courtesy 320 Guest Ranch
Published July 05, 2017
The sound of hooves stomping down on the hard earth is the last thing guests of the 320 Guest Ranch in Big Sky, Montana, hear as they turn the corner and arrive at the banks of the Gallatin River. After a nearly two-hour ride on horseback, the rush of the river, the crackle of an open fire and the sizzling sound of thick steaks searing to perfection fill the air with a sense of accomplishment as the riders arrive, just in time to enjoy a hearty dinner while the sun sets beyond the river.
This riverside barbecue with a trail ride is just one of the many unforgettable experiences for guests at the 320 Guest Ranch. This historical guest ranch has been welcoming guests since 1905, just a few short years after Sam Wilson and his father, Clinton, combined their homesteads to form what they referred to as the Buffalo Horn Resort. The ranch remained lovingly preserved over the years while changing ownership a handful of times, and today the ranch offers 87 sleeping rooms with 58 log-cabin-like accommodations, as well as seven luxurious log homes and a mountain chalet.
The ranch has become a respite for guests and meeting groups to reconnect and recharge while taking part in authentic Montana experiences, and many first-time visitors have become repeat guests over the years, noting the refreshing and energized feeling they have upon their return home. Dr. Carolyn McGill, Montana’s first female physician and one of the ranch’s early owners, remarked that “to get out into God’s mountains, whether to ride or walk, or just sit, will cure more ills than all the medicine or medical knowledge in existence.”
Whether in town for a reunion or a corporate outing, meeting guests that stay at the property can always find time to take one of the resort’s horses out for a ride through Montana’s scenic valleys and hills, or cast their lines for wild trout on the Blue Ribbon Gallatin River, the same river used as the setting for the fishing scenes in Robert Redford’s movie “A River Runs Through It.”
The 320 Guest Ranch offers a conference center and a banquet hall, both in Montana-inspired log buildings with Western decor. Groups can enjoy meetings accompanied by a roaring fireplace — there’s one in each building — and the ranch has some on-site audiovisual equipment, as well as dedicated planning support. The 4,000-square-foot conference center can be divided into thirds; the center holds a total of 175 people, and the banquet hall seats 175. The resort also allows groups to rent out the dining room, which holds up to 100 guests; the historic saloon, which holds up to 50 guests; the tent, which holds up to 170 guests; and the “deck by the creek,” which can accommodate 80 guests.
In the summer, the ranch offers trail rides into the wilderness, with numerous options to suit participants’ skill levels and time restraints. The team of concierges and adventure consultants can assist with booking fishing guides and fly-fishing lessons on the Gallatin River for aspiring anglers. During winter, the resort offers dogsledding, sleigh rides, snowshoeing and nightly bonfires. Guests don’t have to leave the property to stock up on souvenirs and gear, since the resort features an on-site fly-fishing shop and gift shop. The ranch staff also offers a babysitting service, so parents can enjoy after-hours activities at the 320 Saloon.
The 320 Guest Ranch is renowned for genuine Montana experiences, and that reputation continues in the kitchen. The culinary team specializes in Montana favorites such as elk medallions, bison and cowboy cut steaks, but a range of menus satisfies all palates. The breakfast menu includes freshly baked pastries or healthy granola, and afternoon breaks sizzle with the “pop it like it’s hot” offering of buttered, rum-caramel and nacho-cheese popcorn. Dinners range from buffets to plated affairs, but its ultimate ranch experiences include a private pig roast, a summer chuck-wagon cookout, a winter sleigh ride and a Montana-themed dinner. Alcohol is available.
The resort is just 30 minutes from the Yellowstone National Park area and 12 miles from Big Sky, making it a potential hub for groups traveling in the area. The meetings and events staff can assist guests with tickets to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, as well as whitewater rafting on the Gallatin River. Among other off-site activities for groups are dogsledding excursions, golfing trips, all-terrain-vehicle riding, float trips, kayaking, snowmobiling and mountain biking. The resort can assist in suggestions for bus companies for private or group transfers around Big Sky.
320 Guest Ranch
Location: Gallatin Gateway, Montana
Size: 87 sleeping rooms with 58 log-cabin-like accommodations, seven log homes and a mountain chalet
Meeting Space: More than 4,000 square feet
Access: 56 miles from Gallatin Field Airport in Belgrade, Montana; 35 miles from Yellowstone Airport in West Yellowstone, Montana