On Top of The World

During my visit to The Ranch at Rock Creek, I had the opportunity to reach the “Top of The World,” quite literally. Starting off as a frigid morning with a high of 10 degrees, it began to warm up after I enjoyed breakfast at Buckle Barn. The temperature quickly climbed to around 20 degrees after breakfast, and I went to visit one of my favorite accommodations — Sweet Grass Cabin. This unique glamping cabin is the largest one on the property, and my favorite year-round accommodation because of its tent-within-a-cabin design. Sweet Grass also features two large bedrooms with king-sized beds, also paired with a twin daybed or queen pull out couch, depending on your choice of room. Both rooms also have their own full bathroom as well. Each of the tented suites also includes a gas stove to ensure warmth even on the coldest Montana nights! The cabin is perfect for a small family or two couples looking for a different type of accommodation. The tented suites are joined by a hallway and a cozy great room and kitchen, with access to an outside patio with a cedar soaking tub that has beautiful views of Rock Creek and the Sapphire Mountains.

Following my visit to Sweet Grass, I headed to the nearby Rod and Gun Club where I hoped to participate in one of The Ranch’s newest and most exciting activities, the snowcat excursion.

A snowcat is an enclosed truck-sized cab and fully tracked vehicle that is designed to move not only through snow, but up mountains.

Although The Ranch’s 10 to 12 person snowcat was full of guests, Jim Manley, the owner of The Ranch, kindly offered to take me and two other guests up to “The Top of The World” in a smaller snowcat.

The smaller snowcat holds a total of four guests comfortably and can easily navigate the harsh terrain of a mountain in winter. We began our trek on the road and drove through the property toward the mountain. On our way, Jim pointed out a new building that would be finished in a month — which will be the new Rod and Gun Club. He shared that the current building would be turned into a center for the Little Grizzly’s Children’s program and that one room would be converted into a multi-purpose room for guests for yoga and other activities. The new building is large and will be a great addition to The Ranch. The Rod and Gun Club will now simply just be over the bridge crossing Rock Creek making it a much closer and convenient location for guests.

As we passed Granite Lodge and many of the Ranch’s cabins, we began our descent up the mountain. Although bumpy at times, I still found it easy to take a video of our adventure from inside the snowcat.

Continuing our journey off the beaten path, a herd of white-tailed deer frolicked in the distance and I was awed by the landscape the snow had disguised. During the summer this would be an amazing half day hike for anyone with a sense of adventure, and The Ranch also offers guided hikes to the “Top of The World” as part of their all-inclusive rate.

Nearing the top of the mountain, Jim pointed out the official “Top of The World” sign and location that The Ranch is known for. This location marks the highest view in Philipsburg, and on The Ranch’s property.  He also informed us that this is a popular spot for couples to have a picnic and for wedding ceremonies. Although this was our original destination, he informed us that we would be going up even higher to the top of the mountain, which was just a bit further. Within a few minutes we reached the official “Top of The World” and we were surrounded by breathtaking panoramic views of the Sapphire Mountains, John Long Mountains, and the Pintler Mountains. Getting out of the snowcat, I was greeted by untouched snow that ranged in-depth, often covering my snow boots. Making my way toward the middle of the mountain, I appropriately felt on top of the world as I was a total of over 6,200 feet above the sea level.


Observing the stunning views around me, I felt my adrenaline peak as I have never reached this elevation, nor been surrounded by so many parts of the Rocky Mountain range in my life. Jim explained to me that for 20 years he searched for the perfect property. On the first day he visited The Ranch, it met each of the 10 requirements on his list and he purchased it the same day. On the top of his list, was that the property needed to be surrounded entirely by the Rocky Mountains. After experiencing the “Top of The World,” I can absolutely say that each different part of 6,600 acres that make up The Ranch at Rock Creek surpasses his criteria.

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