While most folks think horseback riding when it comes to Bar W Guest Ranch, skiers might want to put the Bar W on their radar. The intimate Montana dude ranch is open year-round. It’s the perfect base camp for exploring Glacier National Park, fly fishing, birding or skiing in Whitefish, Montana. Whether you prefer a cozy bed and breakfast setting or an all-inclusive, action-packed holiday, this Glacier country ranch is up for the challenge.
With 6 bedrooms in the main lodge, a two-story log cabin next door and 4 Montana glamping tents on property, the Bar W will appeal to all ages. Ours was a July visit and I came for the horseback riding. My husband perked up when he heard about the sporting clay, fishing and archery opportunities. If you come for the horseback riding experiences, a typical week begins with Sunday check in and Saturday check out. Shorter stays are also available, depending on the time of year.
In addition to the 6,000+ square foot lodge, where all meals are served, the Bar W Guest Ranch boasts a beautiful 2-story, Amish-designed log cabin. Divided into upstairs and downstairs units, the Eagle’s Nest has an authentic log cabin feel, decorated with trophy mounts and Western interior decor. The Eagle’s Nest can sleep up to ten people.
Downstairs, the Bear Den sleeps 6, utilizing two sofa sleepers, in addition to the private suite with king size bed. All meals are served in the Bar W lodge.
Besides the horseback riding in the beautiful forested woodlands, my favorite part of our visit to Bar W was a stay in the Montana canvas glamping tents. I’d seen pictures in magazines of high-end glamping experiences and let me tell you, they are the real deal! While the tents are not available for guest stays in the winter, spring, summer and fall are perfect for blending into Glacier country. Glamping tents are available for ranch vacations May 1 – October 31, plan accordingly.
The canvas tents are sturdy as a lodge pole pine, yet the durable zippers open up and let the Montana mountain air in when the sun shines. I loved that we could watch the horses graze from the privacy of our porch, while sipping a hot cup of tea. After a long day of horseback riding, it was exciting to know that I had my own private bathroom next door, complete with heat, granite counter tops and a clean hot shower. There’s also a mini fridge and coffee maker for those who need to start their morning with a fresh cup of joe.
For those traveling with children or grandchildren, relax, The Bar W kid’s program is safe, reliable and entertaining. My buckaroo’s are full grown young adults, but I paid attention to the children during my stay. The kids truly seemed to enjoy the company of their supervisors and I know the parents appreciated the break from the children, if only temporary.
The kids are able to horseback ride in the arena, out on the trail or the little cowpokes have the option for a lead line walk around the ranch. At the end of their guest ranch stay, the Bar W puts on a rodeo and the children (and adults) are the participants. Truth be told, I was a little jealous watching the kids hand paint horse shoes to take home as a souvenir. Everyone can participate in the branding of cowboy boots if you bring your own boots.
Additional activities include fishing on the trout pond, canoes, swimming or kayaking on Spencer Lake, archery, sporting clay and rodeo among others. Guests have the opportunity for off property activities such as white water rafting or fly fishing with a guide for an additional fee. There’s also a gift shop at the barn if you want to purchase shirts, hats, jackets, or all things horse-related.
Meals at the ranch are included with your stay. Breakfast, lunch and dinner was served buffet style from the kitchen with assigned table seating in the dining room. There was a fancy supper one night with cheese and wine pairing and a picnic barbecue dinner served at the gazebo by the lake mid-week. Guests had the option of taking a horse-drawn wagon to the gazebo, walking or being driven in a mini van.
Rates at the ranch vary depending on season and length of stay. Ask about specialty weeks such as the Cattle Drive or Photography Workshop. Double occupancy for 3 nights in lodge starts at $1,202. per person. Our three night stay in a glamping tent in late June was $1,314.75 per person, double occupancy. You can also check rates at Expedia or Hotels.com. For being 23 miles from Glacier National Park, I was surprised and delighted with the strong cell phone and WiFI coverage. (We had camped previously at Glacier and did not have good coverage – granted, most people are not looking for strong WiFi or cell when they camp at a national park.)
Bar W Guest Ranch review in Whitefish, Montana and all photos by equestrian travel expert Nancy D. Brown. Nancy was a guest of Bar W Guest Ranch for review purposes. All opinions are her own. Thanks to Montana Dude Ranchers Association for arranging her stay.