Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Thanks to our friends from all over the world for the lovely Christmas Cards (and cookies!) that have brought smiles to our faces here at Mountain Sky. We wish you all a very happy and safe holiday season!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Diamond City Gets A Lift

The gift shop is currently hovering 6 feet off the ground.

A view of the front support from inside the gift shop.

Temporarily closed for business :)

General Manager Yancey, admiring the crew's handy-work.

Year after year, our gift shop grew more and more popular, thanks to Tawnya's efforts.  She dedicated tons of time to tracking down the perfect items to fill the floor space, to decorate the walls and to fill the shelves and drawers.  Hats hung from the rafters, toys overflowed from the corner, and a trip into the back storage room to resupply the showroom was a journey into a veritable jungle of hanging clothes.   Our jewelry space was packed top to bottom with turquoise and silver, beautiful necklaces and earrings and designer purses.  Last season, it seemed we had reached the limits of the current space, but our guests and staff clamored for more.  

The building has a top floor, but it has gone unused over the years due to accessibility issues.  After considering our options, we decided to make that space usable again by adding an interior staircase and strengthening the foundations.  This would effectively double the space in the building, and the entire ground floor would become available as retail space.  As with all construction done on the ranch, it was of the upmost importance that we preserve this historical building as much as possible, so our only option was to lift the entire building off the ground!

The crew first inserted long steel beams to create a network that criss-crossed through the windows and doors.  These were propped up by carefully stacked towers of 4x4 cuts of wood.  Next, the crew utilized four powerful jacks to slowly lift the building off of its foundations, lifting first with the two in front of the building, and then with the two in back.  This was incredibly tricky, as we wanted to preserve the existing fireplace and chimney without having to take it down and build it back up again.  In the end, after a long day of work, the crew hoisted the building 6 feet off of its old foundations, with the chimney standing unharmed.

Returning guests and staff will be delighted to find a revitalized gift shop next season, offering a little more room to move around amongst the western treasures we've placed there.

Why, you ask, didn't we go the cheap and easy route and tear the whole thing down?

The preservation of the historical elements of this ranch has always been a priority.  Many of our guest cabins and our lodge date back to 1929, and were carefully remodeled in order to preserve that look and feel, while adding all the comforts and details that have earned this ranch Montana's only 4 diamond AAA rating.  History as rich as ours shouldn't be carelessly tossed away.  To brush up on that history, click HERE.

Diamond City, as the building has long been dubbed, was an old homesteading home of the Lewis family, and was moved down from our upper pasture to its present location by the lodge by then-owner Charles Murphy, back in the 1920's.  He used the log home as his year-round residence and office for the ranch.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November News

Greetings Friends! We hope that your Halloween featured more treats than tricks, and that your Thanksgiving day left you happily comatose from mashed potato and stuffing overload. And now for the latest and greatest in Mountain Sky goings-on:

Challenge Dairy is responsible for Challenge Butter, the largest selling brand in the West. This purveyor of fine dairy products is holding a sweepstakes to give vacation-goers a "taste of the West" as fine as their butter: A 7 day, 6 night getaway for 4 at Mountain Sky! Check out their blog for the sweepstakes details, as well as information on their products. It's an incredible opportunity, folks.

"Bionic" Brad Moyel Ready to Take on the World

Our happy-go-lucky yoga instructor and hiking guide is going to have some additional pep in his step, thanks to two successful hip-replacement surgeries. The first procedure was done in early November, and the second was successfully completed yesterday. Staff met up with Brad and his daughter Lotus for pizza prior to surgery #2, and he was giddy about the improvements he was already feeling at that point. He's resting up at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital for the next few days, and we wish him a speedy recovery.

Brad's yoga classes are extremely popular at Mountain Sky, and his hikes are always well attended, thanks in large part to his cheery disposition, infectious (and mischievous) grin, accommodating and reassuring approach to instruction, and his extensive knowledge of the land. We can't wait to see the zeal with which he tackles life post-surgery. He'll tear up the ski hill this winter, and then tear up the trails (and yoga mats) this spring :)

Mountain Lion Sighting... on Stacy and RC's Porch?!?

At 6:30am, Brooke Draves was on her way to her daily workout at the pool fitness facility when she turned the corner by Stacy and RC's front porch. It was pretty dark out, but she heard that she had startled something big, and stood still as her eyes adjusted. It was hard to make out, but she saw a mountain lion leap over the railing and flee down the short hill, its long tail trailing behind it. The bowl of dry food left out for Twitch (the ranch cat) may have been the source of the big cat's curiosity.

Because the ranch is virtually empty (our staff shrinks from 70 to 7, and only a few of those staffers actually stay the night up here), and because winter conditions tend to drive wildlife from higher elevations, the ranch becomes the ideal spot for deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and the occasional bear to come foraging for food. Mountain lions are extremely elusive, and work hard to avoid contact with humans, so Brooke felt fortunate to be one of the few to have spotted one this season.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is just around the corner, and we refuse to miss out. Getting festive with some pumpkin carving... Mountain Sky style.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Condé Nast Traveler visits Mountain Sky!

We are honored to be featured in the most recent issue of the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler! In this issue we were featured for two of ten days in their "Ten Perfect Days in Wyoming and Montana."  Keep reading to find out what they had to say about their adventure as they stopped by Mountain Sky Guest Ranch during their travels!

 Iconic Itinerary:  Big Sky Country.  "10 Perfect Days in Wyoming and Montana"

...In the days of Lewis and Clark, bison herds numbered in the millions and human settlements were few and far between. A century later, the wilderness that once lurked just across the Mississippi River had been tamed, and the frontier had shifted all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Those who'd stayed east during the great migration, but wanted to play rough-and-ready pioneer, booked some time at working cattle or sheep ranches that took in paying guests. And even today, no trip to Montana would be complete without a few nights at a dude ranch. You'll be staying at one of the cushiest yet still authentic options, the 8,000-acre Mountain Sky Guest Ranch (800–548–3392; doubles, $600–$670, all– inclusive), which even has a barbed wire collection.  Visitors aren't expected to herd any of the black Angus cattle raised here, but you can still ride horses all day long and enjoy a soak in the hot tub afterword... 

...It's just over an hour from Bozeman to the ranch, so you can spend the morning at the Museum of the Rockies (406–994–2251; museumoftherockies.org) and still be at Mountain Sky in time for lunch. The museum has a superb collection of North American dinosaur fossils, including the largest T. rex skull in the world.

East of Bozeman, Highway 89 takes you through Paradise Valley. The Yellowstone River carves a verdant stripe down the center of the golden-yellow valley, with cottonwoods lapping up its moisture on either bank. You should arrive at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch by 12:30 p.m., when the lunch buffet is served (expect average banquet hall-style food). Mountain Sky feels like the pinnacle of pioneer living: quiet and remote, but with all the comforts of home and none of the distractions. Don't bother turning on your cell phone or looking for a television (although there is Internet access in the lounge). Horse rides go out every morning and afternoon, with guests divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced groups; the most experienced riders are even allowed to gallop. Reconvene in the bar with your fellow dudes for hors d'oeuvres at 6 p.m. and have dinner at 6:30. Before you head to your cabin for the night, check the sign-up sheet for tomorrow's activities. If the breakfast ride/hike to the historic Vink Ranch is on the list, don't miss it.

Should you find yourself headed to the Vink Ranch this morning, expect to travel several miles on foot or hoof past the rock-strewn Big Creek and through high golden grass to this neighboring ranch, where you'll be rewarded with cowboy coffee and a hearty breakfast cooked over an open fire. (Feeling sluggish? You can always opt for the van service.) Another great option is the morning yoga class, suitable for all levels, which is staged next to a crackling fire. The rest of the day is yours to fill with horseback rides and other ranch activities. Not equine inclined? There are also morning and afternoon hiking trips, white-water rafting on the Yellowstone River, fly-fishing instruction several times a week, tennis courts, and a pool. Or you can just grab a book and kick up your heels on the porch of your Lincoln Log-style cabin, many of which date back to 1929, when the ranch first started taking guests. Close your eyes and listen to the neigh of a horse, the stomping of hooves in the corral, the deep clang of the lunch bell. That peak you see in the distance is Emigrant, and it rises to almost 11,000 feet; try to get a seat with a view of the mountain at dinner, when the sky blushes violet, perhaps illuminating a dusting of snow on the summit. A scene such as this makes you realize what drove people to leave everything behind and venture west to a bountiful land they'd once thought existed only in the realm of dreams..."   Condé Nast Traveler, November 2009.

view the article in it's entirety at:  http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/501833

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thanks Annie!

Many thanks to naturalist Annie Sisk and everyone at Wild Things Unlimited, who provided excellent on-the-trail training to our hiking guides this spring. We enjoyed passing our knowledge of flowers, birds and other wildlife on to our guests throughout the season!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Going Green

To minimize our environmental impact, we are proud to announce our new amenities line: Green from Natura.

The packaging is made of corn based PSM (Plastarch Material), reducing demand for petroleum based plastics, and the coordinating packaging is made of natural recycled paper cartons printed with soy based inks. The vegetable based soaps are cruelty free, containing no animal fat or by-products.

Thank you for your support in our efforts to reduce global waste and create a cleaner environment!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

2009 Family Season in Review

The Greenest Season in Memory...

Heaven forbid we kick off our first blog with a discussion of the weather, but this year the rains dramatically altered our landscape, and we felt it was worth noting. For our June and early July guests, the unusual moisture meant even more wildflowers than normal. Lupine, Arrow-Leaf Balsam Root, and Sticky Geraniums were out in greater numbers than many of us 'old-timers' at the ranch could remember seeing. For our late July and August guests, the change was the most dramatic. Nightly rains and cooler days kept the tall grasses green, and Paradise Valley--typically sun-baked and dry by early August--remained lush and green. Flowers that normally would have dried up in the heat remained long after their usual growing periods, and the sweet clover patches grew 6 feet tall, covering the foothills in brilliant yellow. The afternoon rains came like clockwork, and we found ourselves treated to a stunning rainbow or two every week. No wildfires, no drought... the only complaint came from fishermen, who had to wait longer than usual for the rivers to settle down.

Teen Programming: Skeet Shooting a Blast, Climbing Trips Rock...

Our teens were treated to some new activities this year, in our never-ending quest to make their stay as entertaining as possible. We teamed up with Buffalo Ranch Sporting Clays to offer Tuesday night trips, combining the activity with pizza at nearby Chico Hot Springs. For many, it was a great lesson in the proper handling and use of firearms. For those who had done it before, it was a great opportunity to practice at a great facility, and under the expert (and entertaining) tutelage of Harry, the master of 'golfing with a gun.' Participants rotated through 11 stations, where clays simulated everything from jackrabbits streaking along the ground, to multiple geese flying at you head-on. Several parents managed to sneak-along on the trip, and the program was so successful that we'll be offering it next year.

We also teamed up with Reach Your Peak climbing, to offer guided rock climbing trips on Friday mornings. What the participating teens sacrificed (like sleeping in after Dance Night) was more than compensated for by the entertainment value of the trip. Guide Ron Brunkhorst bolted two brand-new routes on a great rock in Yankee Jim Canyon, and teens enjoyed the challenge of climbing these two routes, and enjoying an airy rappel at the end. All they had to do was show up on the front porch in the morning, and R.C. and Ron took care of the rest, providing lunches, water, harnesses, helmets, shoes, and transportation. Ron has secured access to a larger rock just 50 yards from our climbing site this past season, and we look forward to the addition of several new routes of varying difficulty next year. We'll likely offer this trip as an off-ranch excursion available to anyone interested.

Team Penning Enjoys Another Successful Year...

Our participants in Team Penning this year added yet another horsemanship skill to their repertoire, as they honed their herding skills in the arena. Four pairs of steer were numbered 1-4. Teams then drew numbers out of a hat to determine which numbered cattle they would have the option to separate from the pack, and herd into a pen at the other end of the arena. Teams were challenged to communicate, both while developing a game plan, and during the competition itself, and had to utilize every skill they had to herd the stubborn cattle into the pen. Many teams finished with times of under one minute.

Kids Program News Briefs:

Kids Discover (and Destroy) Alien Attackers Disguised as Hideous Housekeepers

A group of children and counselors unearthed an evil plot by cleverly disguised aliens earlier this summer, and made short work of the invasion by protecting ranch residents and guests with Fruit Loop necklaces. "Everyone knows aliens will explode when sugar touches them," explained one five year old, "So just touch them with the Fruit Loop if one is chasing you." The group, armed with water guns and water balloons, managed to repel the invasion by lunch time.

"Diaper Justice League" Spreads Awareness, Dispenses Justice

Children and counselors, tired of prejudice against those who wear diapers, donned diapers on their heads and armed themselves with diaper-related facts and a parade banner, all in order to dispel certain myths surrounding diaper use. It also proved a convenient time to fight crime. "Over 99.9% of people have worn, or will wear, some form of diaper at some point in their life," explained Amy Odland, head of the Kids Program. "We're tired of people making fun of diapers... and we also need to track down the troll who stole our morning snack and teach him a lesson."

"Amigo" and "Juniper" Take Top Honors in 6-Year-Old Arena Instruction

During interviews conducted at the 6-year-old Arena Instruction Graduation Ceremony on Saturday afternoons, Amigo and Juniper received rave-reviews from their riders. "I like Juniper because he does what I ask him to do," reported one girl, petting the horse's neck while she talked. When asked his favorite thing about Amigo, one young rider replied, "I like him because his fur is shiny... and because he stops when I tell him to." Peacemaker was the recipient of many accolades as well, for his fine work as Kids Program lead-line horse.

Mountain Sky Staff Updates

Congratulations to Tawnya Rupe and Kurt Mraz, who were married this Spring! There was a beautiful ceremony in Wilsall, MT, followed by a massive reception in Livingston that turned into a virtual Mountain Sky reunion. Guests and staff--both current, and of years past--all congregated to celebrate this long-awaited event.

R.C. Townsend and Stacy Rose announced their engagement this March, and the happy couple are due to be wed next September.

Congratulations to owner Arthur Blank, whose Atlanta Falcons defied expectations with a fantastic 2008-2009 season, going 11-5 with a playoff appearance, and sweeping honors for GM of the Year (Thomas Dimitroff), Coach of the Year (Mike Smith), and Rookie of the Year (Matt Ryan). They'll look to build on last season's success and win the NFC South this year, with valuable additions to the team like Tony Gonzales.