Travel: Blending Luxury and Cowboy Life at The Resort at Paws Up

The minds behind The Resort at Paws Up in the Big Sky Country of Montana came up with a groundbreaking insight when the elite destination appeared on the map a few years back. While the idea of a getaway to an authentic, busy western-style ranch appeals to a lot of active travelers, the high rollers of the world might not be ready for the harsher realities of trail life.

So, a savvy planning and construction operation took some 37,000 acres of beautiful vistas and filled the heart of it with a mix of genuine, rugged cowboy outdoor activities and adventures — set against a background of luxury appointments. In other words, guests of Paws Up live as cowpokes by day and as worldly, civilized travelers by night.

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The Paws Up accommodation choices are unique in such ranch experience journeys. There 28 luxury vacation homes – The Wilderness Estates – offering stirring views of distant mountains or grazing herds across the ranch’s seemingly endless expanses. These massive, multi-bedroom cabins offer complete kitchens, hot tubs, laundry facilities, satellite TV and beds worthy of any five star hotel.

Away from the Estates, visitors for Paws Up have to settle for tents. Of course, we’re not talking about sleeping outside in old sleeping bags. The resort invented the concept of “glamping” — offering huge tents offering open air access to furnished bedrooms, complete bathrooms and dining spots.


While guests can prepare meals in their on-ranch residences, Paws Up and Executive Chef Ben Jones offer special dining experiences for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Pomp or Trough. The former steps in for sophisticated gourmet dining, while the Trough offers a casual menu and daily buffet options. Come the evening, guests can belly up to the bar at The Tank, a full service drinking hole with a complete selection of beers and whiskies.

Shopping spots on the resort offer everything from basic staples to top shelf outerwear and high end fashion. Finally, there are distinct signs of luxurious civilization in the Montana Spa that offers specific services married to the season.

Aside from all of the luxury features enriching Paws Up, the resort is a properly working ranch. Visitors can take on casual horseback rides on comfortable trails or take on a more challenging cattle drive moving the local herds across the acres. Off of horseback, visitors can pick up skills like roping and more advanced riding from expert teachers.

Those teachers are the most important representatives of Paws Up’s dedication to the spirit of Montana and The West. Whether visitors come to learn how to handle a horse or how to shoot, the men and women teaching them the necessary skills enjoy their work and want to share it with their guests.

Travelers sampling the cowboy life at The Resort of Paws Up make a wise choice. They could sample similar luxury at other resorts, but only this Montana experience offers the chance to pick up experiences a skills unique to the American West and its dramatic history.

All photos by John Scott Lewinski