Join the Hawley Mountain Team!

One of the best ways to get a group of new guests acquainted with each other and become "besties" by the end of the week is to get a lively game of volleyball started after the cookout.  Rules are a bit lax as we play with "mountain" rules which pretty much means that anything goes!

 hawley mountain family vacation

volleyball game

volley ball 4

There are no age limits, so the young (and older) can occupy the court.  At times so me of the staff nearly sacrifice their bodies trying to get a ball over the net, but no serious injuries have been reported.

family all inclusive vacation

It takes lots of concentration to get that ball served over the net.  What a way to learn teamwork while having lots of fun!



Sheep as Far as the Eye Can See

sheep on boulder road

Dude Ranch Hearty Food...Pleasing to the Tummy!

One proven fact about people staying at a dude ranch....they come into the lodge for mealtime bringing huge appetities!  Our cook, Nancy, doesn't disappoint them and works very hard to accommodate special diets.

dude ranch meal

The main course varies during the week, but it is eye pleasing and tasty.  Roasted chicken, shrimp, pork tenderloin, Sunday night roast beef, and many other meat types are offered during the guests' seven night stays.  

dude ranch food2

dude ranch cookie jar

Doesn't this spinach and strawberry salad look delicious?  There is always some type of fresh salad served for guests to enjoy.  Also served is some type of potatoe, pasta, vegetable, and bread.  Always a meal to meet the hungry needs of our busy and active people.

Of course, a meal isn't complete without some type of dessert!  Cobblers, chocolate mousse, pecan bars....just to mentiona few.  The, of course, there is the always popular Saturday night "sundae bar!"  Another popular item that guests enjoy is the delicious homemade cookies found in the ranch cookie jar during the day!  These little items are a hit after a busy morning of horseback riding or hiking.  


Our guests spend many hours at our trout pond in the summer months.  That's where the fly fishing lessons are taught on Monday evenings.  Also water activites such as swimming and use of our paddle boards and kayaks occur on the warmer days.  Frog catching is a really fun sport for some of the younger people, and often, this activity has been the first time ever tried by many!

all inclusive vacation includes fishing

fly fishing in Montana


  Sometimes a fisherman needs a little help bringing in a catch.  That's when this young lady steped in to deal with the issue.  At times the trout doesn't want to cooperate which means spending a little more time in the chilly water to get the job done.  

Our Dynamic Ranch Horse "DOMINO!"

When our mighty horse Domino leaps across the meadow in this manner, he gets a lot of attention!  He was added to the herd many years ago as a big, reliable, and bomb-proof animal.  But to look at these photo one might wonder if those characteristics are true.



montana wilderness wildlife

The Tale of OLD SCARFACE....

 Where does an 800+ pound grizzly bear go?  ANYWHERE HE WANTS……especially if it’s Old Scar Face who vandalized the Upper Boulder River Valley in the 1930’s.

After fighting a ferocious battle and losing his reign in Yellowstone Park to a younger grizzly, later named Caesar, Old Scar Face meandered into the Boulder Valley terrorizing residents for 3 weeks.  He entered and damaged a total of 19 cabins, nearly demolishing a half dozen of them. One of the cabins Old Scarface entered belonged to Ralph Jarrett, the owner of the Hawley homestead that he had purchased from Tom Hawley in 1917. The bear entered the cabin and tore up the sugar bin. Finished with the sugar, the grizzly pushed the bin back into its cabinet so hard that it later took two men to get it out.

Late one evening Game Warden Herman Saylor and four or five residents of the Boulder Valley concealed themselves at the Fleming Ranch not far from what is today the Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch.  Attempting to snag the $50 reward offered for Old Scar Face, “Dead or Alive,” the group was prepared for an all-night vigil.  Around midnight something was seen moving not far from the cabin, and someone shouted, “There he comes!”   A shot was fired__ and down went a HORSE!

However, Old Scar Face was outsmarted the following morning.  He was trapped by Sheriff Floyd Bailey and Oscar Falling of Big Timber at the old Jarrett cabin (located just below the cliff where Hawley Mountain’s Eagle Nest Lodge now sits) about 3 miles from the “horse shooting” the previous night.  The massive grizzly was caught in a trap there that was baited with a dead woodchuck.  Three death shots were fired quickly, without ceremony, and the ex-king of Yellowstone Park was no more.  It took little time to deal permanently with the destructive bear, the carcass (weighing 800-1,000 pounds) was loaded into a truck, and the animal was hauled to Big Timber.  There, Old Scar Face’s head mount was on display for years in Sheriff Floyd Bailey’s sporting goods store. 

Old Scar Face may be gone, but he is not forgotten!  His history lives on, and he is one ranch adventure that Hawley Mountain Ranch is glad not to have experienced.

NOTE:  A question was asked as to where the taxidermy mount of Old Scarface is now located.  According to local Big Timber resident, Tim Thompson, the mount hung in Frye's Cafe in Big Timber for many years.  It was then given to Tim's dad, Teddy Thompson, who was an outfitter in the Boulder River Valley.  When the Gosnell brothers from AZ came to this area to hunt one year, Teddy loaned the mount of Scarface to them to hang in their restuarant, Rustler's Roost, back home in AZ.  Several years later Old Scarface was returned to Teddy, and he then gave the mount to Don Cowles, Jr. who hung it in his cabin up the Boulder.  Unfortuately, the cabin burned down a few year ago, and Old Scarface was a casuality of that fire.  



In the summer of 1972 graduate students of a field class in archeology at Montana State University set up a site in the lower meadow near the Boulder River on the Jarrett ranch property below Hawley Mountain. Bill Jarrett was in the process of constructing buildings that would become Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch.  While excavating dirt to construct a pond dam, Bill discovered items that looked to him like artifacts. Experts at MSU were contacted to evaluate the items, and the “Jarrett Site” was established in June. 



Gold Was Found in the Mountains of Montana

mining in montana mountains

 There’s “gold in them thar’ hills” caused a rush of prospectors to head into the Upper Boulder Valley hoping to strike it rich.  At the peak of the gold rush in 1892-1893 over 500 men were in or near the mining town of Independence located in the high elevations of the Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness.


 montana mining  history

 montana mining equipment

As early as 1882 huge stamp mills, steam engines, and other heavy equipment were hauled up the primitive Boulder Road by mule trains.  What a back-breaking strenuous trip this had to be for both man and beast!

 wilderness montana mining

 gold mining in montana

Some mining was done by digging and sorting rock close to the surface.  Other methods were to burrow into the size of the hill creating a mine shaft.  Some of the rocks were crushed as the mining site using large tubs with ball bearings.

mining equipment steam engine


  Most of the ore was hauled by horse-drawn wagons from mine sites to the stamp mills where the rocks were crushed. Runaways, as you can imagine when looking at the steep mountainsides, were very common.  One way miners prevented runaways was to hitch horses to the BACK of wagons to help “brake” the heavy loads.  The Independence mine, however, developed a unique way to get ore down the mountain.  It had a 1,000 foot long tramway to “chute” the blasted ore from an upper tunnel.  Remnants of the tramway’s lumber supports are visible today. 

mining stamp mill sm

equipment stamp mill

Independence's last year of prosperity was 1893.  As quickly as the boom began, it ended.  The site of the former boom town now consists of a few collapsed and rotting cabins, partially used woodpiles, and rock piled on the surface.  When prospectors moved on in the late 1890's to find riches elsewhere, the valuable big metal machines were left behind.  

Each week our Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch visitors are able to see these rusted pieces of machinery and get a feel for the times when prospectors roamed the regaion in hopes of finding riches of gold and silver.  Independence and the mining sites around it are truly a ghost town area!

"Multi-Generational" Family Reunions at a Dude Ranch

all-inclusive family reunion vaacation

Family reunions at a guest ranch are becoming more common, as it’s a great way for families who live long distances from each other to meet somewhere “in the middle” to spend quality time together.   Our remote location provides a place for people to gather and avoid all the distractions of their busy lives. Instead family memories are formed while spending a week in an all-inclusive vacation with their loved ones. 

multi-generational family vacation reunion

montana reunion vacation getaways3

Grandparents enjoy having their whole family together with them for the week, so they can share the memories made with their children, spouses, and grandchildren.  Even if they do not participate in all the ranch activities, grandparents are able to share part of the day’s activities.  Watching their grandkids get on a horse for the first time, roasting marshmallows at the campfire, or taking a walk to the fishing pond are just some of the memories in the making that can be shared for years to come.

montana reunion all-inclusive getaways4

One “special reunion” the ranch staff looks forward to each year occurs in mid-September.  Many years ago guests got acquainted that particular week and formed such good friendships that a tradition of meeting the same week each year continues.  All of these special friends have definitely become part of our Hawley Mountain family. 

Cabin Remnants Left from the Gold Mining Days in Montana

Looking through this window frame in the late 1880’s would show miners hard at work in this mountainous area of Montana trying to make it rich by hitting a valuable gold vein. At one time there were about 500 people living in this desolate area year round meeting challenges that are hard for us to fathom. If only these cabins could talk to share some amazing stories of these Montana pioneers!

cabin remnant 1

Memories Shared at Hawley Mountain Are Lasting!

It seems like some improtant event is celebrated every week at Hawley Mountain Ranch.  Everything from birthdays, anniversaries, and things in-between call for a celebration!  One of our favorite weeks for celebrating is in September when long time friends return to our guest ranch for a reunion with people they met years ago here. It's a week that we all look forward to each year! 

family vacation at dude ranch

A Special Proposal in the Mountains of Montana

Many romantic moments have occurred at Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch, and a very special one happened along the Boulder River this summer.

This past summer a young couple, Riley and Mason, came to the ranch with Riley's family.  Mason had a surprise in mind for his girlfriend and made arrangements for our manager Joe to help him out with his plan.  Mason suggested that he and Riley take a romantic stroll down to the the Boulder River which is located on the ranch.  Once they arrived to a pre-planned location along this beautiful riverbank Mason made his proposal of marriage to Riley.  Her answer was "Yes"!  Happy smiles are evident on both faces... 

proposal 1 400x400

proposal 2 400x400

proposal 3 400x400


 A Day in the Life of a Hawley Mountain Horse

Our Hawley Mountain horses live in a paradise much of the year.  They enjoy a wilderness situation for several months which promotes good health and stamina.  In late May wranglers gather the herd which can sometimes be a challenge, as the horses have experienced freedom for months and perhaps would like that life style to continue!  After getting their new shoes, the horses are brought up to the ranch to begin their four months of actual employment.  A first task is to help get trails cleared, while at the same time, the horses re-learn proper “behavior” when carrying their rider.

clearing trail

winter pasture4


See You at Our Dude Ranch Cookout!

Fun is provided by a fire…..great food cooked over hot coals followed by people gathering around a toasty campfire. 

Twice a week Hawley Mountain guests and staff head to the ranch cookout area to participate in food and fellowship.  Intense volleyball games (played by “mountain rules” of course!), roping attempts to snag our stationary “Norman, and horseshoe competitions are part of the evening’s entertainment. 

 ranch cookout at Hawley Mountain
roping at cookout
volleyball at hawley

Never Too Young to Start Fly Fishing in the Montana Wilderness!

We like to start our youngsters out at a early age learning the art of fly fishing.  It's one sport that can be done from a young age until years far beyond. What better way to enjoy the outdoors than fishing along the bank of a pond or creek, or better yet, wade out into a pristine mountain stream like our Boulder River which is surrounded by unbeatable scenery.  However, this youngster seems to be more interested in the fishing rod than the scenery right now!  

fly fishing in Montana

fly fishing family vacation


     "Someone talked me into trying this fly fishing fishing activity.  I've held the rod, looked over the parts, and now my line is floating in the water. Where are the fish?!  I wasn't told that this sport takes a lot of patience and practice!" 

 A really great reason to start fly fishing when you are young...lots of time to accomplish BOTH..

dude ranch fly fishing

 COVID-19 Information

hawley mountain wilderness


With our remote location and small group of visitors coming each week to a wilderness area, Hawley Mountain Ranch should provide a less worrisome environment of peace and comfort for those eager to get on with a more normal life. We feel extremely fortunate to have finished the 2020 season with no COVID infections of guests or staff during or after their stays, and we are excited about the 2021 season.

Some information is listed below showing the steps we have taken to provide an environment as safe as possible for you during a stay at our ranch:

  • Guests will fill out a COVID Disclosure Form upon arrival at the ranch by answering simple questions related to the COVID which will be kept on file.
  • Temperatures and screening of guests and staff will be undertaken.
  • At times you will be in close contact with about 30 people during your ranch stay which could have some inherent risks.
  • Spacing of dining tables has been done as much as possible. The lodge deck also offers more social distancing for meals.
  • Hand sanitizer is found in several locations for frequent use.  Guests must sanitize hands before entering the food line.
  • Sanitizing of tables, chairs, bathrooms, doorknobs, horse tack, and other surfaces touched by individuals will occur as reasonably possible.
  • Masks are available for those wanting to wear them, especially when in the lodge. Masks will be required on airport shuttles.
  • We will continue with our summer plans as usual until we learn of reasons not to do so. It is our hope that anyone with reservations has received their vaccinations and tried to avoid chances of exposure to COVID as much as possible.   That helps us provide a safer environment for you and others, so everyone can enjoy their time spent in this great Montana wilderness.

Our goal is to make your vacation stay with us as NORMAL as possible.  Having FUN is important as well as keeping a safe environment in which to enjoy the ranch activities.


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We are included in Visit Montana

Our activities are permitted by the Gallatin National Forest.


There are a wide variety of ranches to choose from. 
For more information that might help pick the right ranch go to the page "How to select a dude ranch".