Flathead Lake Lodge: A Montana Dude Ranch Vacation

Last week my family’s trip out west to the Montana dude ranch, Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, triggered a post raving about the property’s family-friendly atmosphere and activities. The children are already asking when we can return and my husband and I agree this is one place we will visit again. After all, the ranch is perfect for families. However, Flathead Lake Lodge isn’t just for the children. While our two children comfortably roamed the grounds, played games and made crafts, my husband and I also enjoyed all there was to offer for us grownups.

Canoeing and kayaking. Our first day, Jeff and I went canoeing together on Flathead Lake.  The lodge has a number of watercraft to choose from. The fresh air and turquoise water put us in a “we’re on vacation” mood immediately. As we paddled our way along the scenic shoreline we saw kids jumping off the cliffs and into the lake, watched waterskiers and waved to other guests canoeing and kayaking. Later in the week, while I relaxed poolside watching the kids swim, Jeff had a great time venturing out on the lake in one of the lodge’s kayaks.

Boat cruise. Another morning while the children were immersed in arts and crafts, Jeff and I took a relaxing boat cruise on the lodge’s vessel called Mustang. Look at the views below. It was a gorgeous day! I could have spend the entire cruise taking photos. The lodge also offers the opportunity to sail on a 51” Q-class racing sloop, the Nor ’Easter.

Trail rides. Just like the kid horseback riding options, there are adult trail rides, or family breakfast and lunch rides. One morning I let my clan sleep-in and went on a breakfast trail ride. The two-hour adventure took us up and into the hills for a delicious breakfast of pancakes, eggs and bacon. The return guests kept saying the bacon was the best they’d ever had and that’s one of the reasons they take the ride every year. These guests knew what they were talking about – it really is the best!

While this region is considered bear county, we didn’t run into Yogi Bear or any other wildlife. However, we did see deer tracks crossing the trail.

Personalized activities. One afternoon our son went with a group to play laser tag with Northern Lights Laser Tag. We gave him his space on this activity, so I don’t have photos, but he wasn’t the only one who had a special day. My husband went fly fishing on the Swan River, something he has always wanted to learn to do and he did catch a fish! Alas, no photos of that moment either. In the meantime, I had a “girls only” activity that day, clay shooting with Jennifer, the owner of She Shoots Clays, and a couple of other lodge guests. Stay tuned for a more detail post on this activity, but I can tell you it was great fun and quite challenging – I even hit two clays!

Glacier National Park. Only 45 minutes from Flathead Lake is one of our nation’s most gorgeous national parks. The drive there offers a number of photo-ops and the towns along the way are fun to stop and visit – especially if you’re looking for some huckleberry pie, preserves or candy.

Happy hour. Another feature we found nice is the lodge’s BYOB policy. The lodge lets guests keep their liquor in the bar, labeled with the family name, and serves it to them during happy hour along with tasty appetizers. Guests can help themselves to their supply anytime of day or night. Here’s a photo of us at happy hour. It’s true that we were happy during that hour, but we were also happy the entire week!

 Thank you Flathead Lake Lodge for introducing us to your lovely paradise! 


12 Responses to “Flathead Lake Lodge: A Montana Dude Ranch Vacation”

  1. 1
    Renea says:

    I can’t thank you enough for posting about a ranch in Montana! We want to go to a ranch so bad, our kids are still a little young,but I have looked into it. We want to go to one in Montana, because it’s closer to us, but it is so hard to find family reviews on them. I’m a huge researcher so my rule of thumb is, if I can’t find a blog or an actual person to talk to about it, I probably won’t spend the money to go. Thank you times a million!

    • 1.1
      TwinCitiesGal says:

      Renea, you will love it! All of the children ran around like it was their own backyard. We will certainly return! Please let me know if you end up going.

  2. 2
    ColoradoGal says:

    I love how you split up and “did your own thing” one day. Family togetherness is great on vacation, but also great to “spread your own wings” (especially the kiddos) and really personalize your time, too.

    • 2.1
      TwinCitiesGal says:

      Thanks! It was terrific being able to give the kids space but still have family moments. Flathead Lake Lodge is a parent’s dream vacation!

  3. 3
    Donna Hull says:

    Flathead Lake Lodge sounds like an idea for a multi-generational family trip. There’s something for everyone. And this would make a great active baby boomer trip. Hmm, it’s just up the road for me. I’m putting Flathead Lake Lodge on my travel to do list. Thanks, Beth.

    • 3.1
      TwinCitiesGal says:

      Please do visit! You’re exactly right, there were two family reunions when we were there – one with four generations. That family made Flathead Lake Lodge their annual reunion location for 9 years.

  4. 4
    Krista says:

    Cool – will keep this in mind and bookmark the ranch for future reference

  5. 5

    Great looking ranch… we could almost smell the bacon cooking. :-)

    What an array of activities, looks like lot’s of fun.

    Thanks for sharing!

    N & S

  6. 6

    Looks absolutley gorgeous! A dude ranch vacay is on my bucket list – I’ll have to remember Flathead Lake Lodge!

  7. 7

    This looks so fun! We camped out in Bigfork while on Flathead, but sadly didn’t have the sunshine you did so we spent a lot of time indoors!

  8. 8

    I’ve never done anything like this but it looks like it would be a nice family vacation I would love to experience this one day

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