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$250 - $1760Choteau, MT
After 54 years of outfitting and introducing folks to t...
The Bob Marshall Wilderness, one and a half million acres in size, lies just behind the ranch and includes some of the most pristine and wild land anywhere in the lower 48 states. We schedule our summer pack trips so we can experience the most possible in the time available. On our earlier Sun River trips we ride along the North and South forks of the Sun River, which offers great fishing, hiking and riding. This is a perfect time of the year to view the wildflowers, and the wildlife before they migrate into the higher country for the summer months. After mid-July we begin our trips into the high country along the Continental Divide where the snow is receding and the grass is coming along for the stock. The elk with their young calves are now moving into the high alpine basins, and hopefully the beargrass is in full bloom. Riding experience is not essential, but it does help. Our daily rides are not long, apart from the first day when we trek for 13 miles over the Route Creek divide and drop into our Sun River camp. Our saddle horses are gentle, sturdy and have spent enough time on these trails to know what they are doing.
On our wilderness pack trips we provide the complete camp, the food and a cook. Our tents are an 8’x8’ canvas teepee type tent that is comfortable for two people. We can accommodate up to eleven guests on a trip, accompanied by two packers, a cook and a guide to ride with you as you go from camp to camp. As a rule, we usually travel two days in a row setting up camp each night, and then have a layover on the third day. On a ten day trip, we would have three layover days when we would not be breaking and setting up camp giving guests a chance to fish, hike or just relax in the wilderness.
Cookin over the fire at campOur experienced camp cook provides food such as you would enjoy at home. Fresh meat, salads and vegetables are carried for the full ten days and we promise you won’t go hungry. Breakfasts consist of hotcakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, french toast and cereal and lunch is usually a sack lunch for the trail with a sandwich, home made cookies, fruit and a candy bar. Dave always does his traditional fire cooked steak the last night in the wilderness. A fitting prelude to your re-entry into a life you took leave of a few short days before.
We enjoy the pleasure of having many return guests on a large number of these trips, and during the 50+ years we have been here, we have many good friends who return to enjoy the ‘Big Sky Country” with us. This is truly a place to make lasting friendships.
It would be our pleasure if you were able to join us on one of our wilderness trips. They are a great way to experience peace and solitude while traveling through an undisturbed land. If you require any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Rocky Mountain Front (5 days)
Ear Mountain on the Rocky Mountain FrontOur Summer trips begin with a five day trip along the "Front."
This takes us north, along the foothills , riding across meadows, timber pines and fir forests. We look for the crocus to be in bloom, as well as the hillsides alive in the arrowleaf balsamroot, the buttercup, and shooting stars, just to name a few. Then you might find fairy slippers in the forested places. We camp at Muddy Creek where years ago a road was pushed into this drainage to saw lumber for the newly settled town of Bynum. The road is no longer there, but the remains of the old steam engine lies near the camp. The ride from there takes us further north to the North Fork of Dupuyer Creek. You may have the opportunity to view elk, mule deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, bears and other animals and birds native to the area before your trip ends on the West Fork of the Teton five days later.
Sun River Trips (6 days)
Along the Sun River Our first two trips west into the Bob Marshall are our Sun River trips, where we ride in over Route Creek Pass at the head of the Middle Fork of the Teton. Get acquainted with your mount as he takes to the top of the pass, 2000 feet higher in elevation than the ranch. Enter the Bob Marshall at the top of the pass and ride down Route Creek, Across Nesbitt Creek, and swing around Wapiti Ridge, into the old burn of 1988 and our campsite on Wrangler Creek . See and enjoy the vegetation change from the eastern Front, over the high pass, and down into the Sun River valley. Here camp is made, and the horses and mules are turned out for a night's grazing. The next morning, you will ride down the Sun River, through evergreen forests and burned areas. A beautiful landscape with the Chinese Wall several miles to the west, and the gentle valley and winding river as you reach your next camp on the banks of the Sun River. A layover here for the fisherman, and an opportunity for others to ride the rolling hill and meadow country of the lower Sun River. The six day trip will allow us two layover days, and this one of them. From here, we saddle up and ride down the river, and across over to the West Fork of the Sun River and camp at Pretty Prairie, a beautiful meadow, boarding a clear, meandering stream which has it's beginning at the base of the Chinese Wall. From this camp, we ride out to the trailhead at Benchmark, to be met by ranch vehicles and another party to return via the same camps back to the ranch on the Teton River.
Deluxe Wilderness Base Camp (7 days)
In conversations with guests, some have shown interest in a more relaxed pace trip without camp moves and a few more comfort amenities. We have the perfect base camp to accommodate this trip option at our Switchback Camp.
After your night's stay at the 7 Lazy P, we will load up in vehicles for a short drive to the trailhead at the West Fork of the Teton. Here we will depart horseback with the day's route taking us over the Continental Divide at Teton Pass and descending down into the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. Our leisurely ride will end at our Basin Creek Camp for an overnight stay.
The next day we will continue down country on mostly river grade trail, past Gooseberry Park Guard Cabin to our destination camp on Switchback Creek. Amenities at this campsite include a spacious kitchen/dining tent with table and chairs and fully equipped kitchen. You can expect excellent meals served with appropriate wines. Complimentary craft beers are also available. For your comfort there is a camp shower tent and you will find cots in your private sleeping tents. We will spend the remainder of the trip at this campsite, so make yourself at home!
Activities are "all of the above" with just relaxing high on the list. There are several day ride options... the Trilobite Lakes loop is fantastic! If you enjoy hiking, there are several hikes for any level. Fishing on the National Wild and Scenic Middle Fork of the Flathead River is excellent... you won't catch a 3# Rainbow, but a 16" Native Cutthroat is very special indeed! With skill and patience, you may even be able to coax a Dolly Varden onto your fly! We often use the horses to take us to different reaches of the river. Barbless hooks are recommended, and we are happy to discuss other gear choices with you.
On day seven, we will ride back to the West Fork trailhead. This will be a full day of riding, but going "home", the horses and mules clip along at a good pace and the comfort of the 7 Lazy P lodge and cabins awaits your return!
South Chinese Wall (10 days)
South of the Chinese WallThe South Chinese Wall trip which will begin after the middle of July, will take us on the same route as the earlier Sun River trips until we reach the Pretty Prairie camp. At this point, we will ride up the West Fork of the Sun River, past the West Fork mineral licks and about eight miles to our camp below the Indian Point cabin. The next day, you will have the opportunity to ride up to the Prairie Reef fire lookout. From that vantage point, you will be able to see in all directions. The mountains on the East Front, the full length of the Sun River and you can see over the Chinese Wall to the Swan Range far to the west. This is a great place to look for elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Day seven will be the ride from Indian Point up Burnt Creek to the "Wall." On a good flowering year, you will ride through fields of beargrass blossoms so high you will brush them with your stirrups. Enjoy the globeflower and the dogtooth violet as it emerges from under the snow banks. Your layover day there will be a hike up through Trick Pass to the top of the "Wall" for another exciting view of all the country in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. See the cliff swallow nests plastered to the side of Trick Pass, and watch for elk in the valley below. Day 9 will see you leaving the high country by the way of Moose Creek, or ride along the base of the "Wall" to Larch Hill and down Rock Creek to our camp of Gates Creek. Your last night will be spent at this camp, and you will have the opportunity to see the Ranger Station at Gates Park, where a man by the name of Gates tried to establish a ranch many years ago, but gave up when the winters were too tough. The last day will be the interesting ride up Headquarters Creek, burned out during the 1988 fires. The fireweed, sweetvetch, geraniums and forget-me-nots cover the land as you climb the shale switchbacks for a phenomenal view from Headquarters Pass as you say goodbye to the Bob Marshall until the next time. Then the ride down to be treated to a magnificent spring and waterfall, and more displays of the mountain gentian, sego lilys, penstamen, larkspur, columbine and others before you reach the trailhead at the South Fork of the Teton where you will be met by ranch vehicles for your ride back to the ranch. After claiming your duffel back at the ranch, you can change from the solar shower to your much awaited shower, and dinner in the lodge with everyone along with the ranch guests, all wanting to hear your stories of the trail.
North Chinese Wall (10 days)
High Country - Lake LevaleAfter two days off, the crew is back at the ranch heading out on the North Chinese Wall trip. Once again, our first day's ride will be in our camp of wrangle Creek near the Wrong Creek guard station. But this time we will ride north up the Sun River. Elephant head flowers in the marshy spots along the river, fireweed is evident in the areas that burned in 1988. Now, after the fire you can see the expanse of the Chinese Wall to the west, where earlier it was hidden because of the heavy spruce and pine forests. Not far though and we are surrounded by the evergreens and feel the solitude and the freedom of the trail that you are sharing with your horse and know that he is enjoying it as much as you. That day you will cross over the continental divide and camp on Basin Creek in the Flathead National Forest. A layover the next day in this valley of parks and beaver ponds, with perhaps a ride up on Mount May where an old forest fire lookout once stood .
Day 4 will take you down Bowl Creek and by Big River to the Gooseberry park guard station, now used mostly by crews as they clear the trails. Then up Clack Creek, past the beaver ponds and a switchback trail up and out of the valley to camp near the Trilobite Lakes, just under, you guessed it, Trilobite Peak. This is too rich of a spot to ride by, so we are going to layover here a day, so the more adventurous can hike to the top of the peak for a spectacular view. From Mount St. Nicholas in Glacier Park to Scapegoat to the south. This exquisite area is just the beginning of your high country travels along the North Chinese Wall.
Day six will take you right up to base of 8873 foot Pentagon Mountain with this beautiful , clear Dean lake at the foot. You're reaching the top of the world now and you can't keep from enjoying yourself so much. Look for mountain goats on the cliffs above and mule deer in the forests. Then a short ride along the top of world and you're looking over Switchback Pass on the Continental Divide and the whole Sun River valley laid out like a carpet, hemmed in by the high mountains. Then a glance down off the pass, and smack dab against the "Wall" is this beautiful, turquoise lake we call Lake Levale. Oh, I have to mention the forget-me-nots that you are riding by, and once in a while a green gentian. We're going to camp at that turquoise lake overnight, and the next day we'll be on our way riding through the high alpine basins that are at the east base of the Chinese Wall. We are now back in the Lewis and Clark National Forest and crossing the headwaters of the Open Creek, North and South Forks of Lick Creek and into our camp on the North Fork of Red Shale. As I rode that trail, I looked for a patch of pink spirea that was blooming near a stream on the head of Lick Creek. You just have to keep your eyes open looking for elk in those basins and mountain goats on the cliffs above. We once rode up on a black bear that was lying in the creek keeping cool. Scared him, so he took off, and I had to laugh because he was so waterlogged that he looked like someone was dragging a wet dishrag up the hill. You will layover the next day at this camp. It will not offer any riding, as the horses are taken over the high trail and into another basin for them to forage. But for hiking and exploring, it just doesn't get any better. Sock Lake is about an hour's climb from your picturesque camp, sits a swale in the "Wall", sometimes good for fishing but always good for swimming. Then you climb to the top of the divide in several places for a look at more mountains. Someone in the crew is always ready to take you on a hike. After the horses are brought into camp, you will say good-bye to the high country. You will then ride down Red Shale Creek and after about eight miles we come to our camp on Gate Creek, where we stayed when we came off of the South Wall, the trip before. Then the last day will once again be a ride up Headquarters Creek, over the high backbone and down the trailhead on the South Fork of the Teton, where once again, you will be met and brought back to the ranch by the ranch van.
North Continental Divide (10 & 8 days)
North Continental DivideOur North Continental Divide trip is a beautiful late summer trip. Once again, we begin from the ranch and ride over Route Creek Pass to our camp on Wrangle Creek. Then north up the Sun River and our summer camp on Basin Creek. That beautiful, pleasant valley, with it's slow meandering stream and beaver dams. After a layover the next day, we once again ride down Bowl Creek to Big River and Gooseberry Cabin. But from there instead of riding up Clack Creek, we will continue down river for another five miles, to a camp on the mouth of Winter Creek. So named because elk will winter on the open hillsides. Here we will stay another day to fish, hike, relax, or ride. The valley broadens and one can enjoy hillsides of grass waving in the breezes along with patches of lodgepole pine forests. Our sixth day will be a pleasant ride down the river to the mouth of Cox Creek. One time, as we were riding that trail, we rode upon a cluster of ladyslippers. They were near the trail and never have I ever seen them in such a great numbers. We then ride up Cox Creek to Beaver Lake for our evening's camp. This shallow lake is a quiet, tranquil, body of water resting almost on the Continental Divide, and quite often we are treated to sightings of moose. Over the Divide again the next day and a 15 mile ride down Strawberry Creek and through scenic Gateway Gorge, and to our camp on Big River Meadows. This is a picturesque valley near Continental Divide, and you can fish in the gorge or hike the mountains around camp. Our camp overlooks this broad , grassy valley where the horses graze overnight, and elk and deer sometimes come out to graze in the coolness of the evening. We may layover here two days and the last day ride out to the West Fork of the Teton to be met once again by the ranch vehicles. Or, take two short days, ride out Birch Creek trail from the meadows, up Crazy Creek for another glorious ride alongside Mt Patrick Gass, looking all the time for wildlife. A series of switchbacks at the head of Crazy Creek brings us to lush, green valley called the "Valley of the Moon". Riding on from there, we come to the resting place of Jacques LaFleure along the trail at the head of Bruce Creek. Camping that night in the high alpine basin at the head of Bruce Creek, and our traditional "last night on the trail" steak barbecue, we head out the next morning for the West Fork of the Teton and the end of the trail.
Our next trip is again the North Continental Divide. It is sometimes to eight days rather than the normal ten. It is pretty much the same with the exception of we do not camp on Beaver Lake, and ride from our Winter Creek camp back around Slideout Peak and Gateway Creek to our camp on Big River Meadows. And from there is the same trail out to the West Fork of the Teton, and the end of another glorious trip.
These trips are our normal schedule throughout the summer, and our campsite are predetermined. These would not be changed unless there were situations beyond our control, such as; weather, or trails that might be closed.