Top50 Ranches

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Lowdown

  • Established

    1880
  • Tel

    406-537-4477
  • Nightly Rates (per adult)

    $250 - $275
  • Nightly Rates (per child)

    $160 - $180
  • Minimum Stay

    1 week
  • Maximum Guests

    25
  • Works with travel agents?

    Yes
  • Great For

    Romance, Action & adventure, Peace & quiet, Solitude, Diverse scenery
  • Memberships

    Dude Ranch Association, Montana Dude Ranch Association

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 shoulder seasons with a few children plus a week or two for adults only, 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 no minimum age for riding; instead the little ones are willing 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, 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 boat for the kids), hiking, a game of pool or cards, evening campfires, cookout dinners, moonlight rides, paintball, volleyball, softball or horseshoes. Although there are no supervised children's evening activities, all riding is supervised.

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.

Activities

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.

Games

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

Environment

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.

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.

Conservation

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".

Ranch History

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 cattle ranch and were instrumental in starting the dude ranch industry. Some portions of the Sweet Grass Ranch 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, Paul, 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.

Of Bill and Shelly’s four children, Page, Rocco and Tony live and work on either or both of the ranches. Page, her husband Pat and their two children live at Sweet Grass during the guest season, offering a helping hand to Bill and Shelly. Rocco, his wife Annie and their three children live at the cattle ranch and help at the guest ranch during the summer, where they teach weekly horsemanship clinics. Tony and his two children help out at both the cattle ranch and guest ranch, with Tony providing frequent musical entertainment during the summer months. 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

Lowdown

  • Enjoy

    Gourmet, Ranch-style
  • Meals served

    family style, buffet style, everyone eats together
  • Alcohol

    BYOB
  • Enjoy dining in

    nature settings, dining room (casual attire)
  • You'll definitely love

    ranch-raised beef, farm fresh eggs, ranch garden, locally grown produce, fresh daily bread, fresh daily desserts
  • Dietary restrictions catered for

    lactose intolerant, vegetarians, other

Some Italian blood runs through the Carroccia family tree, so we appreciate good food and wine! We offer "ranch gourmet" meals served family-style in the dining room, with a different menu each week.

Our hearty meals include locally raised beef, pork and poultry, fresh fish as available, organic produce grown at a nearby greenhouse, fresh homemade breads, pastries and desserts, and homemade ice cream - all prepared by our ranch cooks. Lunches are packed to your order for all-day rides, fishing and hiking expeditions.

We don't have a liquor license, but guests are welcome to bring their own bottle for "happy hour" on the front porch before dinner, and to have with dinner should they wish.

Lowdown

  • Address

    460 Rein Lane
    Big Timber
    Montana
    59011
    USA
  • Remote Location

    Yes
  • Elevation

    6100 ft
  • Private Land

    10,000-20,000 acres
  • Public Land

    10,000-20,000

Nearest Town - Big Timber

Big Timber has a population of @ 2000 (approx), and is situated 40 miles / 1 hour from the Ranch.

Facilities in Big Timber include: grocery store, pharmacy, church, school, post office, medical clinic, hospital, bank, atm, gas station, museum.

For shopping Big Timber offers: small hometown necessity shops, boutique shops, western wear.

Ranch shuttle

No fee

Nearest Airports

Billings Logan International Airport, Billings, MT

Distance

140 miles / 2 hours 30 mins

Airlines

Delta, United, Skywest, Allegiant, Horizon, Alaska, Frontier Airlines, Continental Airlines and US Airways

Ranch shuttle

$150 round trip

Rental car

4x4 recommended


Gallatin Field Airport (BZN), Bozeman, MT

Distance

130 miles / 2 hours 30 mins

Airlines

Delta, United, Skywest, Allegiant, Horizon, Frontier Airlines

Ranch shuttle

$150 round trip

Rental car

4x4 recommended


Private Air Travel

Nearest location(s)

Big Timber

Travel by

Airplane

Distance

40 miles

Lowdown

  • Type of Riding

    Western Riding
  • Riding opportunities for

    Beginner, Intermediate, Experienced
  • Most riders are

    Intermediate
  • Rides are grouped by

    Ability, Pace of Ride, Rides tailored to guest requests, Rides dictated by ranch work, Families ride together
  • Max riders per ride

    7
  • Wranglers per ride

    1
  • Pace of ride

    Walk, Trot, Lope
  • Guest Horses

    65
  • Horse Types

    Quarterhorse, Morgan, Thoroughbred, Draft Cross, Paints, Other, Geldings, Mares
  • Hours in the saddle

    Morning - 3 hours
    Afternoon - 3 hours
    Evening - 1 hour

The Setting

Private Land (10,000-20,000 acres)

Secluded in the Crazy Mountains of south central Montana, 40 miles from Big Timber. The ranch sits at 6100 feet on the Sweet Grass Creek with diversity in the landscape - canyon, open rolling hills, Timothy meadows and clear sparkling ponds, lakes, and creeks. Our landscape even boasts a natural water slide on Hell Roaring Creek.

Public Land (10,000-20,000 acres)

We sit nestled against the Gallatin National Forest with beautiful mountainous riding, where it is only foot or horse travel past the ranch.


Our Riding

Scheduled rides

Each specified ride departs at a specific time. We will notify you of specific times upon your arrival.

Unscheduled rides

We take rides for small groups or even individuals and these rides will depart when convenient for those guests rather than at a regularly scheduled departure. These may be planned in advance or "spur of the moment" rides.

Guided rides

Each day, your riding options are different - library rides, lake rides, cattle work. We can't list all of your options here!

Good to know

Each guest fills out a riding proficiency sheet. Then, during Monday morning's instruction clinic, we assess riding ability.

Riding considerations

We recommend a good level of physical fitness, We consider height and athletic ability as well as a guest's weight

Hours in the saddle

We offer various types and lengths of rides, including dinner rides with a full moon and all-day rides moving cattle or to our majestic alpine lakes where you can be out from 6am to 7pm. It's really up to you!


Why our riding stands out

  • Exceptional riding choices every day
  • We do not rent or lease horses - the horses you ride are quality ranch horses with good temperaments
  • Ride bareback and swim your horse in the creek

Riding Lessons

Riding lessons are offered throughout your stay and are given by a personal family member here or by one of our qualified wranglers. The lessons can be tailored to your requests. Although we will conduct lessons in the restricted environment of the "arena", we try to do the majority of lessons on the trail to keep it interesting for both you and the horse.

Details

lessons come with package, basic riding lessons, advanced horsemanship lessons

Given by

wrangler, ranch owner or manager

Location

on the trail, in the arena

Natural Horsemanship Clinic

Clinician

Rocco and Annie

Details

Clinics occur weekly, Included in package, Clinics occur in the arena, Clinics occur on the trail

Focuses on

Rocco worked with Buck Branaman and studied that style of Natural Horsemanship; he incorporates it into his training and clinics. Many of the guest ranch horses have been raised or trained by Rocco and a number of guests have purchased horses from him over the years. Each week, Rocco and/or Annie offer a clinic. Each week's focus depends upon activities at the ranch. The focus can range from training a colt to learning the pressure points of cattle. The clnic can take place either at the guest ranch or at the cattle ranch in the pasture. We'll let you know ahead of time the clinic focus for the week. Guests are welcome to participate at any level they feel comfortable and their abilities will allow.

Cattle work - pasture gathers

All of the cattle work on the ranch is dictated by conditions and health and well-being of the livestock and pasture. There are cattle to check, salt, doctor and move as grass and water dictate. Besides our weekly routine checks of cattle and grazing conditions which might necessitate a move, we have some set times we move cattle: The week of June 20; The week of July 15; The first week of August and the first two weeks of September. We also sometimes help our neighbors move their cattle. We do not advertise exclusivity of our cattle drives, meaning while you're here at the ranch, you can get involved on the dates above specified if you'd like, but you also have opportunity to take part in a cattle drive one day and may choose to do a lake ride on another. Throughout the summer, we do move cattle on and off, but aside from the specified weeks we know we will be moving cattle longer distances, we don't guarantee a cattle drive, as all of our cattle work is dictated by grass, water and the health of the animals. For your comfort, due to some of the terrain and lengths of days when moving cattle, we do encourage guests to have some riding experience and a level of fitness.

When

Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep

No. of cow/calf pairs

150

Interaction

Guests watch, Guests participate

Branding work

At least once throughout the summer we help neighbors brand their calves. Guests are welcome to get involved at any level - if you're interested, please contact us for dates, as the exact time changes from year to year.

When

Jul

No. of Branding

100-300

Interaction

Guests watch, Guests participate

Pack Trips

A few times throughout the summer, guests will request a pack trip. We are happy to oblige, just needing a minimum of 3 guests and a maximum of 10. During June, we usually take pack trips toward the cattle ranch, since the elevation is lower and the ground usually drier! During July and August, we take pack trips to beautiful alpine lakes set amidst awe-inspiring peaks. We offer one or two night overnight trips into the mountains through July and August and will travel to one of our lakes in the Crazy Mountains. If guests show an interest in June, we travel to a nice spot in one of our meadows. This is the ideal location for children to take their first pack trip. We will either set up a wall tent or several small tents and camp out. We provide sleeping bags and bedding as well. All you need are you clothes! Guests are encouraged to fish, hike, or even help us cook. Although not our most popular activity, occasionally guests would like to take advantage of this magnificent opportunity. We do ask that you let us know in advance; however, we can accommodate if you let us know when you arrive.

Arena Work

We have a large outdoor area or arena that we use for one-on-one work or clinics. We also do gymkhanas, barrels, pole bending and some cattle sorting, although these are in open meadows and not arena-based.

Type

outdoor arena

Activities

sorting, roping from the ground, barrels, pole bending, gymkhana

Lowdown

  • Nightly Rates (per adult)

    $250 - $275
  • Nightly Rates (per child)

    $160 - $180
  • Nightly Rates (non-rider)

    $180 - $200
  • Minimum Stay

    1 week
  • Preferred Arrival Day

    Sun
  • Preferred Departure Day

    Sun

Sweet Grass Ranch can cater for up to 25 guests. Accommodation includes Lodges and Cabins. See below for details and indicative rates.

Lodge | Lodge Room

Rates (Per Person)

$250

Minimum Stay

5 nights

Description

There are 5 bedrooms in the historic main lodge that share a bathroom. These rooms can be rented individually but are often rented by a family or friends traveling together.

Rooms

5

Bathrooms

Shared bathroom

Lodge | Suite (A/C)

Rates (Per Person)

$280

Minimum Stay

5 nights

Description

This accommodation has a queen bed, sitting area, fireplace, private bath and private entry with a second bedroom with single bed accessible from porch.

Rooms

2

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

seating area, wood fireplace

Cabin | Two Dot

Rates (Per Person)

$260

Minimum Stay

5 nights

Description

small cabin with twin beds and private bath

Rooms

1

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Cabin | V-C

Rates (Per Person)

$240

Minimum Stay

5 nights

Description

Two bedroom cabin with private bath

Rooms

2

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

fridge, seating area, wood fireplace

Cabin | UX or RA

Rates (Per Person)

$250

Minimum Stay

5 nights

Description

family sized cabin with 2 bedrooms, separate living room, private bath, fireplace

Rooms

2

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

wood fireplace

Cabin | RX

Rates (Per Person)

$250

Minimum Stay

5 nights

Description

1 bedroom cabin, separate living room, fireplace, private bath

Rooms

1

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

fridge, wood fireplace

Cabin | ED

Rates (Per Person)

$240

Minimum Stay

5 nights

Description

2 bedroom cabin with private bath

Rooms

2

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

wood fireplace

Cabin | Bunkhouse

Rates (Per Person)

$240

Minimum Stay

5 nights

Description

large open room with sitting area, fireplace, queen bed, twin bed and private bath

Rooms

1

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

fridge, wood fireplace


Booking Policy

50% deposit required Refund for medical reasons or if reservation can be filled Will roll over deposit to following year Balance due on day of departure

Included in your stay

meals, activities, lodging, Riding

Extras

Tax

State of Montana Accommodations tax; based on rate attributable to lodging only

Gratuity

Recommend 15% but we do not have a mandatory gratuity

Massage

Rates paid directly to massage therapist on hour or partial hour basis

Other

airport transfers are $135 per person round trip to either Billings or Bozeman airports (each airport is about 2 1/2 hours from the ranch, so plan flights accordingly)

Lowdown

  • You can borrow

    Cowboy hats, Cowboy boots, Riding helmets, Saddle bags, Rain coats
  • Communications

    Wireless Internet/Wifi, telephone.
  • Business Services

    computer and fax hookups, printers.

Onsite

Shopping

There is a small honor store on-site selling t-shirts, hats, sundries, gloves, postcards, phone cards and snacks.

Outdoor Activities

mountain biking, campouts, bird watching, photography workshops; hiking; "pasture golf"

Water based Activities

hot tub, river floating, inner-tubing; natural water slide

Spa

relaxation massage, deep tissue massage


Fishing & Wildlife

While some equipment is available, guests who are serious about their fishing are encouraged to bring their own equipment. There is a selection of flies from guests and employees who have made recommendations over the years.

Fishing on offer

spin, fly, river, stocked pond, lake, stream, equipment available, unguided, BYO equipment

Wildlife

Lots of animals call this place home, so expect to see deer, bear, elk, antelope, coyote, mountain goat, wild turkeys, eagles, hawks, songbirds and occasionally a moose, mountain lion or wolf.


Local Attractions

Crazy Mountain Museum

Local museum offering the history of Sweet Grass County, including wonderful displays of the Leo Cremer Rodeo company, a Norwegian stabbur, the contribution of cattle and wool to the area and Lewis and Clark native gardens.

Distance

40 miles / 1 hour

Ranch shuttle

No Charge


Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Co.

firearms manufacturr producing reproductions of historical black powder rifles, including the 1874 Sharps Rifle made famous in Quigley Down Under. Shiloh gives tours of the foundry and stamp works.

Distance

40 miles


Charles M. Bair Museum

Charles Bair made his fortune in the Alaska gold rush and came to Montana with the Northern Pacific Railroad. He owned one of the largest sheep ranches in the world and his family home is an eclectic collection of european art and antiques, native american artifacts and Americana.

Top50 says

Highs

  • There’s an incredible natural rock water slide about 40 yards long, ending in a clear, sparkling creek
  • The ranch's beauty will astound you – it’s also listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • This ranch has it all! Including trips to enjoy the rich cultural heritage of local ghost towns, museums, Indian ceremonials, Yellowstone Park and even rodeos. You can also get involved in cattle drives, depending upon the week you go
  • Enjoy untouched fly-fishing in pristine waters

Lows

  • Very remote; however once you've arrived, it's completely worth it and you won't want to leave!

Visitor Reviews

Dont just take our word for it, see what visitors like you say...

Unplug and reconnect with yourself

Needed a few days away from heat and humidity of Alabama to reset myself. Chose Sweet Grass because it seemed to cater to small numbers with various riding opportunities. I was not disappointed. Started with a beginner, morning ride. By the afternoon ride I was back in my horseback comfort zone. Loved, loved the wranglers. They were most attentive to every need and always eager to take you on a new trail. You could be there a month and probably never do the same ride. My cabin was perfect, food great and the hospitality was unlimited. Wish I could tell you about the fishing but I spent my time riding, reading and eating. Just what I needed to reset myself. Can't say enough about this ranch. Final note.......Sweet Grass is an "unplug" environment with no cell service or internet. Don't you just love that?

5 stars

You can find more reviews for Sweet Grass Ranch on TripAdvisor