First Class Luxury at Montana’s Triple Creek Ranch
It’s difficult to pack winter riding clothes in carry on luggage. And while I know what to pack for a winter trip to Alaska, I challenge anyone to pack snow boots, riding boots, riding pants, chaps or chinks, as the cowboys call them, and a cowboy hat in a carry on suitcase. It can’t be done – trust me, I’ve tried. Enter Triple Creek Ranch where every request is met with a “can do” attitude and a genuine smile.
As I landed at the Missoula Airport, I was greeted by a handsome couple, Barbara and Craig Barrett, owners of Triple Creek Ranch in nearby Darby, Montana. Barbara looked at my lightweight REI jacket, smiled and shook her head. “We’ll set you up with a Montana Duster, heavy gloves and Sorel boots,” she beamed. “We have everything you’ll need at the ranch. We don’t want you to get cold,” she said with a grin.
Superior Service at Triple Creek Ranch
And so it went my entire four glorious days at Triple Creek Ranch. Everything was attended to before I had even thought about it. Would I like hand and boot warmers for my horseback riding vacation? Perhaps I’d like a cup of hot chocolate before I headed out to the stables for my horseback ride? As if I wasn’t stuffed to the brim, having had thick cut bacon, huckleberry pancakes and scrambled eggs studded with ham and mushrooms for breakfast. This, after a multi-course gourmet dinner the night prior. There’s a good reason my mount was part draft horse!
The wranglers at Triple Creek Ranch were as courteous and friendly as they were knowledgeable about their horses. Matching 22 women to 22 horses, with cowgirls ranging from no riding experience to accomplished horse owners, was no small feat, and in typical Triple Creek Ranch style, it was done to perfection. Barbara Barrett rode tall on her blue roan horse, offering snippets of local history along the trail, while Head Wrangler Kristen Snavely led the group of equestrians on horseback with her walkie talkie in hand. General Manager Leslie McConnell rounded out the group, making sure that all riders were happy and well fed throughout our horseback riding vacation.
Special Occasions Celebrated on this Horseback Riding Vacation
“I celebrated my birthday there with my husband and special friends and made such great new ones including the incredible Triple Creek Team,” noted Phoenix, Arizona resident Marsha Lamb. “While every season is outstanding and full of fun at TCR, special occasions really make for lifetime memories. I will be going back and recommend an early registration as the Klicks for Chicks event fills up too fast!”
Klicks for Chicks Horseback Riding Vacation
What exactly is Klicks for Chicks? It is an equestrian lovers horseback riding vacation with a nod to luxury living in the Montana Rockies. This 100 kilometer (62 miles) endurance horseback riding adventure, now in its second year, is the brainchild of Barbara Barrett, supported by her incredibly hard-working Triple Creek Ranch staff. A true feminist, Barrett capitalized on the men’s 100 mile Desert Caballeros horseback endurance ride held in Arizona, now in its 66th year, and created a rugged Triple Creek horseback riding experience – for women only – combined with soft bedding, fine wine and gourmet food back at the adult-only, all inclusive ranch each evening. In case you were wondering, spouses and significant others were welcome to explore all the ranch had to offer in the daytime and join in the evening festivities, as well.
Gourmet Dining in Montana Rockies
That’s not to say that gourmet dining wasn’t available on the Montana trail. The Triple Creek Ranch staff packed in tables, linens, silverware and top-rate cuisine during lunch breaks. After all, this is a Relais and Chateaux member resort. For the older cowgirls in the crowd, portable mounting blocks magically appeared. In fact, wranglers always gave the horseback riders the option to bail out to the heated vans, with the horses trailered back to Triple Creek Ranch if they so desired. The riders ranged in age from 28 to 66, with several mother/daughter duos thrown in the mix.
Klicks for Chicks Rides for Charity
On the last night of our horseback riding vacation we were welcomed into Barbara and Craig Barrett’s Elk Meadow home for cocktails, hors d’ouvres and fireside roast and awards ceremony. We returned to the lodge for a wine pairing dinner and the announcement that we had ridden 2,200 kilometers, with Triple Creek Ranch donating $2,200 to the Brian Grant Foundation which supports Parkinson’s disease research.
Horseback Riding Vacation in Montana’s Bitterroot National Forest
Triple Creek Ranch, with an elevation of 4,600 feet, is open year-round and offers many special events. For a summer horseback riding vacation, try a cattle drive or come for a wine tasting weekend. This Orvis-endorsed lodge also offers first rate fly fishing.
Have you been on a horseback riding vacation in Montana? What are your favorite things to do in Darby or Missoula, Montana?
If You Go:
Triple Creek Ranch (800) 654-2943
5551 West Fork Road
Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip. I was a guest of Triple Creek Ranch.