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Alta Meadow Ranch

Darby Montana

Listing Type: Guest Ranch
City: Darby Montana
Region: Glacier Country

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Alta Meadow Ranch is a truly unique vacation destination. Although the ranch is high in the Bitterroot Mountains - in a remote (yet accessible) alpine valley surrounded by hundreds of miles of wilderness - the accommodations are exceedingly comfortable and appealing, even luxurious - all in the setting of striking scenic beauty, abundant wildlife, great fishing and genuine hospitality.

Near its headwaters, the West Fork of the Bitterroot River winds through Alta Meadow, with several tributaries conjoining at the ranch. Along these streams are trails and backcountry roads - easy access to this pristine country whether you hike, ski or ride. The Bitterroot River, and the nearby Salmon and Selway Rivers, offer superb stream fishing and white water rafting. In winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities abound; there is a downhill area nearby.

The surrounding country is steeped in history of the old west and the ranch is an ideal base for retracing the footsteps of Lewis and Clark. Alta Meadow has a rich legacy as well. It was situated along an age-old trail system traversing the southern Bitterroot Mountains - used by the Nez Perce Indians on the way to their hunting grounds in the prairie country to the east. Turn of the century prospectors found a pristine mountain meadow but little gold. Later came loggers and fur trappers, and for many years it was a working cattle ranch. Alta Meadow has come full circle and is once again a beautiful valley in the high country of western Montana - this time with many of its original buildings restored or preserved for your pleasure.

Alta Meadow Ranch is remote in the best sense, being at the epicenter of a great recreational area, the northern Rocky Mountain wilderness. Travelers will find a welcome change of pace and real creature comfort only a scenic day's drive from any of several exceptional ski areas as well as Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks.

All this considered, we feel that Alta Meadow Ranch is a very special place to spend time, and how you spend that time is entirely your choice. Our forte is flexibility and what we offer, in essence, is Vacation a la Carte. The possibilities vary from a 'complete package' arrangement to whatever combinations strikes your fancy. Guests at Alta Meadow design their own activity schedule, which is then facilitated by Ranch Manager, Beattie McGill. He will provide expert advice about the area and its many opportunities. The wide range of activities available at Alta Meadow Ranch and total control of your schedule can only enhance your vacation experience. Another advantage is obvious - you only pay for those activities you choose; and many guests enjoy themselves tremendously for nothing more than the cost of being here.


HOMESTEAD; Restored original log cabin - cozy turn-of the century legacy with charm and modern convenience. Large bedroom suite upstairs with queen bed, sofa & dresser, Sofa/bed downstairs - one bathroom with shower and view room with large soaking tub. Fully appointed kitchen with gas range, microwave, laundry, stone hearth

Summer rate: $115 per night Winter rate: $90

STAGECOACH INN; Built in 1910 and recently restored, the 'inn' is a two story log cabin with a spacious bed room suite upstairs - with queen bed, view sitting area, study with a desk and day bed. Adjoining bathroom has oversized soaking tub with a functional kitchen with gas range, microwave, dishwasher and laundry. .Summer rate: $190 per night Winter rate: $145

BARNHOUSE; Luxurious log home with a spacious master suite upstairs with queen bed, stone fireplace, dining table, adjoining study with twin sofa/bed and large south-facing deck. Bathroom upstairs includes giant tub with jets and a beautiful ridge view. Ideal for a romantic retreat or honeymoon. Sofa/bed and stone fireplace downstairs and adjacent bathroom has shower. Fully appointed kitchen with gas range, dishwasher, microwave and laundry

Summer rate: $230 per night Winter rate: $180

RANCH HOUSE; Restored log cabin built by ranchers in the 1940's - renovated with the addition of a large dining/meeting area, greenhouse and several decks. Four unique bedrooms - two with queen beds, one with combo king/2 twins and a full bed in the 'antique room'. Three bathrooms - all with showers, 1 with oversized tub with jets and gorgeous meadow view. Fully appointed kitchen with commercial grade gas range, microwave, dishwasher, laundry and stone hearths in kitchen and living room. The dining room will accommodate about 25 and is ideal for a small conference or family reunion - lodging in multiple cabins

Summer rate: $345 per night Winter rate: $270

Each cabin has an entertainment center with TV, VCR and CD player and notebook computer station with phone access. Indoor climate control is effortless and attractive with thermostatically controlled gas logs.

MEALS; The kitchens at Alta Meadow Ranch are not the usual 'vacation home' facility. Like the cabins, they are designed and furnished as a home away from home - and many guests prefer arranging and preparing their own meals. A grocery shopping service is available, and you can arrive to find the pantry and refrigerator stocked with your favorite food - and the means to prepare it well. Guests often find themselves caught up in all sorts of adventures and soon begin to appreciate the opportunity to be spontaneous. Total control of your meal schedule allows that sort of freedom.


The West Fork of the Bitterroot river winds through Alta Meadow Ranch providing superb stream fishing, or you may choose to fish our ponds for their larger trout. Being largely unfenced, Alta Meadow Ranch is both sanctuary and hunting ground for many for the wild creatures in the area. An elk herd spends time here along with the moose and deer. Alta Meadow - several hundred acres of grassland, marshes, forests and ponds - surrounded by hundreds of miles of Montana and Idaho wilderness, is prime habitat for raptors, shore birds, waterfowl, forest dwellers and migrating birds, on their way over the Bitterroot Mountains. Alta Meadow has a trail network that links with wilderness trails and back country roads radiating in virtually every direction, offering easy access for hiking, observing wild life and riding (horses or mountain bikes). In winter, cross country skiing and snow shoeing adventures begin at your doorstep.

A few miles down stream is Painted Rocks Lake with its beautiful golden cliff formations, the home of Peregrine falcons and Rocky Mountain sheep. Westward, just over the Bitterroot crest in Idaho, is Horse Creek Hot Springs, a natural hot tub with the most perfect water temperature. Those hardy souls who reach it in winter are in for a rare treat. Another pass leads south to the Salmon River at Shoup, Idaho, jump-off spot for great river trips. Also, Native American Petroglyphs can be seen there. A short distance to the east is Lost Trail Pass, traversed in 1805 by Lewis and Clark on their epic journey across the continent. It was in the Bitterroot Mountains that the men of the Corps of Discovery met their greatest challenge and their most dangerous episode. It's a little more civilized now. On a winter holiday at Alta Meadow Ranch you can ski the 'champagne powder' of Lost Trail Ski Area on the slope just above their path.

On the opposing slope are both a pass and a prime cross-country ski area named for Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians. In 1877 he led his people eastward through this pass, attempting to reach Canada in defiance of the US government. The first of several battles in this, one of the last Indian wars, took place a few miles further east in the ruggedly majestic Big Hole Valley. The battlefield has been preserved as a national historical monument.

Directions: Alta Meadow Ranch is located 100 miles south of Missoula, the usual air destination for this area. The drive takes about 2 hours. The ranch is 11 miles south of the dam at Painted Rocks Lake on State Route 473 (West Fork Road). Take a right turn off US Highway 93 4 miles south of Darby. If approaching on Highway 93 from the south (Salmon, Idaho or the Big Hole Valley), a left turn at the Connor Cutoff is a closer route to the West Fork Road. Email us at: amr@montana.com.

Alta Meadow Ranch
9975 West Fork Road, Darby, MT 59829

  • Barbecue
  • Bicycling
  • Bird Watching
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Fishing
  • Fly Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Horseshoes
  • Lake Fishing
  • Nature
  • Photography
  • River Fishing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Stream Fishing
  • Walking
  • Wilderness
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Movie/Film
  • Music
  • Winter
  • Bicycle Rental
  • Catering Service
  • Fax Service
  • Horse Rental
  • Hot Tub
  • Information
  • Kitchen
  • Laundry
  • Meeting Room
  • Music
  • Non-smoking
  • Non-smoking Rooms
  • Parking
  • Pay Telephone
  • Books
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
  • Fine Dining
  • Food Services
  • Gift Shop
  • Guide
  • In-room coffee
  • In-room mov

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