For active families, I think I may have found the perfect holiday in the USA! Are you the family who loves to spend time together, who loves the great outdoors and enjoys a good old adventure? Then a luxury ranching holiday at The Resort at Paws Up in Montana may just be your perfect holiday!
Firstly, it’s pretty easy to get there: fly with Delta directly from Heathrow to Salt Lake City, where you will spend a few hours before continuing your onward journey (with Delta) to Missoula in Montana. Fly Business Class and enjoy flat beds, wonderful food, fabulous entertainment systems and a very comfortable lounge at Salt Lake City. An added bonus upon arrival in Montana is that Missoula’s airport is tiny, there are no queues and you will be met at the side of the luggage carousel and assisted with your suitcases.
The luxurious resort is just a short, thirty-minute, transfer from Missoula International Airport – which is ideal when you have small people in tow – and when you arrive, you can quickly hop into bed and await the magic of the morning to come. The Ranch Homes are perfect for multi-generational families, including those families travelling with grandma and grandpa, as they have multiple bedrooms, full dining and living areas, fabulous kitchens, outside decks with hot tubs and barbecues and even glamping tents for those children (big and small!) who want to experience the great outdoors in style. For those who really want more of a glamping experience, you can even stay in one of six tented camps, located along the banks of Blackfoot River. Family Tents each have a king-size bedroom and a twin, with a full en-suite bathroom which even features underfloor heating – definitely glamping at its finest. The resort has also recently announced its new North Bank Camp, that will be cantilevered on stilts over the river, offering spectacular views from their private decks. Featuring four double and two triple tents, they are set to be a perfect addition for multigenerational families.
On my first morning, awaking to see the sunlight filtering through the windows, I looked out to see a small heard of elk grazing close to our deck – an incredible sight in the early morning sun and mist. Each home is equipped with a nippy little car to travel around the resort in – the whole ranch is one-and-a-half times the size of Manhattan, so the cars come in pretty handy!! Meals are taken at the, aptly named, Trough, and dining here is a true delight. Paws Up takes the ‘farm-to-table’ concept to the next level and everything it offers is natural, locally sourced and fresh, including the amazing green juices and specialist drinks. Breakfast is a foodie-lovers delight: dine à la carte or enjoy the delights of the ranch table – a veritable feast of treats! The avocado toast is out of this world and the cookies are not to be missed! It’s amazing how many cookies you can eat in a day when they are this good!
Activities always begin at the Activity Barn, a purpose-built meeting place offering some of the finest ranch apparel for sale – this is definitely a shopper’s paradise, from traditional cowboy hats and boots, to jewellery and soaps. The activities are abundant here, including clay or skeet-shooting (there is a fabulous scenic clays course, which suits all levels of shooter), or why not try your hand at cattle-driving – you are on a cattle ranch, remember! How about knife-throwing or horseshoe games? The high ropes course is made for active families and culminates in a 40ft vertical drop, or, if you’re a wimp like me, you can take a much easier route down! Alternatively, try go-karting if you are a bit more competitive! Rafting is a fun activity for all the family and, dependent on the time of year you travel, you can have a really rapid ride right down to more of a gentle float along the stunning scenery – this is, after all, the river that the novel, ‘A River Runs Through It’ was set on – or how about some fly fishing on the river for the boys, while the ladies enjoy the delights of the Spa Village, a tented spa enclave featuring natural treatments in a stunning setting. For those looking for more of a thrill, why not try the ATV (quad-bike) safari or rapelling? This is just a small handful of the activities on offer and, being a year-round resort, there are some great alternatives you can do at Paws Up during the winter months, too, including skating on the resort’s ice rink, dog sledding, cross-country skiing, sleigh rides, plus skiing and snowboarding at the nearby Montana Snowbowl! The supervised kids’ programme offers an array of age-appropriate activities for youngsters from 3 to 12 years old, including pony rides, mountain biking, treasure hunts and even mining for precious sapphires in the river. For youngsters over 12 years, driving cattle is a possibility – saddle up and round up the cattle, then trail them to nearby working corrals. Or else, teens can learn how to drive a traditional, horse-drawn wagon or ride a horse, western-style, with a wrangler. In summer 2017, a number of wilderness workshops for all the family are planned in July and August, such as painting, wilderness survival, drum circle playing and block printing.
One thing’s for certain: at the end of the day, you are going to be ravenous! If you choose to stay in one of the tented camps, breakfast and dinner will be taken in the camp’s very own dining tent, which comes complete with its own outdoor firepit, perfect for sharing stories of your day with fellow campers. Up at Trough, you will enjoy hearty, regional, rustic cuisine and can dine outside listening to live music and enjoying the famous after-dinner s’mores, while dining experiences, include a scenic horse-drawn wagon ride to Blackfoot River, followed by an authentic chuck wagon dinner prepared right in front of you. For a more sophisticated alternative, Pomp offers gourmet fine dining and serves wonderful steaks, sourced locally. The Bison is a definite must try! It’s worth noting that Paws Up also caters for vegetarian and vegan guests, plus those with special dietary requirements, with a little advanced notice.
However active you do or don’t want to be, I guarantee that you will return home having made a million memories that you will be talking about for years to come and will have experienced some things you never thought you would (or could) do. For me, this is why ranching is the perfect family holiday, no matter what the time of year!
For more information, or to book your Montana family adventure at The Resort at Paws Up, please call our expert Travel Consultants on 01244 897 530.