Waking up on my final day at Flathead Lake Lodge, a dude ranch in Glacier County, Montana, I had an overwhelming feeling of melancholy. It was the feeling you get when you fall in love with a place, and just when you are settling in, it’s time to go. Without a doubt, three days playing cowgirl in this 2,000-acre paradise was the highlight of my road trip across the state of Montana.
Along with about a dozen other Expedia bloggers from around the world, we roped steers, rode horses to magical forest cookouts, drank bourbon from the bottle at sunset, and roasted gourmet S’mores around a fire pit into the wee hours of the morning.
I reveled in the private, secluded location of the lodge. On one side, the largest freshwater lake in the west, and on the other, hundreds of miles of forest and pasture where elk, deer, wild turkey and the ranch’s horses run free. I never locked the door to Cabin 11, my rustic lake-front digs with a bed made of logs and free-standing fireplace. I am still apologizing to the Averill family for forgetting to turn my fireplace off and heating my cabin to a sweltering 101 degrees. Blame it on the bourbon.
One of the most surreal moments from the ranch happened one morning when ranchers ran the herd of at least 100 horses out to pasture. The sound of their hooves and the force of their gallop took my breath away.