“Amazing the things you find when you bother to search for them.” Sacagawea
These are the types of quotes you’ll find on your bed each night at The Resort at Paws Up near Missoula, Montana. Located on the Blackfoot River, framed by the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Seeley Swan Mountain range, Paws Up offers an authentic peek into the American West. This is the country that called to explorers Lewis & Clark, as well as Sacagawea and it continues to call to me.
Paws Up is a 37,000 acre luxury guest ranch that still operates as a working cattle ranch in western Montana. Once owed by members the Charles Lindberg family, its current owners are the Lipson family. Nadine Lipson has firmly placed her thumbprint, or should I say paw print – in both the feel and look of this family-friendly luxury resort. Guests have the option of staying in wilderness estate homes, meadow homes, big timber log cabins or glamping in safari-style tents. Whether you are on a girlfriend getaway, a romantic escape, multi-generation vacation or spa retreat, you’re in for a one-of-a-kind experience.
I was here to experience the Cowgirl Spring Roundup at The Resort at Paws Up, so my focus was on cowgirl adventures and horseback riding. You don’t have to be an equestrian to enjoy the ranch; from fly fishing or rafting the Blackfoot River to ATV exploring, sporting clay, 3D archery, paintball and ropes courses, there’s plenty to keep the family occupied. Of course, you can simply kick back on the front porch and enjoy nature – as a river runs through it – or make a visit to Spa Town.
The resort welcomes guests on property from April to November and December 20 – January 31 for the winter season. I opted for the luxurious Beaverhead Rock house in the Wilderness Estates. This western-themed home featured two master suites with kid-friendly loft upstairs. The front porch offers mountain views and the back porch boasts a hot tub and barbecue, as well as a separate canvas tent option for sleeping outdoors. The gourmet kitchen comes with dining table and opens to the great room with wood-burning fire place.
I loved the heated floors, slate shower & spa tub in the generous-sized bathrooms and the laundry room for cleaning clothes after a day filled with outdoor active adventures.
Not your ordinary spa, spa town is a cluster of billowing tents situated in a crescent shape along a grassy meadow. The white canvas tents look out to the Seeley Swan mountain range. From inside the walls, you’ll tuck under heated blankets and rejuvenate in a massage. No meda-music required as the birds and surrounding nature provide their own soundtrack. There’s also the Grizzlyman Fitness Center next to Spa Town and a walking trail nearby.
Paws Up dining
You’ll not go hungry at Paws Up. Breakfast and lunch are served at The Tank & Trough Bar & Grill. Breakfast buffet offers fresh juices, fruit, omelet station, sausages & biscuits, bacon & eggs, as well as fresh baked cinnamon rolls, coffee cake and pastries. Don’t miss the house made granola – Adam’s recipe!
Ranch table lunches range from seasonal fruits & berries served up in mason jars to healthy salads, homemade soups & chili, hearty sandwiches and a killer Snake River Farms Kobe beef burger on brioche bun. Save room for the fresh baked cookies in the jumbo cookie jar or a piece of huckleberry pie! If I could have brought home Pastry Chef Rebekah Gerdes in my luggage, I would have. She creates amazing desserts! Ask if they have the huckleberry cobbler.
Dinner at Pomp (named after Sacagawea’s son) is a fine dining affair. You are in good hands with Executive Chef Ben Jones as his focus is flavorful and local ingredients. The crab cakes with beets, leek and blackened red pepper cream offered plenty of lump meat and the elk, served with a port wine demi, was a standout. The quality of the desserts turned out from the pastry chef far exceeded my expectations.
The resort offers several additional food & wine programs, including chuck wagon dinners, Montana Master Grillers and Master Chefs programs, Montana Long Table and the Upper Crust cooking workshops.
Need to know:
A resort fee of 20% will be applied to all fees for lodging, spa services and food and beverage charges. No resort fee is applied to wilderness adventures. For example, my $180 60 minute massage came with a $36 resort fee as of this writing) the fee covers round-trip airport transportation, all on-property transportation, use of a personal vehicle (for guests staying in homes) concierge services, wireless Internet, the Paws Up App and access to the fitness center, the Grizzlyman Fitness Trail and extensive trail system. The hotel is pet-friendly. Pet packages rates are an additional $50 (per night) per pet, payable at the time of reservation. Dogs are welcome at Paws Up in select accommodations. Dogs are not permitted in tented accommodations.
Resort rates range from $500 per person per night to $1,029 per person per night. Cowgirl Spring Roundup rates are approximately $1,899 for the all-inclusive three-day-weekend focusing on cowgirl skills workshops, a special ranch photography clinic, trail rides, fine dining and lux accommodations.
Check in: 4:00 p.m.
Check out: 11:00 a.m.
If You Go:
The Resort at Paws Up (800) 473-0601
40060 Paws Up Road
Greenough, Montana 59823
Insider Tips: I have several insider tips to share from Paws Up. My first tip is to download the free Paws Up App from the App Store or Google Play. The app is like having a magic genie in a bottle; tap the app and your wish shall be granted, i.e. need a ride, submit a request & a car or shuttle appears momentarily. The resort also includes your daily itinerary. My second insider tip is the 5 or 7 course menu available from Executive Chef Ben Jones. Allow 2-3 hours for this gourmet dining experience (additional fee required.) For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @nancydbrown and follow @Paws_Up for local tips.
Resort review, photography and YouTube video by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of The Resort at Paws Up while researching additional articles for other publications. All opinions are my own.