Like many frequent travelers I know, I have a goal to cross every single state in the U.S. off my travel bucket list. With just 12 left, I've prioritized which ones I really want to explore. One that had always been on my radar was Montana. I heard so much about the lush greenery and gorgeous mountain views that I knew I absolutely had to visit ASAP. This past weekend, my dream finally came true. My weekend retreat in Montana at Paws Up was everything I ever wanted in a Montana getaway — and it was basically like adult summer camp.
I never went to actual summer camp as a kid. Church and arts camps sort of took the place of my typical summer camp experiences when I was growing up, and although I did whitewater rafting and high-ropes courses, I don't think I can say that I've had a real summer camp experience — until now.
My long weekend was spent at Paws Up, a beautiful ranch and resort in Greenough, Montana. In addition to the beautiful and cozy accommodations, the activities I had the opportunity to partake in were unparalleled. I tackled a ton of firsts, from cattle driving on a horse, to learning archery, to even rock rappelling.
After spending a weekend in Big Sky Country, my heart is forever changed, and I seriously can't wait to go back.
I love that Paws Up allows guests to experience both camping — or rather, glamping — and cabin living, much like a summer camp. I spent one night in a huge tent at Pinnacle Camp, which came complete with heated floor tiles in the bathroom, and better yet, a killer view of the Blackfoot River. For my second and third nights, I shared a Wilderness Estate with a few girls from the trip, which is essentially a giant wooden cabin. It even had a full kitchen and a hot tub on the back deck. I feel like both the tent and the cabin gave me the sense that I was retreating into the wilderness the way I would at camp, but with a way bougie-er twist.
Although the accommodations were stunning, being in Montana at the resort made me want to spend all of my time outside. Paws Up offers incredible outdoorsy activities for their guests to enjoy while they're unplugging from their hectic schedules, so I took full advantage of as many as I could.
The Montana weather was a little bit unpredictable. It was still pretty cold in the mornings and evenings, but it warmed up to the high 70s during the day, and there were intermittent showers throughout my stay. Because of this, the activities I could try out were a little limited, or I just had to layer accordingly.
One activity I was really excited to do was the cattle drive. I've ridden horses a few times, but had never done a ride quite like this, where we really had to guide the cattle to and from their pasture. Being on a horse is already amazing, but the incredible valley views made the whole experience even more epic. Plus, I had the chance to go all-out with my wardrobe choice. I broke out my vintage fringe jacket, my bluest pair of jeans, and of course, a cowboy hat and pair of cowboy boots.
I also learned archery for the first time (and did pretty well, if I do say so myself), and I even rappelled down Lookout Rock, which according to Paws Up, is a spot "where Meriwether Lewis once stood." Both were unforgettable experiences, and I got to cross two more things off my "outdoorsy activities" bucket list.
I also loved that the activities were pretty flexible, and I was able to experience something I hadn't even planned on. I originally scheduled a float on the Blackfoot River, but it got cold and started hailing when I was getting ready to leave, so my group decided to take an electric bike ride through the resort's campus. According to the Paws Up website, the bike rides are currently free through 2019. It was a fun alternative when we couldn't be on the river, and ended up being one of the highlights of the trip.
I feel so lucky that I had the chance to experience Montana as my 38th state, especially at a place as beautiful as Paws Up. I had the time of my life unplugging, running around in nature, and feeling like I was basically at adult summer camp. It was the best weekend-long detox for me to get away from my hectic life in L,A. Hopefully, my next trip back will be a little longer.