Magnificent Montana

Magnificent Montana

Go West, young man! Our wannabe cowboy Gary Boyd got a taste for The Great Outdoors and western adventure when he travelled to the amazing Resort at Paws Up in Montana as guest of Azure Luxury Collection.

Stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains, Montana is famous for its stunning unspoilt scenery and wide-open spaces.  The vistas here are breath-taking, from its snow-capped peaks, lapis lakes and unspoilt wilderness to dramatic forests teaming with wildlife. The key words here are ‘untamed, wild and natural’ and those lucky enough to live in Montana take real pride and pleasure in the beauty and diversity of their surroundings.  Those lucky enough to visit will make memories that will last a lifetime.

The Resort At Paws-Up is the perfect place to kindle your Montana love affair. Paws Up is a 37,000-acre working Montana ranch.  Located in the heart of the picturesque Blackfoot Valley, the history of the ranch dates back to the homesteader days of the late 1800s, while the history of the land goes back even farther to the time when the Blackfoot River served as a transportation corridor for Nez Perce, Flathead and Blackfeet Indians and later for fur trappers, miners and loggers.

Today the expansive property is a haven for authentic dude ranch Montana activities, like trail rides, cattle drives and chuck wagon dinners, part of a vast menu of wilderness adventures, or you can try your hand at fly-fishing on the legendary Blackfoot River (10 miles of which flow through the Ranch), rappelling down cliffs, white-water rafting, or clay pigeon shooting. This is the ultimate, authentic, adventure park for families with a host of child-friendly activities, but it is also very much a working farm. In addition to more than 300 head of resident elk, you’ll also see a couple of hundred Black Angus cows roaming the rolling pastures of the ranch.

Activities such as horse riding, cattle drives, rope courses, white water rafting fishing and quad biking, sumptuous in-room spa treatments, winter ice skating and snow mobiles all come at a charge, but each delivers a truly memorable holiday experience. The resort has great walking trails and staff will happily make up pack lunches and give you GPS units and phones for the day … this is wilderness, after all!

If the surroundings are something special, so too is the accommodation.  You may be staying in a Great Outdoors resort, but don’t think you’ll be roughing it.  Rustic designer elegance is the name of the game here. I stayed as one of three people sharing a 3 Bedroom Wilderness Home (which would sleep up to 6 comfortably), but there are also 1 bedroom lodges, 2 bedroom homes and 2 & 3 bedroom Tents to choose from.  All are superbly well equipped with wonderfully western themed décor.

My ‘Wilderness Home’ came with fully equipped kitchen, open fires, hot tub … even mountain bikes! The resort is all inclusive, with a cheery bar and three excellent restaurants but if you want to use your private BBQ or eat in your home or tent they will provide everything you need to cook and cater for yourself.  As a helpful touch you can have your fridge stocked with your choice of drinks and they even deliver pizza.

Every home or tent is allocated a car and, from March 2020, those will be 7-seater Lexus Jeeps.

The weather in Montana is famously changeable. I enjoyed balmy ‘Indian Summer’ temperatures on my end of September trip, but the following Sunday the resort got nine inches of snow!  Paws-Up is the perfect place to enjoy any, or every, time of the year and many guests return again and again to appreciate that seasonality, absorbing nature’s richness is Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

I flew from Heathrow to Seattle (9 hours on the way out and just 8 hours 15 mins on the way back!) and spent a little time enjoying that great city before heading off to Paws-Up.

Seattle is a great destination in itself, easy and enticing to explore on foot.  I stayed in the super-convenient Sheraton , enjoying the amenities of The Club Rooms so, by the time I transferred to Missoula, Montana (80 minutes away)  I was already in relaxed holiday mood.

Seattle isn’t the only stop over option you can connect via Chicago, LA or San Francisco as a first and fascinating step on this authentic American experience.