There’s girlfriend getaways and then there’s cowgirl girlfriend getaways. What’s the difference you ask? A girlfriend getaway typically involves cocktails, good food, time with friends, climbing a mountain or walking on the beach, followed by a soak in a hot tub, late night talks and a cozy bed to rest your head. A cowgirl girlfriend getaway involves cocktails, cowboy boots, gourmet dining, educational workshops, belly laughs, philanthropy, more belly laughs and horse time. We’re not talking horse play; we’re talkin’ quality time with cowgirl hall of fame legends – ladies who wrote the book on cowgirl culture. The cowgirl spring round up takes place at The Resort at Paws Up in Montana, on a working cattle ranch with a little luxury tossed in – and that’s no bull.
I had no idea what to expect when I stepped off the plane in Missoula for a three day weekend of wine, women and horsemanship. I was immediately put at ease when I walked into the Paws Up dining room and was greeted by Cowgirl Hall of Fame (CHOF) honoree and pro photographer Barbara Van Cleve of Big Timber, Montana. With her white felt hat and blue ribbon smile, I was warmly welcomed into the cowgirl fold.
If you own horses, you know that they operate similar to a chicken flock pecking order. Sometimes the new horse in the pasture is reminded quickly that his position in the herd is low on the totem pole. Fortunately, this was not the case at the Cowgirl Spring Roundup. Introductions were made at the Baroness welcome dinner hosted by Paws Up co-owner Nadine Lipson & National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Executive Director Pat Riley. Their friendly demeanor of let me show you the ropes offered from the head mare’s perspective, with a little bit of silly filly mixed in, set the tone for the extended weekend. Needless to say, I was chomping at the bit to explore this 37,000 acre cowgirl playground.
Our day started with a sunrise trail ride, meandering through 100 miles of trails, with 10 miles of private access on the legendary Blackfoot River. For those who prefer to sleep late, there are plenty of options offered during the weekend retreat. From a “Language of Horses” workshop offered with CHOF honoree and horsewoman Stacy Westfall, to a photography class with Barbara Van Cleve, trail leadership with CHOF honoree Dr. Eleanor Green, DMV or a beading class with CHOF honoree, artist and costume designer Cathy Smith, you’ll be immersed knee deep in boot stomping cowgirl culture with a little attitude.
In between workshops, there is time for cowgirl bonding over first-class cuisine, a 5 star cattle drive, spa time at spa town, shopping for cowgirl apparel in the general store or perhaps you’d like to practice the body, mind, equine yoga of horsemanship? Whether you are a beginning rider or accomplished equestrian you’ll be taken care of at Paws Up. The luxury dude ranch matches horse to rider ability, taking care to properly adjust stirrups, as well as share stories of the ways of the west from days past.
Need to know:
The Cowgirl Spring Roundup celebrates women and our relationship with horses and the American West. The Roundup is limited to 50 women, age 12 and older. On the last night, cowgirls are invited to cocktails, dinner and a live auction with proceeds going to the National Cowgirl Museum, and helping CHOF honorees attend the annual induction luncheon in Fort Worth, Texas. Rates start at $1,899. per person, not including taxes and resort fees. Check the website for current dates and pricing. Transportation from the airport is available. On my girlfriend getaway there were mother/daughter duos, barn riding buddies, and many repeat attendees. I hope I have the opportunity to return to The Resort at Paws Up, as this is one pasture where the grass is greener right under your boots.
If You Go:
Cowgirl Spring RoundUp (877) 588-6783
The Resort at Paws Up
Spring Roundup review and photography by travel writer and active adventure blogger Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of The Resort at Paws Up while researching additional articles for publication. As always, all opinions are my own.