Unconventional Business Retreats: Luxury Dude Ranch Glamping in Western Montana

Roughly the size of Manhattan, this luxury dude ranch offers an array of unconventional meeting spaces and activities—as well as a new private jet service and a new adults-only accommodations slated to open in 2020.

From its acres of wildflower-dotted fields and dense pine forests to its miles of scenic trails, The Resort at Paws Up is a retreat like no other. A stunning 37,000-acre property once explored by Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis and Clark), this working cattle ranch is known for its panoramic views, premium comforts (camp butler anyone?), and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Glamping tents are one of the many options for accommodations.

Here, guests are provided opportunities to challenge themselves and build rapport with one another—whether in an open-air yoga class, rigorous half-day ropes course, fly-fishing for bull trout in the Blackfoot River, or navigating a raft down the class III rapids of Alberton Gorge.

Situated in Western Montana and encompassing more than 100 miles of hiking, biking, and ATV trails, as well as 10 miles of river access, Paws Up has been serving up an authentic (yet luxurious) working ranch experience since 2005. It’s presently home to 300 Black Angus cattle, 200 bison, and several wild mustangs.

The Bull Barn offers 10,000 square feet of activity and meeting space.

“Today, everyone is looking for wide-open space. It’s enlightening and freeing,” says Laura Crugnale, director of events at the ranch. “I see a change in people after they’ve spent a few days here. They drop all the usual pretense and get into a more natural state—and that usually means no cell phones.” While unplugging is not mandatory, a few device-free days can inspire out-of-the-box thinking.

While the ranch is remote and removed from any urban distractions, getting there just became much easier. Those looking for exclusive, direct access can fly with XOJET, which has partnered with Paws Up for service to the Missoula International Airport from 17 cities across the country, including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago, and Dallas. Additionally, the resort will launch a resort-within-a-resort concept next year with its new adults-only camp. The modern accommodations complement the existing rustic ones and allow guests to take in the surroundings with floor-to-ceiling windows.

The Hereford Pen feels anything but conventional when it comes to meeting spaces.

Recent additions to the ranch’s activity list include hatchet throwing, a calf-wrangling team game called Cow Croquet, and a front-row seat to the delicate process of gentling a wild mustang. Called “Horsepower: Where Mustangs and Mindfulness Coexist,” the latter spotlights equestrian manager Jackie Kecskes as she gains the trust of a wild horse. Oftentimes, observers find the lessons Kecskes demonstrates in this one- to two-hour practice—like patience and confidence—applicable to their own personal obstacles.

But far and away Paws Up’s most popular adventure is the cattle drive. The four-hour affair herds up to 50 cattle from one side of the ranch to the other. Riding skills are helpful but not required—each guest is paired with an experienced wrangler.

“This is on the bucket list of most everyone I’ve met,” says Crugnale. “It’s a hands-on experience that cannot be replicated—it is the real deal.”

Driving cattle is just one of the many activities offered at Paws Up.

Location: Greenough, Montana; 33 miles east of Missoula International Airport, which accepts daily direct flights from Los Angeles (2 hours, 40 minutes). The property is about a 7-hour flight from New York with one transfer. A new partnership with XOJET grants direct access from 17 US cities.

Keys: Up to 250 guests in 28, multi-bedroom luxury homes and 36 glamping tents.

Meeting Spaces: 11, including the 10,000-square-foot Bull Barn; the 5,057-square-foot Cook Shack and the 10-seat Tower Office Boardroom above it; the Lewis and Clark Reception Barn, with 200-seat auditorium; and the 24-seat Bunkhouse (a converted hayloft).

Dining: Pomp (finer dining), Tank & Trough (casual dining), and the Chuck Wagon (mobile dining for glamping sites or custom outdoor events).

Amenities: Spa Town, cattle drives, dozens of outdoor activities.

Contact: pawsup.com