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Yoga & Horses
The Home Ranch, Oct 01 2017

Ranch Happenings  at North Fork Ranch

Ranch Happenings
North Fork Ranch, Nov 27 2016

Don't forget to check out our Blog posts on our website!  Stay up to date on all the happenings at the ranch!

Flathead Living Magazine/Flathead Lakes Legendary Lodge at Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge

Flathead Living Magazine/Flathead Lakes Legendary Lodge
Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge, Feb 18 2016

Flathead Lake’s Legendary Lodge

For the last 70 years, the Averill family has welcomed guests from around the world, including celebrities and dignitaries, to the classic Montana dude ranch along the scenic shores of Flathead Lake

By Dillon Tabish

Tucked along the eastern shoreline of the largest natural freshwater lake in the West, the Flathead Lake Lodge stands the test of time as a beloved local fixture and iconic dude ranch that harkens back to a bygone era.
This signature destination looks and feels the way it was 70 years ago, when Les Averill revived the deserted property near Bigfork and built his dream of an old-fashioned refuge for families in the genuine, humble spirit of Montana.

There are no television screens here, or other modern gadgets. The 2,000-acre property and 17 cabins are sheltered from the distractive power of technology. There is cell service in this mountainous nook, barely.

Instead, the rustic rock fireplace in the Main Lodge crackles with fresh flames. The mammoth hide of a grizzly bear that roamed these parts decades ago still hangs overhead, recalling the time Averill was dragged from his tent in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and nearly chewed up. Classic artwork and sculptures decorate the various rooms, which are perched in front of the lake’s breathtaking panorama.

“This place is frozen in time. It’s what people conjure in their mind as an idyllic log cabin getaway that’s simple, friendly and in a beautiful setting,” says Doug Averill, one of Les Averill’s sons, who has managed the lodge with his wife, Maureen, since 1973.

For Montana families, this may seem somewhat commonplace. But for families from the vast cityscapes around the world, the lodge is almost imaginary.

“We’re trying to expose families to the Western lifestyle – exploring, being independent and being away from television or Wi-Fi,” says Nikki Averill, the wife of Doug’s son, Laine, who helps manage the resort with the family.

Doug Averill inside the main lodge at Flathead Lake Lodge near Bigfork
Doug Averill inside the main lodge at Flathead Lake Lodge near Bigfork

Generations of families have ventured to Flathead Lake Lodge and created traditions and memories that are deeply rooted in this corner of Montana.

Last summer a group of 66 people from across the country celebrated a week-long vacation for the 33rd year in a row.

In October, the daughter of Jon Huntsman, Jr., the former governor of Utah and GOP presidential candidate, was married at the scenic property along the lake.

Other groups have four generations of visitors who have enjoyed riding horses, fly fishing, boating, hiking and other adventures that are quintessential and unique to this area. The lodge has a remarkable return rate of 60-70 percent of guests.

“Flathead Lake Lodge is for our family a magical place where lifetime friendships were formed and a love of Montana developed that has been everlasting,” one family, which has visited every year since 1981, wrote in the lodge’s guestbook.

The lodge frequently welcomes celebrities and dignitaries from foreign countries, a tradition that dates back to the early days when many of the first guests, such as Bing Crosby, frequented here and helped spread word of one of the most scenic spots in the West.

For guests who want to stay here, a minimum seven days is required at the all-inclusive lodge. That ensures the opportunity for the full immersive experience.

“We tell them they can do whatever they want to do. They have free rein,” Doug Averill says. “We want them to experience a wild experience.”

The lodge can hold up to 120 guests at a time. It has also become a frequent host of large events and tourist attractions, such as the Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival, which annually brings world-renowned musicians for weeklong performances and workshops. This fall the inaugural Craft Beer Relay kicked off at the lodge’s property with over 1,000 participants. The Montana Dragon Boat Festival and Spartan Race have also taken place at the Averills’ property.

The story of how it all started is as legendary as the lodge itself.

Les Averill grew up in Somers but earned the opportunity to travel the world after being recruited by Pan American Airways. Averill tested in the top 1 percent and became the company’s youngest commercial captain at 20. Once World War II started, pilots across the country were recruited to fly missions, and Averill enlisted. But through these years, while traveling the world, he could never shake the images of Flathead Lake and its surrounding landscape.

Guests enjoy outdoor adventures, such as horseback riding, fly fishing and boating
Guests enjoy outdoor adventures, such as horseback riding, fly fishing and boating

In the 1940s, piloting was an illustrious job, yet Averill gave it up and steered himself back to where he grew up in Northwest Montana.

It was then, in 1945, when he and a friend who also flew in the war, Roy Whitford, discovered a deserted property with old log cabins along the northeast shore of Flathead Lake near Bigfork.

The property had been developed as a summer camp for boys in 1932, but it shut down and remained abandoned until 1945.

Averill, envisioning a hunting lodge and family getaway, took all the money he had earned and bought the property with Whitford for $5,000.

The first year nobody showed up. But then, as fate would have it, as the summer ended and the lodge seemed doomed for bankruptcy, a limousine pulled up. A man and woman were looking for a scenic escape in the mountains of Montana, and Averill’s lodge seemed like a perfect fit. Averill, one of the first outfitters in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, took them hunting and fishing and accommodated the couple nicely.

As it turns out, the couple was Bugsy Siegel, an infamous mobster who helped spearhead development of the Las Vegas Strip, and his girlfriend Virginia Hill. They were on the run from the mob and appreciated Averill’s accommodations.

“They spent so much money, they got him through the next summer,” Doug Averill recalls.
The next summer, the lodge began to attract more visitors, including prominent names such as U.S. Gen. Matthew Ridgway.

Les Averill became the sole owner of the lodge and developed it into the world-class hideaway that it is today with his wife, Doloris.

Les and Doloris raised their four sons on the dude ranch, including Doug, who began running the lodge in the 1970s while Les remained actively involved in its day-to-day operations until his death in 2006.
Now Doug’s sons, Laine and Chase, have taken over leadership of the iconic site with their spouses, taking it into the future with a new generation of Averills.

“It’s fun to be back involved at a higher level now,” Chase says. “It was good to go out and get the experience and bring it all back here. It makes you appreciate what goes on here and what has been a tradition for over 70 years. People come back here year after year. It’s a special place.”

For more information about the Flathead Lake Lodge, visit

All-Inclusive Multigenerational Family Reunions at Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge

All-Inclusive Multigenerational Family Reunions
Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge, Feb 18 2016

Top U.S. All-Inclusive Resorts Families Will Love

By Nancy Schretter, Editor

All-inclusive family vacations are a top choice for many parents planning family travel and multigenerational family reunions. With their included daily meal plans and extensive activities for all ages, these properties offer an exceptional family vacation value. It's also nice to know up front what the total cost of the trip is, allowing families to adequately budget for their vacation and not worry about a large surprise bill on check-out day.

Parents often assume that the best all-inclusives are located outside the United States, but that's not the case. Here are twelve top U.S. all-inclusive resorts that are outstanding choices for your next family vacation:

Flathead Lake Lodge, Montana: For 65 years, this family owned and operated 2,000 acre all-inclusive property has been delighting families seeking a wide selection of unlimited water sports, horseback riding, mountain biking, fully inclusive kids & teens' programs, and other activities. Located directly on 30-mile long Flathead Lake, this resort includes water skiing, wake boarding, sailing, kayaking, and more as part of its all-inclusive water programs. Horseback riding programs here are superb as well. Guests can take rides through the lodge's private 500 acre Elk Preserve and a Junior Wrangler Program is also available. For more information, visit

Washington POst/Closer by the dozen in Bigfork, Montana at Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge

Washington POst/Closer by the dozen in Bigfork, Montana
Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge, Feb 18 2016

Closer by the dozen in Bigfork, Montana

Dove cousins and new friends watch the weekly rodeo at Averill's Flathead Lodge in Bigfork, Mont. (Carrie Dove Storer)
December 10, 2015
Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.

Who: Robert and Linda Dove of Kiawah Island, S.C.; Stephen Dove and a son, Jackson, of Arlington, Va.; Nicholas and Carrie Storer and two sons, Tommy and Ned, all of Kensington, Md.; Dan Solomon and Laura Dove and their children, Abigail and Jacob, all of Alexandria, Va.

Where, when, why: The challenge was to plan a family trip for 12 that would be fun for everyone, from 77-year-old Bobby to 12-year-old Tommy, and all those in between. Our requirements: no cooking (an absolute must); interesting and varied activities with lots of opportunities for outdoor ad­ven­ture; a wide selection of other guests for the 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds; and something that would equal or surpass our trip to Alaska last year.

Robert and Linda Dove pose with their grandchildren at Averill's Flathead Lodge. (Carrie Dove Storer)
Kudos to daughter Laura who, after much research, found Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, in Bigfork, Mont., just outside of Kalispell and 30 miles from Glacier National Park. The working dude ranch with more than 100 horses and an outstanding farm program is located on Flathead Lake and has many water activities, including water skiing, kayaking and sailing. It promised something for everyone, even those creaky grandparents who weren’t sure they would be doing the morning trail rides. We combined time at the lodge with a side trip to Glacier National Park.

Highlights and high points: We all made it a point to visit the lakeshore at some point every morning and every afternoon. Although only some of us made it for sunrise each day, we all came together each afternoon for sunset. Yes, there is life outside of Washington traffic, work deadlines and busy sports schedules. The scenery was lovely, but it was the relaxed conversation that seemed the most spectacular.

Cultural connection or disconnect: We were in Montana at the height of the drought and forest fire season, a record-breaker in 2015. It was eye-opening. On several mornings we rose to discover the ranch shrouded in gray smog, caused by the fires in Glacier Park. It was a stark reminder of how different life is in the West and the power and fickleness of Mother Nature.

Biggest laugh or cry: One of our 12-year-olds seemed to discover girls for the first time during our stay at the ranch. Much teasing among the cousins, but also some special moments when we could begin to see who he would be as he grows into manhood. Grandparent tears.

How unexpected: None of us expected to spend so much time on the water in Western Montana. The lakes are amazing — warm, calm and incredibly beautiful. We also loved the small town of Bigfork, which looks like something out of a Western movie. We were warmly greeted by the residents of this town of 4,000.

Fondest memento or memory: It is not easy to plan a trip for 12 people who have little time for vacations and thus have very strong ideas about what they should be. We spent a lot of time before the trip talking about what we each wanted from our experience. Everyone’s ideas were given equal weight — from the kids to the grandparents. How successful was our adventure? Our time in Montana met everyone’s expectations, above and beyond. This was certainly due in part to the activities and experiences at our lodge, which were amazing. But we all agreed that we had each brought something to the trip that was what made it so meaningful. Now we have to begin working something even better for next year!

To tell us about your own trip, go to and fill out the What a Trip form with your fondest memories, finest moments and favorite photos.
© 1996-2016 The Washington Post

White Stallion Ranch trainer chosen for Extreme Mustang Makeover  at White Stallion Ranch

White Stallion Ranch trainer chosen for Extreme Mustang Makeover
White Stallion Ranch, Feb 01 2016

Local Horse Trainer Selected for Extreme Mustang Makeover
Tucson, Arizona – JP Dyal of White Stallion Ranch, has been selected to compete in the Arizona Extreme Mustang Makeover held April 22-23, 2016, at the Horseshoe Park & Equestrian Centre in Queen Creek. JP will have 98 days to gentle the randomly assigned wild horse he picked up on January 8th and compete for an estimated purse of $20,000 in prize money as well as a custom-made Gist belt buckle.