Montana’s Cultural Treasures
Montana has a wealth of cultural treasures, including guest ranches throughout the state. Ranch locations are usually within just a few miles of other cultural treasures such as art galleries, museums, book stores, towns and cities that host festivals and events as well as performing arts.
Here are a few must-see cultural suggestions to add to your ranch vacation:
- North of the Dryhead Ranch, which is located in southeastern Montana, is the state’s largest city of Billings which boasts a variety of artistic treasures. Far West Trading is only one hour from the Little Bighorn Battlefield, and offers authentic beadwork and western memorabilia. The Moss Mansion Historic House Museum offers a glimpse of life in the early 1900’s.
- The Circle Bar Ranch is a historic guest ranch that dates back to the 1800s and is located in central Montana. It’s nestled along the Little Belt Mountains and on the banks of the Judith River in Hobson, Montana. In 1880, a sixteen-year-old lad named Charles Marion Russell came to the Judith Basin to wrangle and paint.
- Martinsdale is most famous for being home to Charles M. Bair, one of the largest and most successful sheep ranchers in the United States, running over 300,000 head around the turn of the century. The Bair Family Museum is a must-see. Bonanza Creek Ranch is located in this charming community.
- The Sweet Grass Ranch is located north of the town of Big Timber. This small town is home to many cultural attractions including the Two Rivers Gallery, a non-profit that features original art work by local and regional artists. The Crazy Mountain Museum provides a historical look at Sweet Grass County.
- Hawley Mountain Ranch is several miles south of Big Timber and boasts its own history. Many years ago, the ranch was inhabited by tribes of prehistoric man. As time passed, other tribes, mainly the Crow Indians, settled some of the same area and left their imprint in the way of pictographs on cave walls and bountiful arrowhead and scraper artifacts. In 1976, Montana State University excavated an old Indian camping site and was able to date it back 11,500 years.
- Livingston is a mecca for folks who collect local art, antiques, historical museums and photography as well as local fare. David Swanson Studios is well known for its paintings reflecting contemporary realism and regional Americana: townscapes, structurescapes, and figurative subjects. Many other studios and galleries as well as antique shops are located in this lively town. South of town you’ll find Mountain Sky Guest Ranch and Hubbard’s Six Quarter Circle Ranch.
- Moving west to Bozeman, the Museum of the Rockies is open year-round except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. It’s renowned for displaying an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils, including a fully-mounted Montana’s T-Rex. It’s the Jurassic Park of fossils.
- The next stop is south of Belgrade where four of our ranches are located. The road takes you through the town of Big Sky known for the Big Sky Ski and Summer Resort. The Warren Miller Performing Arts Center is located here, and in August, the Bravo Big Sky! Music Festival takes place. Ranches south of the town of Big Sky are the Covered Wagon, Nine Quarter Circle Ranch and Elkhorn Ranch. Further south, just a short drive west from the town of West Yellowstone, is the Parade Rest Guest Ranch. See live grizzlies and wolves at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in town.
- Continue south to Alder, MT where Upper Canyon Outfitters is located a few miles south of Alder in the Ruby River Valley. You’ll drive through Twin Bridges where you can check out the historical Old Hotel and the Twin Bridges Historical Association. The ranch itself is a cultural treasure having been homesteaded in 1910. Not far from Alder is Virginia City and Nevada City, a living ghost town. Virginia City dates back to 1863 and was the state territorial capital for ten years.
- Montana’s Capital City of Helena leads you right to the Rocking Z Ranch, just north of town. Home to several art galleries and cultural events such as the Montana State Capitol, Montana’s Museum at the Montana Historical Society, the Original Governor’s Mansion, and Holter Museum of Art.
- In Augusta you’ll find Latigo and Lace Fine Art Gallery and Gift Shop. This must-see shop offers original fine art, jewelry, bronzes, gifts, books, a children’s section and a cappuccino bar. Stop in Allen’s Mannix Store for snacks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, western clothing, sunglasses and more. The closest ranch is the JJJ Wilderness Ranch.
- Choteau is home to the Montana Dinosaur Center. This area is one of the many places in Montana where dinosaurs roamed. The two-story Montana Dinosaur Center is both a paleontology research center and natural history museum. From May through September, visitors can participate in half-day site tours or multi-day courses in the field (weather permitting). After reliving paleolithic history, move on to the Deep Canyon Ranch located not far from Choteau.
- To complete our tour, we’re heading north to Wolf Creek, Seeley Lake, Big Fork and Whitefish on our way to the Blacktail Ranch in Wolf Creek, Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch in Seeley Lake, Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork and the Bar W Ranch in Whitefish.
- South of Wolf Creek is the Gates of the Mountains, a section of the Missouri River that was recorded by the Corps of Discovery. Boat tours are available throughout the summer.
- In Seeley Lake the Grizzly Claw Trading Company is a gallery that offers a wide variety of artwork and crafts for sale. The Seeley Lake Historical Society has added a log cabin to display historical artifacts.
- Bigfork offers many galleries, a sculpture park, Bigfork Art & Cultural Center and the annual Festival of the Arts in August. Flathead Lake Lodge is located just minutes from this appealing small town.
- Whitefish is a delightful hub to Glacier National Park and a bustling community for both locals and visitors. It offers restaurants, breweries, galleries, historical museum, a world-class professional theatre and more. It’s a short jaunt from the Bar W Guest Ranch.
This completes the cultural trail along the route of our member ranches. For more information go to www.montanasculturaltreasures.com And don’t forget to make your ranch vacation reservations for 2022 and beyond as soon as possible. While planning your Montana vacation, add some of these incredible attractions to your itinerary. Happy trails!!