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Triple Creek Ranch – located in Darby, Montana.

Mix equal parts American frontier, secluded, super-luxe cabins, a showcase wine cellar and riding, roping and rodeo games. Now throw in a top tier chef and you might just have the perfect cowgirl vacation.

Triple Creek Ranch (TCR), a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux property collection, is nestled at the base of the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana. This all-inclusive resort caters to cowgirls from all walks of life and all levels of horse experience.

Accommodations at TCR are stand-alone, luxury log cabins tucked discreetly among wooded paths, with romantic wood-burning fireplaces. Most cabins have their very own private, outdoor hot tubs, as well as a granite-topped kitchenette stocked with fresh roasted coffee beans, a variety of teas, juices, wine, and a fully stocked spirits bar. Home-baked cookies are delivered daily, and each evening, at turndown, the requisite gourmet chocolate is complemented by a sampling of cowboy poetry.

Triple Creek Ranch offers a range of theme packages throughout the year. The most daring  is the “Spring Roundup Package” which, in addition to spectacular trail riding, brings guests to a working cattle ranch to help drive and round up cattle, wrestle, brand and vaccinate calves, and run a chute with cows.

Make no mistake— this is no charade produced to amuse guests. Clearly not for the faint of heart, the opportunity to participate in this honest work is a rare window into the daily lives and challenges of western ranchers. Authentic too, are the resulting oddly placed bruises and sore muscles.

At the end of a hard day mixing it up with the bovines, a soak in one’s private alfresco spa and a perfectly balanced lemon drop in the lodge’s inviting bar are de rigueur.  Having thus recuperated, guests can compete amongst themselves on rodeo day for a trophy buckle in events like barrel racing and pole bending.

At Triple Creek Ranch, the West jumps from the pages of history books and truly comes alive. On horseback, both experienced and virgin wranglers move cattle from pasture to pasture below Sula Peak, in a small valley of great historical significance. It was in this very location that Lewis and Clark met the region’s Native American people, later immortalized in the monumental 25 by 12 foot oil on canvas painted by Charles Russell in 1912: Lewis and Clark Meeting the Flatheads at Ross’s Hole, September 4, 1805. Listening to your horse’s warm exhalation, with a fine spring snow falling and a coyote trotting on the next hillside, the region’s profound history remains undeniably present.

What is most memorable about TCR is the service and attention to detail passionately embodied by each and every staff member, from the smiling front desk staff, to the charming, friendly wranglers…every TCR team member genuinely cares that guests feel both at home and exceedingly pampered.

This is simply the best hospitality to be had, anywhere, at any price. Cowgirls—and cowgirls at heart—you won’t be disappointed!

(Originally published in the July/August 2010 issue of Cowgirl Magazine).