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Trip Report Last Piece of our trip to GTNP, Yellowstone and a Montana guest ranch

for the last three days of our trip to GTNP and Yellowstone, we left the park at West Yellowstone (a jarrring place after the beauty and peacefulness of the park) and went to the 320 Guest Ranch, twelve miles south of Big Sky. For those of you who may have looked for a guest ranch and found that most have a week minimum stay, this is the place for you. It is in Gallatin Gateway and the ranch backs up to the Gallatin National Forest. It is beautiful. There are series of guest ranches along the road from West Yellowstone to Big Sky and, at first, it struck me how close to the road they all are, but then you realize how close to the river the road is and you barely notice it. At the 320, we stayed in one of the 2-bedroom river cabins which are plainly furnished, but very comfortable, along the river with a kitchenette, one bathroom, and a fireplace.
A big breakfast--eggs, bacon or sausage and breads--are included.

On the premises are a great saloon (the original homesteading cabin) and a dining room. I wish we could say that dinner was great, it was fine, but we had expected really great steaks and they were just okay. But the atmosphere was great, the employees couldn't be nicer and it makes for a lovely evening.

At the ranch, you can take trail rides, which we did and the hands could not be more welcoming and friendly. They are 70 horses there and they did everything from one-hour rides to all day.

My daughter and husband did fly fishing with Gallatin River Guides and that said they were fantastic. They caught lots of fish and had a great time.

The ranch also did a chuckwagon BBQ which was great--fun wagon ride, great singer down at the river and good food. Every night they also did a campfire with s' more makings.

One other thought on the guest ranches, we are not serious riders, but my daughter loves to fish and we like the relaxed atmosphere, but we werere also sytymied by the minimum stays at most ranches, since we are not interested in staying 7 days. I was talking with someone at my pool yesterday who stayed at one of the "fancier" ranches with a minimum, but they booked within the month they were coming and said they only wanted to stay 3 days and the ranch said sure since they were not full. Now she did say that they felt like they were coming in on the middle of things, but she sensed some of the other guests would have liked to do that too. As she said, "in this economy, you just have to ask."

We also went into Big Sky (a local said that the developers are trying to make Big Sky into the next Jackson) and it is a funny little series of developments with some good sandwich shops and shops.

We also took a trip (90 minutes) to Virginia City which is a preserved mining town and gives a good glimpse into life in the Old West. From Big Sky, it is a beautiful drive and we saw lots of wildlife. While Virginia City is touristy, it is not that bad and was a fun outing. There is a short-track railroad that you can take to Nevada City which is another, much smaller, also preserved Western city. Both are fun to see and a window into an earlier time.

More than happy to answer questions about the parks or the ranch.

Mary

P. S. I should note that we flew into Jackson and out of Bozeman (one hour from Big Sky); if you book early enough, you shouldn't find that much of a fare differential (we didn't).

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