Big-Sky Beauty

Far from roughing it, the great outdoors is served on a silver platter at Montana’s plush, panoramic resort, Paws Up

Clear skies, postcard views and wide-open wilderness: the unspoiled beauty of Montana is as calming as it is soul-quenching. But beyond the stillness of the land, a veritable sense of adventure awaits just 35 minutes from Missoula at the 37,000-acre working dude ranch Paws Up. 

Here, 10 miles of the Blackfoot River flow through the family-owned ranch; Black Angus cows roam the pastures; and resident elk and deer are some of your closest neighbors. Add in 100 miles of trails through pristine, largely undeveloped land, and Paws Up skews more towards the setting of a national park, but in a private, posh (and all-inclusive) environment. 

Rustic luxury reveals itself at every turn. Nicknamed “the last best resort,” Paws Up lives up to the hype through on-brand culinary sophistication: think a resident S’moreologist delivering an over-the-top fireside dessert experience; a former The French Laundry chef adding unusual twists like huckleberries picked from surrounding mountains to a Kobe beef steak entrée; and a Chuck Wagon Dude Ranch experience, which includes a scenic ride via horse-drawn wagon and a campfire meal cooked before your eyes. 

Everyone from city slickers to screen-prone adolescents will reclaim their imaginations through resort-unique offerings like Cow Croquet, horse-whispering and go-karting, while dude-ranch specialties such as fly-fishing, rafting, sporting clays and ATV tours create meaningful, memory-making adventures—and deepen connections to the land, and each other. 

A pioneer of the “glamping” phenomenon, the resort boasts six luxury tented camps in various locations that cater to families, couples and groups. Featuring a central dining pavilion, the safari-style camps feature art-adorned walls, fine linens, plumbing, air conditioning, heated floors, and, most importantly: a camp butler.  

While all tent camps are available for buyouts, some guests choose to split their stay between the camp and its array of luxury homes or estates. Big Timber Homes are available in three sizes and some accommodate as many as eight guests while Wilderness Estates are three-bedroom lodges with a great room and vaulted ceiling, chef’s kitchen, game room and three master suites. (Both options include use of a personal Lexus vehicle on-site.) Embracing the grittiness of the great outdoors from these accommodations is easy; washers and dryers make post-adventure cleaning a breeze, while generous porches offer a front-row seat to nothing but nature, stillness and roaming wildlife. Westward, ho!