Dream it, live it, do it

Lowdown

  • Established

    1880
  • Tel

    406-537-4477 or 406-930-5441
  • Nightly Rates (per adult)*

    $300 - $430
  • Nightly Rates (per child)*

    $260 - $315
  • Minimum Stay

    1 week
  • Maximum Guests

    25
  • Works with travel agents?

    Yes
  • Great For

    Romance, Action & adventure, Peace & quiet, Solitude, Diverse scenery
  • Memberships

    Dude Ranch Association, Montana Dude Ranch Association
* Rates will vary based on Season and Accommodation selection. Please contact the ranch directly for Date Request, Availability and exact Rate quote/proposal

Welcome to our family! Come enjoy spectacular scenery, warm hospitality and an authentic western way of life as you participate in new adventures, refresh your spirit and experience the magic that is Sweet Grass Ranch.

Sweet Grass Ranch is part of a sixth generation family-owned and operated working cattle ranch and guest ranch secluded in the Crazy Mountains of Montana and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

We offer exceptional riding opportunities on thousands of acres of both moutain country and rolling meadows and plains. With an unstructured riding program tailored to the interests of our guests as well as the usual ranch work, we have a multitude of daily riding options. Sweet Grass also has beautiful hiking trails and diverse fishing opportunities in the miles of Sweet Grass creek flowing through the property, high alpine lakes, or via rowboat on one of the ponds for the kids.

Sweet Grass Ranch provides fun for the entire family with a natural water slide, inner tubing the creek, campfires, massages, weekly horsemanship clinics, cattle drives, games on horseback, hikes, photography seminars and a host of indoor and outdoor games. In the evenings, visit with new-found friends, enjoy a s'more at the campfire, play pool or cards, relax with a hot tub and book, or if you are feeling energetic, play soccer, volleyball, softball, pasture golf or horseshoes.

Our meals are hearty "ranch gourmet" with locally raised beef, pork, chicken, fresh produce, and home made breads, pastries and desserts.

Check out the most recent for Sweet Grass Ranch!

Good time to go

Wildflowers are at their peak and the meadow is blue with forget-me-nots; the curlew nests, and the land is lush and green. Don't forget the Big Timber Rodeo in the last week in June!

Drive cattle to the high mountain pastures, check on bulls and fences, enjoy overnight trips, swim horses in the creek and marvel at a lighting storm.

The days are cloudless, the snow recedes on the higher elevations, and it's time to ride to see mountain goats or take a trip up canyon to the cool falls and alpine lakes beyond.

Find cows hiding in thousands of acres and move them before snow sets in. The days are mild, elk are bugling, and evenings and mornings are crisp with the scent of autumn.

Children at the Ranch

Great for children aged 9 and over

This is a family-owned and run ranch; children and grandchildren abound. Sweet Grass does have three adult only weeks at the end of the summer, but the ranch has always encouraged kids. In fact, it started out as a kids' camp, with children between the ages of nine and 19 coming for the entire summer. After Bill and Shelly had four of their own, they decided some adult company would also be welcome!

While there is no formal children's program, there are a great deal of different riding programs and activities with kids in mind. There is a minimum age of 5 for any riding; instead the little ones are willingly led or ponied until they gain a measure of comfort and control. The ranch is also blessed with some wonderful kids' horses, who love children. However, children do need to be able to listen to the wrangler and exercise some control over their horse to ride independently.

Teens will have a great time with cattle work, playing "tag", swimming horses, trying a bareback ride, going to the natural waterslide, inner tubing the Sweet Grass River, kayaking in the ponds, taking an overnight trip, and just spending time with fellow teens or younger staff members.

Both children and adults are welcome to participate in any of the rides, cattle work, fishing (both river and pond, with a couple kayaks for the ponds and a small rowboat), hiking, a game of pool or cards, evening campfires, guitars, cookout dinners, moonlight rides, dinner rides, sunrise rides, gymkhanas, horseshoes, volleyball, softball, some evening outdoor movies weather permitting, a summer concert, and whatever else we dream up. An outdoor pavilion provides a great space for evening fun. All riding is supervised and upon request, a wrangler or staff person can supervise some other kids' activities. Generally, however, kids' activities outside of riding are to be supervised by parents.

If you have children, it's assumed you'd like to spend some time with them on your vacation - but we also assume there are times they would prefer a ride without adults, and vice-versa! As such, the variety of riding options allows guests to choose whether they want to ride with children or parents, or with a group of just children or adults. We also do our best to accomodate "family ride" requests, so parents have the opportunity to spend some quality riding time with their children.

Minimum age children can ride

5 and over

Activities

hiking, picnics, cookouts, campouts, floating, Our kids raise 4H animals, so we often have pigs to feed, a milk cow, bum calves and an occasional foal around the ranch.

Games

scavenger/treasure hunts, board games, horseshoes, soccer, volleyball, pool table, Softball, pasture golf

Baby Sitting Provided By

Baby sitting can be arranged upon advance notice and request, prior to your arrival at the ranch.

Environmental & Social Practices

Environment

Our family has lived in this area and ranched on these lands for over a hundred years. Our objectives are to maintain this unique livestyle with which we have been blessed, share our experience with others, and remember that we are stewards of this land with each generation striving to pass the land on to the next generation in the same or better condition.

Our livelihood, both as a cattle ranch and guest ranch, depends on the health of our livestock and we treat them with respect and appreciation. We move our cattle only as grass and water dictate, and our well-loved horses are ranch raised or purchased from neighbors in this ranching community.

Community

We are fortunate to live in a community where many of the families are still on lands homesteaded by their ancestors; where a picturesque church and 3-room schoolhouse are still the heart of the community; and where neighbors lend a helping hand without ever being asked. We all get together for brandings, parties, weddings and funerals, and we try to support our local businesses as much as possible.

Conservation

We try to conserve water in our daily operations and avoid plastic bottled water, as what we get from our springs rivals any bottled water.

In raising livestock, we pay attention to carrying capacity, controling noxious weeds and making room for the bountiful wildlife that also call these lands "home".

Ranch History

Sweet Grass was first homesteaded by the Brannin family in 1889, when they moved from New Mexico with 13 children and army of cattle, horses and angora goats in tow.

The Van Cleves homesteaded in the area in 1880, when they put together property for a sheeo and cattle ranch and were instrumental in starting the dude ranch industry. Upper sections of land in the canyon were already owned by the Van Cleves, but it was early 1950s when Paul Van Cleve II purchased the Brannin buildings and additional lands, re-naming them "Sweet Grass Ranch" and adding them to the other ranch holdings. In 1965, Bill and Shelly Carroccia bought the Sweet Grass Ranch from Shelly's grandfather and began taking guests. What started as a kids' camp grew into a place for families and adults to stay, too. Bill and Shelly purchased the family's cattle ranch in 1972 and have run them together ever since.

Bill and Shelly’s four children and their families have all been part of the ranching operations., Page, her husband Pat and their adult children, Erin and Connor operate Sweet Grass Ranch now with a helping hand from Bill and Shelly. Rocco, his wife Annie and their kids, Rainy, Lily and Ryal live at the cattle ranch but the kids often work at Sweet Grass. Tony, his wife Laura, and their younger kids, Juliet and Jack, live in Melville but come to Sweet Grass when they can and Tony often provides musical entertainment during the summer months. Tony's older twins, Orry and Zandy, often work at the ranch, too. Finally, J's boys - Kris, Josh and Gio-have all lived and worked on the ranch, and Josh and Gio are here frequently helping out in the summer and working on various projects off-season. Bill and Shelly's grandchildren are the sixth-generation of family on these lands, and the cattle ranch and guest ranch businesses are integral parts of their lives.

The ranch’s original buildings have been maintained over the years and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For a full history of the ranch including some early photos, take a look at our website.

Lowdown

  • Enjoy

    Gourmet, Ranch-style
  • Meals served

    family style, buffet style, everyone eats together
  • Alcohol

    BYOB
  • Enjoy dining in

    nature settings, dining room (casual attire)
  • You'll definitely love

    ranch-raised beef, farm fresh eggs, ranch garden, locally grown produce, fresh daily bread, fresh daily desserts
  • Dietary restrictions catered for

    lactose intolerant, vegetarians, Gluten free, other

We offer "ranch gourmet" meals served family-style in the dining room, with a different menu each week.

Our hearty meals include locally raised beef, pork and poultry, fresh fish as available, organic produce grown at a nearby greenhouse, fresh homemade breads, pastries and desserts, and homemade ice cream - all prepared by our ranch cooks. Lunches are packed to your order for all-day rides, fishing and hiking expeditions.

We don't have a liquor license, but guests are welcome to bring their own bottle for "happy hour" on the front porch before dinner, and to have with dinner should they wish.

Lowdown

  • Address

    460 Rein Lane
    Big Timber
    Montana
    59011
    USA
  • Remote Location

    Yes
  • Elevation

    6100 ft
  • Private Land

    10,000-20,000 acres
  • Public Land

    10,000-20,000 acres

Nearest Town - Big Timber

Big Timber has a population of @ 2000 (approx), and is situated 40 miles / 1 hour from the Ranch.

Facilities in Big Timber include: grocery store, pharmacy, church, school, post office, medical clinic, hospital, bank, atm, gas station, museum.

For shopping Big Timber offers: small hometown necessity shops, boutique shops, western wear.

Ranch shuttle

No fee

Nearest Airports

Billings Logan International Airport, Billings, MT

Distance

140 miles / 2 hours 30 mins

Airlines

Delta, United, Skywest, Allegiant, Horizon, Alaska, Frontier Airlines, Continental Airlines and US Airways

Ranch shuttle

$150 round trip

Rental car

4x4 recommended


Gallatin Field Airport (BZN), Bozeman, MT

Distance

130 miles / 2 hours 30 mins

Airlines

Delta, United, Skywest, Allegiant, Horizon, Frontier Airlines

Ranch shuttle

$150 round trip

Rental car

4x4 recommended


Private Air Travel

Nearest location(s)

Big Timber

Travel by

Airplane

Distance

40 miles

Lowdown

  • Type of Riding

    Western Riding
  • Riding opportunities for

    Beginner, Intermediate, Experienced
  • Most riders are

    Intermediate
  • Rides are grouped by

    Ability, Pace of Ride, Rides tailored to guest requests, Rides dictated by ranch work, Families ride together
  • Max riders per ride

    7
  • Wranglers per ride

    1
  • Pace of ride

    Walk, Trot, Lope
  • Guest Horses

    65
  • Horse Types

    Quarterhorse, Morgan, Thoroughbred, Draft Cross, Paints, Other, Geldings, Mares
  • Hours in the saddle

    Morning - 3 hours
    Afternoon - 3 hours
    Evening - 1 hour

The Setting

Private Land (10,000-20,000 acres)

Secluded in the Crazy Mountains of south central Montana, 40 miles from Big Timber. The ranch sits at 6100 feet on the Sweet Grass Creek with diversity in the landscape - canyon, meadows, open rolling hills, Timothy meadows and clear sparkling creeks, ponds and lakes. Our landscape even boasts a natural water slide. 

Public Land (10,000-20,000 acres)

We sit nestled against the Crazy Mountains and with private land intermingled with Gallatin National Forest with beautiful mountainous riding, travel beyond the ranch headquarters is foot and horse only.


Our Riding

Scheduled rides

Each specified ride departs at a specific time. We will notify you of specific times upon your arrival.

Unscheduled rides

We take rides for small groups or even individuals and these rides will depart when convenient for those guests rather than at a regularly scheduled departure. These may be planned in advance or "spur of the moment" rides.

Guided rides

Each day, your riding options are different - library rides, lake rides, cattle work. We can't list all of your options here!

Good to know

Each guest fills out a riding proficiency sheet and has a discussion with our crew to assist in matching horse and rider. Then, during Monday morning's instruction clinic, we assess riding ability.

Riding considerations

We recommend a good level of physical fitness, We consider height and athletic ability as well as a guest's weight

Hours in the saddle

We offer various types and lengths of rides, including dinner rides with a full moon and all-day rides moving cattle or to our majestic alpine lakes where you can be out from 6am to 7pm. It's really up to you!


Why our riding stands out

  • Exceptional riding choices every day
  • We do not rent or lease horses - the horses you ride are quality ranch horses with good temperaments
  • Ride bareback and swim your horse in the creek

Riding Lessons

Riding lessons are offered throughout your stay and are given by a personal family member here or by one of our qualified wranglers. The lessons can be tailored to your requests. Although we will conduct lessons in the restricted environment of the "arena", we try to do the majority of lessons on the trail to keep it interesting for both you and the horse.

Details

lessons come with package, basic riding lessons, advanced horsemanship lessons

Given by

wrangler, ranch owner or manager

Location

on the trail, in the arena

Natural Horsemanship Clinic

Clinician

Yes, when requested

Details

Clinics occur weekly, Included in package, Clinics occur in the arena, Clinics occur on the trail

Focuses on

We have studied the Natural Horsemanship style and taken different clinics ourselves to continue to learn, and incorporate those principles in all our work with horses. We offer clinics at various times during the season and daily encourage our guests to work with a horse's natural instincts and to improve their communication skills with their horse.  Different clinics can be arranged working on the horse you are riding for the week, colts, or cattle. Each week's focus depends upon activities at the ranch. The clnic can take place either at the guest ranch or at the cattle ranch in the pasture. We'll let you know ahead of time if we have a scheduled  clinic.  Those are at no extra cost unless we bring in outside "experts". Guests are welcome to participate at any level they feel comfortable and their abilities will allow.

Cattle work - pasture gathers

All of the cattle work on the ranch is dictated by conditions and health and well-being of the livestock and pasture. There are cattle to check, salt, doctor and move as grass and water dictate. Besides our weekly routine checks of cattle and grazing conditions which might necessitate a move, we have some set times we move cattle: We sometimes help a neighbor move cattle in June and then we move cattle the last week of July and first week of August.  During the adult only weeks at the end of the season, we are gathering cattle--sometimes its like looking for a needle in a haystack and yearings are like herding cats! We do not advertise exclusivity of our cattle drives, meaning while you're here at the ranch, you are welcome to take part in any cattle work we are doing, but only as a weekly guest.  However, there are always other riding options so you have the opportunity to take part in a cattle drive one day and may choose to do a lake ride on another. Throughout the summer, we do move cattle on and off, but our cattle work is dictated by grass, water and the health of the animals and therefore we do not guarantee specific cattle work for guests. For your comfort, due to some of the terrain and lengths of days when moving cattle, we do encourage guests to have some riding experience and a level of fitness.

When

Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep

No. of yearlings

55

No. of cow/calf pairs

100

Interaction

Guests watch, Guests participate

Branding work

At least once throughout the summer we help neighbors brand their calves. Guests are welcome to get involved at any level - this is usually a short notice type of event so its not something to book in advance.  However, if you are a guest when branding is available, we will let you know of any opportunities.

When

Jun, Jul

No. of Branding

100-300

Interaction

Guests watch, Guests participate

Pack Trips

We offer packtrips for one or two nights to our guests staying at the ranch for the week.  We also offer longer packtrips as a stand-alone option, usually spending one night at the ranch in a wall tent, and then 2 to 3 nights out at alpine locations on our private property at a  lake or beautiful creekside location above 8000 feet elevation.   We do need a minimum of 4 guests to do a packtrip. During June, we usually take pack trips toward the cattle ranch with our regular guests, since the elevation is lower and the ground drier! During July and August, we take pack trips to beautiful alpine lakes set amidst awe-inspiring peaks. We offer one or two night overnight trips into the mountains through July and August and will travel to various locations on the three forks of the Sweet Grass Creek in the Crazy Mountains. We provide tent, sleeping bags, bedding, food, fishing gear - All you need are you clothes! Guests are encouraged to fish, hike, and are welcome to help cook, set up camp, and care for the horses.

Arena Work

We have a large outdoor area or arena that we use for one-on-one work or clinics. We also do gymkhanas, barrels, pole bending and some cattle sorting, although these are in open meadows and not arena-based.

Type

outdoor arena

Activities

sorting, roping from the ground, barrels, pole bending, gymkhana

Lowdown

  • Nightly Rates (per adult)*

    $300 - $430
  • Nightly Rates (per child)*

    $260 - $315
  • Nightly Rates (non-rider)

    $220
  • Minimum Stay

    1 week
  • Preferred Arrival Day

    Sun
  • Preferred Departure Day

    Sun
* Rates will vary based on Season and Accommodation selection. Please contact the ranch directly for Date Request, Availability and exact Rate quote/proposal

Sweet Grass Ranch can cater for up to 25 guests. Accommodation includes Lodges, Cabins and Luxury Tents. See below for details and indicative rates.

Lodge | Lodge Room

Rates (Per Person)*

$300 - $350
* Rates will vary based on Season and Accommodation selection. Please contact the ranch directly for Date Request, Availability and exact Rate quote/proposal

Minimum Stay

4 nights

Description

There are 5 bedrooms in the historic main lodge that share a bathroom. These rooms can be rented individually but are often rented by a family or friends traveling together.

Rooms

5

Bathrooms

Shared bathroom

Amenities

fridge, hair dryer, seating area

Lodge | Suite (H/L)

Rates (Per Person)*

$400 - $425
* Rates will vary based on Season and Accommodation selection. Please contact the ranch directly for Date Request, Availability and exact Rate quote/proposal

Minimum Stay

1 week

Description

This accommodation has a queen bed, sitting area, fireplace, private bath and private entry with a second bedroom with single bed accessible from porch.

Rooms

2

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

fridge, hair dryer, seating area, wood fireplace

Cabin | Two Dot

Rates (Per Person)*

$300 - $400
* Rates will vary based on Season and Accommodation selection. Please contact the ranch directly for Date Request, Availability and exact Rate quote/proposal

Minimum Stay

1 week

Description

small cabin with twin beds and private bath

Rooms

1

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

fridge

Cabin | V-C

Rates (Per Person)*

$340 - $420
* Rates will vary based on Season and Accommodation selection. Please contact the ranch directly for Date Request, Availability and exact Rate quote/proposal

Minimum Stay

1 week

Description

Two bedroom cabin with private bath

Rooms

2

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

fridge, seating area, wood fireplace

Cabin | UX or RA

Rates (Per Person)*

$375 - $425
* Rates will vary based on Season and Accommodation selection. Please contact the ranch directly for Date Request, Availability and exact Rate quote/proposal

Minimum Stay

1 week

Description

family sized cabin with 2 bedrooms, separate living room, private bath, fireplace

Rooms

2

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

fridge, seating area, wood fireplace

Cabin | RX

Rates (Per Person)*

$400 - $450
* Rates will vary based on Season and Accommodation selection. Please contact the ranch directly for Date Request, Availability and exact Rate quote/proposal

Minimum Stay

1 week

Description

1 bedroom cabin, separate living room, fireplace, private bath

Rooms

1

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

fridge, seating area, wood fireplace

Cabin | ED

Rates (Per Person)*

$350 - $400
* Rates will vary based on Season and Accommodation selection. Please contact the ranch directly for Date Request, Availability and exact Rate quote/proposal

Minimum Stay

1 week

Description

2 bedroom cabin with private bath

Rooms

2

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

fridge, seating area, wood fireplace

Cabin | JB/Bunkhouse

Rates (Per Person)*

$350 - $400
* Rates will vary based on Season and Accommodation selection. Please contact the ranch directly for Date Request, Availability and exact Rate quote/proposal

Minimum Stay

1 week

Description

large open room with sitting area, fireplace, queen bed, twin bed and private bath

Rooms

1

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

fridge, seating area, wood fireplace

Luxury Tent | Yurt

Rates (Per Person)*

$300 - $340
* Rates will vary based on Season and Accommodation selection. Please contact the ranch directly for Date Request, Availability and exact Rate quote/proposal

Minimum Stay

1 week

Description

24 foot diameter insulated Yurt with living room, queen bed, two twin beds, detached private bathroom

Rooms

1

Bathrooms

Private bathroom

Amenities

fridge, seating area


Booking Policy

50% deposit required at booking; balance due on date of departure;

Cancellations must be by April 1 of year booked-guest can choose to roll over full deposit to following summer at then current rates or receive a refund of one-half of the paid deposit; cancellations within three weeks of booked stay require payment in full; trip insurance is recommended

Included in your stay

meals, activities, lodging, Riding

Extras

Tax

State of Montana Accommodations tax; based on rate attributable to lodging only

Gratuity

Recommend 15% but we do not have a mandatory gratuity

Massage

Rates paid directly to massage therapist on hour or partial hour basis

Other

airport transfers are $180 per person round trip to either Billings or Bozeman airports (each airport is about 2 1/2 hours from the ranch, so plan flights accordingly)

Lowdown

  • You can borrow

    Cowboy hats, Cowboy boots, Riding helmets, Saddle bags, Rain coats
  • Communications

    Wireless Internet/Wifi, telephone.
  • Business Services

    computer and fax hookups, printers.

Onsite

Shopping

There is a small honor store on-site selling t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, sundries, gloves, souvenirs and snacks.

Outdoor Activities

mountain biking, Yoga, campouts, bird watching, Shooting - trap / clays, photography workshops; hiking; "pasture golf"

Water based Activities

hot tub, river floating, inner-tubing, kayaks for ponds

Spa

relaxation massage, deep tissue massage, rock treatments, massage services are one day per week


Fishing & Wildlife

While some equipment is available, guests who are serious about their fishing are encouraged to bring their own equipment. There is a selection of flies from guests and employees who have made recommendations over the years.  The ponds are good for beginners with a small rowboat.  

Fishing on offer

spin, fly, river, lake, stream, equipment available, unguided, BYO equipment

Wildlife

Lots of animals call this place home, so expect to see deer, bear, elk, antelope, coyote, mountain goat, wild turkeys, eagles, hawks, songbirds and occasionally a moose, mountain lion or wolf.


Additional Services

Corporate Retreats

For groups of up to 30.

We offer corporate retreats, either before or after our regular season, or for smaller groups in the summer season.  Please contact us for further information.

Weddings

We can cater for groups of up to 30.

We have various wedding packages, including providing a venue for approximately 60 guests or destination wedding opportunities with lodging packages from a few days to a week.  Please see our website or contact us for more information.  We are happy to work with you.


Local Attractions

Crazy Mountain Museum

Local museum offering the history of Sweet Grass County, including wonderful displays of the Leo Cremer Rodeo company, a Norwegian stabbur, the contribution of cattle and wool to the area and Lewis and Clark native gardens.

Distance

40 miles / 1 hour

Ranch shuttle

No Charge


Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Co.

firearms manufacturr producing reproductions of historical black powder rifles, including the 1874 Sharps Rifle made famous in Quigley Down Under. Shiloh gives tours of the foundry and stamp works.

Distance

40 miles


Charles M. Bair Museum

Charles Bair made his fortune in the Alaska gold rush and came to Montana with the Northern Pacific Railroad. He owned one of the largest sheep ranches in the world and his family home is an eclectic collection of european art and antiques, native american artifacts and Americana.

Highs

  • There’s an incredible natural rock water slide about 40 yards long, ending in a clear, sparkling creek
  • The ranch's beauty will astound you – it’s also listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • This ranch has it all! Including trips to enjoy the rich cultural heritage of local ghost towns, museums, Indian ceremonials, Yellowstone Park and even rodeos. You can also get involved in cattle drives, depending upon the week you go
  • Enjoy untouched fly-fishing in pristine waters

Lows

  • Very remote; however once you've arrived, it's completely worth it and you won't want to leave!

Visitor Reviews

Dont just take our word for it, see what visitors like you say...

Unplug and reconnect with yourself

Needed a few days away from heat and humidity of Alabama to reset myself. Chose Sweet Grass because it seemed to cater to small numbers with various riding opportunities. I was not disappointed. Started with a beginner, morning ride. By the afternoon ride I was back in my horseback comfort zone. Loved, loved the wranglers. They were most attentive to every need and always eager to take you on a new trail. You could be there a month and probably never do the same ride. My cabin was perfect, food great and the hospitality was unlimited. Wish I could tell you about the fishing but I spent my time riding, reading and eating. Just what I needed to reset myself. Can't say enough about this ranch. Final note.......Sweet Grass is an "unplug" environment with no cell service or internet. Don't you just love that?

5 stars

You can find more reviews for Sweet Grass Ranch on TripAdvisor