Top marks: Beautiful setting, tucked back into Mortimer Gulch, north of Sun River Canyon, one of Montana’s many incredibly scenic areas. Ranch owners Kim and Ernie Baker and their staff excel at making people feel at home and trying to accommodate each guests interests – hats off to them for hospitality. They have a lot of knowledge of the area and, besides the horseback riding, can suggest hikes and other activities. They also have enough staff to give a lot of personal attention. They work hard to help each guest have an enjoyable experience.
The grounds are nice – lots of trees, some mowed grassy areas, gravel pathways. Watch for bunnies and squirrels, birds, even deer, etc. There’s a volleyball net and horseshoe pit, and plenty of room to throw a Frisbee, or you can just sit back and enjoy the scenery.
The main lodge has the dining area and a lounge area with lots of books, including local and regional books. It would be a nice place to sit and read, except that it features really uncomfortable furniture (mostly log), not conducive to relaxation. They advertise internet connection, which you can get in the main lodge, but it’s so slow that it is nearly useless – even some of the staff remarked on that. The lodge has a porch and a deck to sit on, nice places to sit and enjoy the setting. They usually have an evening activity for guests who are interested: local naturalists showing slides; Native American music, stories and history; campfire; etc. The hot tub was nice after long day of activity.
Meals are generally good, something different everyday. They will pack you a good lunch if you are going to be out on a ride or hike. Staff join the guests for meals, which I think is nice. It’s a good way to get acquainted and they’ll answer questions about the area. People sit where ever they like, so there is opportunity to mix it up and get acquainted with different people. Although I didn’t have any special dietary needs, I noticed that they were very accommodating for other guests who had certain needs, like gluten-free diet, or particular food sensitivities. Only downside is that breakfast is not served until 8:30, which I consider pretty late. However, you can ask Kim or Ernie about early options – they are very accommodating.
The ranch is very family friendly, with wranglers for the kids, who get their own orientation to riding and some kids-only rides and adults-only rides, but the ranch also has rides for everyone. The week gets off to a slow start, because you have to go through the horse orientation the first half of Monday, but that’s for the safety of everyone and to help ensure that you get a good experience the rest of the week. After that, there are daily rides in one of the most scenic areas in the state.
Other: The ranch can get pretty noise if there are a lot of children, so it was not as peaceful as I’d hoped. If you prefer a quieter experience, you might want to consider one of the “adult-only” weeks. Tip from the staff: when you are booking, ask if there are particular weeks when fewer children are signed up.
Needs Improvement: I stayed in large 1-room cabin, plenty of space, but run down, not a comfortable place to settle down and relax, and for the price, I expect nicer accommodation. If I’d had to spend much of the day there, I definitely would not have been happy with it. But generally I was only there in the evening and at night. I didn’t think to ask if other cabins were available. It seems to be one of the older cabins on the property. There are a few newer cabins. I only saw the inside of mine. The doors are askew; some window panes are cracked. The cabin door does not even latch, but stays shut because it sticks in the frame. Bathroom has a really small shower stall. There are a few chairs and a couch in the cabin and on the porch, none of them comfortable and some really worn out. Fabric on the couch is worn threadbare, exposing the foam. If I came back for another vacation, I’d ask for a different cabin.
On the positive side, the cabin was large, plenty of room. There was one king bed at one end of the cabin. The bed was fairly soft – I prefer firm, but that’s a preference, and I slept well anyway. There’s chest of drawers in the main room and the bathroom, plenty of drawer space to put your things. There are hooks (horseshoes) to hang things on. At the other end of the cabin there is a long counter top with coffee maker and small fridge. Coffee is supplied. The fridge is nice to have for your own favorite drinks or snack. Although the cabin gets daily housekeeping, it could use a thorough cleaning. There’s a porch to sit on (if you can tolerate the rundown, uncomfortable chairs), really nice to be out among the aspen groves, with good view of the ridge.
Overall: Great western vacation experience, largely due to the hospitality of the owners and staff, and the great location. But I give it less than five stars due to very rundown cabin.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in the scenic corridor between Yellowstone and Glacier Park, the Triple J offers dude ranch vacations & pack-trips into the famous Bob Marshall Wilderness. Quality horseback riding for the beginner to experienced rider. Miles of scenic trails from flower strewn meadows to mountain vistas. Morning, afternoon and all day rides. Smaller groups, not long lines. Outstanding child & teen program. Great Fly-fishing opportunities for wild trout in the Sun River with experienced guides or solitude on the river. Beautiful spring fed stocked trout ponds at the ranch; or treks into the wilderness. Unlimited hiking with wildlife watching opportunities. Western activities, interpretive canyon tours, swimming or relaxing in the hot tub. Outdoor cook-outs, evening campfires, cowboy poetry, singing and wild-tale-telling! Delicious meals with fresh homemade goodies, garden vegetables and area grown meats. Comfortable, cozy delightful cabins. Escape to a different way of life. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Jjj Wilderness Ranch Hotel Augusta
- JJJ Wilderness Ranch Augusta, Montana