In dreamy Montana, heaven knows no end. This quiet corner of America’s Northwest is the territory of America’s last, genuine cowboys. Montana is also famous for its Big Sky, endless and ever changing. The best way to experience this state is to stay in comfortable guest ranches like Triple Creek Ranch, owned by Craig Barrett, the former CEO of the American IT company Intel. He bought Triple Creek Ranch, a cattle farm of 10 hectares, a while ago and has a clear and correct vision what hospitality is all about.In a place like Triple Creek it’s difficult to say whom the wrangler, or the cowboy, the billionaire, the Hollywood celebrity or the cowgirl is. During the day everyone wears the same uniform: a worn jeans, weathered leather boots, a chequered shirt, maybe a leather jacket and of course the obligatory cowboy hat.No matter what background, income or age, everyone is here
for the same reason: the charm of Montana. After a day in the saddle, guests and aspirant cowboys can relax at the ranch. Owner Craig Barrett is often here too, staying at his massive log villa where he treats all guests to an appetitive and a peek into his house. The fireplace looks like it can digestive complete trees and the huge beds can probably accommodate a dozen of sleepy cowboys. Chalets with names like Sapphire have luxuries in the form of a private hot tub on the terrace, a fireplace, and your own golf caddy to explore the domain. We like the privacy approach of the Ranch. Triple Creek provides breakfast, lunch and dinner in the chalets, if you wish. An apero before dinner? No problem, serve yourself from your own minibar with huge bottles of all kinds of drinks, with compliments of the house.
On our way the our second lodge we had a stopover in the town of Hamilton where during a high school rodeo cowboys and cowgirls from across Montana compete with each other. We witnessed some spectacular exercises of horsemanship. Cowgirls manoeuvring their athletic horses around barrels, trying to be the quickest to catch a goat and tie it up. Viewers with a soft heart for animals, might
want to look away. The cowboys, some barely twelve years old, venturing into the arena on the backs of snorting bulls, they throw lassos around horses and act as it is all simple tricks. Yihaa! If you want to attend a major rodeo event in Montana, head to the Nile stock & rodeo show, held every year in October at the MetraPark in Billings, Montana.
Another Ranch deluxe for wealthy would-be cowboys is The Ranch At Rock Creek, near the charming town of Missoula. The in-house wranglers look like they’re straight out of a John Wayne movie: dusty, with olive-skinned faces, dressed in the typical outfit, leather gloves and boots included. Here you can get up very early in the morning for several hours of horseback riding, in the afternoon do some fly fishing or clay pigeon shooting and in the evening drink with some mates glasses of whiskey. The hotel may be new, the ranch is more than 120 years old and is completely sealed from the outside world.
There is the main building with some rooms, a bar, the restaurant, a shop and even a bowling alley. But if you’re smart, you stay in one of the older buildings on the other side of the river. Our favourite is the Wrangler, a cosy room, completely out of wood and hidden in an old shed dating from the 19th century. Just next door you can see the real action of the wranglers managing the cattle. There’s no better place than sitting on the balcony of your cottage and watching the Montana way of living with in the background the Big Sky of this unforgettable region.
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