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The Resort at Paws Up – Glamping Ranch Review

The Resort at Paws Up - Glamping Ranch Review
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The Resort at Paws Up

“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love.” ` John Steinbeck

What is glamping? It’s slang for glamorous camping. Think Robert Redford washing Meryl Streep’s hair on safari in Out of Africa. Glamping in Montana has been called the American Safari, and for good reason and The Resort at Paws Up is the place to do it.

The Resort at Paws Up is better than just glamping, it’s authentic cattle drives, fly fishing on the Blackfoot and more. This Montana resort should be at the top of your bucket list. If you don’t believe me, trust Leonardo DiCaprio, the Rolling Stones and Gwyneth Paltrow, all recent guests and Paws Up fans. You can get all the juicy celeb Paws Up gossip in this Marie Claire Paws Up Review.

Here is everything you need to know about how and why to plan your next family summer vacation in The Last Best Place.

Why Visit The Resort at Paws Up

 

There are a lot of ranch experiences. But very few offer everything you can find under one tent at Paws Up.

The Resort at Paws Up sits on the fabled Blackfoot River, the setting of my favorite novel A River Runs Through It.

River Camp sits directly on the banks, Cliffside Camp is perched above the river. You wake every morning to the sounds of the water rushing by – while your camping butler stokes the fire and makes you coffee. Getting the picture? For our family, this trip had special meaning as my husband has always wanted to fish with his boys on the Blackfoot. Indeed it turned out to be the trip of a lifetime, it’s easy to see where veritable love letters have been written to this river.

 

Fly fishing on the Blackfoot River at The Resort at Paws Up

 

You can get a true ranch experience other places, or you can get a true luxury vacation experience, but rarely do they come together. Paws Up offers the best in accommodations, service, food and amenities and serves them up along side rifle training from Marines, fishing with experts and riding with bona fide Montana wranglers.

Choosing a Tent or a Home at The Resort at Paws Up

 

There are luxury homes, luxury tents and luxury homes WITH tents. I recommend just staying in a tent.

 

View from a luxury tent at The Resort at Paws Up

 

 

The tents all have sumptuous (and I think trademarked) beds. Larger tents have separate bedrooms within the tent. Bathrooms are ensuite and the floors are heated. If you don’t have every single thing your heart desires, your camping butler can fix it.

We also stayed three nights in a Wilderness Estate home. While it was lovely, it was still a house and doesn’t possess the same magic as waking up in a tent with a campfire outside. Each camp only has about 6 tents, so it’s very intimate. It’s nice to have other grown ups to drink with at night and for the kids to make friends their own age.  We stayed at Cliffside Camp (the same one Gwyneth did, just saying) but I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the camps.

 

What to expect at camp:

 

A butler. Yes, you read that right, a camping butler. When we checked in a handsome young man asked me to give him my laundry so he could wash it and then he whisked my children away to roast marshmallows. I swear I heard angels sing.

 

Campfire and adirondack chairs at The Resort at Paws Up

 

 

He (or she) also helps coordinate your activities, makes coffee, and daily housekeeping is provided, just like a five star resort. Some guests we met were nervous about being too hot, too cold, too buggy, too cramped sharing one bathroom in a tent, so they opted for a home, I wish they had known how comfortable the tents are. This is no pop up in your back yard.

All of the tents feature A/C and a heater, and close up to prevent bugs {and there don’t seem to be many bugs there anyway). The en suite bathroom is spacious with two sinks, a large shower and a towel heater. I would be nervous if I had a wandering toddler, but outside of that, the tents are my accommodation of choice. If you choose to split your time between a house and a tent know that the transition is challenging. You have to be fully out of one by 11:00am and won’t get in to the other until after 4:00pm. I would recommend you choose one or the other and stick with it. And by choose one, I mean choose the tent. Hear me now, believe me later.

Dinner is served nightly at camp. The food is divine. You can mix it up with a few nights eating at the restaurant. Wine is not included, and not cheap. I suggest loading up at the airport. The Huckleberry Hound however,  the resort’s signature cocktail, is worth whatever it is they charged me for it. Click on the link for the recipe.

What to Pack for a Stay at The Resort at Paws Up

 

I have been asked this question repeatedly so here is my list for you:

Boots. You need  boots even if you plan to go for one ride. Also, the roads around the ranch are dirt, you eat at a restaurant covered in prairie grass, boots are just a good idea period, and they’re cute.

 

The Resort at Paws Up

 

Jeans. Even though it’s hot as Hades in the summer, you need jeans to ride a horse. The nights can also be chilly and you’ll want to stay up late to toast the 10:00pm sunset.

 

The Resort at Paws Up

 

Water shoes and sneakers-leave the flip flops at home. When you are floating, kayaking, fly fishing or visiting the lake you’ll want water shoes. When you are running the Grizzly Man trail or hiking around the property you’ll want sneakers.

 

The Resort at Paws Up

 

Swimsuits and water shirts. Pack a surf type shirt for days on the river, they dry quickly and don’t hold the water like a cotton shirt. Even if you are just floating the river there are swimming holes where jumping in the refreshing water is a slice of heaven.

 

Hats. The cowboy hats are cute for pictures, even Gwyneth wore one. But when you are actually riding you’ll be wearing a helmet. You’ll want a ball cap for long days on the river.

 

The Resort at Paws Up

 

Cute western clothes for dinner. I saw some dresses and heels at dinner. I thought they looked silly. Also not practical if you have to chase your child down in the field (thank you Wilson). If you’ve ever coveted everything in the Gorsuch catalog (and I have) this is the time and place to wear it. Get your rhinestone cowboy on.

 

The Resort at Paws Up

Choosing Activities at The Resort at Paws Up

 

The activities offered at Paws Up are endless. I am covering each one in a separate post so I can tell you everything you need to know on how to book, how old your children need to be, what it’s really like and most importantly, what to wear.

My biggest piece of advice:

Book your activities as early as possible. Clay shooting, fly fishing, cattle drives – all are popular and all can fill up early. I met families on our trip that waited to book activities until they got there and they were very disappointed to learn that many were oversold. I think this is the only downside to this resort. I like to fly by the seat of my pants- planning my vacation a month in advance is not my style. That being said, these activities are out of this world and you don’t want to miss out. So take a peek at what they offer and book early. Unlike other resorts, the one thing that was easy to get into was the kids’ program.

You book with your pre-arrival concierge. I think the website has gorgeous photos, but lacks some of the details a traveling family needs to know, so before you book, read on.

Fly Fishing – click on the photo to read the article

The Resort at Paws Up
Equestrian Adventures – click on photo

 

The Resort at Paws Up

Clay Shooting-click on photo

 

The Resort at Paws Up

River adventures – click on photo

 

The Resort at Paws Up

The Lake House – Click on Photo

 

The Resort at Paws Up

Other Activities

 

PUArchery

 

There are very few activities that are included. You can run the Grizzly Man Trail, the kids can try their hand at archery, there are horseshoes and other games at the restaurant and a pool table in the Welcome Barn.

Get out a calendar and make sure you have booked ahead for everything you want to do. Decide how much activity your kids can handle, I don’t recommend two huge activities in the same day, we shot and fly fished in one day, by dinner time no one could move.  Know that any down time is really spent near wherever you are staying. This is why I recommend the tent camps. You can relax in the great room, have coffee at the outdoor fire pit, fish in the river or just go for a walk. There is no common area to “hang out” like a pool.

They offer a plethora of other activities like ATV riding and paintball. We wanted to spend our time doing things we couldn’t do at home. We divided our time between the river and the horses and were glad we did.

Important Info

If you rent a home you get the use of a cute little Kia Soul for your stay. The property is massive, you’ll be glad you have it. If you are at one of the camps the valets will pick you up in the van to take you to activities.

PUCar

 

There is a great gift shop where you can buy boots for yourself but if you forget kids boots or clothes you are out of options.

 

The Kids’ Camp has a great petting zoo and a lot of fun activities. Since we go on vacation to be together we rarely use kids’ camps but we had to leave poor Keaton on his birthday as he was couldn’t fit him on the fly fishing boat. He had a great time, he was spoiled rotten by the staff and now also wants a goat. Camp is $60 for a half day, $100 for a full day, or you can drop them off for the evening for $30 and enjoy a grown ups only dinner.

 

PUGoats

 

I have played travel advisor to many families booking trips here and am happy to answer any questions. This is an expensive vacation, it’s worth every penny, but you want to make sure you plan to get everything out of it that you want.

 

In the summer you can expect to pay anywhere from $460 per person for a Meadow Home stay for four guests to $1,100 per person for a two bedroom tent for two guests (these are per day prices). Prices include food, they do not include alcohol or activities. You should budget around $250 per person per day for activities.

 

Our accommodations and my activities and food were complimentary. The bill for the activities and food for my family was about $7,000 for five nights. No one can say my glowing review was bought. I love this resort and would recommend it to anyone looking for the ultimate family vacation.

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