As autumn cloaks Montana’s towering Rocky Mountains, the spectacle of vibrant golden hues beckons travelers to traverse the forested roads less traveled. The Ranch at Rock Creek stands as a gateway to this seasonal splendor, crafting tailor-made itineraries to ensure an unforgettable autumn experience during this vibrant time in our ecosystem. Peak fall in Western Montana is regularly on track with the Northeast. View the Farmer’s Almanac for a timetable predicting 2024’s fall transition.

Trade Leaf Peeping for Leaf Leaping

Our Ranch Ambassadors curate the ideal fall adventure with two daily included activities from our array of 27 fall activities. Whether it’s horseback riding through golden meadows, fly fishing in crystal-clear streams, or embarking on scenic hikes, there’s a bespoke experience awaiting every visitor.

Choose self-guided activities or schedule private guided adventures with our seasoned activities team. Amidst the rustling leaves and crisp mountain air, the essence of fall envelops you as you traverse 10 square acres of dense forests, meandering rivers, and majestic peaks. Here are 10 activities that turn leaf peeping from a passive pursuit to an epic autumn adventure.

10 Unforgettable Fall Adventures

1. Whiskey & Water Weekend

Peak fall colors are promised by the Farmer’s Almanac between October 1 and 21. This coincides beautifully with Whiskey & Water Weekend. Join us to celebrate our passion for fine whiskey and fly fishing on Blue Ribbon Rock Creek. We welcome Jefferson’s Bourbon, renowned for their innovative aging techniques. Each year, Jefferson’s Owner Trey Zoeller regales guests with tales of his craft, while branding bourbon barrels and offering tastings of whiskey aged atop Whiskey Ridge. Learn more about Trey with scenes from last year’s event here.

Starting on Thursday, indulge in a weekend brimming with bespoke experiences, including the Bourbon on the Banks Social Hour, Friday’s exhilarating Flylander One Fly Competition and the tantalizing Bourbon BBQ and Bourbon Pairing Dinner. On Saturday, embark on the unforgettable Jefferson’s Journey lunch with wagon rides and dance the night away to the melodies of the Western Front Band. On Sunday, learn the art of fly tying under the golden canopy of aspen leaves at the Granite Lodge and paint with Philipsburg artist Rachel Marjamaa as you sip on your favorite bourbon and create a souvenir to cherish forever.

If you love live music, join us the following weekend for Autumn Harvest Weekend with LeAnn Rimes. Only a few accommodations remain for this treasure weekend filled with live music, locally sourced harvest menus and special events.

2. Master Naturalist Class

Hidden within the gold rush of fall leaves is an ecosystem brimming with changes. Horses and wildlife start to grow winter coats in mid-summer when the days get shorter. Wildflowers and grasses go to seed as they plant for the coming year. Animals migrate and prepare for fall mating.

Learn about the breadth of autumn’s transition from our certified Master Naturalists during a captivating two-hour interpretive walk. In the spirit of exploration embodied by the legendary Lewis and Clark, try the art of sketching and journaling, capturing the essence of the landscape in intricate detail.

3. Biking Adventures

Feel the crunch of leaves beneath your tires on one of our biking adventures. Upon arrival, guests are outfitted with a Specialized Roll comfort bike, ensuring effortless exploration between the Granite Lodge, the Rod & Gun Club, and our cozy accommodations.

We have an adventure for every ability level and pace. Breathe in the crisp fall air as you pedal along the scenic trails on a guided cross-country mountain biking adventure. Chase thrills on the Wildflower or Geronimo downhill mountain biking trails – using state-of-the-art suspension bikes or eMTB.

4. UTV Tours

Climb Ranch peaks on a Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) tour, immersing yourself in the kaleidoscope of fall colors adorning backcountry trails and mountain vistas. With a mug of your favorite autumn beverage in hand, traverse through dense woods, ascending over 1,000 feet in elevation gain along miles of scenic trails. Exit the UTV to enjoy panoramic views and the chance to view wildlife migrating through the area. Navigate rugged terrain, each twist and turn revealing the warm glow of seasonal hues.

5. Horseback Riding

Fall looks even better in the saddle. Whether meandering along tranquil creekside paths adorned with cottonwoods or ascending to lofty peaks through rolling pine-studded trails, there’s an adventure awaiting every equestrian enthusiast. Trail rides are tailored for each private group’s ability levels and include instruction and safety protocols with our seasoned trail horses.

For those seeking an extended adventure, embark half or full-day rides designed for intermediate and advanced riders, available with prior reservation. Whether it’s a leisurely amble through autumn-kissed meadows or a challenging ascent to panoramic vistas, every ride connects you with 130 years of fall riding on our historic homestead.

6. Fly Fishing

Start your fall fly fishing excursion at the Rod & Gun Club, where premier gear awaits: rods, reels, waders, and flies. Wade into Rock Creek for a two to three-hour adventure surrounded by fall in flux. Expert guidance ensures you uncover prime fishing spots.

As mid-September arrives, a refreshing chill graces the air, signaling the transition to prime fishing conditions. Fish in Rock Creek bulk up in anticipation of the impending cold, offering the promise of impressive catches for anglers. For the seasoned angler, this marks the onset of brown trout season, a time when these prized fish become remarkably aggressive as they prepare to spawn. Streamer fishing reaches its zenith during this period, offering unparalleled opportunities to reel in trophy trout. While terrestrial fishing remains highly productive, nymphing proves to be a reliable method for consistent success, particularly on slower days.

7. Photography Workshop

No leaf peeping trip is complete without photos to commemorate it. Choose between our engaging smartphone scavenger hunts or enjoy privately guided photography workshops.

Capture the essence of ranch life, the horse herd, and the breathtaking seasonal transformations amidst the legendary backdrop of the West. For those seeking professional polish, opt for a private photography session with our talented staff photographers, ensuring every moment of your ranch experience is immortalized in stunning detail.

Leave The Ranch with more than just memories—depart with a treasure trove of visual narratives ready to adorn your holiday cards and chronicle your adventures.

8. Respite on Rock Creek

For a more traditional take on serene leaf peeping, find your own personal fall oasis on the banks of Rock Creek. Our Respite on Rock Creek activity gives you access to a hideaway along our 4 miles of private creek access. Lose yourself in a captivating book, play a game with friends and family, or simply take in the world around you from a hammock that sways in the breeze. Our attendants provide refreshments to help you relax into the rhythm of nature.

9. Trap & Skeet

One of our signature activities is shooting sports. With five ranges to choose from, including pistols, sporting clays, rifles, rimfire and trap & skeet, our guides can cater to first-time shooters or advanced instruction.

Our challenging Trap and Skeet course tests advanced shooters with Olympic-level difficulty. Skeet involves nine shooting stations and two traps, with shooters taking 25 shots. The Trap shoot offers five lanes with oscillating traps, presenting varied angles and heights. In singles, participants shoot five targets from each of the five stations, while doubles require shooting at ten targets per station. Views from the course take in the full splendor of autumn’s transition.

10. Hiking

Explore breathtaking scenery on foot across 20+ miles of on-ranch trails. Traverse the Eastern valley, winding through pine forests and rugged rhyolite outcroppings to reach the summits of Paradise Peak, Jimmy’s Peak and Whiskey Ridge. Alternatively, hike the Western hills, meandering to reach the majestic peaks of Mary Beth’s Peak and Top of the World. For a leisurely stroll, the trails along Rock Creek offer serene paths, while seasoned hikers can tackle the Five-Peak Challenge. Take pictures atop all five peaks to earn a coveted spot on our esteemed “brag board” located at The Rod & Gun Club.

Prepare to be captivated by the symphony of autumnal sights, sounds, and scents, as Montana reveals its most enchanting season, inviting you to embark on an unforgettable journey under the falling leaves.