Gaynor Ranch and Resort is tucked into the Flathead Valley, an expanse of jagged peaks and windswept lowlands carved out by glaciers during the last Ice Age. Within the valley—and fewer than 7 miles from the resort—is the charming alpine village of Whitefish. Restaurants, specialty boutiques, and a microbrewery are dotted along the main drag of Central Avenue, and jutting out of the skyline to the north are the snowcapped peaks of the Northern Rocky Mountains. Though outdoor activities are a major draw, Whitefish also features an independent theater company, art galleries, a historical museum, and a Frank Lloyd Wright–designed building—one of a scant few in Montana.About 30 miles away from the ranch resides the west entrance to Glacier National Park, where the glittering Lake McDonald comes into view as visitors drive down Going-to-the-Sun Road. Although heavy snowfall can close down portions of the park's internal roads, the National Park Service regularly plows the 10-mile stretch of road that runs from the entrance to Lake McDonald Lodge. Rangers can lead expeditions and referee snowball fights on guided snowshoe walks departing from the nearby Apgar Visitors’ Center; several skiing and snowshoeing trails splinter off in the area as well. Depending on snow melt, the warmer spring months mark the opening up of scenic hiking trails such as Logan Pass—the highest point on Going-to-the-Sun Road and a popular launching point for backpackers.
The Northern Hemisphere is always changing, and its varied plant and animal life must deal with the extremes of both hot and cold weather. ZooMontana celebrates these resilient creatures. Trees and shrubs—many not native to the Montana area—surround exhibits, where more than 50 animal species make their homes. Here are just a few of the zoo's stars:
To meet more of the animals, check out the other exhibits, or try one of these activities:
Navigating the placid waters of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, licensed captains steer their skiff through serene, tucked-away spots during chartered cruises. Home to the Wyoming skyscrapers–which are cliffs that tower more than 1,000 above the water–the surrounding area is home to a variety of wildlife that sailors can spot, including wild stallions, bighorn sheep, and bald eagles.
Married for nine years and a photography team for five, Brian and Jennifer Hartman bring an artistic touch and approach to their on-location photography. Employing a photojournalistic style and dramatic lighting, they capture solo subjects and groups during posed and candid moments, earning critical acclaim from the Artistic Guild of the Wedding Photojournalist Association and The Knot and placing images in the pages of Elle and Seattle Bride magazines.
Not content to simply point and shoot, the Hartmans light compositions using chiaroscuro or high-exposure natural lighting and often accentuate subjects with extreme angles, forced perspective, or unique natural surroundings. They shoot in vibrant color or black and white, and can edit photos to enhance colors or, by request, replace each subject’s face with Winston Churchill’s. Though the Hartmans use professional tools, they’re glad to help students break into photography via ultra-accessible devices such as the iPhone—following in the footsteps, they note, of Annie Leibovitz, who endorsed the iPhone’s camera on NBC Nightly News in 2011. When not conducting on-location sessions, Brian also leads large-scale workshops in which they pass on their knowledge through graphic slideshows and hands-on training.