Nestled deep in the countryside in Philipsburg, Montana lies The Ranch at Rock Creek, a luxury dude ranch that marries the rugged authenticity of the Montana scenery with the posh accommodations of a 5-star resort. The Relais & Chateaux property offers 29 unique accommodations (from glamping to historic barn stays) and an abundance of recreational activities that are nothing short of spectacular. Speaking of spectacular, the cuisine on property doesn’t disappoint, either. Chef Drage’s locally and sustainably-sourced menu is the perfect accompaniment to an active day on the ranch.
Below, General Manager Jon Martin shares what makes The Ranch at Rock Creek so very special, no matter what season your visit lands in.
What makes the property so special?
There are obviously several aspects of our property that are special like the unique location, non-stop activities and amazing varied accommodations. However, in today’s world where so many properties are operated by large companies, I love the fact that The Ranch is the culmination of a lifelong dream and vision of our owner Jim Manley. From the time he was nine years old watching westerns on TV, he has wanted a ranch out west. It is an honor to bear the responsibility of delivering that vision to our guests on a daily basis.
What is the rate?
Winter rates start at $1,800 per night for double occupancy.
What’s an interesting tidbit about the hotel that speaks to its status as an icon?
The Ranch was homesteaded in 1893 as a cattle ranch and two of original buildings still remain. In fact, the historic barn is home to three of our most popular accommodations: Stables, Wrangler and Loft. It is impossible to walk into any of those rooms without considering what life was like on this ranch in the early 1900s and how challenging so many aspects of their daily lives were compared to ours.
What’s your personal favorite room and why?
Bluebird is not only my favorite accommodation, it is also our guests’ favorite because it is the most rented accommodation each year. It is a truly special place with amenities like a king canopy bed, cedar sauna, and heated screened in porch overlooking our namesake Rock Creek.
Can you share some fun facts about the property?
The fact that The Ranch sits on 6,600 acres, with over four miles of Rock Creek flowing through it all at an elevation of 5,200 feet is certainly interesting to many of our guests. However, my favorite fun fact is the exact number of silver dollars imbedded in the bar of The Silver Dollar Saloon. I won’t tell you the answer so you will have to saddle up to the bar yourself and ask one of our amazing bartenders to tell you.
What’s the biggest compliment you’ve received about the resort?
I am grateful for all the compliments are guests give us in person, via email, and through reviews. However, without a doubt the most common theme is how great and more importantly authentic, our employees are. We work hard to find people who appreciate the aspects of rural Montana that make it so special and they in turn share that passion with our guests each day. A guest who stayed with us this summer sent me an email shortly after leaving and I think he said it best: “There are so many beautiful places in this world that can compare with the setting that the ranch sits in but it is truly your team that makes it that much more special than the rest.”
What are your top three favorite things to do for guests that are truly unique?
First and foremost is the running of the horses. We do this several times each week and as many times as I’ve witnessed it, it remains awe inspiring each time to see over 70 horses run out to pasture with their friends. Second would be our unique dining spots for special occasions. We have held fresh grilled barbecue lunches in the snow at the local Discovery ski area, engagement dinners on one of our ponds, or an anniversary lunch up on a ridge top mid horseback ride. Each time our guests leave with an amazing memory.
What makes it such a great place to travel to given the current state of traveling lately?
It is no secret that social distancing is in Montana’s DNA. We are a rural area and spread out property that has allowed our guests to enjoy themselves in a safe way this year. More importantly, we have created several new activities and venues that highlight a connection to nature and our surroundings. Now more than ever, our guests seem to want to disconnect and unwind in this environment.
What’s your all-time favorite dish on the menu at The Ranch at Rock Creek?
Chef Josh is one of the few chefs who I truly trust any dish that comes out of his kitchen. I think the fact that he has spent his 11 years cultivating relationships with local purveyors to get the best ingredients from Montana’s pantry, is what makes his cuisine authentic to our area. A few of my favorite Montana grown ingredients, farro and morel mushrooms, are paired with a poached local egg culminating in my favorite flavor profile. I have had this in a few variations, one as a nourishing vegetarian dish and another with grass fed beef, but the farro, morel and egg are the standouts of the dish in my opinion.