What to eat
Montana may not seem like a culinary destination, but that’s changing quickly. A bounty of local produce and traditionally raised organic beef, lamb and elk are attracting top culinary talent. Chef Josh Drage of The Ranch at Rock Creek is one of the innovators of Montana’s modern rustic cuisine, dishing up bison short ribs with cilantro chutney and elk rib eye with flathead cherry demi-glace.
Beer-lovers can sample suds from more than 20 microbreweries. Saddle up at a local bar and order a Kettle House Cold Smoke Scotch Ale or local favorite Moose Drool. For a treat, stop by Philipsburg’s Sweet Palace, the second largest candy store in the country.
Where to stay
The Ranch at Rock Creek (www. theranchatrockcreek.com) offers the best of Montana recreation by day and fine dining by night. Situated on 10 square miles of wilderness just north of the Pintler Mountains, the ranch offers fly fishing, horseback riding, hiking, sport shooting and archery, as well as a full-service spa. The ranch provides all necessary equipment, from footwear to fly reels.
What to do
Montana’s wide-open spaces make it ideal terrain for hiking, horseback riding and biking. Here’s what we like to do in Big Sky Country:
Camping: Montana houses two spectacular national parks, Glacier and Yellowstone (of Old Faithful fame). Just stopping through? Try Glacier’s Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile drive through some of the park’s best scenery.
Fly fishing: Montana is home to the world’s best fly fishing, in a network of sparkling ri-vers and creeks. Hire a guide to show you where the locals cast. Also, read Missoula native Norman Maclean’s “A River Runs Through It.”
Ghost hunting: During a mining boom in the late 1800s, a number of small towns and mining camps were created in the western part of the state. Abandoned long ago, many of the ghost towns are preserved and open for tours.