A Doggone Good Time at The Ranch at Rock Creek

Striving for Pet-Friendly Perfection

This week we welcome Zeus, an imposing and good-natured Leonberger dog, and his better (human) half, Katie Jackson. A native of rural Montana, Katie has lived in urban areas and traveled all over the world writing for U.S. News & World Report, FoxNews.com, OutsideOnline, USA Today, The Active Times and Yahoo Travel. When Katie recently visited The Ranch, she brought Zeus and they tackled the fresh powder together, researching our Indulgent Frontiersman special offer. We are proud to be a pet-friendly hotel, and accommodate adventurous canines year-round. Read Katie’s article about learning to be a Five-Star Frontiersman, or stay right here and read Zeus’s take on pet-friendly hotels and life as a Rancher.

Sunday 7 a.m.

THree people standing around a fire pit

Writer Katie Jackson at the rimfire range during her stay at The Ranch. 

Her bags are packed. Again. She’s always leaving. Even though she doesn’t kennel me when she travels, I can’t help but throw myself a puppy pity party. I have a serious case of FOMO—fear of missing out. Yes, dogs suffer from it too.

Some people argue I’m a pony. Weighing in at 150 pounds., I can’t argue with them. I’m a big boy. I tell myself my size is why she never takes me on her trips. But I’m not sure if it’s true. I heard from the gossipy golden retriever next door that pet-friendly hotels are rare. When the wise old poodle around the block confirmed it, I knew it wasn’t just hearsay.

She usually stays at fancy hotels, so I’m surprised to see her cowboy boots piled next to her bags. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but I still go over to investigate. Upon further examination I discover an even more startling find. My leash is dangling from the exterior pocket of her duffle bag and my bag of dog food peeking out of the main compartment.

My blood begins to boil. Is she seeing another dog? And letting it wear my leash and eat my food? How rude!

Sunday 7 p.m.

The living room in Ponderosa luxury home.

The living room in Ponderosa luxury home. 

It’s my first time riding in an Escalade. These leather seats are as soft as butter! When she checked into The Ranch at Rock Creek I finally found out what valet service was. The friendly bellman parked her Honda CRV and loaded us into the Ranch’s Escalade to shuttle us to our accommodations. I kept waiting for him to realize, with disgust, that I was a dog. Instead, he scratched me behind my ears and gave me a tour of our house, Ponderosa. He led me over to a dog bed fit for a Westminster Best-in-Show winner. It had prime real estate—right in front of the large stone fireplace. Next to it were two dog dishes. “You’re going to spoil him,” I overheard her tell the bellman. He just laughed and said, “It’s what we do best.”

Monday 9 a.m.

Dog in the middle of a snow field

I knew that smell like the back of my paw. My tail began to wag uncontrollably and I could feel the drool dangling from my muzzle. “Sit,” she said, dangling a piece of peppered bacon in front of me. I NEVER EVER got bacon at home. Not even on the anniversary of my adoption. But at The Ranch at Rock Creek, I seemed to be getting handouts here and there—from her, other guests and even the employees who carried treats in their pocket for the ranch dog, a black lab named Flint.

Monday 2 p.m.

Honestly, I’m slightly embarrassed with her choice of shoes. Her feet are Sasquatch-size! But the tour guide is also wearing them, so there must be a method to the madness. As we climb up the snow-covered hill, I’m reminded there’s nothing holding me back. Why did she even pack my leash? Most of the nearly 7,000-acre ranch property is free-range.

The trek is tiring, but the views at the top are breathtaking. On the horizon we see the snow-capped peaks of the Sapphire and Pintler mountain ranges. Looking down below, we have a bird’s eye view of the open valleys and Rock Creek meandering through them. I’m most curious about The Ranch’s canvas tents lining the creek bank. Don’t get me wrong; I like our house, Ponderosa, but glamping is on every dog’s bucket list.

Monday 5 p.m.

Sausages on a wooden board outside

Although I laid down to eat snow several times on our snowshoe hike, I was famished by the time we finished. As if he’d read my mind, Executive Chef Josh Drage welcomed us back at the ranch with homemade bratwurst. He ruined me. I’ll never be able to go back to store-bought hot dogs. And the best part? We ate next to a roaring bonfire.

Bar Manager Ned Derosier lists the winter warmers and Montgomery Distillery aquavit choices during the Nordic Bonfire.

Bar Manager Ned Derosier lists the winter warmers and Montgomery Distillery aquavit choices during the Nordic Bonfire.

She immediately headed to the fireside bar to try the mulled wine while I sat sentry next to the hors d’oeuvres. Everyone around the fire was talking about their day. Some had been horseback riding, others had gone to the shooting range and a few speed demons had spent the afternoon exploring on snowmobiles.

Tuesday 11 a.m.

UTV with snow tracks

Flint the Ranch Pup ready for an adventure in a UTV.

The next morning, I got to ride in something even more rad than a snowmobile; an off-road 4X4 Polaris Ranger on tracks. After she got outfitted with ski equipment at the Rod & Gun Club, we all loaded up into our sweet ride. Flint the Ranch pup and I had the back to ourselves. As we bumped along the rural road leading back into the hills, I didn’t worry about my windblown fur. It was a small sacrifice in vanity for going fast and having fun.

Like snowshoeing the day before, cross-country skiing was a workout. Especially for Flint and I who seemed to cover twice as much ground. AND we weren’t on skis. Our guide stopped for breaks to teach us winter survival skills, and while she stopped to identify plants, I kept the squirrels and chipmunks at bay. I also futilely chased a rabbit—an attempt that solicited quite a few laughs from my two-legged companions.

Tuesday 4 p.m.

Dog laying in snow with a baby and a woman kneeling next to it

I’m not even jealous she got a massage and I didn’t. Tied up outside The Spa at Rock Creek, I could mingle with the guests coming and going from Granite Lodge. Some stopped to rub my belly, others bent down to take selfies. I tried to remember to hide my underbite, but I was so flattered with all the attention I’m sure it can be found on Instagram.

Tuesday 6 p.m.

Seasonal artisanal cocktails served at Social Hour in the Great Room.

Seasonal artisanal cocktails served at Social Hour in the Great Room.

I’ve been to countless “yappy” hours, but this will go down in the history books as my first happy hour. We are in the Great Room in Granite Lodge. It’s the most beautiful room I’ve ever been in. Granted, as a dog, I’m not allowed into a lot of well-appointed rooms. But here at The Ranch, I can pretty much go anywhere. Except for the restaurant. (I tried that but even my biggest, best puppy eyes couldn’t cajole the hostess into letting me in.)

I curl up on a Native American-inspired rug in front of the fireplace and close my eyes. I know enough not to push my luck by climbing onto the custom-made leather sofas. Besides, they’re occupied by humans sipping handcrafted cocktails that are definitely not dog-friendly. It’s okay though. While I do have FOMO, I can’t complain. After all, I’m a guest at The Ranch at Rock Creek!

Who says you have to die to go to doggy heaven?

Woman kneeling next to dog outside in the snow

The Spa at Rock Creek Massage Therapist Lindsay Roberts enjoys a cuddle with Zeus during his stay.

Curious how we can accommodate your furry friend on a bucket list vacation? Contact us at 1-877-786-1545 for more information about our pet-friendly amenities. View our winter specials, offering included downhill skiing and snowboarding; a complimentary fourth night; and over $1,000 in added value.