Cream-colored ponies, crisp apple strudels and sleighbells may be a few of Maria Von Trapp’s favorite things, but they are also some of ours. While the first snowflakes fly at The Ranch, and we gear up for another season of all-inclusive skiing, we’re dreaming of our homestead for the holidays. In the spirit of the season, our Ranchers have shared a few of their favorite things about Christmas in Montana.

The fire roars in Granite Lodge’s Great Room during our Country Christmas holiday celebrations
Our Montana Christmas traditions include plenty of time by the fire in the Granite Lodge’s Great Room.

1.Montana is Christmas in a Snow Globe

I love Christmastime in Montana, because aside from all the pines being dusted with snow and all the horses starting to look like teddy bears with their winter coats, it’s the time of the year my family all comes to town. My mom has a gift of making Christmas (no matter where we are) warm and cozy. It’s my favorite time of the year!

~ Hailey Laird, Barn Manager

Draft horse team Bob and Buster will start training to pull our sleigh soon
New draft horse team Bob and Buster will start training to pull our sleigh soon. Photo by Hailey Laird

I love Christmas in Montana because it is always a truly white Christmas. Growing up I didn’t have snowy Christmases, and living here I have one every year! Montana in her best winter white really gets you in the Christmas spirit! It’s a wonderful reason to warm up by a fire and drink hot cocoa with your friends and family.

~ Cat Johnson, Recruitment & Training Manager

Feet of snow creates heart shapes on top of the fences around The Ranch
Another reason we love The Ranch’s traditional jackleg fences – they turn to hearts when it snows.

I love Christmas in Montana because this whole valley truly feels like the inside of a snow globe. The trees are dusted with snow, there is a peaceful quiet that settles over everything, and the air always smells of wood fires and crisp air.

~ Katie Acheson, Ranch Ambassador Supervisor

winter and Christmas glamping at The Ranch at Rock Creek
Christmas glamping is available in our Sweet Grass and Trapper hybrid canvas cabins.

2. Montana is Rockwellian at Christmastime

Juliette’s second Christmas was the snowiest Christmas I can remember, snow piled up on the 24th and it continued to fall all day on the 25th. The whole family went for the most beautiful cross country ski in the new snow towing Juliette in the Chariot. It seems the forests are the most peaceful on Christmas because it’s such a busy holiday that folks are not venturing out.  Juliette was bundled up in probably 12 layers so she slept the entire time, but we stopped for a quick fire and hot cider & aquavit by the frozen lake.  The snow was magical and Chef’s love peaceful holidays. We cross country ski every Christmas now; it’s our favorite.

~ Josh Drage, Executive Chef

Executive Chef Drage with daughter Juliette during Christmas
Executive Chef Josh Drage and his daughter Juliette Christmas tree hunting in Montana.

Christmas in Montana feels like a Norman Rockwell Christmas to me. Between celebrating the Granite County Festival of Trees with our community in the Buckle Barn to Yule Night in town, Philipsburg and The Ranch become magical. My first Christmas here we had light snow trickling down continuously all day creating a snow-globe like feel. In town every street lamp has beautiful bows. Montana creates the perfect Christmas.

~ Linda Walser, Guest Services Manager

17 Christmas trees lit up the Buckle Barn before the Festival of Trees gala auction
The annual Granite County Festival of Trees takes place in our Buckle Barn to benefit our local healthcare services.

There’s no shortage of trees for the taking. For a $5.00 fee to the local Ranger District office, my partner Amy (AM Lead Line Cook) and I can venture out into the National Forests that surround the Ranch to find the perfect Charlie Brown tree and haul it back home for some real Yuletide cheer. It’s our favorite Christmas-time tradition in Montana.

~ Leigh Dollard, Dining Room Manager

A couple harvest their perfect Christmas tree in Montana’s National Forests for a $5.00 fee
Amy and Leigh carry their harvested Christmas tree back home. 

3. Montana is a Winter Playground

My favorite Christmas memories growing up in Montana have been centered around family and snow. I have one special memory of my sister and I waking up at 5 AM to find Red Flyer Runner sleds and sledding from sunrise to sunset on Christmas day. We would unwrap presents and be out the door to ice fish on Moose lake or Georgetown Lake. Now that I have a family of my own and a husband that lives to ski we have a new tradition of taking the kids skiing at Discovery.

~ Stephanie Boutry, Housekeeping Manager

Young boy skiing on The Ranch’s local ski mountain on Christmas Day
Stephanie Boutry’s 2.5 year old son skiing at Discovery Ski Area.

We always seem to get a good snowfall in the weeks leading up to Christmas and the look on my girls’ faces when they wake up excited to make snow angels and a snowman is guaranteed to put the whole family in the Christmas spirit.

~ Jon Martin, General Manager

The Ranch’s General Manager’s yard covered in snow
The view out General Manager Jon Martin’s backdoor. Photo by Brenda Martin.

4. Montana is Full of Mother Nature’s Gifts

I think my favorite thing about the winter time in Montana is the way the world around you forces you to SLOW DOWN. You can’t do anything faster than mother nature will allow.  During those shorter days you are forced to slow down in so many ways; as you drive slowly you notice the world around you, there is no hustle and bustle. You have to take coffee breaks at the shop to warm up and chat with the guys, and best of all you slow down to spend time with all the best people that decided to call this beautiful place home year round.

~ Ariel Roselle, Lead Wrangler

Sleigh rides often take place over the holiday season at The Ranch.

I love how quiet it gets here on the creek when it snows.

~ Kelsey Bruns, Activities Manager

Photographer Martin Battilana captures a shot of winter fly fishing on Montana's Rock Creek
Our most avid anglers find winter the most peaceful time to fish Rock Creek.

5. Montana is Full of Unique Christmas Traditions

Driving my snowmobile to get groceries with the kids while the roads in Philipsburg are covered with snow is such a great memory for the kids every year.

~ Josh Erickson, Reservations Manager

boy eating snow at a hockey game
Josh Erickson’s son eats a big snowball during a hockey game at the rink in our hometown of Philipsburg, Montana.

My favorite part about Christmastime in Montana is the smell…. Cutting down the tree, the pine filling the house with joy, freshly baked bread, turkey slowly roasting in the oven, everyone bringing together their favorite dish, family getting together after a year of hard work and normal daily living to enjoy each other’s company.

~ Chrissy Gursky, Assistant Housekeeping Manager

fresh baked pastries in the Great Room are a morning tradition at The Ranch
Eating (too many) fresh baked pastries in the Great Room is one of our favorite traditions.

We can’t wait to welcome new guests to The Ranch this Christmas and help them create festive memories and traditions of their own. See our Christmas itinerary or view our Big Sky Love celebration over President’s Day Weekend.