According to Forbes Health, nearly half of respondents report fitness as their top priority, while 36% will try to improve their mental health. As a destination built on the spirit of play, we know that outdoor experiences and experiential travel can prime your body and mind for the year ahead. So we supply all the gear, guides and warmth necessary to enjoy winter to the fullest.

Adventure as Wellness

Winter getaways can also jump-start your fitness goals. We recommend using our robust winter activities program as a catalyst for the year ahead, whether you join us for Christmas or New Year’s Celebrations, or later in the season. The Ranch at Rock Creek lets you “choose your own adventure” with a custom itinerary of winter fun. Guests channel their sense of childlike wonder and pick what suits their bodies and ambitions best—a heart-pumping workout or a serene, slow-paced wander.

Below is a list of our winter vacation activities in order of approximate calories burned per hour for a 150-pound person. If you can’t visit us at The Ranch, we hope they can inspire you to get out before it’s too late and these amazing workouts are gone again for another year.


1. Cross-Country Skiing | 450-1300 calories/hour

Cross-country skiing is best on peaceful terrain without large crowds. A person of 150 pounds can expect to burn about 450 calories per hour going at slow speeds on flat ground, and over 1,300 calories per hour on an uphill course. We love this activity because it allows you to cover a large expanse at nearby trails, amidst the sights, sounds and smells of nature that are known to lower stress hormones. Nordic skiing calls for balance, endurance and an adventurous spirit.


2. Winter Fat Biking | 600-1,000 calories/hour

Couple riding trails in winter on fat tire bikes

In 2016, The Ranch began offering fat biking as part of our biking adventures. It gave us another great way to get out on 20+miles of cross-country trails in the snow. Where navigating these trails is near impossible in a regular mountain bike in the winter, it is possible on a fat tire bike. It takes a lot more energy to get over snowpack than dirt, meaning this is a bonafide fitness kickstarter.


3. Snowshoe Trekking | 650 calories/hour

Akin to hiking, snowshoeing is another great way to be part of the wilderness, while improving heart and lung health. State-of-the-art snowshoes no longer resemble tennis rackets. The lightweight frames and toe blade slide along the snow and allow you to climb hills quickly. Like many winter sports, you can add poles to engage your arms and make it a full-body workout. Add a 10 to 15 pound pack, such as a camera and tripod, for an additional 150+ calories per hour. Many locals keep a pair of snowshoes in the back of their car, in case they can find some time to fit in a little trek across a gorgeous expanse.


4. Ice Skating | 398-700 calories/hour

Don’t relegate this activity to a childhood hobby. There aren’t many activities that can develop your balance and coordination like ice skating. A few days of dedication will have you circling the pond with relative ease. Our Granite Lodge has an adjoining pond and warming shed, where the ice is lit for night-time skating and hockey games. An hour-long hockey game amps up the exertion, burning 500 to 700 calories. Every week, guests enjoy pick up hockey on Bikini Pond.


5. Downhill Skiing or Snowboarding | 409-654 calories/hour

The belle of the snow ball, downhill skiing can be a family day or a solo sport. Although the force of gravity does some of the work, few skiers are likely to stay on the hill for a single hour. You might find yourself having burned upwards of 3,000 calories as you head out to an après-ski. The sport takes guidance, skill, balance and strong muscles. Our Ski Concierge takes visitors to Discovery Ski Area, just 35 miles away, with 67 runs and seven lifts. Thanks to its off-set location, Discovery skiers can expect to get a good workout enjoying the shortest lift lines in Montana. We include skiing and snowboarding excursions for all winter guests.


6.  Winter Horseback Riding | 204-740 calories/hour

Sure-footed horses with special shoes can traverse large distances and snowy terrain in no time. Meanwhile, there’s an emotional bond that forms when relying on an animal so fully. Horseback riding rides the line of hobby and sport, while being an excellent leg, hip and ab workout. An hour of galloping is likely to burn 740 calories per hour, but unless you are in our advanced equestrian program, learning barrel racing, you’re unlikely to keep to that advanced pace throughout the ride. Surprisingly, even grooming a horse for an hour can burn around 490 calories.


7. Sledding | 300-570 calories/hour

A man pushes three children across ice on a sled

Sledding is a nostalgic activity for most adults. Enjoy the rush of hurtling down a hill on powdery snow. Our sledding excursions include a UTV shuttle, but you can  get your heart pumping more by climbing the hill between runs. Other calorie-melting winter family activities include making a snowman, which will shave off 285 calories per hour, and a snowball fight totaling 320 more calories per hour.


8. Snowmobiling | 286 calories/hour

If you’d rather have mechanical horsepower than horses, modern snowmobiles are equipped to offer a thrilling adventure. The sport requires deep, fresh snow, warm gear and acres of wilderness. Riding our hills and pastures gets the heart pumping quickly. The exhilaration of snowmobiling may even do more for your mental health, by forgetting all your worries between the frosted pines.


9. Ice Fishing | 250-320 calories/hour

Man in front of blue tent with another person inside the tent

Snow and ice can’t stop a fisherman from casting his line. During an ice fishing trip, you combine strategy with meditative concentration. This year, we’re including ice fishing at Georgetown Lake as part of our two weeks of Winter Wanderlust. The rest of the season it’s available at additional cost. Georgetown Lake to enjoy the local fly fishing mecca. In the spring, summer and fall, fishing continues to deliver valuable exercise. Wading into the river is a form of resistance training, burning 500 to 700 calories per hour.


10. Shooting Sports | 150-253 calories/hour

Learning to shoot pistols, rifles or sporting clays will raise your heart rate and improve hand-eye coordination. Anyone new to shooting should start with a seasoned instructor to learn proper form and safety, like our guides on The Ranch. Our ranges come equipped with partially-enclosed shelters and heaters, so your arms will stay warm and strong as you hit your targets. The mental exercise involved in target sports allows you to hone proprioception, the awareness of position and movement in the body.



As with any sport, your pace and heart-rate are essential in calculating your final tally. May your winter be filled with health, happiness and new, inspiring experiences.