Welcome to our family! Come enjoy spectacular scenery, warm hospitality and an authentic western way of life as you participate in new adventures, refresh your spirit and experience the magic that is Sweet Grass Ranch.
Sweet Grass Ranch is part of a sixth generation family-owned and operated working cattle ranch and guest ranch secluded in the Crazy Mountains of Montana and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
We offer exceptional riding opportunities on thousands of acres of both moutain country and rolling meadows and plains. With an unstructured riding program tailored to the interests of our guests as well as the usual ranch work, we have a multitude of daily riding options. Sweet Grass also has beautiful hiking trails and diverse fishing opportunities in the miles of Sweet Grass creek flowing through the property, high alpine lakes, or via rowboat on one of the ponds for the kids.
Sweet Grass Ranch provides fun for the entire family with a natural water slide, inner tubing the creek, campfires, massages, weekly horsemanship clinics, cattle drives, games on horseback, hikes, photography seminars and a host of indoor and outdoor games. In the evenings, visit with new-found friends, enjoy a s'more at the campfire, play pool or cards, relax with a hot tub and book, or if you are feeling energetic, play soccer, volleyball, softball, pasture golf or horseshoes.
Our meals are hearty "ranch gourmet" with locally raised beef, pork, chicken, fresh produce, and home made breads, pastries and desserts.
Check out the most recent for Sweet Grass Ranch!
Good time to go
Wildflowers are at their peak and the meadow is blue with forget-me-nots; the curlew nests, and the land is lush and green. Don't forget the Big Timber Rodeo in the last week in June!
Drive cattle to the high mountain pastures, check on bulls and fences, enjoy overnight trips, swim horses in the creek and marvel at a lighting storm.
The days are cloudless, the snow recedes on the higher elevations, and it's time to ride to see mountain goats or take a trip up canyon to the cool falls and alpine lakes beyond.
Find cows hiding in thousands of acres and move them before snow sets in. The days are mild, elk are bugling, and evenings and mornings are crisp with the scent of autumn.
Children at the Ranch
Great for children aged 9 and over
This is a family-owned and run ranch; children and grandchildren abound. Sweet Grass does have three adult only weeks at the end of the summer, but the ranch has always encouraged kids. In fact, it started out as a kids' camp, with children between the ages of nine and 19 coming for the entire summer. After Bill and Shelly had four of their own, they decided some adult company would also be welcome!
While there is no formal children's program, there are a great deal of different riding programs and activities with kids in mind. There is a minimum age of 5 for any riding; instead the little ones are willingly led or ponied until they gain a measure of comfort and control. The ranch is also blessed with some wonderful kids' horses, who love children. However, children do need to be able to listen to the wrangler and exercise some control over their horse to ride independently.
Teens will have a great time with cattle work, playing "tag", swimming horses, trying a bareback ride, going to the natural waterslide, inner tubing the Sweet Grass River, kayaking in the ponds, taking an overnight trip, and just spending time with fellow teens or younger staff members.
Both children and adults are welcome to participate in any of the rides, cattle work, fishing (both river and pond, with a couple kayaks for the ponds and a small rowboat), hiking, a game of pool or cards, evening campfires, guitars, cookout dinners, moonlight rides, dinner rides, sunrise rides, gymkhanas, horseshoes, volleyball, softball, some evening outdoor movies weather permitting, a summer concert, and whatever else we dream up. An outdoor pavilion provides a great space for evening fun. All riding is supervised and upon request, a wrangler or staff person can supervise some other kids' activities. Generally, however, kids' activities outside of riding are to be supervised by parents.
If you have children, it's assumed you'd like to spend some time with them on your vacation - but we also assume there are times they would prefer a ride without adults, and vice-versa! As such, the variety of riding options allows guests to choose whether they want to ride with children or parents, or with a group of just children or adults. We also do our best to accomodate "family ride" requests, so parents have the opportunity to spend some quality riding time with their children.
Minimum age children can ride
5 and over
hiking, picnics, cookouts, campouts, floating, Our kids raise 4H animals, so we often have pigs to feed, a milk cow, bum calves and an occasional foal around the ranch.
scavenger/treasure hunts, board games, horseshoes, soccer, volleyball, pool table, Softball, pasture golf
Baby Sitting Provided By
Baby sitting can be arranged upon advance notice and request, prior to your arrival at the ranch.
Environmental & Social Practices
Our family has lived in this area and ranched on these lands for over a hundred years. Our objectives are to maintain this unique livestyle with which we have been blessed, share our experience with others, and remember that we are stewards of this land with each generation striving to pass the land on to the next generation in the same or better condition.
Our livelihood, both as a cattle ranch and guest ranch, depends on the health of our livestock and we treat them with respect and appreciation. We move our cattle only as grass and water dictate, and our well-loved horses are ranch raised or purchased from neighbors in this ranching community.
We are fortunate to live in a community where many of the families are still on lands homesteaded by their ancestors; where a picturesque church and 3-room schoolhouse are still the heart of the community; and where neighbors lend a helping hand without ever being asked. We all get together for brandings, parties, weddings and funerals, and we try to support our local businesses as much as possible.
We try to conserve water in our daily operations and avoid plastic bottled water, as what we get from our springs rivals any bottled water.
In raising livestock, we pay attention to carrying capacity, controling noxious weeds and making room for the bountiful wildlife that also call these lands "home".
Sweet Grass was first homesteaded by the Brannin family in 1889, when they moved from New Mexico with 13 children and army of cattle, horses and angora goats in tow.
The Van Cleves homesteaded in the area in 1880, when they put together property for a sheeo and cattle ranch and were instrumental in starting the dude ranch industry. Upper sections of land in the canyon were already owned by the Van Cleves, but it was early 1950s when Paul Van Cleve II purchased the Brannin buildings and additional lands, re-naming them "Sweet Grass Ranch" and adding them to the other ranch holdings. In 1965, Bill and Shelly Carroccia bought the Sweet Grass Ranch from Shelly's grandfather and began taking guests. What started as a kids' camp grew into a place for families and adults to stay, too. Bill and Shelly purchased the family's cattle ranch in 1972 and have run them together ever since.
Bill and Shelly’s four children and their families have all been part of the ranching operations., Page, her husband Pat and their adult children, Erin and Connor operate Sweet Grass Ranch now with a helping hand from Bill and Shelly. Rocco, his wife Annie and their kids, Rainy, Lily and Ryal live at the cattle ranch but the kids often work at Sweet Grass. Tony, his wife Laura, and their younger kids, Juliet and Jack, live in Melville but come to Sweet Grass when they can and Tony often provides musical entertainment during the summer months. Tony's older twins, Orry and Zandy, often work at the ranch, too. Finally, J's boys - Kris, Josh and Gio-have all lived and worked on the ranch, and Josh and Gio are here frequently helping out in the summer and working on various projects off-season. Bill and Shelly's grandchildren are the sixth-generation of family on these lands, and the cattle ranch and guest ranch businesses are integral parts of their lives.
The ranch’s original buildings have been maintained over the years and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For a full history of the ranch including some early photos, take a look at our website.