by Amanda Norcross
Bar W Guest Ranch offers the perfect Western vacation for all ages. Located on Spencer Lake, 3,000 acres of mountains, foothills and open prairies welcome horseback riders. Guests will also enjoy horsemanship clinics, barrel racing, egg races and pole bending in the hotel’s indoor and outdoor arenas. Cowpoke lessons for beginners are offered, and for the more experienced cowboys and cowgirls, advanced lessons include roping, team penning and sorting cattle. Additionally, Bar W guests are encouraged to explore the entire property. Watch the trainers work the horses, fish for pike on Spencer Lake, hike the trails, mountain bike, swim in the lake, throw horseshoes, or play badminton and volleyball. You can even test your archery skills or try your hand at breaking some clay pigeons.
The hotel offers six spacious guestrooms in its main lodge, two cabin suites, and “glamping” tents, glamourous tents on wooden platforms. All guests enjoy a hearty breakfast and dinner daily, and though you’ll feel like you’re miles away from civilization, the hotel is just over 3 miles from the town of Whitefish, where you’ll find an array of shopping, dining, theater and nightlife options.
Our Editor Loves
- Horseback riding
- All-inclusive rates
- Outdoor activities for all ages
- All Inclusive Rates
- Horse Back Riding
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
I struggle to write this review as I headed into this vacation with so Much expectation based on website and previous reviews. And every persons perspective and expectation is certainly different.
Accommodation at the ranch average. Accommodation for the cattle drive third world level (I certainly wasn’t expecting luxury, but tents catching on fire, toxic smoke due to burning all trash in the campfire with swirling winds...not so much on my list)
Food not very good and often carb loaded, veg shy
Equipment in deferred maintenance ( horse trailer broke down enroute to cattle drive experience (wheel flew off). kitchen tent caught fire multiple times. Trick broke down in return trip one of the glamo tents on the ranch lost heat for other guests. The shared bathroom wasn’t cleaned for days.
Leadership: more interested in getting guests to bring and imbibe scotch by campfire than ensure safety and comfort of guests
Staff: well intentioned wranglers but they seem to be in a bit of on vacation mode on the cattle drive. In some cases they were more interruptive with their high strung horses, and seemingly more interested in adventure than guests. On the ranch that was different.
Authenticity: it was pretty staged with cattle in specific areas to be rounded up. Mind you, that probably needs to be done And was fun anyway. plus several guests seemed more interested in instagram ability of photos than riding
Responsiveness: I told them I had no use for a photo cd as I have no cd but would appreciate a drip box access. I received a dvd that promptly went into the trash.
We worked out our summer vacation around spending a week at the Bar W. Initially I thought that spending just a couple of days at the ranch would be fine (after all, Montana has so much to offer), but after getting additional information from the Bar W, we decided that spending a week would be better and we revised our plans. Such a smart decision.
Lots of ranch activities - trail riding, riding lessons, fishing, swimming, biking, square dancing, learning how to rope, cut and pen. You can take part in as much or as little as you want. Meals were homespun and they switched things up daily for dinner from dining by the lake, to by campfire, and even a 'fancy' dinner.
What we loved is that our son had so much fun and spent very little time on any electronic gadget. He was up and running from breakfast to well past sunset. We lucked out as there were lots of other kids around his age and we felt safe by allowing him to bike around the resort with his new friends.
Everyone on staff was super friendly and helpful. They were there for you and wanted to make sure that you were OK and had a fun time. As an example, on a trail ride, my son was complaining about the sun in his eyes (he had forgotten his sunglasses), one of the wranglers heard this, rode up to him and offered him her pair. Wow!
The trail rides are fun and I highly recommend the day-long ride up along the Canadian border. Both novices and expert riders will enjoy their time at the ranch.