The Ranch at Rock Creek, Luxury Montana Big Sky Getaway

Friday May 17, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 3 Comments

Ranch at Rock Creek Pond

Kick your boots off and relax at The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg, Montana

I’ll bet you didn’t know that deer, antelope and elk outnumber humans in Montana? In fact, a square mile of land in Montana might contain Rocky Mountain elk, pronghorn antelope, mule and whitetail deer, with cows, horses, mountain lions, black bear, fox, coyote, wolf,  and bighorn sheep sprinkled throughout the state.

Montana is a year-round, outdoor lovers paradise. If you enjoy connecting with nature, but your days of camping are long behind you, I recommend a stay at The Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana.


Granite Lodge, The Ranch at Rock Creek

Granite Lodge is open year round at The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg, Montana.

The Ranch at Rock Creek, 6,600 acres of wild west fun

Located in Southwestern Montana, The Ranch at Rock Creek is 6,600 acres of wild west fun, corralled in a picture perfect package of luxurious ranch lodging. With the Anaconda-Pintler mountain range protecting the valley, The Ranch at Rock Creek sits tall in the saddle at 5,600 feet above sea level. Bird watchers might spot bald and golden eagles soaring overhead, in addition to osprey, hawks and falcons.



Bear Trap at The Ranch at Rock Creek

Order the Bear Trap, a Huckleberry infused Vodka with soda water and Montana Huckleberry jam.

Cowboy country at The Ranch at Rock Creek

With over 60 horses on property, The Ranch at Rock Creek could be considered a gentleman’s cattle ranch. Of course, this ranch includes a swimming pool, hot tubs, a sauna, spa, saloon and bowling alley. After-all, what kind of gentleman wouldn’t offer a lady a mani-pedi treatment at the Granite Spa after a hard day of fly-fishing or horseback riding?

From first time riders to accomplished equestrians, The Ranch at Rock Creek offers English and Western horseback riding options, in addition to arena riding and miles of endless Montana trail rides.

apple crumble Ranch at Rock Creek

Enjoy gourmet dining and rustic ranch cuisine at The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg, Montana

Luxury ranch dining

Looking out onto the Montana landscape, I see why the Plains Indians settled here and why owner Jim Manley picked this special place to be called The Ranch at Rock Creek. With 30 -50 miles of mountains, meadows, lakes and streams meandering through the property, the wild west is alive and well at the ranch. Yet those of us seeking a Relaix & Chateau experience will not be disappointed. Guests are greeted with a flute of sparkling wine and Executive Chef Josh Drage delivers three square meals a day, in addition to appetizers and premium drinks served in the Granite lodge dining room, the Blue Canteen or in the Silver Dollar Saloon.

From fresh Alaskan halibut to Montana-raised beef and organic garden vegetables, Drage serves a healthy and balanced menu, but knows when to pull out the stops with frozen berry souffles and piping hot apple cobblers for dessert and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies served in the afternoon.

Ponderosa House

Ponderosa house, at The Ranch at Rock Creek, is ideal for families

Sleeping in a barn

As a child, when I left the back door open to our house, my mother would say, “we’re you born in a barn? Close the door.”

I have slept in a barn before, but never an historic barn. Guests have more lodging options at The Ranch at Rock Creek than fish in the pond. In addition to the Granite Lodge, with its nine luxury rooms, the ranch features eight private houses, several canvas tent cabins and the historic barn.

The remodeled 19th century historic barn houses three accommodations – the loft, wrangler and the stable’s bunkhouse. If I were a kid, I’d want to sleep in the bunkhouse, as it is close to the horse corral, yet a short 10 minute walk to Granite Lodge. This location would be ideal for a family reunion, wedding party or private groups.

Granite Lodge

Home to the great room, dining room and Silver Dollar Saloon, the Granite Lodge served as my home base during my stay. My room, the Winchester, was fittingly named after the historic rifle maker. It is decorated in classic Western style with a king bed, as well as a full-size pullout loveseat. This lower level room offers high ceilings and private access through the courtyard to the Silver Dollar Saloon and Granite Spa. My room rented for $850 per person, per night. Winter season is October 1 – April 30, while peak season is May 1- September 30. Check website for current pricing and special packages.

Private Cabins at The Ranch at Rock Creek

For those seeking privacy, The Ranch at Rock Creek offers eight luxury cabins. The two bedroom Cattail cabin is perfect for friends or a small family, while the three-bedroom Ponderosa House would be my ideal choice for a family holiday. For honeymooners or those seeking a romantic getaway, Bluebird cabin, with its king canopy bed and twin pull-out bed is perfect.

Trapper Cabin Ranch at Rock Creek

The 600 square foot Trapper Cabin at The Ranch at Rock Creek sits next to Rock Creek and is ideal for couples

Family canvas cabins

If you are looking for a “glamping experience” the canvas cabins are for you! Four family canvas cabins feature two rooms separated by a curtain and include cozy reading nooks. Individually furnished in a rustic “Out of Africa” style, the cabins feature private baths, comfortable beds and the soothing sounds of Rock Creek steps from your front door. For the mountain men among us, Trapper Cabin is fifteen minutes by bike to Granite Lodge. This one bedroom, 600 square foot suite is ideal for star-gazing and day dreaming.

The Ranch at Rock Creek activities

With plenty of activities to keep any kids, or kids-at-heart, busy I promise that you will never hear the words, “I’m bored” uttered on this luxury vacation.  From blue-ribbon fly-fishing, to sporting clay, 3-d archery, horseback riding, hiking, kayaking or biking, you’ll want to schedule in a day of rest and relaxation by the fireplace, pond or spa.  The Ranch at Rock Creek offers year-round activities with the best professional and friendly instructors.


Need to know before you travel: The Ranch at Rock Creek is an hour and one half drive from Missoula and Butte airports. There is an additional fee of $225 per vehicle each way (1-6 people) if you would like transportation to and from Missoula International Airport to The Ranch at Rock Creek. Check in and check out time are flexible, according to guest’s schedules. The ranch is pet-friendly and charges $50 per pet, per night.

Paint horse

The Ranch at Rock Creek, in Philipsburg, Montana, offers friendly horses of all riding levels

Insider Tips to Philipsburg

Did you know that Philipsburg, Montana is known for their sapphires? There are several mine claims on Rock Creek in Philipsburg, Montana. The Ranch at Rock Creek offers sapphire mining nearby if guests are interested.


For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow Rock Creek Ranch on Twitter.

If You Go:

The Ranch at Rock Creek  (406) 859-6027 or (877) 786-1545

79 Carriage House Lane

Philipsburg, Montana 59858

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of,  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of The Ranch at Rock Creek.

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Parkersburg, West Virginia: Where history and two rivers meet

Thursday May 16, 2013 at 4:04 AM | 2 Comments


View from the top of Ft. Boreman

View from the top of Ft. Boreman, Parkersburg, West Virginia

Parkersburg, West Virginia was not on my “Go To” list until recently when my husband and I headed there for a quick weekend away. Located at the confluence of the Ohio and Little Kanawha Rivers, Parkersburg is a pint-sized package of important aspects of American history. From pre-Civil War to the oil and gas boom to the height of manufacturing, Parkersburg’s history is a nutshell version of our shared tale of industriousness and the quest for new horizons.Many attractions are within easy walking distance of each other making a Parkersburg trip easy and relaxing.

Fort Boreman Historical Park – Located off US 50, Marrtown Rd exit  just 2 miles from downtown, this park is a fitting starting place for a Parkersburg tour. From the vantage point of the park’s hill you can see both rivers, the train tressels that give testament to Parkersburg industrial past, and a large part of the city. Fort Boreman was also an important spot during the Civil War. There are remnants of the Union fortification that once exited here.

Toilet exhibit at Blennerhasset Regional History Museum

Toilet exhibit at Blennerhasset Museum of Regional History

Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History – 137 Juliana St.  Along with showcasing items that depict the history of Blennerhasset Island and the family that lived there, this museum features unusual objects of Ohio Valley history dating back to 9000 B.C. When I visited, there was an unusual displays of early toilets as a special exhibit.

The museum is housed in a building that has served as a grocery store and a warehouse. This is an example of a re-purposed building done right. It’s gorgeous.

Oil and Gas Museum, 119 3rd St. This museum is a facinating mix of items important to Parkersburg and West Virginia history. There’s more than oil and gas industry paraphenelia. Wandering from room to room and floor to floor of what was once a massive hardware store, I was able to gather how life in the United States has changed from pre-Civil War days to the boom and demise of major manufacturing. You could go back here dozens of times and find some other treasure you didn’t see before.

Oil & Gas Museum Parkersburg, West Virginia

The Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg, West Virginia

Julia-Ann Square Historic District – Juliana and Ann Sts between 9th and 13th Sts. Pick up a walking tour brochure at the Blennerhasset Museum or the Blennerhasset Hotel.  The tour leads you past the finest homes in Parkersburg. Here is where prominent people lived back when Parkersburg was a booming center of trade and industry. The houses, dating between 1850 and 1910 are a gorgeous mix of Second Empire, 19th century eclectic and Queen Anne style architecture. In 1977, Julia-Ann Square acquired prominence by landing a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Several residents were outside gardening or sitting on their porches while we walked by and were happy to talk.

historic district

Julia-Ann Square Historic District, Parkersburg, W Virginia

Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park, accessible via sternwheeler. (Purchase tickets at the Blennerhassett Museum, 137 Juliana St.) This island is where Irish aristocrat Herman Blennerhasset called home.  His Palladian style mansion burned to the ground in 1811 but has been  reconstructed to reflect the times when Blennerhassett was a prominent figure. Blennerhassett was accused, along with Aaron Burr, of treason for allegedly trying to establish a southwest empire.

From May to October, costumed docents lead tours of the mansion. Alas, we were in Parkersburg a week before the season opened. That’s okay. This just means I’m heading back to Parkersburg. I’m thinking about the fall when the colors will be at their peak.

blennerhassett hotel

The historic Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg

Blennerhassett Hotel - If you are spending time exploring a town’s history, stay in its historic hotel. The Blennerhasset Hotel, built in the late nineteenth century, is a Parkerburg  gem and downtown centerpiece. We stayed in a King room. On the weekends there are specials to entice guests. Our package was the Spring Fling which included a $20 gift card to use in the hotel and two Starbucks drinks. Our room rate for one night was $119. We used the gift card for the hotel’s sumptuous Sunday brunch.  After the gift card, brunch cost us  $15 and some change plus the tip.

320 Market St

Post and photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Writers Association

Golfing at Quail Lodge Golf Course, Carmel, California

Tuesday May 14, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 2 Comments

Quail Golf Course

Quail Lodge Golf Course offers scenic golf play

Designed by Robert Muir Graves, Quail Lodge & Golf Club is a walk-able par-71 golf course that features 10 lakes, the scenic Carmel River and nearly year-round sunny skies.  The golf course offers challenges to all aspects of the game while not being the most difficult course on the peninsula.  I found the golf course to be in excellent condition; the greens were pristine and rolled true, but not too fast, while the fairways demanded that you work the ball. In some instances, mature and strategically placed trees had me scrambling, resulting in a less than perfect drive.

Bunkers and water at Quail Lodge & Golf Club

The plentiful bunkers had soft quality sand with water coming into play on several holes.  At just over 6,000 yards from the gold tees, (6,400 from the blue) with little

Quail Lodge golf green

Quail Lodge Golf Course bunkered green

elevation except for the fifth hole, a down hill par three with water along the right side, it is as pretty as any Monterey area golf course.  The Quail Lodge Golf Club is semi private, so early morning tee times are for members, yet it is still easy to obtain a good start time.  The driving range and practice greens at the Golf Club are top notch and there is even a small putting green at the first tee.  It winds through the quiet residential area but the Carmel Valley houses do not come into play.

Walkable golf course

It is a nice course to walk,  with only a small hike on the cart path back to the Quail Lodge Club House from the 18th hole.  At par 71, there are three par threes on the front nine, but the pace of play never slowed. You can expect a four to four and a quarter hour round of play on this golf course.  The par fives are back to back on the back nine and the 18th hole is a surprisingly challenging par four that looks straight forward, yet is the kind of hole you desire to play again.

For those golfers interested in improving their game, Katherine Marren, PGA Professional and Director of Instruction at Quail Lodge Golf Academy, is the go-to gal.

Quail Lodge Clubhouse

Relax at the Quail Lodge Clubhouse before or after a round of golf

Insider Tip:
Quail Lodge has recently undergone a $28 million renovation. Quail Lodge & Golf Club offers a variety of golf packages, including golf lesson packages and lodging packages.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @QuailLodgeCA  on Twitter.

What are your favorite things to do in Carmel, California?






Quail Lodge

Keep an eye out for Quail on the Quail Lodge Golf Course

If You Go

Quail Lodge & Golf Club  phone 831-624-2888

8205 Valley Greens Drive

Carmel, California 93923

This review of Quail Lodge Golf Course is a guest post by Cory N. Brown.  Cory was a guest of Quail Lodge & Golf Club. All photos courtesy of Nancy D. Brown

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