Paws Up! Luxury on Montana’s Blackfoot River

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What’s up with Paws Up? The Resort at Paws Up is a 37,000 luxury guest ranch tucked in the Garnet Mountains in the Blackfoot Valley. The resort harkens back to Lewis & Clark time. Indeed, the legendary explorers, along with their guide, Sacagawea, walked the very place where you will stay if you decide to explore this part of western Montana. Paws Up gets its pet name from co-owner and dog lover Nadine Lipson. Her love of animals is evident in the subtle appearance of dog and horse art and sculptures throughout the property. Of course, dogs are allowed at the resort, as well as people.

Framed by the Scapegoat Wilderness, Bob Marshall Wilderness and Mission Mountains, the resort calls to nature lovers, artists, foodies and families. Yes, there really is something for everyone in this part of Montana, unless you prefer the sounds of city life to silence. Don’t fret, you’ll still have the luxury of heated bathroom floors, high thread count sheets and wireless internet, but you’ll wake up to the sounds of birds chirping or if you are a real early bird, you might watch the horse round up (the jingle) or join an early morning cattle drive.

You won’t find any pup tents on property, instead, you’ll need to select between 5 luxury tented camps – Paws Up made the term “glamping” famous – or go for the ranch homes. Multi-generation families will want to opt for the wilderness estates, with huge master suites, upstairs lofts, complete kitchens and hot tubs off the deck, while other options include Meadow and Big Timber homes.

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For the active adventure seekers in the group, try the 3-D archery, Skyline Aerial Adventure Course, or whitewater rafting on the Blackfoot River. Those looking to relax and recharge will find their happy place at spa town, fly fishing from the river bank or sitting on a rocking chair of your front porch. No matter the activity, or lack of activity, the clean Montana air will keep you coming back for more.

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And speaking of coming back for more…the dining options range from decadent to healthy dining and everything in between. During my Cowgirl Spring Roundup weekend I heard requests from vegan to gluten free to seafood only and all requests were met with a cowboy can-do attitude. From fine dining at Pomp to the more casual Tank & Trough, guests will leave the table well fed. Kids (and adults) be sure to check the cookie jar for the daily offerings.

The Resort at Paws Up is a great place for detaching from all things electronic. The Kids Corps of Discovery offers immersion programs for multiple age ranges. My kids, now grown, would have loved swinging from a rope into a lake and as young adults, they would jump at the chance to shoot bows and arrows or spend an afternoon out on the trail with a horse and wrangler.

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You may want to rent a car when visiting Paws Up, or, if you are staying at a Wilderness Estate, you’ll have a loaner at your disposal. If you arrange for shuttle pick up from Missoula International Airport, you’ll get a wonderful history lesson from one of the knowledgeable drivers on your way to Lewis and Clark country. One of the first things I noticed when turning into the ranch was the lack of paved roads, refreshingly preferred over concrete in my book.

Rates range from $500 per person per night and up with special events sprinkled generously throughout the calendar. Check the resort website for pricing and events from Bounty on the Blackfoot to Upper Crust, a sophisticated pizza, pie and cookie camp for foodies in early October. You can also compare rates and book through Hotels.com.

Resort review and photography by San Francisco based travel writer and cowgirl Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of The Resort at Paws Up while researching additional articles for publication.

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