The Resort At Paws Up – A Montana Adventure Of A Lifetime

paws-up-resort-featured

I have a confession to make – I LOVE Montana.  

Heck, even “Honest Abe” did too!

My favorite state has not yet been invented. It will be called Montana, and it will be perfect.” – Abraham Lincoln

If you’re a subscriber to this site (thank you!), then you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about traveling to Montana.

If you keep reading, then you’ll understand shortly. 

Honestly, I’ve been contemplating booking a trip for the last 3-4 years to The Resort at Paws Up in Montana. 

But I couldn’t pull the trigger until I read….

Die With Zero

Die With Zero

Die With Zero?

Yes, you heard me correctly.

Bill Perkins, author of Die With Zero, changed my perception of money, especially the way I spend and invest it. 

After reading the book, it was apparent that Perkins’s goal was to turn the way people approach retirement on its head by getting us to ask ourselves:

Are we going to keep working long hours in order to put away money that we’ll NEVER get to spend because we’re ALWAYS working?”

He’s all about trying to get us focused on creating lifelong memorable experiences once we’ve saved enough to fund retirement. 

If you think about this, it makes perfect sense. The earlier we can do this the better so we’re still healthy enough to enjoy these experiences instead of waiting until we’re too old and not as healthy to get around. 

Studies about money and happiness state that it’s NOT money that makes people happy but  experiences with others that do.

It’s these relationships with people that have more importance than material things

The book forced me to ask myself, “How can I make the MOST of my finite time on earth?”

It also made me think about our two teenagers. They’re NOT going to be under our roof too much longer so we want to make as many memories with them as possible as we’ll NEVER get this time back again.

Now you can see how this book forced me to get off my butt and do something before it was too late.


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The Resort At Paws Up

The resort at Paws Up in Montana, a luxurious ranch resort on a spectacular setting in Big Sky country, has been on my radar for several years now. I can’t for the life of me remember where I first heard about it but that really doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that once I got over the “sticker shock” it was time to book the trip. Up until this point, the two most expensive family vacations we’ve been on were to Disney and snow skiing. 

After researching the trip, I knew that I was going to pay a considerable amount more than those other two trips but hey, it’s just money, right?!

The resort is located 30 minutes northeast of Missoula situated on a 37,000-acre authentic working cattle ranch on the banks of the Blackfoot river.

Every stay includes:

  •    all daily meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  •    selection of wine, beer and cocktails with lunch and dinner
  •   complimentary access to Wilderness Workshops, classes and other summer programming   
  •   personal Lexus SUV (which was awesome) and on-demand shuttle  services via their app
  •   round-trip airport transportation from Missoula Airport
  •  use of Paws Up app to make your trip as easy as possible
  •  resort gratuities
  •  access to all nonguided age-appropriate activities
Paws Up Big Timber Home

Tent or a Home?

Paws Up Tent

We initially had to choose between staying in a private home or luxury tent (aka “glamping”). The luxury tents were located in Moonlight Camp also known as “Tent City”.

We opted for a big timber home (equipped with an outdoor hot tub) as we’d previously glamped in Yellowstone during an Adventures by Disney trip three years ago.

Also, some of the luxury homes had sites to where tents could be set up for kids with electricity, showers and beds (pretty cool).

paws-up-home-and-tent
Private homes with tent option

Before our trip, we set up time to speak with a pre-arrival concierge to book activities and that’s when the customer service experience began.

To say she was wonderful would be an understatement which already began to reflect how fantastic this trip was going to be.

Choosing Activities at Paws Up

If you plan on visiting the resort, make sure you book your activities as early as possible. Many of them such as the cattle drive and the Island Lodge at Salmon Lake are popular and can fill up early.

Similar to traveling to Disney, if you wait until you arrive and attempt to book activities then you’ll be disappointed. 

Our concierge described “what we could expect” from the time we arrived at the Missoula airport, until we were taken back on our last day.

Some of the age-appropriate summer activities we were given to choose from were:

  • ATV tours
  • backcountry tour
  • electric bike tour
  • authentic cattle drives

  • shooting clays course
  • fly fishing
  • horseback riding
  • hot air ballooning
  • Island Lodge adventure (my favorite)
  • pony rides 

We chose the ATV tour, fly fishing, skeet shooting and the Island Lodge.

Fly Fishing the Blackfoot River

Montana weather can change quickly. The day we set out to fish was cold and extremely windy. Our trip was at the end of May and were told that the weather is typically unstable until the middle of June.

Even though the conditions were less than ideal, the two guides worked hard to make sure we had a great time.

Before fishing, you’ll need to purchase a Montana fishing license. The link to do so online was sent to us the day before (via Paws Up app) or you can purchase one onsite at the Wilderness Outpost.

The boats hold a total of three people (the guide, you and your partner). Also, plan on being on the river for about four hours.

ATV Tour

One of our first activities was the 1.5 hour ATV property tour.

Other driving activities are:

  • the Backcountry tour
  • Go-karts for kids
  • snowmobiling in the winter

When we return, we plan on taking the Backcountry Tour as you get to drive through the Garnet Mountain Range to Garnet Ghost Town. It’s the most well-preserved ghost town in Montana. 

One of our stops on the ATV tour was “Lookout Rock” where supposedly Louis or Clark actually stopped along their trek.

As you can see from my picture from the stop below, the views were breathtaking.

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Clay Shooting

If you’re into shooting sports, Paws Up has you covered.

They offer:

  • clay shooting
  • archery
  • paintball

We chose the clay shooting activity. For those that aren’t familiar with it, clay or trap shooting simulates actual field hunting.

The day of our adventure, we were escorted to the “shooting club” which is located about 10 minutes from the resort. 

Both of our instructors were very professional whose first concern was safety. We started off shooting in a large covered area but then moved to the scenic 10-station course that throws a diversity of aerial target presentations. 

Guess who the best shot was? 🙂

It was the first time I shot skeet in the snow!

Island Lodge at Salmon Lake

By far our favorite activity was the four hour afternoon we spent on our own “private island.”

The Island Lodge at Salmon Lake provides access to five miles of water at the southernmost tip of the Seeley Swan Valley.

To get there, you’re shuttled 15 minutes from the resort to the boat launch. As soon as we arrived, a pontoon boat was already heading across the lake to get us.

Honestly, I’ve never been waited on and catered to as much as this experience. My 14 year old told me later that he felt a little “uncomfortable” as if he didn’t deserve this type of treatment.

I told him to get used to it if he was planning on becoming famous one day!

Summer activities on the island available included:

  • fishing
  • floating trampoline
  • jet skiing
  • kayaking
  • paddleboarding
  • paddleboats
  • swimming
  • pontoon boat
  • wakeboarding
  • wakesurfing
  • waterskiing

We had several “island butlers” at our beck and call. When we arrived, our own private executive chef already had a spread for us including a tray of smores out by the campfire. 

When we return, we plan on booking for an entire day. 

Spa Town

Spa Town is a world-class spa was located a short walk or drive from our home. It’s a group of white tents located adjacent to the fitness center with access via a wooden boardwalk.

The welcome tents feature full baths and showers, while individual treatment tents are fashioned with a sink, heated massage table and a view of the meadows.

You’re able to choose from a variety of spa treatments and I can honestly say I haven’t been that relaxed in a long time.

Now let’s get into what I really enjoyed while I was there…eating!

Fine Dining

If you like to eat really good food, then Paws Up will NOT let you down. The executive chef, Sunny Jin, is unbelievable.

While at the resort, you have a choice of how and where to eat.

Pomp Restaurant
Trough Restaurant
Tank

There are two on-property restaurants to choose from.

Pomp Restaurant is where dinner is served each night and Trough Restaurant is for breakfast and lunch.

Also, Tank is a casual cocktail bar where you can also eat breakfast plus the morning views are fantastic (which my wife and did each morning). 

Our kids enjoyed using the Paws Up app to order pizza one night which is cooked in a brick oven and delivered to our home. 

S’moreologist

S’mores anyone?
Boys creating a Smores masterpiece

I  didn’t realize how serious Paws Up was regarding making the world’s best gourmet s’mores.

They even created an official culinary s’mores program that features trained S’moreologists. I didn’t even know someone like that existed! 🙂

Each night after dinner, guest were given an opportunity to dig into the spread and create their own smores.

Choices included Hershey’s chocolate, Twix bars, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, M & M’s, gummy worms,  Heath bars, bacon (yes, bacon), hot fudge, caramel, fresh berries and banana slices.

One night they actually delivered an entire set up straight to our door. 

Wanna Get Away?

If you’re ready to have an unbelievable experience, consider booking a stay at Paws Up.

You won’t regret it.


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jeff@debtfreedr.com
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2 responses to “The Resort At Paws Up – A Montana Adventure Of A Lifetime

Mark C Holbrook

I love Montana! We are heading to Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky this coming week! Mountain biking, hiking, and fine dining, yeah.

jeff@debtfreedr.com

Mark, let me know all about it when you get back!

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