As we drive out to Pine Butte Guest Ranch west of Choteau, MT the terrain begins to change. When we turned west off US Hwy 89 a few miles north of Choteau, we saw the Rocky Mountains but the ground was still fairly flat.
We are on the Teton Canyon Road, paved for most of the way as it follows along the north side of the Teton River. We cross the river and drive on the gravel South Fork Road in to Pine Butte Guest Ranch.
What a perfect setting! Horses are grazing on the hillside and the cabins and main lodge are nestled nearby.
The terrain has changed again and we are near a canyon surrounded by mountains. Known locally as the East Slope of the Rockies, the Rocky Mountain Front, or simply The Front, we gaze in awe at the majesty of this scenic backdrop that we will enjoy for the next few days.
After greetings from staff we are shown to our cabins and invited into their education center for pre-dinner munchies and an overview of The Nature Conservancy and the guest ranch. Dinner follows and yes, we are wondering why we ate an ice cream snack earlier in the day. No worries, we do justice to all food set before us!
Dinner was an absolute treat and we would soon realize that all meals at Pine Butte are memorable. The tables were set in Delftware style china, a favorite of mine. Fresh homemade breads are the norm here and much of the food is grown or raised locally. The guest ranch has its own greenhouse and expansive garden, and they also support many locally owned Choteau merchants. This is Montana and principles like that make a good neighbor an even better neighbor.
After dinner we move in to the main room of the lodge where the fireplace is crackling to keep us toasty in the cool mountain air. One of the staff takes us on a visual tour of the history of The Nature Conservancy and Pine Butte Guest Ranch. Outside it is raining, not what I had hoped for, but inside is cozy. If I had a sleeping bag with me I’d be content to curl up by the huge stone fireplace! The mood is serene and peaceful and we head off to our cabins for the night.