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“Fantastic Spring Bear Hunt”

Swan Mountain Outfitters Day Tours
Ranked #1 of 2 things to do in Swan Lake
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Swan Mountain Outfitters offers summer wilderness pack trips, float/fishing trips, llama treks, custom trail/wagon rides and guided hunting trips in and around the Bob Marshall Wilderness. They also hold the horseback concession contract in Glacier National Park and offer trail rides from four locations in the Glacier area: Apgar, Lake McDonald, Many Glacier and West Glacier.
Reviewed May 24, 2014

My wife gave me a hunting trip as a retirement gift. After a brief internet search, I'd narrowed my choices down to Swan Mountain Outfitters (SMO) and another local guide. Because I had a fairly narrow window of opportunity to do the hunt this year, I called as their published dates didn't match my availability. Ashley was very polite and prompt and we had settled on alternate dates that matched my widow of availability within two phone calls in about 15 minutes. Ashley was also very helpful in providing pre-hunt information and answering questions.

Upon arrival into Kalispell, Pat (owner) met me at the airport and I enjoyed the conversation during the hour-or-so long drive to the lodge. That evening, I met my guide, Shawn, who joined us for a family style dinner (Pat's wife, JoAnn (sp?), is wonderful in the kitchen by the way). Over dinner, Pat and Shawn asked and answered questions - all in an attempt to tailor the five days to me.

The next morning, Shawn and I set out and he put us into "bear country" (lots of bear sign, etc) right away....it was obvious he had put time in scouting before my arrival. Within an hour and a half, we saw our first bear....unfortunately the bear saw us (my fault, not Shawn's) before I could set up. Some 16+ miles of Montana mountain later that day, Shawn put us atop a ridge overlooking a bowl where several elk were grazing. While I was enamored with elk-watching, Shawn picked up the movement of another bear - a BEAUTIFUL cinnamon color phase bear. Fortunately, I didn't mess up this second opportunity, and in about a year, I'll have a beautiful rug for my Man Cave.

What truly impressed me was what Pat and Shawn did after helping me to fill my tag on that first day. With four days left, Pat and Shawn offered to take me fishing, or turkey hunting (the only other wild game open during this particular time of year) - even going so far as to lend me a shotgun. You seldom see that level of "tailoring". Two days later, my shoulder hurt from throwing a fly line in beautiful mountain lakes and my turkey tag was also notched.

Overall, I would highly recommend SMO. Excellent/responsive before, during, and after the hunt; wonderful and pleasant people; fair prices; great guide service, food, and accommodations. A hunt I'll fondly remember for a lifetime!!!

Thank Milbrandtjw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (146)
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100 - 104 of 146 reviews

Reviewed October 7, 2013

I LOVE to ride horses and do so often but these were the most stubborn animals I have ever ridden. To start off, they were huge, half Belgian perhaps, and no steps to mount them safely. They would not stop grazing and they were too big to stop them from it. Should have chosen a more scenic destination...that's my fault but not much to see after the first hour. 4 hr. ride was almost 6 due to horse shenanagins. Before it was done, my horse bolted twice from bee attacks and my husband fell off his horse when it started galloping then stopped on a dime. Not our finest moments on horseback!

1  Thank THOMAS P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ashley A, Marketing Director at Swan Mountain Outfitters Day Tours, responded to this reviewResponded October 10, 2013

Dear Thomas P,

We appreciate your response and were concerned to hear your experience was not what you anticipated. We strive to provide a safe and enjoyable riding experience for all levels of riders and have devoted the past 7 seasons to developing a reliable herd of horses. We take great care in selecting horses which is why we use half drafts, their calm disposition and sweet demeanor is ideal for a diverse riding group. We intentionally avoid using mounting blocks (unless absolutely necessary) as they are not available out on the trail. This practice is an important measure to ensure riders are capable of mounting and dismounting their horses anywhere.

Before saddling up our wranglers conduct a thorough 30 minute safety speech and orientation. During this demonstration riders are instructed on reining techniques to prevent their horse from grazing; if performed properly this technique is effective on horses of all sizes. Despite our best efforts and instructions, horses are living, breathing animals with minds of their own and the insects likely provoked an unforeseen reaction. This year proved to be especially difficult for flies and bees due to mild winter conditions. We are thankful everyone was okay and consider this an isolated incident with extenuating circumstances. We invite you to ride with us again at any of our corrals so you can experience firsthand the positive riding adventure we are proud to provide.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 15, 2013

Swan Mountain operates horseback riding stables in or near Glacier National Park. They have really nice horses, good guides, and spectacular scenery. Their stables are at Many Glaciers on the east side, at Lake McDonald and Apgar on the west side, and just outside the park in West Glacier. They offer one hour, two hour, half day, and all day rides. Recently, we did three rides with them. The two hour Cracker Flats ride out of the Many Glaciers Stable was an easy ride through woods and fields with some lake and mountain views. The half day ride to Josephine Lake, also out of the Many glaciers stable, was a little more difficult, but offered unbelievable scenic views of glaciers, lakes, and peaks. A 45 minute stop allowed us time to walk across a swinging bridge by a waterfall and up to beautiful little Josephine Lake. Our final ride, out of the West Glacier Stable, was through low hills of pine and aspen up to a viewpoint of Strawberry Mountain in the Great Bear Wilderness Area just south of the park. Not as scenic as our Many Glacier rides, but a relaxing ride on a quiet overcast morning.

Before going to the park, we had called ahead for reservations. The office staff was very helpful to us in choosing our rides, but be aware that the rides offered may change on a daily basis due to weather and other factors. One of our rides was changed (for the better!). They offered us our money back if we did not want to go, but we cheerful refused and went on what turned out to be a great ride. All of the rides require a 45 minute check in period to organize the horses and equipment and for them give the required safety talks. Our rides all started on time, except one that was able to start early since we were the only couple going. Be aware that their rules prohibit backpacks, camera straps, or anything else around your neck while riding. You can bring a pocket camera for use during the breaks or at the end of the ride. They provide small saddle packs for water bottles, extra clothing, or food. You can bring snacks or a lunch for the breaks on the longer rides. If any of this bothers you, check their website or call them for more information.

9  Thank gordon475
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2013

I had a terrific full day ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters out of the Many Glacier corral in early August. Our guide Kelsey provided great information to us on wildlife, history, plants, and geology of the area. She is an excellent wrangler, friendly, and confident. Cracker Lake was beautiful that day, in calm wind, reflecting the surrounding cirque and remnant snowfields. We had a special opportunity to view old abandoned mining relics at the lunch time break. The ride was well paced, with plenty of time for exploring during lunch. I knew from the time I booked the ride that packs were not allowed, which was fine with me. The saddle bags provided had plenty of space for lunch, water, a rain jacket, and my small camera. You may use your camera when you are not in the saddle, and I was able to take some great photos when we dismounted. The horses were all fit, sturdy, and well groomed. They looked beautiful. My sorrel horse, Town, did his job well (despite my failure to keep him from munching thimbleberries, which Kelsey corrected), and took me to a place that I probably wouldn't be able to reach on my own two feet. He received an apple from my lunch. This is a long ride, more suited to people who know they can comfortably sit a big horse for 6 hours. The sign-in, orientation, and ride all went according to schedule. I have done all-day rides in other areas, and I would rate this as one of the best. I hope I can do another ride with Swan in the future.

4  Thank Susan M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 3, 2013

After fording through rain-swollen rivers on horse back in the Dominican Republic and riding up steep mountain trails in Idaho, this was a gentle trail ride . My 17 year old son and I took a two hour trail ride from the Apgar stable. The trail is in the flat lands through Aspen and Spruce forests past the north fork of the Flathead river and McDonald creek. Almost the entire trail is shaded. Bugs were not a problem. The horses were well behaved. The staff was friendly and helpful from the initial phone call to the paperwork to taking photos for you. I would definitely recommend this trail for a first time rider. Next time I would probably opt for one hour instead of two since the scenery is basically the same.

1  Thank JBDAVIS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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