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Where's Carol?                  Triple Creek Ranch, Montana


  • The Triple Creek Ranch
  • Klicks for Chicks
  • Studio 8
  • State of Montana

  • City Getaways


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At Triple Creek Ranch in Montana, Florida Mom Has the Best Ride of Her Life!
By Carol Calicchio

The Triple Creek Ranch is a luxurious Montana resort into which ranch owner Barbara Barrett has poured her passion for horses and riding and all things western. She created the first Klicks for Chicks event, a ride of 100 kilometers (Klicks) that she custom designed for 11 enthusiastic cowgirls. The idea originated from the men's 100-mile Desert Caballeros horse ride in Arizona, and I was honored to be included in the inaugural event in October 2010.

I brought my husband Tom along; he's a fun travel companion and we were allowed to bring our spouses if we wanted to. We had breakfast and dinner together every day. Tom had a memorable adventure visiting the nearby ghost town in Banner, Idaho, that was the site of a prosperous silver mine in the mid 19th century.

Training for the Ride
I'm a dressage rider, so I signed up for Western lessons twice a week at a local horse farm in Delray called Johnson's Folly Horse Farm. Lindsey, my instructor, taught me how to sit back in the saddle. She also showed me the correct way to hold the reins and use some of the Western vocabulary. For instance, a trot is called a "jog," and a canter is called a "lope." I also took a "barre" class at my local gym and at Studio 8. I also came across a "barre" class in Delray Beach. The classes are based on the Lotte Berk method of strength training. I took classes several times a week, which definitely helped strengthen my core so I would not have low back pain during the endurance ride.

Arriving at the Ranch
We were greeted at the airport by some friendly cowboys. They drove us two hours south to the ranch where Leslie McConnell, the general manager, showed us to our cabin, which was called Pintler. It was the most luxurious log cabin I had ever been in. It was cozy with a large king-size hand-carved wooden bed, a dinette, a fireplace, and a large bathroom with twin showers, a steam shower, and his and her private commodes. The outdoor whirlpool boasted powerful jets. Leslie reminded us that if we used the hot tub in the nude, we should be careful not to lock ourselves out as many have done--it can be cold as well as embarrassing. The back porch was beautiful with towering pines and a peaceful back woods to look out onto. Here we were in the heart of Montana! Back inside our cabin we had a basket of goodies with fresh-baked cookies (a different flavor made daily!). Pintler is situated in the middle of the ranch, and we took a fun golf cart ride to get to the Main Lodge each day. There are 23 western-style log cabins with 63 rooms on the property. The ranch can accommodate 60 people, 16 years and older.

There is a beautiful fitness center with an outdoor grill overlooking the ranch and outdoor pool area. The two ponds on the property are stocked for fishing with a catch-and-release fly-fishing policy. They also offer casting lessons through Orvis (the ranch is Orvis endorsed). There are also outdoor tennis courts that are lovely.

Each night turndown was a treat, since housekeeping left chocolates with a cowboy and cowgirl poem on our pillows. The bed was very comfortable with the softest sheets and down pillows and comforter. On our first night at the ranch Tom and I sampled the menu at the dining hall and enjoyed a relaxing dinner next to the fire. I loved the garlic and potato soup; Tom liked the crispy beef wonton. We both had the salad Niçoise and Atlantic black cod and for dessert chocolate layer cake with huckleberry ice cream. I slept like a baby.

First Trail Ride in the Bitterroot Mountain
It was a very cool autumn morning, so I dressed in layers in full cowgirl attire: long underwear, riding pants, chaps, turtleneck, down jacket, riding boots, cowboy hat, and warm gloves along with glove and toe warmers. Tom and I joined some of the chicks (the name that the cowgirls called each other) for breakfast in the dining room. The room was glowing with the warmth of the fire. The variety of wildlife outside looked as if it were really inside due to the large panoramic windows. Some of the species included exotic blue jays, very fat turkeys and a fox squirrel stretched over the bird feeder nibbling at the birdseed. The bright orange and crimson leaves and fragrant smell of autumn left Tom and me so relaxed! I ordered my favorite, old-fashioned oatmeal with fruit.

Saddling Up
For the warm-up ride I rode Napper, an extremely gentle and very furry 22-year-old black Arabian. He couldn't have been cuter or easier to ride. He did everything that I asked of him and more. The wranglers chose him for me because I told them that I would be taking a lot of photographs and they said that he would behave well. This ride began at 10 a.m., and we rode 10 miles into the Bitterroot National Forest, located behind the Triple Creek.

The trails winding into the forest were lovely. The fresh smell of pine was so fragrant as the gigantic trees hovered above us. The soft brush beneath the horses’ hoofs gently eased them forward around the bending trail. There were no signs of civilization in sight. The land was breathtaking. The horses had backpacks filled with water and supplies. As Leslie led the way we chatted with one another and enjoyed the scenery.

We arrived back at the ranch just in time for cocktail hour. Just before dinner, Deb Chara, property manager of the ranch, gave me a tour of the property and told me some interesting facts about Triple Creek:
- Castle Rock is the honeymoon suite and the only cabin with an indoor whirlpool that is shaped like a clover leaf. It also has a sunroom, a bedroom and a double bathroom with huge mirrors on the wall.
- Big Sky is the only cabin that overlooks the trout pond; guests love it because it's very secluded.
- Ponderosa is very large and can accommodate up to three couples. They also offer cooking classes there. It overlooks a beautiful pond as well.

About Triple Creek Ranch
The ranch is nestled among the Rockies with clear views of Trapper Peak Mountain. Triple Creek is known for its innovative cuisine, extensive wine cellar, and superb service.

The Triple Creek Ranch was a 2010 Condé Nast Readers’ Choice Awards winner and also rated the #1 U.S. Inn.

Travel + Leisure magazine rated the ranch #2 among hotels worldwide. There are so many activities to experience at the ranch, from photography and group cooking courses and oil-painting classes to the most adventurous outdoor activities including old-fashioned cattle drives. Here is a list of many of the activities the ranch has to offer: fly-fishing, snowmobiling, hiking, ATV tours, downhill and cross-country skiing, and of course horseback riding! All-inclusive rates include outdoor activities such as guided nature and birding tours, hikes, tennis, fly-casting lessons, and snowshoeing, fitness center, daily meals and snacks, and cocktails.

The Triple Creek Ranch is a repeat recipient of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and the Wine Enthusiast Award of Distinction. Tel:406-821-4600, 800-654-2943. Twitter: @TripleCreekRanch

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