintage military vehicle to take an off-road tour through the preserve to see the elk. This isn’t an extra charge—it’s simply natural, personal service. We want you to enjoy our ranch, and our staff embodies that ownership. We work with our guests and our planners every hour of the day to make their experience personally awesome. It’s why companies like Ford, General Mills, Red Bull, Caterpillar, Pepsi, Coke, YPO and more all have discovered Flathead Lake Lodge and keep coming back.

The grand fireplace in the lodge.

2: Location. Montana, to some, can seem about as far out there as Alaska! The good news is it is just as beautiful and a heck of a lot easier to get to. There are direct flights from nine major cities (Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco/Oakland, Minneapolis, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Denver), not to mention great charter service.

We’re located in the northwest part of the state on the shores of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. And in case you’re wondering, yes, Flathead Lake is BIGGER that Tahoe (and cleaner too!). Glacier National Park is just 35 minutes up the road, the Bob Marshall Wilderness is out the back door and there are five major rivers nearby, so there is no shortage of outdoor recreation. In addition, the award-winning artisan village of Bigfork is 1 mile away. A 2,000-acre ranch, on a huge pristine lake, surrounded by mountains, a mile from a great town…trust me when I say we can find something for everyone to enjoy. Which reminds me…

Boating on Flathead Lake.

3: Recreation. One of a meeting planner’s hardest challenges is creating an itinerary for a group of people that has something for everyone to enjoy. This is where Flathead Lake Lodge is unparalleled. Being a ranch on a lake, we have the largest on-site recreation programming of any ranch or resort in the country. From horseback riding to sailing historic 51’ sailing sloops and mountain biking to massages—and everything in between—we work to create custom-tailored packages for your company and clients. Then, at the end of the day, we all share our day’s stories in the Saddlesore Saloon.

Belly up to the bar at the Saddlesore Saloon.

4: Exclusivity & 5: Intimacy. If you were to ask for a Flathead Lake Lodge referral, the top talking points that continually come up are service and the intangibles of exclusivity and intimacy. The funny thing is the later two are often overlooked and my honest opinion is they’re the most important yet. The ability to have your company and clients ‘take over’ the ranch creates an atmosphere and camaraderie very rarely experienced in corporate travel. The cabins are historic, cozy and comfortable with no TVs, which keeps people outside. Dining is done family style. Many of the intangible operations of Flathead Lake Lodge are designed to engage people, force interactions and encourage relationship building, which all contribute to our ranch having a 70 percent return rate. It is an environment that brings your company together, creates engagement, conversations and relationships. Simply put, it is like the whole company going to summer camp (a really nice summer camp), and for those of us who took summer adventures ask kids, we have lots of great memories to look back on.

Cozy comfort in our guest cabins.

Are you willing to take the risk yet? I’ll be honest, points 1 – 4 can be replicated. Service can be taught and recreation programmed. However, I’m confident our 73-year history and caliber of returning guests exemplify how Flathead Lake Lodge is able to combine these 5 trip factors unlike anywhere you’ve been. And we’re not alone. Many ranches, because of how personal their connection to the operation is are able to combine these 5 factors in a unique way that allows companies to come together through new adventures and grow. It may sound risky to trade in hotel rooms for open spaces, but sometimes all we need is a new perspective.

Thanks for reading! We hope to see you in Montana soon. For more information on Flathead Lake Lodge visit: www.flatheadlakelodge.com. For RFP’s and meeting planning questions please don’t hesitate to give me a shout at chase@flatheadlakelodge.com or 406.837.4391.

Chase Averill

3rd  Generation Owner | Flathead Lake Lodge


Guest Post: Winter in Montana – Board Room to Bucket List

Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of producing hundreds of meetings and events in some of the world’s greatest destinations. While the purpose, scope and locations of these gatherings have varied, all of them were designed to inspire excellence, trust and community while nurturing new thinking about business relationships and value creation. More often than not, I aspired to showcase the event destination in a creative way, as we provided a unique and enriching experience for the attendees. As planners, we didn’t want to duplicate our company’s conference room in a different locale; we wanted to draw from the culture of the destination and inspire them through novel experiences, like skiing after a morning meeting or receiving a handmade box filled with local treats at turn down.

Taking in the view of Montana from the "top of the world" at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Taking in the view of Montana from the “top of the world” at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Throughout the last decade, my passion for event planning and marketing has continued to blossom because of that essential, powerful ingredient—experiential travel. After living and working in many US cities, I am grateful to call Montana my home, especially since Montana is a place where travelers are instantly captured by a sense of wonder. Montana, through my lens, is an extraordinary, transformative destination for everyone from homebodies to globetrotters; a place where bucket-list experiences are checked off left and right.

In my role as marketing director at a luxury guest ranch in Western Montana, I see the transformations happen on a daily basis. It’s magical when a guest fulfills a dream to learn how to fly-fish or discovers that unplugging in the wide-open spaces brings their family closer. There are many quiet and exhilarating moments to be relished when guests and staff find themselves bursting with appreciation of the beauty and peace of our American West at The Ranch at Rock Creek. 

Inside the main lodge at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Inside the ranch’s main lodge.

The profound number of experiences to be discovered throughout every season is very meaningful for planners and hosts who aim to inspire their attendees with exceptional—even magical— company events. As the Montana winter approaches, here are some thoughts on why groups should consider the natural riches of the Treasure State for business retreats and meetings.

Winter at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Winter at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Limitless Outdoor Adventure
Not only is Montana stunningly beautiful when the snow falls, but it also offers a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities. Among Montana’s diverse terrain are canopied forests and glistening meadows to explore by boot, snowshoe, ski, sleigh and snowmobile. I encourage planners to think about how wintertime outdoor recreation can bring attendees together to challenge themselves and each other. Our state boasts miles and miles of accessible cross-country skiing and snowmobiling trails. Some travelers are surprised to learn that Montana offers epic downhill skiing at world-class resorts and family-owned hidden gems—both with virtually no lift lines. We are partial to Discovery Ski Area just outside of Philipsburg, one of Montana’s most historic towns.

Skiing at Discovery Ski Area.

Skiing at Discovery Ski Area.

Near Discovery is The Ranch at Rock Creek, where I hang my professional hat. Sitting on 6,600 awe-inspiring acres that become a group’s playground during the length of their stay, The Ranch at Rock Creek is an all-inclusive luxury guest ranch located halfway between Glacier and Yellowstone national parks in the heart of Western Montana. Our guests enjoy twice-daily guided seasonal adventures, while groups from around the world travel to our remote ranching valley to reconnect, team build and conduct business. Their professional pursuits are infused with experiences like horseback riding through a meadow and casting a fishing line for the big one on the banks of our pristine trout stream, Rock Creek (home to 2,000 fish per river mile).

Our robust outdoor activity program includes over 20 year-round activities, while in the winter guests venture out to snowshoe, cross-country ski, ice skate, horseback ride, target shoot, sled, play hockey or bundle up on a sleigh ride or snowcat trek.

Guests enjoy a snoscat tour.

Guests enjoy a snowcat tour.

When working with groups to plan their on-ranch activities, our on-site coordinators customize experiences to suit the needs of your attendees, which means a group could snowshoe to a remote creek-side location for a gourmet picnic lunch, brainstorm around the campfire after dinner or team up in a survivor-skills competition in the forest.

The perfect gathering place after dinner.

The perfect outdoor gathering place after dinner.

Enrichment Through the Land and Lifestyle
For those who enjoy the stories of the legendary West, Montana is the perfect stop. Big Sky Country honors its history through the celebration and preservation of our pioneer spirit and American Indian heritage, while ranches and farms remain strong cornerstones of the Montana landscape and lifestyle.

The chef prepares an outdoor lunch.

The chef prepares an outdoor lunch.

Throughout the state, travelers discover thriving farm-to-table culinary experiences, due to the many hard-working ranchers, farmers and purveyors that make their home here. Visitors to Montana often have the opportunity to embark on a new epicurean journey—tasting foods for the first time such as elk, venison, morel mushrooms and huckleberries. At The Ranch at Rock Creek, our Executive Chef Josh Drage and his team thoughtfully select meats, produce, dairy and delicacies from over 50 Montana purveyors as he serves the best of Montana ranch cuisine paired with regional wines and award-winning local brews, including Philipsburg Brewing Company.

On-site bartenders create Montana-inspired cocktails.

Cocktails feature handcrafted Montana spirits and local ingredients. 

Besides reaping the bounty of the land, Montana guests can immerse themselves in the richness of the region when they explore the national parks, dip into thermal hot springs and trek around ghost towns throughout the year.

Reconnect in Nature
During most winter days, the Montana sky is filled with bright sunshine and puffy white clouds, allowing you to see for miles and miles across the Northern Rocky Mountains. Across the ranges and lower hills and rivers, you may spot elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep and bald eagles, while in our rivers and lakes you’ll find a diverse selection of fish. Like many corners of Western Montana, The Ranch at Rock Creek is nestled among several mountain ranges and wilderness areas, which means our ranch is free of light pollution and offers incredible opportunities to see Montana’s star-filled and immense sky.
Sidenote: Read more about ways to reconnect in nature in “Cross It Off Your Bucket List,” a blog we published earlier this year.

A serene setting at the ranch.

A serene setting at the ranch.

As many business executives are attached to devices, The Ranch at Rock Creek offers meeting attendees the chance to unplug and immerse themselves in natural surroundings and to become rejuvenated as they watch the moonlight bathing the glistening snow or a never-ending sea of stars after the fire goes out.

The Milky Way in Glacier National Park. Photo: GNP Flickr

The Milky Way in Glacier National Park. Photo: GNP Flickr

Montana Hospitality on a Cold Winter Night
When I moved to Montana, I had no idea how helpful and welcoming my neighbors would be. It’s true that the warmth of Montana hospitality shines as a standout feature of the travel experience. Around here, our team believes that our guests should feel as if they are being invited into the family home as they experience authentic Montana.

The inside of the Buckle Barn, a great meeting space at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

The inside of the Buckle Barn, a beautiful and comfortable meeting space at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Executive meeting hosts can absolutely feel confident that their attendees will be made to feel welcome and comfortable in Big Sky Country. It may sound simple with no glitz or glitter, but after a day of team building in the outdoors, guests find great enjoyment gathering around a grand stone fireplace sharing stories and toasting with a Moscow mule. Plus, during winter months, many resorts—including ours— invite event planners to consider special offers to encourage corporate groups and help them experience the best winter has to offer in Western Montana.

If you are in search of new exhilarating adventures, warm hospitality and spectacular settings in the American West to complement your business meeting objectives, we hope to welcome you to the Treasure State very soon.

Happy trails and meet me in Montana,
Heather Rue

The author, Heather Rue

The author, Heather Rue








About the author: Heather is the director of marketing at The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg, Montana where she leads the cross-channel marketing efforts to build awareness of and tell stories about The Ranch’s exceptional Montana travel experiences. She has produced hundreds of corporate, nonprofit and cause-marketing events and programs. Heather is active in her local community and is raising country kids, chickens and labs while soaking up all life in Montana has to offer. 


Guest Post: A New Dining Experience for Groups in West Glacier, Montana

For large tours groups who are looking for dining destinations when visiting Montana’s Glacier National Park, it can sometimes be difficult to find a location that can seat a large group. That’s where one of West Glacier’s newest group dining and meeting venues comes in. Meet the Park View Pavilion. Conveniently located on the doorstep of Glacier National Park, this beautifully crafted 2,900-square-foot covered log pavilion delivers incredible views of the Livingston Range in Glacier Park while creating a private, intimate setting and warm ambiance for guests to enjoy.

The Park View Pavilion has ample parking for vehicles and buses.

The Park View Pavilion has ample parking for vehicles and buses.

The welcoming entrance to the pavilion.

The welcoming entrance to the pavilion.

The Park View Pavilion was built in spring 2014 and has quickly become a desired location for tour groups and other large gatherings looking for a unique dining experience away from the crowds. With its easy accessibility off Highway 2 and amenities that include bathrooms, tabled seating for up to 200 guests and a large parking area (perfect for tour buses), the pavilion is a great dining option for your tour group. In the event of inclement weather, the pavilion is set up with weather-proof side walls and propane heaters to warm the space. An added bonus: the weather-proof walls provide tour groups the opportunity and flexibility to host dining events here in spring and fall.

The inside of the pavilion.

The inside of the pavilion.

Whether your group is interested in a casual lunch of sandwiches or hamburgers or a fine-dining experience with grilled steak, salmon and chicken accompanied by delicious appetizers, sides, salads and desserts, the chefs at Glacier Outdoor Center are able to cater menu offerings to the needs of your group.

A BBQ with a view.

A BBQ with a view.

A buffet-style setup inside the pavilion.

A buffet-style setup inside the pavilion.

If your group is looking for an activity to accompany their meal or just an activity alone, Glacier Raft Company also offers group rafting and fishing trips. As the longest running river outfitter in the state, Glacier Raft can customize trips based on your group’s desires and abilities. All trips run on the rivers that border Glacier National Park and have unparalleled scenery to go along with fun on the water and entertaining guides. Trips can be customizes and range from a few hours to an entire day. Plus, no experience is necessary and all gear is provided.

A group rafts the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

A group rafts the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

For more information on group rates, group dining and reservations on the edge of Glacier National Park, visit our website or call us at 406.888.5454.

Meet you in Montana,
Cassie Baldelli

The author, Cassie Baldelli

The author, Cassie Baldelli









About the author: Cassie Baldelli is co-owner of Glacier Raft Company. Her father Darwon Stoneman started the company in 1976 and in 2012, Cassie and her husband Jeff officially became partners with her parents Darwon and Terri. When not at the office, they love being out on the rivers and enjoying the beautiful place they call home.

Guest Post: Top Unexpected Offerings at Montana State Parks

Montana is home to 55 state parks that offer visitors to the region plentiful options for swimming, boating, hiking, camping and fishing. And here in Big Sky Country, 21 state parks are found in Western Montana’s Glacier Country and offer travelers, especially FIT visitors, distinct experiences in Montana’s wide-open spaces.

A late summer sunset at Placid Lake State Park.

A late summer sunset at Placid Lake State Park.

To help ensure your clients have a memorable stay in Montana, here are the top 5 unexpected offerings and experiences at Montana State Parks in Glacier Country.

1) Stay in a yurt on the shores of majestic Flathead Lake at Big Arm State Park
Big Arm State Park offers yurts for a unique camping experience on the shores of Flathead Lake—the largest freshwater lake in the West. The yurts sleep four or six people and are equipped with Montana-made custom log furniture. Easy lake access and hiking trails deepen this incredible Montana experience.

The yurt at Big Arm State Park.

A yurt at Big Arm State Park.

2) See a herd of bighorn sheep, wild horses and mule deer at Wild Horse Island State Park
Wild Horse Island State Park is located on Flathead Lake and offers world-class wildlife viewing opportunities for bighorn sheep, mule deer and a herd of wild horses. A hike along the self-guided interpretive trail takes you back in time to the early 1900s when homesteaders tried to settle the island. Several companies in the area offer guided boat tours to Wild Horse Island State Park from Bigfork, Lakeside and Polson, making it easy for your clients to visit the largest island on the lake.

Bighorn sheep graze on Wild Horse Island.

Bighorn sheep graze on Wild Horse Island.

3) Take a relaxing hike (minutes from downtown Kalispell) at Lone Pine State Park
With 7.5 miles of trails and within 2 miles of the heart of Kalispell, Lone Pine State Park offers an easy way to experience the outdoors without going “off the grid.” From the park, your clients will be able to see an incredible panoramic view of the entire Flathead Valley, including Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake and the Whitefish and Swan Mountains. Lone Pine State Park welcomes hikers, bikers, horseback riders and dog walkers to explore its trails. Plus, they host a number of educational programs at the visitor center. The park offers a wide array of seasonal interpretive programs that include birding, wildflower hikes and Junior Ranger programs.

Taking in the view of Kalispell from Lone Pine State Park.

Taking in the view of Kalispell from Lone Pine State Park.

4) Trace the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark Expedition at Travelers’ Rest State Park
Each summer from mid-June through Labor Day, travelers to Montana can join one of our local experts at Travelers Rest State Park in Lolo for a guided tour of the only archaeologically-verified campsite of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Guides will give a behind-the-scenes look at the scientific research that validated the site, all while weaving the story of the Lewis and Clark Expeditions travels to and from Travelers’ Rest in 1805 and 1806. While hiking along the short loop trail to the campsite, visitors will pass through the rich cottonwood forest that lines Lolo Creek, look for and learn about local birds and wildlife and have the opportunity to learn more about the Salish people, who called this valley home for thousands of years before the arrival of Lewis and Clark.

A historical reenactment in Lolo.

A historical reenactment in Lolo.

5) Paddleboard at Whitefish Lake State Park
Recreating on picturesque Whitefish Lake couldn’t be easier that it is at Whitefish Lake State Park.  Relax on the park’s white sandy beach or take advantage of a myriad or water toy rentals, including stand-up paddleboards, canoes and kayaks.This incredible park is located next to the resort town of Whitefish, Montana and is know for its easy access to outdoor recreation and Whitefish Mountain Resort, as well as its unique shops, restaurants and nightlife.

Enjoying the water on Whitefish Lake.

Enjoying the water on Whitefish Lake.

For more ideas on unique opportunities at Montana State Parks, visit our website or check out our instagram account here.

See you at a Montana State Park,
Pat Doyle

The author, Pat Doyle

The author, Pat Doyle






About the author: Pat Doyle is the Marketing and Communications Manager with Montana State Parks. In his free time, Pat’s always busy planning his next Montana adventure.

Guest Post: Best of the West; Insider Tips for Visiting Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming

Seeing the states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming by motorcycle, rental car, or motorhome is the most popular and practical way to go. I’m often envious of the people I’ve talked to over the years, who are able to take two – three weeks for a holiday to the Rocky Mountain West. Having grown up in Wyoming, I’ve traveled the region extensively and can still say with certainty that I have not seen or experienced it all.

Hitting the open road in Montana.

Hitting the open road in Montana.

These four states make up the Real America Region and are intrinsically connected to America’s western history and include many of the country’s greatest national treasures, including the world’s first national parkYellowstone; the crown jewel of the continent—Glacier; the only national park named after an American President—Theodore Roosevelt; and the symbol of American democracy—Mount Rushmore; all in one trip.

A red bus tour is a popular way to explore Glacier National Park.

Taking in the view of Glacier National Park.

Many experienced and well-respected tour operators and travel agents specialize in this region and work to provide their clients the best possible experiences the West has to offer. With a region as vast as Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming (Montana alone is the size of Germany), it’s easy to miss lesser-known attractions and experiences. 

Follow this LINK to download our Best of the West itinerary through the Real America. This 21-day journey is a top route offered by tour operators and travel agents across the globe. And if that’s not enough to get you started, I’ve rounded up a few additional tips to get you off the beaten path.

Getting Here: It’s Easier Than You Think
Direct flights and easy driving conditions make it ideal to fly directly into and out of major international hubs like Denver, Colorado, or Minneapolis/St. Paul/Bloomington, Minnesota, and rent a car or RV to take your family through the Real America. Denver is one of my favorite U.S. cities and provides an incredible Rocky Mountain welcome with sunshine, blue skies and a scenic mountain backdrop as you step off the plane. After 10 hours on a flight, that can make all of the difference! Take a stroll down the 16th Street pedestrian mall or get geared up with a your cowboy hat and boots at Rockmount Ranchwear; a Denver mainstay where western shirts with snap buttons were first introduced.

Wyoming: Hidden treasure at Bighorn Canyon; Prairie Dog Town at Devils Tower
As you head north from Denver, you’ll be headed to my home state of Wyoming. One hidden attraction on the route between Yellowstone and the South Dakota’s Black Hills is Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. Opportunities for bicycling, boat tours, camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding and wildlife watching are all abundant. I remember taking a boat cruise with Hidden Treasure Charters in what turned out to be awful weather on a spring day. I left, though, with lasting memories of Captain Mark navigating us through a magnificent canyon that I never knew existed.
Sidenote: Bighorn Canyon is the 3rd largest canyon in the United States and is largely unknown.

Touring Bighorn Canyon with Hidden Treasure Charters.

Touring Bighorn Canyon with Hidden Treasure Charters.

As you you continue to traverse your way through Wyoming, you may see more wildlife than people. As is the case in the northeast corner bordering South Dakota at Devils Tower National Monument. Here you’ll find America’s first national monument, an astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the rolling prairie. But you’ll also find a colony of prairie dogs that are worth visiting if you truly want to be entertained. These little guys are cute, put a smile on your face and will even pose for your photos, but please do not feed them.

Getting the perfect shot of prairie dogs at Devils Tower.

Getting the perfect shot of prairie dogs at Devils Tower.

Montana: Mine for Sapphires in Philipsburg; Hike the M in Missoula
North of Wyoming is the big sky state of Montana. It certainly lives up to its name with the expanses of prairie valleys that extend into mountain peaks that seem to reach to the sky. One of my best memories of Montana is visiting Philipsburg, a charming small town on a scenic mountain route on your way from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park. Take scenic route Highway 1 from Butte to Missoula and plan to stop in Philipsburg at The Sapphire Gallery—the only all sapphire and ruby store in the U.S.

My best memory of Philipsburg: this pinky ring (that I mined myself) and gifted to my wife for her first Mother’s Day. It’s one of our most cherished family heirlooms.

My best memory of Philipsburg: this pinky ring (that I mined myself) and gifted to my wife for her first Mother’s Day. It’s one of our most cherished family heirlooms.

Continuing on your voyage to Glacier National Park, make sure to overnight in Missoula and hike the ‘M’ on Mount Sentinel, preferably in the early morning. I’ve done this twice now and if I lived there, would probably do it every day. It’s a short hike, with the help of 11 switchbacks, and offers an incredible view of the entire valley and surrounding mountains. Nice way to burn off a few of those vacation calories that are likely starting to add up from the varied culinary offerings en route.

The view of Missoula from the 'M' on Mount Sentinel.

The view of Missoula from the ‘M’ on Mount Sentinel.

South Dakota: Swim Evans Plunge in Hot Springs; See Mountain Goats at Mount Rushmore
Western South Dakota is home to Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park, among many other attractions. A family favorite of ours is Evans Plunge in the southern Black Hills town of Hot Springs. Swim, splash and soak in the warm mineral waters that both Lakota and Cheyenne American Indians utilized for their healing properties centuries ago. The best part: the hot springs are all natural and have no additional chemicals added to them.

Evan's Plunge indoor pool, a favorite of my 10-year-old daughter.

Evans Plunge indoor pool, a favorite of my 10-year-old daughter.

In the central Black Hills—and at one of the most iconic spots along the Best of the West tour—is Mount Rushmore National Memorial. My best advice: after getting a picture of American presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, take a hike on the Presidential Trail for a chance to see local wildlife and a different perspective of this iconic American attraction.

Great faces + mountain goats = a match made in South Dakota.

Great faces + mountain goats = a match made in South Dakota.

North Dakota: Pitchfork Fondue in Medora; Geographic Center of North America in Rugby
Hands down, North Dakota’s main attraction is Theodore Roosevelt National Park. A tract of land set aside in honor of the “Conservation President” and someone who exemplified preservation and the safeguarding of natural wonders, this pristine park has no accommodations or shopping but instead offers untouched nature and wildlife. After taking a scenic drive through the park, where you’ll likely see bison and horses, plan to spend an evening sampling a uniquely western meal at the Pitchfork Steak Fondue and Broadway-style entertainment at the Medora Musical. Every evening in the summer, chefs load steaks onto pitchforks and fondue them western style. Savor your meal outside in front of the picturesque badlands of North Dakota before being treated to a live musical performed by members of The Coal Diggers from the Medora Musical.

Medora Musical with Theodore Roosevelt National Park as its backdrop.

Medora Musical with Theodore Roosevelt National Park as its backdrop.

As you wrap your trip up and head east through legendary North Dakota, make sure you stop for a quick photo in Rugby. This is the Geographic Center of North America and makes for a fun conversation piece. The center is marked with a monument and lies at 48 degrees 21’19” N; 99 degrees 59’ 57” W.

Standing at the center of North America.

Standing at the center of North America.

Happy Trails: No Goodbyes; See You Next Time! 
At the end of your voyage, take time to visit St. Paul, Minnesota, a city steeped in American history. Explore the city’s Prohibition-era gangster past. Be sure to visit the James J. Hill House, an American Gilded Age mansion on Summit Avenue. The mansion is unreal and it was incredible to see what a railroad tycoon lived like in the late 1880s. On your last stop, make sure to visit the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, before flying out on one of several direct flights to Europe and other major hubs.

See you in #RealAmericaUSA,
Mathias Jung

The author, Mathias Jung

The author, Mathias Jung









About the author: Mathias was raised, educated and well established in Wyoming, where he is owner and CEO of Rocky Mountain International in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He spends most of his free time with friends and family and you’ll regularly find him backpacking throughout the Rockies or at a baseball game in the summer. A beginner collector of 19th century American artwork and prints, Mathias loves the history and culture of the place he calls home and is lucky enough to promote this region as a profession. Mathias resides in Cheyenne, WY with his wife Catherine, daughter Sienna and son Ivan.

About Rocky Mountain International: A small business that specializes in international travel and tourism promotion for #RealAmericaUSA. Founded in 1990, RMI employs offices in Cheyenne, London, Munich, Sydney, Paris, Milan and Amsterdam.

Guest Post: Unplug Your Meeting in Western Montana

Meetings are meetings: typically you spend a significant amount of time inside a hotel convention center with run-of-the-mill meals and not a lot of activity. Well, not anymore. Meet Montana’s most undiscovered and off-the-grid meeting location: Glacier Park Lodge

Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier Park, Montana.

The grounds and exterior of Glacier Park Lodge.

Built in 1912, Glacier Park Lodge is located in East Glacier Park, Montana, just outside Glacier National Park. The historic property features 160+ guest rooms, an expansive lobby, wood-burning fireplace, three spacious meeting rooms and an on-site restaurant and bar. Outside, you’ll find lush gardens, a 9-hole golf course, swimming pool and a covered deck perfect for watching the Montana sunset.

If you’re looking for a quiet destination to help eliminate everyday distractions for meeting attendees, Glacier Park Lodge is a prime corporate retreat location. At your Montana meeting, you’ll be trading modern conveniences (there are no TVs in the rooms and limited cell phone service) for incredible team-building opportunities and brainstorming sessions.

The lobby in Glacier Park Lodge.

The lobby in Glacier Park Lodge.

And while this location definitely takes you off-the-grid, Glacier Park Lodge still provides the space you need to meet in both boardroom and classroom settings. Each of our three meeting rooms (ranging from a small boardroom that can accommodate corporate groups of 25 people to a large space that has room for up to 150 people in a classroom setting) are home to interesting Montana history—including an indoor pool and casino.

When you’re ready to take your groups outside, the lawn at Glacier Park Lodge is perfect for team-building exercises, friendly games of soccer or volleyball. It’s also a great location for a tented cocktail reception or dinner under the stars and the watchful eye of Dancing Lady Mountain.

The back lawn at Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier Park, Montana.

The back lawn at Glacier Park Lodge.

After your meetings, there are endless Montana activities for your group to enjoy. The Two Medicine Valley of Glacier National Park is just 15 minutes away and offers a wide variety of hiking trails, boat tours and picnic area. You can also book a red bus tour to take in the beauty of the Crown of the Continent from an iconic, roll-back top bus.

Taking in the view at Two Medicine.

Two Medicine in Glacier National Park.

The view of Two Medicine from Looking Glass Highway and a red bus tour.

The view of Two Medicine from a red bus tour on Looking Glass Highway.

After collaborating with your team and spending time in this grand historic lodge, you’ll return from your unplugged meeting refreshed and prepared to tackle your company’s goals.

For more information or to work with me on planning your meeting at Glacier Park Lodge, visit Glacier Park Inc

See you off-the-grid,
Rebecca Baker

The author, Rebecca Baker

The author, Rebecca Baker









About the author: As the marketing and public relations manager for Glacier Park, Inc., Rebecca oversees a comprehensive marketing and communication strategy that supports all of GPI’s lodging properties.

About Glacier Park Inc.: Headquartered in Montana’s Glacier Country, Glacier Park Inc. owns and operates seven lodging properties in and around Glacier National Park, including Glacier Park Lodge, St. Mary Lodge & Resort, Grouse Mountain Lodge, Motel Lake McDonald, West Glacier Motel & Cabins, Apgar Village Lodge and The Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park.

Guest Post: 10 Reasons to Visit the American Rockies

There are a few destinations that are known around the world. One of them: the American Rockies. Spanning across six states—Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico—the Rocky Mountains offer distinct experiences for every type of visitor. When putting together an American Rockies itinerary, there are numerous destinations, areas, activity options, experiences and attractions that are ideal for showcasing this part of the United States and creating a memorable trip with your clients in mind.

The Beartooth Mountains in Wyoming and Montana.

The Beartooth Mountains in Wyoming and Montana.

However unless your clients have a limitless budget (or are spending a part of their lives as a vagabond) it’s better to look at some of the top attractions and not-to-be-missed highlights when putting together a trip to the American Rockies. To help you in your travel planning, I’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best reasons to visit this amazing region.

1) The National Parks
The American Rockies are home to some of the most well-known national parks in the country, including Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. And while there are several parks in the region, each one offers something unique and awe-inspiring.

Located in Montana, Glacier National Park takes you back in time as its landscape shows the impressive force of ancient glaciers that carved out the park’s terrain, from its jagged mountain peaks to lush mountain valleys and deep lakes. Today, Glacier National Park is home to an estimated 25 glaciers. Keep in mind that the remaining glaciers are much smaller than the massive glaciers that carved the Crown of the Continent.

Glacier National Park's St. Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island. Photo courtesy Donnie Sexton.

Glacier National Park’s St. Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island. Photo courtesy Donnie Sexton.

Yellowstone National Park, located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, was the first national park in the United States and is home to one of the few geyser basins around the world and undoubtedly the most well-know—Old Faithful Geyser. The majority of the park is located in Wyoming and sits atop an active super volcano, creating hundreds of thermal features throughout the park.

Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is well-known for the 48-mile-long highway that traverses the park, Trail Ridge Road. This road begins at over 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) in elevation and reaches an elevation of over 12,000 feet (3,657 meters), providing a plethora of viewpoints looking down on the valley floor and on to the neighboring peaks.

Additional magnificent national parks in the region include Grand Teton National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Mesa Verde National Park and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

2) Yellowstone in the Winter
Working at Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours, I am exposed to many beautiful destinations. However there are a few that I would consider a true “bucket list” destination. For me, Yellowstone National Park in the winter is at the top of my list.

A frozen Rustic Falls in Yellowstone National Park. Photo YNP flickr.

A frozen Rustic Falls in Yellowstone National Park. Photo YNP flickr.

Known worldwide for its thermal features, it’s no wonder that every summer more than 3 million visitors come to Yellowstone National Park. If you’ve ever been there during this time, you know that it can get a bit crowded in the park during the high summer season as crowds gather at the viewpoints, on the boardwalks, in the restaurants and on the side of the road to snap photos of the wildlife. While summer can be busy, winter in the park is just the opposite and offers your clients a pristine look at this quiet season. Your clients will travel into the park on a snowcoach and be awed by the snow-covered landscape, wildlife playing in the snow and most of all, the absence of crowds and cars. Instead, they can spend a day leisurely traveling about the park in small groups on a motorcoach or snowmobile, enjoying some cross-country skiing, watching Old Faithful (up close and personal without many other people) or simply sitting back and enjoy the serenity of Yellowstone National Park’s winter wonderland.

3) Skiing and Snowboarding in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, New Mexico and Colorado
If your clientele enjoys skiing and snowboarding, then the Rocky Mountains are the perfect place for their winter trip! While most people are familiar with Colorado’s Vail, Aspen and Breckenridge, and although they offer an incredible atmosphere with great runs, there are more than 50 ski resorts throughout the six states with many lesser-known mountains that feature equally spectacular skiing, but at a lower cost and with shorter lift lines.

Idaho’s Schweitzer Mountain sits just outside the quaint town of Sandpoint and offers some of the most amazing tree skiing in the United States with over 1,200 acres in the Selkirk Mountains.

Montana is home to the two world-class ski resorts: Big Sky Resort and Whitefish Mountain Resort. Located south of Bozeman and north of Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky Resort offers over 250 runs and lots of mountain to explore while Whitefish Mountain Resort is perfect for those who prefer the more intimate mountain feeling, with 105 marked runs. Plus, it’s located only a few short miles from Glacier Park International Airport and Kalispell.

Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is world-renowned for its challenging and steep terrain. With its great snow conditions and its location in the charming town of Jackson Hole, it’s quickly growing as a top destination for downhill skiers and snowboarders.

Located in Utah, Park City is perhaps one of the easiest ski resorts to get to as it sits only 30 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. It’s gained popularity over the years and has become one of the training locations for many Olympic skiers and snowboarders. Plus, with the merger of Park City and Canyons, it’s now America’s largest ski resort.

Largely forgotten in the ski industry is New Mexico. This is where I got my start in snowboarding and our family vacations were almost exclusively spent at a ski resort in New Mexico, so much so that our last vacation there was mainly spent looking for a vacation cabin to purchase. My two favorites: Angel Fire Resort and Taos.

Living in Colorado, I have lots of options but my resort of choice is generally Copper Mountain. The lines aren’t terribly long, the prices are reasonable and although the mountain is busy, it never seems crowded. The patio bar at the base also makes a very good spiked hot chocolate and has good specials on screwdrivers for après-ski.

4) Whitewater Rafting
The mountains bring snow, the snow brings runoff and that runoff creates ravenous rivers. The rivers in the American West feature some of the best whitewater rafting around and have rapids that rage at a variety of levels. With such diverse river flows, whitewater rafting is not just for the young crazy adventurous type but for the entire family.

Running the rapids on the Snake River. Image courtesy Snake River Photo.

Running the rapids on the Snake River. Image courtesy Snake River Photo.

Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours works with various rafting companies and their seasoned guides to ensure your clients can run the rivers in a fun, safe environment. Plus, whitewater rafting is a different way to experience nature and offers a new perspective that looks toward the shoreline, not out from it. Follow the pathways of the melting snow from Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park or Rocky Mountain National Park and you’ll likely see some of the eagles, bears and other animals that make their home near these waters.

5) Backpacking and Hiking
Your clients work hard. And chances are much of their time is spent on email or social media channels, while their children spend time on video games or tablets. The truth of the matter is that technology takes away our interaction with nature, which is one of the key attributes of visiting the American Rockies. I live in this region and can become distracted by daily life and online happenings, which is why every year I make it a point to get out and hike on the weekends. Recently I began backpacking adventures and although I take my phone for photos or emergencies, most of the time it stays in airplane mode or shut off. It’s about disconnecting from the emails, facebook (or Reddit in my case) and enjoying the sights and sounds of the world that we live in…the sights and sounds that surround us daily and are a large part of a trip to this corner of the world.

Backpacking in wilderness areas in the West brings you to views like this. Photo courtesy Chris Pilley.

Backpacking in wilderness areas in the West brings you to views like this. Photo courtesy Chris Pilley.

Throughout the American Rockies there are thousands upon thousands miles of hiking trails and hundreds of amazing backpacking destinations. My most recent trip was to The Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. There were six of us in the group and we spent five days hiking, fishing, lying next to the lake and enjoying conversations and time in nature. Sure, at the end of the trip, we’re ready for a good meal, a hot shower and our beds, but we wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Fishing in the Wind River Range. Photo courtesy James Scoon.

Fishing in the Wind River Range. Photo courtesy James Scoon.

This annual trip and the memories that we create exploring this region already have us looking forward to our third annual trip in 2016. On our short list: Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness, Wyoming’s Teton Range and Colorado’s Roosevelt National Forest.

6) Visit a Guest Ranch
The American West is notorious for our cowboy and ranching heritage and that tradition carries on today. There are hundreds of all-inclusive ranches throughout the region, with experiences that include everything from the high-end luxury ranches (where your clients can expect to be pampered and dine on food prepared by a five-star chef) to authentic working ranches that will have them on horseback most of the day as they work with cattle, check fences or take care of the horses. The most common ranch type—the guest ranch—sits between those two and offers its guests amazing home-cooked meals served family style, leisurely trail rides and the opportunity to experience team penning or other arena activities, with a focus on providing a glimpse into the life of a cowboy or rancher but without the long working hours. Visiting my first ranch years ago is what drove me to my current job title and was by far one of my best vacations, so much so that I will be continuing to visit guest ranches as my personal vacation for years to come.

A group trail ride at the Tarryall River Ranch in Colorado.

A group trail ride at the Tarryall River Ranch in Colorado.

7) Abundant Wildlife Watching and Fly-Fishing
If your clients are interested in a trip where they will be able to see wildlife in their natural habitat, Montana and Wyoming are the perfect destinations. The opportunity to see wolves, bears, moose, elk and bison is fairly limited in the United States, but is abundant in this area. Conservation efforts across the region have brought the population of these animals back to strong numbers. It’s not unusual to see a herd of 100+ elk anywhere across the region, a herd of bison freely roaming around Yellowstone National Park or a bear or moose on one of your hiking adventures. Wolves are more of a rarity but around Yellowstone National Park, and parts of Montana, there are some great companies that focus on spotting wolves and offer early morning wildlife watching tours.

An elk in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy Donnie Sexton.

An elk in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy Donnie Sexton.

In addition, the rivers and streams in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho have offer some of the best fly-fishing in the world, while their mountainous lakes are filled with wild trout.

8) Historic Trains
The American West has a strong mining history, which brought in many railways. A number of those historic railways are operating today and showcase the rich mining history of the region and offer a great way to see the beautiful area that they operate in. Take a ride back in time aboard the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad which runs along the Animas River in Colorado, Royal Gorge Railroad that follows the Arkansas River through the 1,250 feet (380 meters) deep canyon of The Royal Gorge in Colorado, Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad that connects Colorado to New Mexico while crossing Cumbres Pass and ventures through Toltec Gorge or the Georgetown Loop Railroad which once serviced a booming silver mine (be sure to include the mine tour) in the mountains of Colorado. Many of these tours offer meals, as well as seasonal and special events that include Murder Mystery Rides, Oktoberfest, Christmas specials or simply a dinner ride.

The Durango Silverton Train rolls through the canyon. Photo courtesy Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

The Durango Silverton Train rolls along the Animas River in Colorado. Photo courtesy Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

9) Scenic Byways
With the mountainous roads in and around the Rocky Mountains come many amazing scenic byways. And while these roads may not always be the quickest route, your clients will remember taking these roads and the amazing viewpoints along the way. If you’re visiting Yellowstone National Park, advise your clients (especially if they are FIT) to take a little time and venture outside the northeast corner of the park on the Beartooth Highway. Winding its way through Montana, Wyoming and then back into Montana, the Beartooth Highway is also a prime motorcycling tour destination.

One of the views along the Scenic Beartooth Highway.

One of the views along the Scenic Beartooth Highway.

Another very fitting scenic byway is the Top of the Rockies National Scenic and Historic Byway. It rarely drops below 9,000 feet (2,743 meters) and runs through the highest incorporated town in the U.S., Leadville, and includes the thrilling and narrow drive on Independence Pass, which connects Leadville to Aspen. Independence Pass is also home to the Devil’s Punchbowl Swimming Hole for the adventurous traveler.

10) Craft Beer
Alright you got me: this growing trend can be found across the United States. However it’s safe to say that the craft breweries in the Rockies are the best bunch of breweries there are. You simply can’t plan a trip through this area without coming across five to 10 breweries. Colorado, Wyoming and Montana have three of the highest numbers of breweries per capita (per 100,000 21+ adults). And in these places, it’s evident that it’s not simply about brewing the beer, but taking a style and making it unique, making it bold, creating a new and delicious taste and, most of all, separating themselves from the bland, big breweries that dominate the market. That is why when I travel, I make it a point to ask my bartender or server for something local. Rest assured, you and your clients are well-advised to do the same. Some of my personal favorites include Odell Brewing Co., Snake River Brewing and Big Sky Brewing Co.

A local beer in the shadow of the Teton Range.

A local beer in the shadow of the Teton Range.

For more information or to work with me on creating customized fly-drive itineraries for your client or one-of-a-kind group tours, visit Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours.

See you in the American Rockies,
Chris Pilley

The author, Chris Pilley.

The author, Chris Pilley.

About the author: Chris is the Contract Manager for Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours, handling ranches, activities and groups. In his free time he can be found running the trails of Fort Collins or hiking the mountains of Colorado.

About Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours: Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours is the largest receptive operator in the American Rockies Region. Their staff has more than 62 combined years of experience in the region and specializes in the national parks and the western states.