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8 Unique Wild West Experiences in Montana

While the days of the Wild West are long gone, Montana still has a unique frontier feel. Towering mountains contrast with the rustic ranches clustered below and activities like horseback riding abound.

Horseback Riding at a Montana Ranch

Live out your cowboy fantasies at a guest ranch in Montana. Diamond P Ranch hosts horseback rides in the mountains near West Yellowstone, and you can take a ride through the Gallatin National Forest.

At Rocking Z Guest Ranch, instructors walk you through creating a bond with your horse and you can go on trail rides and explore the surrounding terrain. This ranch is dedicated to green ranching and employs some ingenious sustainable living practices.

Sleep Under the Stars

Glacier National Park is home to trails through a million acres of wilderness. Very low light pollution in the park means that this is a great place to see the stars. Try camping overnight in the park at one of the many available sites.

If you want to enjoy nature without giving up the luxuries of home, you can go glamping. Glacier Under Canvas provides safari tents outside the park. They are kitted out with comfortable beds and wood-burning stoves.

Visit Well-Preserved Ghost Towns

Montana has many ghost towns throughout the state. Bannack State Park is one of the most well-preserved and gives you a real feel of the Old West. It was in this town that the first significant discovery of gold occurred, and you can see over 50 historic log and frame buildings. In Nevada City, you can watch live interpretations of historical events and see what life was like in the late 1800s.

Swim with Horses

At Sweet Grass Ranch nestled in the foothills of the Crazy Mountains, you have a diverse terrain to explore on horseback and you can go on a bareback swimming excursion with your horse in a nearby river.

From July through September, after the high water drops from the spring runoff, you can ride your horse bareback into various swimming holes along the creek. Horses are natural active swimmers and you stay aboard while your horse swims through the deeper waters and climbs out the other side.

Go on a Cowgirl Retreat

Women can attend a Montana Cowgirl Camp where they will experience the thrill of adventure and find out more about themselves. This is a free-spirited glamping opportunity for you and your horse. Enjoy morning breakfast in the fresh mountain air, daily mountain rides and walks along the stream.

Ride your horse through terrain that is essentially unchanged from the pioneer days. Gather around the campfire to share your experiences with other women. Ride through the canyons and valleys of Montana and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Discover strengths you never knew you had and explore to your heart’s content.

See Buffalo Roam

Tour the National Bison Range in Northwest Montana, home to about 400 American bison. This is one of the last places where you will find bison in the U.S. Apart from the bison, you may also spot elk, antelope, coyotes, black bears and other wildlife.

This range is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has existed since 1908 to protect the dwindling bison population. You will be in your car most of the time while touring the range, but there are trails for wildlife viewing and taking photographs.

Visit a Ranch Retreat Near Yellowstone Park

Recharge your mind and body by visiting Lone Mountain Ranch. Here, you can experience meditation and guided yoga as well as improve your horsemanship. This ranch is situated in Big Sky, a mountain town near Yellowstone Park. Stay in a historic private cabin with all the comforts of home.

Many adventurous activities are on offer while staying at the ranch. In summer, they offer horseback riding, fly fishing, mountain biking and whitewater rafting. In winter, experience dog sledding, snowshoeing and backcountry skiing. Tours of Yellowstone Park with lodge naturalists are part of the packages.

Go on a Wilderness Horseback Pack Trip

Swan Mountain Outfitters is the exclusive provider of trail rides in Glacier National Park and offers multi-day wilderness pack trips. Ride the best horses and enjoy an enriched experience provided by educated, customer-friendly personnel.

Experience what it’s like to ride as part of a train as you move through scenery you’ll never forget, embracing the calm and forgetting about all the hustle and bustle you’ve left behind. Enjoy hearty meals and sleep under the stars. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or advanced rider — both are accommodated. Choose from a variety of trips, selecting one based on your specific needs and abilities. All of these trips give you a real taste of Montana’s wilderness, and you’ll want to keep going back for more.