Montana resorts: Treating yourself right in big sky country
This article has been created in partnership between Matador and our friends at the State of Montana.
LONG BEFORE the hot springs of Montana were ‘discovered,’ Native Americans were using them for the healing powers of their “smoking waters.” Later, settlers realized the growing popularity and commercial value of the springs. The evolution of the Montana resort was underway.
Once you’ve decided to come to Montana, the decision about which of the many springs to visit might be the hardest part of your stay. Here are a few of our favorite spots. We strongly recommend you utilize our Montana Resource page along with this guide to help plan your winter Montana itinerary.
Spa at Whitefish Lake
The Spa at Whitefish Lake is your gateway to several winter activities in the area. There’s easy access from your lodge to Glacier National Park — where you can enjoy cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and wildlife spotting — the slopes of Whitefish Mountain Resort, or the more local Blacktail Mountain Ski Area. Even closer is ice fishing, dog sledding, and ice skating.
Back at the lodge, the spa has one of the largest selections in the state including aromatherapy, massages, facials, in-room treatments, plus nail and body treatments. There is both an outdoor pool and hot tub, along with the Boat Club Restaurant and Coffee Dock Café.
Lodging options range from single-bed to two-bedroom suites, starting around $155. Also available are lakeside condominiums around $200+; they come with fireplaces, decks, kitchens, and in-suite baths.
The Resort at Paws Up
This ranch, which ties back in to the history of Lewis and Clark and the later mining booms, is 30 miles northeast of Missoula in the peaceful Blackfoot River Valley town of Greenough. It has become the epitome of luxury, standing out from all other resorts in the Rocky Mountain West.
You may have already guessed the signature winter activity at Paws Up is dog sledding, with over 100 miles of trails for exploring the Garnet Mountain backcountry. There are snowmobile as well as cross country and snowsheing options, or you could go for a sleigh ride or ‘cowboy up’ on a winter horseback ride with their world-class saddle club.
No corners were cut as far as the dining and spa go, either. Their master chefs prepare five-star cuisine, focusing on local ingredients often harvested from their own property or along the seven miles of Blackfoot River running through the resort.
You may want to opt for the in-house spa options this time of year, for ‘Spa Town’ is usually set up in a meadow during the summer. Vacation homes and buildings of varying sizes provide the secluded and rustic lodging. Two bedroom meadow homes include all you need, along with a personal golf cart, for a winter rate of $665 per night.
The Ranch at Rock Creek
The Ranch at Rock Creek is a new, upscale resort less than two hours southeast of Missoula. It has 6,600 acres, comprehensive outdoor adventure options, and high-end amenities.
The ranch is also equipped for sleigh rides, skeet shooting, ice skating, and offers gourmet cocoa making classes with their executive chef.
The Granite Lodge has fine dining, with the Silver Dollar Saloon as a good after-dinner option for bowling, music, and drinks. Lodging rates include nearly everything you could do, drink, or eat at the ranch. Prices start at $800 per night for double occupancy, going up to six-person guest lodges at $6,200.
Chico Hot Springs
Thirty miles north of Yellowstone Park in the Absaroka Mountain range is the historic natural spring-fed resort of Chico Hot Springs. The resort is a hybrid of luxury and family-style.
In 1865, a miner by the name of John S. Hackney penned the first written record of what is now Chico. In 1900, the main lodge opened, offering hot mineral water baths in wooden tubs. The complex has improved since then, adding a near Olympic-sized swimming pool and a 103F covered soaking pool.
There are two main restaurants: The Dining Room at Chico and a more casual option, the Poolside Grill. The Saloon features performances by local musicians.
A full-service day spa with massages, treatments, and individual packages is open daily. Other activities, including an on-site horse barn and nearby dog sled tours, can also be arranged. There is plenty of accommodation, starting with rooms in the main lodge between $49-$89, and up to $169-$345 for private mountainside cabins or chalets.
Fairmont Hot Springs
Fairmont Hot Springs is a full service, four season resort 15 miles west of Butte, in the shadow of the Continental Divide. There is an 18-hole golf course for summer recreation, as well a 350-foot waterslide into two Olympic-sized pools and soaking tubs.
In winter you can ice fish at Georgetown Lake Recreation Area, snowshoe, and cross country the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness. There is also trout fishing in the Big Hole River.
An on-site massage studio can work out the kinks of an earlier tennis match, or you can soak away before visiting one of four restaurants and snack bars. Lodging options start at $149 per night, and there are discounted winter rates from January through May.
Triple Creek Ranch
Triple Creek Ranch is located in the Bitterroot Mountains, about 60 miles south of Missoula. Designed more as an adult resort, it has 23 luxurious cabins, ponds, and pools in the property below Trapper Peak.
The ranch offers a multitude of winter activities including horseback riding, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. Helicopter rides are available leaving from the resort’s own helipad. They also offer many wine tastings, as well as cooking and nature classes, and a limited spa menu.
Dining is focused on gourmet world cuisine from traditional French dishes, Southwestern, West Indies, to Central American. There is also a state-of-the-art, award-winning wine cellar and showroom found as you enter the rooftop lounge.
The cabins at the Triple Creek Ranch vary in size, but all include a fireplace, fully stocked wet bar, and nearby hot tub. Rates start at $650 per night, including all meals, beverages, and most on-ranch activities.
If you’re going to Montana, make sure to visit out Montana Focus page for more tips, ideas, and inspiration.