I have decided that deep inside me there is a cowgirl just waiting to get out!
First of all, I have boots. Yes, I do. Not fancy boots, just good functional cowgirl boots. The fact that I probably only wear them a couple times a year does not matter.
And the hat. Yes, I have that too. It’s a straw hat which is perfect since the 2 times a year I wear my boots would always be in the summer.
My horse riding skills can always use a refresher but I definitely can ride as long as the horse is gentle. I’m quite fond of horses named Slow-Go, Old Plug or Sure-N-Steady. Well, you get the idea.
Montana Cowgirl Camp was the brainchild of a kitchen & bath designer and a web developer who both had a great affection for horseback riding. Originally, it was to be a BYOH camp (bring your own horse) but next year they plan to have horses available for guests who don’t want to trailer their horse to Utica, Montana. Or, people like me who don’t own a horse.
There were only two weeks of cowgirl camp this summer but next year there are plans to do four weeks. This area is farming and ranching country so you can bet they will work around haying season.
I had my driving directions and took all of the correct turns to arrive at the parking area for guests at Montana Cowgirl Camp. Signage for Montana Cowgirl Camp was photo-worthy. I loved the bright red bandanas and chalkboard paint on the signs. Not only was it reaffirming that I was in the right spot, it was pretty.
The Judith River was all that separated me from the parking area and Montana Cowgirl Camp. I wondered if my Ford Edge would make a river crossing but didn’t want to risk it. My instructions were to wait for the side-by-side to come down the mountain and pick me up. And that’s just what I did!
Once I loaded my overnight bag (including boots and hat) we slowly crossed the Judith River and drove up the mountain. The entrance to Montana Cowgirl Camp was beautifully marked with old doors resurrected from a nearby building and decorated.
My wall tent – absolutely beautiful! I was born and raised on the prairies of northern Montana and on my bed was the perfect pillow that said “Prairie Girl”. I felt at home!
Combine that with comfy cots, warm comforters (it gets cold up that high), a battery-operated chandelier and delightful floor rugs and you have a perfect glamping tent.
Our guest chefs for the evening came from a nearby Hutterite colony. Sam and Pam had prepared duck a la orange, stuffing, veggie appetizers, homemade dinner rolls, homemade butter, fresh peas, baby red potatoes, cucumbers and a tossed salad. The vegetables all came from their garden on the Hutterite colony and the ducks were also raised on the colony.
I’ll be honest. I wasn’t real keen on eating duck. Again, I’ll be honest. I went back for seconds! It was absolutely delicious.
Before dinner, local history lover and area promoter Karen Kuhlmann, spoke to the group. She had interesting information and did a great job of keeping us entertained.
I did one trail ride with Montana Cowgirl Camp. We rode for three hours and yes, my legs felt like spaghetti when I clambered off old Beauty. The views as we climbed up the mountain were spectacular. It was warm and we took our time on the ride. I felt like singing “I’m An Old Cowhand”, I’m sure I could have roped anything in my way and I felt destined to be a cowgirl. All told, I couldn’t have done any of that except sing the song.
We probably should have taken a break on that three hour ride and I passed that comment along to the
organizers. To appease the photographer in me, I could have taken a lot more photos from that mountain we climbed. There were other areas where I could see the opportunity for improvement and I shared that too. Next year, there will be plenty of changes as they now have some good experience at running a cowgirl camp. I’m confident they will address all of the suggestions I gave them, along with more of their own.
Riding in the Little Belt Mountains, an island range, is spectacular. There are several areas for rides, all varying in length. This area is also known for mining Yogo sapphires, a blue stone found in a 6-mile stretch just down the road from Montana Cowgirl Camp. Yogo sapphires don’t have to be heat-treated so you know exactly what the stone will look like when it is found in the earth. The mine was closed for several years but has recently
been sold and will be opened soon.
Ranching history is king here. And then there is Charlie Russell, America’s cowboy artist, who worked as a cowboy in the area and spent time with a local trapper south of cowgirl camp. A historic forest service guard station is about 5 miles down the road and the little town of Utica is an anchor point on the area’s major event – the Montana Bale Trail: What The Hay. Another little known fact is the size of the burgers at the Oxen Yoke in Utica. Plan on sharing that burger!
Back to my cowgirl career.
I had a good time at Montana Cowgirl Camp. There were hiccups in the first-year camp but once those are addressed this can be a go-to vacation for cowgirls of all ages and locales.