Montana’s Glacier Country: Majestic Mountains, Hip Downtowns and Cozy Lodges

Esha Samajpati travels to northern Montana’s Glacier County not only to go to Glacier National Park, but also to see what else this state has to offer its visitors. Samajpati finds there’s much more to Montana than a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

Andrew from Bar W Guest Ranch giving us a crash course in horseback riding. Photo by Esha Samajpati.

While struggling to keep myself from sliding off the saddle, I held on to the reins with one gloved hand and tried to slip on the hood of my jacket with the other. It had started to drizzle and the trail was becoming increasingly soggy. I was on horseback at the Bar W Guest Ranch in Northwest Montana, surrounded by 3000 acres of state forest.

Being the fourth biggest state in the US, Montana is divided into various regions – from northwest to northeast lie Glacier Country, Russell Country and Missouri River Country. At the bottom half of the state, from west to east stretch Gold West, Yellowstone and Custer Country. That puts me in Glacier Country, located approximately 535 miles east of Seattle, Washington, and 900 miles north of Denver, Colorado.

Riding on a Ranch

The Bar W Guest Ranch consists of a 6,200-square-foot lodge, cabin suites, stables, barns and an entertainment area along with sweeping prairies, lakes, mountains and foothills to help perfect your riding skills. If you are a beginner like me, experienced wranglers will provide you with the necessary tips and tricks of western style riding.

One of the many perks of the ranch’s location is the wide range of activities on offer – swimming, fishing and hiking in summer to skiing, snowmobiling and snowboarding in winter.

A handsome creature named Cash, my horse had a shiny coat of cinnamon brown and a white streak down his forehead. Assigned to me based on my riding experience, height and weight, he trotted at his own pace, oblivious to the rain and the surrounding chatter of our motley group of seven.

“He is built like a pony although we make sure we refer to him as a horse when he is within earshot,” whispered Ashley, Marketing Coordinator at the Bar W. She looked every bit the Western cowgirl in her wide-brimmed hat, blue denims and leather chaps with fringes down the side.

Forget the riding helmets, long coats and tight breeches associated with English riding. Right from the first casual “howdy,” everything from the attire to the riding style is more relaxed here in America’s Wild West.

Montana’s Glacier Country: Majestic Mountains, Hip Downtowns and Cozy Lodges