Gene Kilgore’s Ranch Vacations

Ranch Vacations
The Leading Guide to Guest and Resort, Fly-Fishing, and Cross-Country Skiing Ranches in the United States and Canada, 6th Edition.

Two of Montana’s fly fishing hotspots


There is a magic to angling. That perfect spot on the lake or the river can be a place that feels as good as home. In the heat of August, what sounds cooler than wading into a rushing river and dipping a line into the water in the hopes of pulling out a trophy-sized trout?

You can do just that on the Gallatin River at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, just one hour out of Yellowstone. Similarly, at Montana’s Triple Creek Ranch the sport of fly-fishing is more than just a hobby–it’s a passion. And here’s a newsflash: Coming this fall to Triple Creek—the first Steelhead Fly Fishing Celebration–something worth planning ahead for! At both ranches, a Montana Fishing License is required but not to worry—staff at each ranch will be happy to assist you in getting one.

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch

At the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, they offer guided angling trips that satisfy both the hardcore flyfisher and the rest of the family. They have a diverse program, moderate size (65 guests, maximum) and personal attention. Try your hand at trout fly fishing in this part of the Gallatin River drainage and you’ll find true blue ribbon waters and once-in-a-lifetime angling thrills.NineQuarter_1-1

“We have a fly-fishing guide on the ranch, at no extra cost, to help with your fishing needs and instruction,” says the Nine Quarter Circle. “We also have licenses and flies for sale right at the ranch. Loaner equipment is available. Weekly fly-casting lessons at the trout pond will entice you to fish our local waters.” And for the non-anglers in the family? Not to worry; there’s everything from hiking, horseback riding, rafting, and games (plus that noted national park—Yellowstone—to explore). There’s a Kiddie Wrangler and Babysitter here so that the parents can take off for a day of fishing with no worries.

Details: Rates from $1,666 weekly (per person, double occupancy). What anglers go for: brook, brown, cutthroat, and rainbow trout. When to go: guided fishing trips are available now; or plan ahead for fall—prime time for both water conditions and weather.

Triple Creek Ranch
If its trout adventure you’re after, don’t miss the Triple Creek Ranch and its access to 98 miles of the scenic Bitterroot River, West Fork or East Fork of the Bitterroot River. When you’re here at Triple Creek Ranch, complimentary Orvis fishing gear is available and your guide will furnish the rods, reels, flies and his or her expertise.

If you’re new to fly fishing, you can begin with fly-casting lessons right there on the ranch; when you’re ready, you move to wade fishing in the nearby West Fork of the Bitterroot River. The Bitterroot also offers blue ribbon-quality fishing for trout (Rainbow, Brown and West Slope Cutthroat).

The ranch practices ‘Catch and Release’ fishing (they say there have not been any fish introduced into the Bitterroot since the 1940’s and all fish caught are wild). The peak of your adventure might be an all-day guided float fly-fishing excursion with an experienced guide on hand.

And for the non-anglers in the group, there’s horseback riding, hiking, nature and birding tours, swimming (outdoor heated pool), tennis, and use of a fitness center.

Coming this fall to Triple Creek: The first Steelhead Fly Fishing Celebration will be held November 8-12 on the Salmon River (the famed ‘River of No Return’). Led by owner Craig Barrett, this fishing trip is open to all experience levels and includes two days of guided fly fishing on the Salmon River, a daytrip to the Hamilton Trap Club, for trap shooting, and an Idaho fishing license.

Details: Triple Creek Ranch rates start at $950 per night per couple. Rates include:
accommodations in an elegant private cabin with a wood-burning fireplace, private or nearby hot tub, king log post bed and more. Breakfast, lunch, snacks and gourmet dinners, house wines and spirits.


Comfort camping at Montana ranches

pinnacle-one-bedHOT DEALS

You’ve heard about ‘glamping’ by now—which lets you combine the fun and adventure of camping with a touch of glamour and comfort. A canvas cabin with a real  bed inside. A BATHROOM. And a floor. If its not exactly a bargain, it is one way to get a whole lotta luxury at the best price possible–especially if you go during the shoulder seasons of spring or fall.

But at ranches like Montana’s Paws Up (shown above) and  Ranch at Rock Creek, they’ve taken the concept to whole different level. It’s as if someone took good old comfort food and gave it a gourmet twist. Put another way—if Ralph Lauren camped out, this is where he’d stay. Navajo-style rugs on the floor, hand-crafted furniture, twice daily maid service. Yeah, you can bet the drovers on the Chisholm Trail never camped out like this!



The Ranch at Rock Creek

The minute you arrive at Montana’s The Ranch at Rock Creek, you’ve got some 50 miles of mountains, meadows, lakes and streams to help you shake off the bonds of civilization.

That’s just for starters. Where you decide to lay your head at night is the rest of the story. If you’re looking for the perfect cross between comfort and a sense of being in the wilderness,The Ranch at Rock Creek offers three different options.

For example, you might want to try their canvas-topped cabins, with luxury bedding and a private bathroom. Choose ‘Glamping for Two’ and you get one of Rock Creek’s four Classic Canvas Cabins (each a generous 630 square feet), which give you a spacious main room for your bedroom with enough living area to include a comfortable sitting area.

Or consider the ‘Family Glamping’ option; each of the four Family Canvas Cabins (at 810 square feet) has two rooms separated by a curtain with space for a reading nook. And finally for two guests, there’s ‘Trapper’ for the most secluded glamping of all—‘the ultimate accommodation for those wanting to experience nature and luxury with maximum privacy’.RanchAtRock_5

Details: Open year-round with amenities that include a full spa. Some 15 miles from Philipsburg, Montana, and 1 hour 20 minutes from Missoula. Glamping rates start at $950 per night and include  ranch activities from archery to riding and fly fishing. All rates include full board with breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Granite Lodge and the Blue Canteen.

The Resort at Paws Up

ResortPawsUp_5Here, they call glamping ‘the original American Safari’, and that’s a pretty good description. Settle into one of 24 luxury tents featuring a rustic elegance that’s hard to find. Whether you’re looking for a romantic honeymoon destination or a way to ease the kids into camping (without having to listen to ANY whining), glamping at Paws Up is something else.

Beyond the tent, which looks like it was furnished out of a designer catalogue, there’s electricity, a deck, first-class service, luxurious amenities, and world-class dining. And can you say Personal Camping Butler? Yep, he’s the guy that makes sure your every whim is satisfied (as far as legally possible).

Details: Missoula International Airport is only 35 minutes away. Nightly rates start at $1555 (at the River Camp) and include meals and a mind-boggling list of activities, including guided activites, fun stuff for kids, winter sports, and wilderness workshops.

For more detail and photos, check out both ranches on