I recently had the opportunity to visit three guest ranches along the Rocky Mountain Front. Five gals met in Augusta, MT (about 60 miles west of Great Falls) at an eclectic gift store/coffee bar called Latigo and Lace to start this amazing vacation. The weather was everything we could have asked for, bright, sunny skies and a few huge white clouds to create our Big Sky Country canopy. Two of us had been to Augusta before but for the other three, this was a first time visit. Augusta has a few hundred people living in or near the town, most engaged in ranching and farming.
After browsing at Latigo and Lace, we started our drive up Sun River Canyon, first on a gravel road, then it turned to paved road when we entered the Lewis & Clark National Forest. At first the landscapes were wide open. As we climbed in elevation, the scenery changed to more trees and higher mountains and we followed along the Sun River. It’s been a heavy water year in this part of Montana so the river was really gushing.
We stopped at the Gibson Reservoir overlook and took some photos. There were a few boats below, dwarfed by the size of this massive body of water.
Our destination ranch was Triple J Wilderness Ranch, a long-time guest or dude ranch near the bottom of Mortimer Gulch. Triple J also does pack trips into the Bob Marshall Wilderness area but we were going to stay in their cozy cabins and do some horseback riding and fishing.
Before supper that evening we met the other ranch guests. I’ve decided that this is part of the beauty of visiting a guest ranch. Guests this week were mostly from the the eastern United States. One couple from Florida had visited last summer and enjoyed it so much they rebooked. They seemed right at home at Triple J, almost like family.
Ranch owners Kim and Ernie Barker outlined our next day’s activities after we finished eating supper. First on the next day’s agenda was breakfast – believe me, you do not go hungry at Triple J. After Kim & Ernie talked, we visited with the chef about getting a couple of recipes that were served for supper, then we headed to our individual cabins. All of us were tired from traveling and we were all eagerly anticipating our horseback ride the next morning.