Montana: by a Northern Californian

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-8-47-46-amIt is no secret that the majority of the University of Montana student body is made up of Montana born and raised students (we’re talking 74% in-state). It is also no secret that there are “Keep California Out!” signs on everyone’s lawn (not really).

“Oh where are you from?” – Seemingly interested older Montanan

“Sacramento, California!” – Me

“…I’m sorry…” – Now uninterested and bitter older Montanan

“I’m not 🙂 Thanks for having me!” – Smiling me

Take a minute to listen up. I may not speak on behalf of the rest of the Californians in Montana, but I have a perspective I’d love to share. The second I stepped on University of Montana’s campus I knew that it could be my home away from home. The city of Missoula, hell the state of Montana, felt like hugging someone that you haven’t seen in years. I’ve been here for 4 very short years and no, I don’t plan on staying, but yes I will be back to visit. The reason being that it offered the experience of a lifetime for this particular time in my life.
For anyone who’s interested, University of Montana allowed me to step away from most everything I knew in Sacramento (yes I had seen snow, every year in Tahoe minus the recent winters). I was able to clearly establish my values as a young adult, assess the type of future I wanted, and walk away with some of the best friendships I will have for a lifetime.
You see, us Northern Californians appreciate tall trees, snowcapped mountains, cleaning our campsites and wandering to find that adventure just doesn’t end. I can single-handedly agree that California has some extreme undesirables. But so does Montana (hello Meth Capital), so does Colorado, so does New York, and Wyoming and every other state you can name. How do you think Arizona feels hosting all the frail Montana old-timers looking for warm retirement? Probably a mix of “stay in your own state” and “please contribute to our economy; look we have handicap approved EVERYTHING!”

I’ll leave on this note. The amount of times that people think that I’m a Montanan prior to asking is remarkable. Let’s just say I’ve had to convince just about everyone I meet with a valid California drivers license. My experience with those who are excited to have me is what makes Montana “the last best place”. The nay-sayers couldn’t keep me out if they tried.

By: Lia Sbisa, proud Sacramento Native and Montana Visitor

7 Must See Montana Summer Destinations

Montana is one of the most beautiful states and most traveled to states for many reasons. If you are an outdoor type of person this is literally heaven to you! Here is my list of 7 great Montana summer destinations, let me know what you think should have made the list!

Flathead Lake – Flathead is the greatest lake in the state in my opinion, because of its amazing views, mountain scenery, and endless opportunities for camping fun! At nearly 200 square miles, Flathead is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi so there’s plenty of room to do all your water activities. If you don’t have a boat or Jet Ski there are watercraft rentals available to you! Flathead is the dream Montana destination if you love fishing and camping.

Flathead Lake
Flathead Lake

Gardiner/Yellowstone National Park – Yellowstone is an amazing place to go if you want to see wildlife, mountains, rivers, and plenty more. The Yellowstone River is one of the most majestic rivers to see so this is why it’s a must see. If you’re brave, book a whitewater rafting trip with Flying Pig Adventure Co. with affordable prices of $42 for an adult for an 8 mile trip!

Yellowstone River
Yellowstone River

Missoula – This town has everything to offer from night life to hiking. During the day check out Cara’s Park in downtown Missoula to see some Montana surfing! At night check out one of the many breweries in town or one of the bars like the Meagher Bar for great drinks! There are many hiking spots within a couple miles of town, with the most well-known hike being the “M” which is quite an easy hike that results in great views of the town.

Mount Sentinel
Mount Sentinel Missoula

Anaconda – If you’re looking to play some golf, make your way to Anaconda to the Old Works course. This course is the first Jack Nicklaus signature course in Montana, and the course lives up to his name and credibility. Old Works is located on the largest Federal EPA Superfund waste sites in the U.S., and is built over one of Anaconda’s first copper smelting sites. The course is kept in pristine condition and the mountain scenery surrounding the course makes for a great time on the links.

Old Works Golf Course
Old Works Golf Course

Glacier Park – Glacier National Park is one of the top parks in America for a reason. Great scenery, wildlife, tourist attractions, and great hiking. One of the most popular things in the park is Going-to-the-Sun Road that winds up the mountain and offers views of the mountain range for miles and miles. When you take this drive make sure to stop and hike the Highline Trail to get to even more beautiful Montana treasure.

Going-to-the-Sun Road
Going-to-the-Sun Road

Garnet Ghost Town – Garnet Ghost Town is an awesome little piece of Montana history located about 40 miles from Missoula and 20 miles from Drummond. Garnet was an old mining town in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The town burned down in 1912 and was restored in 1970. If you’re interested in learning about gold mining history and Montana history this is an amazing spot to travel to!

Garnet Ghost Town
Garnet Ghost Town

Smith River State Park – This is one of the most popular and most demanded park in western Montana, being so popular that you need to get a permit to float the river. If you can get a permit you will not regret it as it is one of the most beautiful floats you could do. To preserve the quality of the river, only non-motorized watercrafts are allowed on the river. Smith River is one of those remote places that you can just get lost and block out the real world for a few days so I would highly suggest making this trip!

Smith River
Smith River

 

Montana Adventures

Montana Adventures

By Andrew Moreland

The blog that brings you all my favorite adventures that I’ve experienced in Montana. Below, you will find all the information that I’ve used and what I’ve done throughout my time here. With all these adventures that I have experienced have made Montana one of my favorite places on earth.

Here is a list of my favorite adventures that I have experienced in Montana                                  (Scroll down to find more information about them)

Hiking & Backpacking

Rock Climbing (Indoor & Outdoor)

Whitewater Kayaking

Skiing & Snowboarding

Mountain Biking

Hot Springs 

Hiking and Backpacking

One of the best ways to experience this beautiful state is by hiking in the great outdoors. There are so many amazing places to explore including my all-time favorite, Glacier National Park. This national park is located in the north-western part of the state and it extends up into Canada. I’ve traveled to Glacier many of times and every journey has been more beautiful than the last.

Here is the website where you can find a ton of information if you’re interested in taking a trip up there any time soon.

Glacier National Park

 

Rock Climbing (Indoor)

Freestone Climbing gym is the best climbing gym in Missoula.  I love going there after my classes to free my mind with some climbing. It’s got awesome people and enough routes that will keep you coming back for more day after day.

Here is their website, go check them out if you like to climb!

Freestone Climbing Website

Rock Climbing (Outdoor)

Around Missoula there is a bunch of awesome areas to climb, go grab some buddies and start sending! Summer and fall days are the best to go out and explore these beautiful areas.

Here is the website with more information about the incredible outdoor rock climbing located close to Missoula!

Rock Climbing – Missoula, MT

Whitewater Kayaking

Montana has some of the best whitewater kayaking in the country. This is where I learned to kayak a few years ago and it will always hold a special place in my heart. One of my favorites, and usual after class run, is the Alberton Gorge section of the Clark Fork River. This is an amazing section of class III-IV rapids just 30 minutes west of Missoula. There is also the Blackfoot River that is just north of Missoula that offers great scenery and whitewater in the spring.

Here is where you can find more information on my favorite run as well as the current flows for this section.

Alberton Gorge – Clark Fork River

 

Skiing & Snowboarding

There is a reason so many people come to Montana for the mountains. THE SKIING IS UNREAL. From the local Snowbowl just 20 minutes north of Missoula to the massive Big Sky Resort a few hours away there is enough powder to go around. These are 2 of my favorite places to ski, yet there is so many more places out there that I’m excited to go explore.

Here is the website for Montana Snowbowl.

Montana Snowbowl

Here is the website for Big Sky.

Big Sky Resort

 

Mountain Biking

I just started mountain biking around Missoula last year, and I have no idea why I didn’t start a lot earlier! Not only is it a great leg workout but it is a blast to go out and explore the single tracks throughout the mountains. My favorite trials start from Sawmill Gulch just up the street from where I live in the Rattlesnake Recreational area.

Here is a great website with tons of information on trails just outside of Missoula!

Missoula Mountain Biking

 

Hot Springs

From cool summer nights to frigid winter days hot springs are a great choice for an adventure. There are awesome hot springs spread out all over Montana. My favorite one has to be the Boiling River hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. If you haven’t been there, it is a MUST if you live in, or are even passing through Montana.

Here is a website that has information about all the hot springs in Montana.

Montana Hot Springs

 

About the Author

I grew up loving the outdoors just outside of Portland, OR. While growing up my parents always took me and my two brothers out to go skiing and hiking along with many other adventures throughout my life, and because of this I began to have a deep appreciation for everything around me. This made it a very easy decision when I was comparing colleges all over the country. I have to say moving to Montana to attend the University here in Missoula, MT has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have only widened my appreciation for nature and all the things you can go do in this life. I can’t wait to go on more adventures in the future and I can only hope to see you out there!

Andrew Moreland

The Rich and Famous Experience Montana

This past summer my mind was blown as I was introduced to Montana in a completely foreign way. Growing up a Montana local in the small town of Anaconda, I am no stranger to the multitude of activities Montana has to offer.

I had heard of this prestigious and almost fictional resort where people who want to enjoy the ‘Montana Experience’ can come and take part in a whole range of activities from going on a cattle drive to white water rafting. This place is called Paws Up Resort.

Paws Up Ranch, Greenough, Montana
Paws Up Ranch Entrance, Greenough, Montana

Paws Up resort is located in Greenough, Montana. This resort is not your typical getaway, five star service is delivered on 37,000 acres of Montana countryside. The famous Blackfoot River runs through the middle of the property and the resort captures all of what Montana has to offer.

Paws Up TroughThe ‘Tank & Trough’ at Paws Up Resort.

Along with cattle drives and the white water rafting activity mentioned above, the resort also offers guided ATV rides, horseback trail rides, repelling, fly fishing trips, covered wagon rides, sporting clays, paint ball, archery, mountain biking, and hot air balloon rides. Guests are also able to spend time on Seeley Lake at a private lake house with the ability to rent powerboats and personal watercrafts.

Trail ride

 

The location that guests lay their head is also not the typical hotel room or even luxury suit. There are many different log homes located throughout the property that include a hot tub on the deck and a complementary vehicle to travel around the property. Some log homes also have a tent included.

mountain house

 

A popular option for guests is camping alongside the Blackfoot river. Any outdoor enthusiast who has explored Montana’s beautiful backcountry can attest to the relief once the tents have been constructed and camp has been made. One of the most popular amenities at Paws Up is the option to camp glamorously, or Glamp. Paws Up coined and pioneered the glamorous camping experience.

Glamping threw everything I knew about backpacking and camping into a blender, added some ice, tequila,  fresh squeezed lime, Cointreau, Damiana, and blended that shit into the best margarita possible. A camp butler then served that margarita in a salted glass to a guest on a leather couch, sitting by a fireplace overlooking the Blackfoot River. This act of Glamping astounded me every time I walked into the camp pavilion.

pinnacle-dining-pavilionThis is one of five camp pavilions associated with the Glamping tents.

The tents are a whole different story. Each pavilion is home base for six different wall tents, a camp butler to assist guests, as well as a private chef for breakfast and dinner. Each insulated wall tent is complete with electricity, running water, a full sized bed, sometimes bunkbeds for the children, heated blankets, heating/cooling unit, tiled bathroom, walk-in glass shower and the occasional hot tub on the deck. One of the most known and favorited tents is the ‘Honeymoon Tent’ at Cliffside Camp. This tent is perched on a cliff and has a copper tub that overlooks the Blackfoot River.

Cliffside camp

Honeymoon tent 2

Honeymoon tent

Camp Bathroom

As you can see, this is not the normal camping experience that a majority of people are accustomed to. A bell staff is on call for all Glampers for rides to and from all activities. Fresh linens are supplied daily, a fully stocked fridge awaits at the pavilion and a campfire awaits marshmallows.

The Wealthy and the Famous

Throughout my employment at the resort I was a bellman for a short period then an activity guide for the remainder of the summer. Paws Up stays fairly full throughout the busy months- June, July, August, and attracts a large range of customers. As you could conclude from the lavish amenities, the price tag to put your family up at the resort in Montana is far from comparable to a night at the Days Inn. This resort caters to a clientele that is very well off financially. One large car company had a week long demo at the resort debuting their new electric sports car. Other big corporations hold massive company retreats inviting management to come and enjoy what MT has to offer.

 

Included with the wealthy, is the famous. Due to non-disclosure agreements and not being able to gain permission from publicists I cannot say exactly who I interacted with so aliases will be provided.

Many of the famous travel for pleasure just as everyone else does. Movie stars and even royalty enjoy the activities with their families and loved ones, and have a blast doing it. I had the pleasure of meeting a Princess from Saudi Arabia. Her group was a complete blast, I was the archery guide for her group one afternoon and the lake guide another day. During archery, everyone got their turn in learning how to use a compound bow. Everyone really starts to have a great time once they start hitting the targets with the arrows. The competition between family members ensued shortly after.

I also had the pleasure of meeting a guy that has starred in some great action movies. I’ll call him Tim, his publicist wouldn’t grant me permission to use his name. He was a great, down-to-earth guy who thankfully wasn’t as fierce as some of the roles he has played. Tim was there with his family and also had a great time with me on the archery course. His son really started to excel with the bow and Tim was a natural, hitting the vital area of the target multiple times.

 

In conclusion, I was glad to meet everyone I encountered throughout my employment, at Paws Up Resort. All the guests were enjoyable and a pleasure to guide and interact with, while the management and fellow employees made working there a very fun experience.

 

Author : Chris Stokke