Wildlife at Paws Up
The 36,000 acres of forest and meadows that comprise the ranch where The Resort at Paws Up was built are rich in wild game of many species. These wild turkeys were spotted several times along with many dozens of deer and raptors of several types including 4 bald eagles. I described it as a North American safari experience. There are also domesticated animals including a number of horses and quite a few dogs (this is a very dog friendly resort). In fact each cabin comes with a dog (a cute ceramic pooch is found in each luxurious abode. Animal lovers you will absolutely love Paws Up!
Among the other wild animals that can be seen at Paws Up are bears, both black and grizzly, mountain goats, elk, moose, and coyotes. Small critters also abound including rabbits, squirrels and skunks (one of which I smelled along the highway), With the wild waters of the Blackfoot River flowing through the heart of the resort it is also a great spot for birders. Bird watchers can see most of the endemic and migratory species found in Montana including wading birds (I saw two species myself) hawks, ducks, geese, songbirds and the aforementioned bald eagles. Bring your notebook and binoculars if you like watching our feathered friends!
For me the most important wild animal species to be found here is the cutthroat trout (and their rainbow and brown cousins). The Blackfoot River is the river alluded to in the title of the book and movie “A River Runs Through It.” Run through it indeed! At Paws Up that famed river is never far from where you are on the property as it bisects the 36,000 acre ranch resort. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend a few hours wading and casting into the free stone waters of the Blackfoot River thanks to the kindness of Jim Nielsen the general manager at the Resort at Paws Up. When we were speaking at the first dinner I attended I mentioned that I hated to come all the way to Montana and not have the chance to cast a fly. He picked me up early the next morning with his extra fly rod and gear and got me on the water.
In the first few minutes of casting I failed to notice that I had waded deep enough to give my camera a bath. When I am fishing I tend to focus on the casting and the water ahead of me. I saw this excellent swirl in front of a rock shelf that looked like perfect trout habitat out just beyond my casts. I eased deeper in an attempt to gently lay a fly on the slick and noticed my camera case was 1/3 of the way into the river! After wading back to shore I managed to get most of the water off of the camera which seems to have survived the dunking. Some moisture found it’s way into the lens so that was the end of my photography for the trip! I apologize for the subsequent lack of photos in this post.
In two hours of casting I experienced something an Arizona fisherman rarely sees; ice formed on the rod ferules and fly line! Every ten minutes I had to break the ice off the rod and strip it off the line in order to be able to cast. Due to the early hour and the low temperatures the trout did not cooperate that morning. This time of year they stay inactive until the sun warms the water and the aquatic insects begin to stir. We gave it another try before lunch for half an hour and Jim had two hookups and I had one as well. He almost landed one of his, but mine shook off quickly after the strike. I did not catch any fish but it was still my favorite activity of the trip.
Activities at the Resort at Paws Up
Fishing is just the start of the many outdoor experiences available during a Paws Up ranch vacation. I would love to do their “Three Rivers in Three Days” package. This includes guided float fishing trips on three of Montana’s legendary trout rivers. I was able to experience an ATV tour which was absolutely a blast. We crossed meadows, wound our way through the forest, and even drove under a bridge. Along the way we stopped at Lookout Rock which was visited by Lewis and Clark and used to survey a way across the continental divide. They offer rappelling off that steep sided cliff. At the end of our ATV tour we found our way to “River Camp” where a fantastic hot meal awaited us. I enjoyed (after dashing into the river for some fly casting) quail, pheasant, prime rib, several vegetables and a fresh garden salad. What I most enjoyed was the amazing mousse that was served for dessert!
I also had a chance to visit the shooting center for “sporting clays.” This is a sport where one attempts to shoot clay pigeons and rabbits with a shotgun. As a youth I did a lot of shooting and hunting which ended for me in my early twenties. I now know it is not like riding a bike. I did not hit many of the targets! It was fun anyway. This is a world class competitive course set up and designed by a several time world shooting champion. Set on a forested hillside overlooking a broad mountain meadow full of black angus steers it is a very scenic place to practice one’s shotgun skills.
Some of the other members of our FAM group enjoyed river rafting (during high flow seasons white water kayaking is also available), horse back touring, and guided hiking. Other summer sports offered are geo caching, mountain biking, canoeing, paintball, wagon ride, carriage ride, disc golf, nearby golf courses, and upland bird hunting. Winter activities include snowmobiling (snow machining for Alaskans), cross country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, sleigh rides, ice skating and snow tubing. Horseback riding, ATV and Upland bird hunting are offered in both seasons. If you like outdoor activities you must get up to Paws Up, “The Last Best Place!”
Lodging Options at Paws Up
The photo above is the back porch of the Wilderness Estates cabin I stayed in at Paws Up. Each of these rustic mountain cabins is furnished and decorated in a comfortable western style that says “welcome to Montana!” The decor, art and furnishings are unique in each cabin but all reflect a similar ambiance appropriate for a mountain ranch resort like Paws Up. These Wilderness Estate cabins are 3248 square feet large and feature three large master suite bedrooms two with king beds and the upper loft suite with two twin beds and an open sitting area. Each bedroom comes with “The Last Best Bed” featuring 300 thread sheet cotton linens, duvets, down pillows, and very comfortable beds that invite you to sleep in.
Don’t let the mountain look fool you, this is modern convenience at it’s finest! 42” flat screens are found in the family room, loft and each bedroom. Satellite TV service is available for those who want to stay in touch with the outside world (our TV never went on during our stay there was so much to see and do outdoors). Excellent hi-speed wireless internet access let’s you email pictures to your envious friends and family back home (or facebook and twitter your adventure like I did). There is a full kitchen with all needed kitchen tools and quality stainless steel oven, range and fridge. Coffee maker and espresso machine await those who need a jolt of Joe and can’t wait for room service to arrive. A large user friendly gas and wood combination fireplace sets the romantic mood we all love on mountain getaways.
The high tech angle reaches it’s peak in the three master baths. Two vanities well stocked with eco minded lux amenities and the requisite hair dryer feature the latest in sinks and fixtures. The large bath has Jacuzzi jets to sooth sore muscles and mood lighting below the water line. There is also a 8 person Jacuzzi outdoors on the deck. The shower features a rain head and a hand held wand option. There are also jet heads that I didn’t have time to sample. My favorite option was the digital temperature read out on the wall! Making all of this bath luxury even more accessible are the heated floor tiles and heated towel racks! I stay in some very nice hotels (as you can see from this years visits on this blog) and have not seen a bathroom that can top the features found here at Paws Up. I now have a severe case of bathroom envy!
There are several one of a kind lodgings available as well. One is the historic Morris Ranch House which has been home to ranchers as well as to famed aviator Charles Lindbergh who legend has it landed his plane and took off from the adjacent hillside. This carefully restored antique has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and all the modern conveniences found in the other cabins. The other specialty cabin is the Blackfoot River Lodge. As the name would suggest this four bedroom three bathroom home is so close to the Blackfoot River you would be tempted to cast from your room. It features a master suite with a private office, and wonderful views of the river that runs through it. Of course equipped and furnished in high style!
The Big Timber Homes are similarly appointed and equipped. They are smaller than the Wilderness Estates homes. The largest is the Ponderosa Pine cabins at 2400 square feet with one king bed room, one queen bed room, and a twin bed loft. They have 2 baths. The Douglas Fir cabins are 1900 square feet with one king bed room and one twin bed room. There are two baths. Lodgepole Pine cabins have 1440 square feet in one king bed room and one twin bed room with one bath. The smallest cabin is the meadow home at 1300 square feet with two baths one king bed room and a queen bed room. All have the same rustic feel and creature comforts I sampled in the Wilderness Estates.
Glamping at Tent City and River Camp at Paws Up
There are two tented camp options at The Resort at Paws Up. Tent City has six spacious tents all with furnishings similar to the cabins including “The Last Best Bed.” Each tent has it’s own private master bath in the bathhouse. There is a dining pavilion with top notch cuisine, full housekeeping including turndown, and 24 hour butler service. A conversation fire pit outdoors and horseshoe pits make this a nice family gathering place. Just across the meadow the Blackfoot River awaits for those wanting to cast a fly. River Camp tents are all facing the nearby Blackfoot River so the sound of the rushing water will lull you to sleep in your 270 square foot luxury tent. Dining, bathrooms, housekeeping and butler service are here for you just like at Tent City. This isn’t camping, it’s luxury “glamping.”
Seasons and Special Events at The Resort at Paws Up
The Christmas holiday season is probably the most special of all the events of the year at Paws Up. Enjoy your own personal Santa, sleigh rides, and all the winter activities mentioned above. There are a few openings left for this Christmas so don’t delay. Bring Fido and the family! The Montana Master Chefs is coming up in October and also has some openings. This is a live version of the TV contests pitting one famed chef against another. It really sounds like fun, and the tastings must be off the hook good with the caliber of chefs they attract. For dog lovers the event not to miss is “Wine and Bitch” which combines wine tastings from celebrated vineyards with doggy day care with special gourmet dog treats and a dog whisperer! Off season rates are found in October, and January through April. The resort is closed in November. Best weather is during the summer high season May-September. Visit The Resort at Paws Up web site for details on all the events and activities.
Passionate Knowledgeable People Make Paws Up Special!
The people who work at this special resort love what they do! Hats off to the management for staffing with such joyful and passionate people. Every activity is led by someone who knows their stuff and is eager to teach you the ropes. There is a strong focus on safety in every adventure undertaken. These are people who really want you to take away some new skills and knowledge not just go through the motions. They revel in telling the back story of the area and the property itself. They are happy to show you the safest way to enjoy the Montana outdoors. Every person I dealt with from kitchen service to bell staff were courteous, friendly and attentive. My biggest “take away” is the memory of all the great people that made this stay special!
Another wonderful thing about The Resort at Paws Up is a very strong green sensitivity. Each cabin comes with an electric car or golf cart to cut pollution. Local sourcing is featured with home grown free range black angus beef, and extensive gardens for produce in all the dining facilities. The preservation of thousands of acres of forest and meadows has led to carbon offsets that make this the first resort in America that is carbon-neutral! Other environmental measures here: ride sharing, catch and release fishing, energy efficient appliances and lighting, and recycling. There is an iPreserve Center at the gift shop PUGS to educate guests about all of the steps taken here to make your vacation as green as the Montana forests.
I would like to say thanks to the people who made this FAM trip possible, and to those who made it special as well. I had the opportunity to meet Jena Gardner of JG Blackbook of Travel and she is as delightful as she is renowned in the travel business. I shared a cabin with Amy Menci who helms the VIP desk at JG Blackbook. My other cabin mate was Stacy Small aka @EliteTravelGal who I know well from Twitter, tweetups, and Virtuoso events. Stacy has also written a blog about this trip. John Romfo who is the director of sales and marketing, and Tracie Mardock the guest services manager were our host and organizer for the various events, meals and activities. They and their staff do a wonderful job. I can’t thank Jim Nielsen (who is the general manager of Paws Up) enough for taking a morning out of his busy schedule to take me fishing. I owe you one Jim! Thanks also to all the guides, servers, activity leaders and other staff who do a great job for their guests.
Be a Virtuoso Guest at The Resort at Paws Up
Of course I want you to book your next stay at Paws Up with Alliance Travel Partners. As a Virtuoso agency we can enhance your stay with VIP status and the following Virtuoso amenities: Upgrade upon arrival subject to availability. $150 adventure credit for the activity of your choice once during your stay. A bottle of wine upon arrival. Using a Virtuoso travel agent adds the above value to your vacation without costing you more. We can book your stay for the same rates available on the internet or for self booking by phone but give you more for your money. Whether you choose to book with us or not, do yourself a favor and talk to a Virtuoso advisor before you book your next luxury vacation.
To open a slide show in a pop up window click the first image below. Mouse over the pop up to advance the slides with the arrow to the right. To see more images of the Resort at Paws Up see my previous blog posting.