Working Ranch with Comfortable Cabins near Glacier National Park
There’s a sweeping view of the Montana countryside at the top of Gratitude Peak, a vista on the east end of Gaynor Ranch and Resort. But before guests can enjoy the sights they must follow a strict but simple rule: all of one’s worries must be deposited down below at the Gratitude Tree. Perched atop this overlook is a Native American medicine wheel designed by ranch owner Nancy Gaynor, a Kootenai tribe member, and the wheel is said to inspire meditation and self-reflection. This overlook underscores the rustic resort’s focus on relaxation and reverence for the natural beauty of the area, which is set amid forested hills and wide blue skies.
Touches of the Old West, including a weathered wagon and a large white teepee, are scattered throughout the working ranch. Visitors can feed the resident horses, teach them to neigh the ABCs, or hop in the saddle and embark on a trail ride through the property’s pathways ($45/person for a one-hour ride).
Near the horse pasture stands a cluster of ranch cabins, each of them spacious enough for groups and equipped with a full kitchen. For more secluded accommodations, there are eight freestanding cabins in the woods a short distance from the ranch.
Whitefish, Montana: Charming Alpine Gateway to Glacier National Park
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.