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“Wonderful” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Rainbow Ranch Lodge

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Rainbow Ranch Lodge
42950 Gallatin Road, Gallatin Gateway, Big Sky, MT 59730   |  
Hotel amenities
London, England
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
51 hotel reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
142 helpful votes 142 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2007

One of the most pleasant stays anywhere ever and we nearly missed it - I hope you don't mind me telling a little story: The problem is they were/are in the process of remodelling the grounds which means when we saw the sign and stopped just past the lodge, all we could see was a muddy track and an old shack. But we'd been travelling for hours (driving from Jackson Hole) and didnt look round properly. We also knew we were still 15 miles from the skiing. So we carried on to Big Sky ski resort and looked at the hotels there and thought maybe we'd forget the booking and stay right at the resort. Luckily the hotels are a bit dull and we decided to spend one night at the RRL and see the next day.
Back we drove to the lodge and found the right building. Inside it was lovely and the staff were very friendly. They showed us to a gorgeous room (pondside luxury king) a lot like a log cabin with an amazing bath, shower, double sink and dressing area. The room had a flat TV hidden behind a picture and a view across the pond to a lovely old barn on the other side. But they said the bidet was broken so the next day they would move our stuff into a (pondside luxury) suite which was the same as we had but with a seperate living area with another flat TV hidden behind a picture.
The main lodge is lovely too - comfortable sitting areas and a very good restaurant.

2 problems:

1. The breakfast is a bit thin (juice, coffee, buns)
2. The remodelling of the grounds
But it was hard to care about either of these things when the rest of it was so wonderful. In addition everyone we met in Montana was really friendly, the scenery is amazing, the ski resort of Moonlight Basin (attached to Big Sky) is great for the type of skiing we like to do (long sweeping blue runs and some glade skiing) and above all it's really quiet - we parked every day right near the slopes and one day one of the guides even carried our skis to the edge of the slopes for us.

Of course it helps to be staying in the best room but on this occasion you really get what you pay for and I wouldn't hesitate to go back (which we would love to do) or recommend it.

And finally, when we got to Bozemon Airport to fly out we parked about 50m from the 2 storey terminal building which was like something out of the 50s. The check-in staff were friendly, there was a decent cafe and the plane (we flew from the UK in and out of Chicago) only had 2 seats either side so it was like being in First Class. All in all we much preferred it to Jackson Hole.

  • Liked — Room decor
  • Disliked — Limited breakfast
  • Stayed March 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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209 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (47)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Kanas City
2 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2007

We booked our stay at this lodge based on reviews on this site and a review of their website. We found the lodge to be overpriced and not a true "lodge" like we have come to expect in Wyoming, Montana and Colorado. We disliked it so much that we checked out early and moved to the 320 Ranch just up the highway. Our main complaints were as follows. First, the room was small for the price paid. Second, the lodge grounds are very small - though they look spacious on the website. Third, there was a lot of construction, noise and interruption. Fourth, the stables and horse riding facilities were substandard compared to other lodges we have stayed at. For the price there are much better lodges in the vicinity of Yellowstone. The 320 Ranch was outstanding. The lodges of East Yellowstone were also great - including Elephant Head and Goff Ranch.

  • Stayed July 2006, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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St. Louis, Mo.
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2007

About 2 yrs. ago, on an enexpected trip to Montana, my brother and I had the chance to stay a couple of nights at Rainbow. Our only diappointment was our stay was too short. From the moment we came through the door, everyone, immediately made us feel at home. I remember my brother saying, "Everyone is so nice and pleasant". At the end of our short visit , I said it is like invisible people taking care of all your needs, there , friendly, and then gone. Our rooms reflected the rest of the lodge, with quiet luxury, in a contempory Western feel, fine Montana art, and each had is own fireplace. This year friends wanted a ski vacation, I said , I know where we will go. They now have 21 units, and for a family or larger group, have The Bald Eagle. Our log home was 4,400 sq.ft of pure, comfortable, understated luxury, with every amenity that you would expect to have at home. Four bdrms, 3 baths, and a huge firplace, our own hot-tub. As always, the invisble staff, made sure that we were kept comfortable, and now have converts for more visits to RR Lodge.

  • Liked — Room and Food
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed February 2007, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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Austin, TX
15 reviews 15 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2007

I was so excited to visit Rainbow Ranch. My fiance and I were seriously thinking of even having our wedding here-- the pictures portrayed it in such a way that it looked like our dream spot. We were so disappointed. Don't get me wrong-- the staff was friendly, and our room was nice (but overpriced)-- BUT he Lodge was RIGHT by the highway. The pictures make the lodge look big-- they took a close up picture of it to make it look bigger than it is, and to block out any view of the highway in the photo. You can hear the cars, and semis driving by-- I wouldn't want that on my wedding day!! The restaurant, which everyone says is soooo amazing, was good, but not amazing. And very expensive. My fiance got a delicious steak, and I wasn't as hungry, so I got a chicken dish-- and it wasn't good (it's pretty hard to make chicken not taste good). The restaurant right across the street is great-- more affordable, and has tons of character. The Rainbow Ranch also serves NO breakfast or lunch. The Wrap Shack serves up some decent breakfast tacos, and good wraps.... we drove to Bozeman quite a bit, scouting out other wedding venues (Springhill Pavillion is an AMAZING spot, if you are looking for a gorgeous, rustic spot to get married... the pictures do not do it justice). We ate a very nice meal at Emerson, in Bozeman, and found a FABULOUS, quaint little restaurant to get some good steak-- called Stacy's, outside of town, in Gallatin, next to a cute little bar called Old Faithful. The bottom line: Rainbow Ranch was good, not great, and definitely overpriced.

  • Stayed March 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northern Minnesota
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 11, 2006

Last month my wife and I spent a long weekend at the Rainbow Ranch and we are still raving about the wonderful time we had. We stayed in one of the cabins owned by the ranch and we both agreed that though we had high expectations, the cabin far exceeded what we were hoping for. It was warm, comfortable and classy. The views are breathtaking and the staff is incredibly kind and helpful (Thank you Emily!!!!) I can't imagine a better place to stay and enjoy the best Big Sky has to offer. My wife and I HIGHLY recommend a visit to the Rainbow Ranch.

Stayed October 2006
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
here and there
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 17, 2006

Our wonderful experience began at the door. We were warmly greeted and even escorted to our room by Emily at the front desk. She and all the staff were extremely accomodating and helpful. Our room was charming, with a wood burning fireplace and located right on the river. The fireplace was great for those cold Montana nights. We even had hot cocoa and fresh baked scones delivered to our room each morning. The Ranch is located on the highway, but I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of road noise. We didn't get a chance to try the dining room because it was closed for the season, but are eager to get back and try it this winter. I was highly satisfied with the overall experience at the Rainbow Ranch and will most definitely return!!

  • Liked — friendly, helpful staff
  • Disliked — dining room was closed for the season
  • Tips/Secrets — riverside rooms are the best- relax!
  • Stayed October 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 11, 2006

My husband and I recently vacationed at the Lodge. We were both so excited to go and equally disappointed to leave. The drive from Gallatin Airport to Big Sky was gorgeous -- we knew we were heading someplace special. We were a tad disappointed that the location of Rainbow Ranch is literally just off the highway, so much so that we'd left the flew of our fireplace open and we could hear the gust of wind everytime a giant truck went speeding by. That said, we were met by a reservation manager named Megan. Super sweet and very helpful. Our room was comfortable, with a fireplace, jacuzzi tub and deck that overlooked the back grounds and the Gallatin River. There's a sand volleyball court in the grass out back which was very odd. It's SO out of place and kind of an eye-sore really. Note that there is quite a bit of construction going on but it was latent during our stay, thankfully.

I RECOMMEND: hiking up the trails behind the lodge, relaxing in the over-sized hot tub, grabbing a local brew on tap from the bar/restaurant Corral across the highway, fly-fishing or another guided-activity that can be booked with Cache Creek (located right on the property), grabbing the daily coffee, pastry or fruit in the lodge.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND: Lighting a fire in the fireplace without asking first how to do it without having your room full of smoke (even though the flew was open). We had to evacuate our room (and we apparently weren't the only ones with the issue -- we could tell by the residual soot on the armoire that it'd happened many times in the past).

I also do not recommend eating at the Rainbow Ranch restaurant. Unfortunately, I have to say that his was probably our low-point (well, there's one more, but I'll get to that shortly.) We dined here twice during our stay and both times we were disappointed, wondering "Are we missing something?" Not only have we read and heard that this is the best restaurant in
Big Sky but all the locals touted it as such. Just not the case. I could tell by the menu that the ingredients are fresh, local, organic (promoting slow food ) and the dishes are quite simple, but for some reason the food on our plates didn't own up. I specifically ordered the roasted chicken with spinach, carrots and sauteed leeks as I wanted a nice, clean & healthy dinner. But the chicken was pan-roasted and its juices, fat and all, were then poured onto the plate so that every item on my plate was soaked in a layer of chicken fat. I boxed it up and fed it to the cat that was visiting from across the river. My husband wanted to try the Elk tenderloin but was told by our waitress that it was gamey -- something he was thankful for because gamey's not his thing. So he ordered the beef tenderloin with asparagus risotto. The risotto was undercooked, with more than just a firm bite to it. Later, a patron at a table nearby inquired about the elk tenderloin to a different waitress, who commented that the elk is farm-raised so it's not at all gamey. What? My husband and I looked at each other in shock. Two waitresses, same restaurant, with two entirely different notes about the origin of the elk.

Second night at dinner: I ordered a salad without pine-nuts and a bone-in rib-eye steak medium-well. My husband: the elk (he went for it). My salad arrived doused in pine-nuts and the steak arrived charred on the outside and rare on the inside. I asked if they could butterfly it and please cook the inside. It came back moments later more charred on the outside and just above rare. $40 meal, and I tossed the meat since the cat hadn't appeared on the property for days. The french fries were good though.

Final pet-peeve: Serving olive oil that's not extra-virgin as an accompaniment with bread. Not sure if they didn't want to spend the $ on extra-virgin or figure most people wouldn't know better since they stuffed herbs in the flask to flavor it. But to me, it's a shortchange.

I know, I know -- I sound pretentious. But I'm so not. I promise. My argument is really based on the fact that you can't help but get the impression that the chef (and the owner) know they're big fish in a small pond. But then they need to prove it, especially for the prices. I think overall, the dining experiences here were just annoying because we wanted them to be good. Not fantastic (which would've been nice), but simply good. And they weren't.

One last issue: There was a TV crew there filming a show, and they were loud, obnoxious and without regard for any of the other guests. For 2 nights in a row we were kept up past 2:30am by slamming doors, yelling, laughing, running around outside, etc. It was as if they'd been given carte blanche to have the run of the place since the Ranch will be featured in the show, thus good publicity. Can't say for certain obviously, but it was plain rude and not behavior we'd expect here. We felt like we were in a college dorm.

BUT, I'd still go back for sure. I just wouldn't expect much from the restaurant.

  • Liked — Natural setting
  • Disliked — Restaurant, location off the highway
  • Stayed October 2006
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Rainbow Ranch Lodge

Address: 42950 Gallatin Road, Gallatin Gateway, Big Sky, MT 59730
Location: United States > Montana > Big Sky > Gallatin Gateway
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 B&Bs / Inns in Gallatin Gateway
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 21
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Rainbow Ranch Lodge is an intimate twenty-one room hotel and gourmet restaurant located on the banks of the Gallatin River in Big Sky, Montana. Whether riverside or pondside, accommodations at Rainbow Ranch Lodge provide a sanctuary for post-adventure relaxing or a romantic getaway for two. Located in a sweeping valley in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the Rainbow Ranch Lodge's location is ideal for both summer and winter activities. Our proximity to Yellowstone National Park affords our guests endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and exploration, including world-class fly fishing, horseback riding, hiking, whitewater rafting, and kayaking. Whether you choose an experienced local guide service or venture out on your own, the breathtakingly rugged, natural beauty of southwest Montana will restore and rejuvenate your senses. One of the top 10 winter destinations in North America, the Big Sky area offers a variety of winters activities including downhill skiing at Big Sky Resort, Moonlight Basin and Lone Mountain Ranch, as well as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, and winter fly fishing. If your winter preferences lean more towards comfort and warmth, the Rainbow Ranch Lodge's spa services and luxurious guest rooms provide the perfect alternative to a day spent outdoors. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Rainbow Ranch Hotel Gallatin Gateway
Rainbow Hotel Gallatin Gateway
Rainbow Ranch Montana
Rainbow Ranch Lodge Montana/Gallatin Gateway

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