Love at First Sight....of HORSES, of course!
dude ranch horseback rider

dude ranch horse vacation

Our horses love the attention given to them by our ranch guests.  Of course, they enjoy the treats like apples and carrots as well.  But, like humans, there is nothing better than a hug or stroke from their rider that shows appreciation for taking such good care of them of the trail rides.

horseback riding vacation

Sometimes horses even like a little extra attention.  Jack and Mustang Sally seem to be having a conversation at the moment.  Perhap wrangler Katie can understand the horse language that is being shared!


 family all inclusive vacation







Even if the guest is too young to actually ride the trails a horse can receive a special moment of attention.  We think this youngster demonstrates the meaning of “Love at first sight” for horses very well!



Branding Time at  Hawley Mountain Ranch

Cows aren't the only item that get branded in Montana!  At Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch almost any type of object has been branded in the years past.  It's a really fun activity that is enjoyed by guests of all ages around the campfires twice a week.  

campfire branding4

Our "Mountain Climbing Pinzgauer

pinzgauer at monument 1

This vehicle gets a lot of stares from other travelers as it heads up the primitive road at the end of the Main Boulder river valley. It seems to go where most other vehicles would not think of traveling!   

Hiking to the Mountain Top....

Hiking with friends to the top of a mountain can be challenging, but going in a group makes a great support system.

montana mountain hiking

mountain hiking in montana

The views along the way aren't hard to look at either.

 mountain hiking in wildness

 outdoor family vacation

Once at the top of Monument Peak be sure to sign your name to validate your effort.

 outdoor enthusiast hikers

Sharing the experience with friends makes the hiking trek all worthwhile.







Horses and Kids Create SMILES!

children ranch vacation1

Want to Feel Like a Kid Again?

One way is to go back to simpler times by playing some old-fashioned games.  This is what we have done at Hawley Mountain Ranch for the past several years on the Fourth of July.

 family dude ranch vacation

 family dude rranch vacaation2

After the cookout is over the guests gather in the volleyball court to participate in the fun and games.  Notice that  there is a wide range of ages in the group, as size and age doesn't seem to make a lot of difference in who wins.  The lineup is concentrating on their plan to win the sack race, the first event of the evening. Lots of hopping occurs, but as seen above, there are some causualities as well.  The sack race isn't as easy as it looks to get to the finish line!  

all inclusive ranch get away

The 3-legged race is always a hit, but it does require some team-work.  It's difficult for the team players to coordinate their steps to avoid falling.  


family dude ranch vacation4

The balloon race gets to be very competive!  Each participant has a unique style to accomplish the same WIN!  


family dude ranch vacation5

Once again, there is no age limit in this race, and you can see the different approach to get to the finish line.  

tug of war at hawley mountain ranchThe Tug-of-War has been a traditional competition from long ago.   Two teams are divided trying to equalize ages, size, and strength as much as possible.  You can the the strain involved to keep from being pulled over the line.  Unfortuantely the ground was wet due to a brief rain which made traction very difficult.  

family dude ranch vacation6

 Despite the slippery conditions these young men dug in their heels and did their best to keep from being pulled the wrong way.  After the event almost everyone was tired, a little muddy, but ready to give it a try again.

family dude ranch vacation8

family dude ranch vacation9

Following the cookout and old-fashioned games everyone gathers on the deck by the lodge to watch  the annual fireworks (weather permitting!)  The flag is nearby on the deck and reminds us of the reason for the July celebration.  Some of the staff head to the pond area down below the lodge to get the fireworks set up to light.  Of course, they cart down the necessary safety equipment such as buckets and fire extinguishers in case of an incident. Viewing the fireworks from the eagle's nest cliff location is so special, because we look straight ahead, rather than craning our necks to look high up, with Hawley Mountain in the background.  Such a spectacular sight thats been enjoyed by ranch guests and staff for many years.  


Unique Techniques for Enjoying Cookout Cuisine
As guests head down to the cookout area for the evening meal on Tuesdays and Fridays, they are greeted by the tantlizing aroma of grilled steaks, burgers, or brats.  They eagerly fill their plates with a variety of tasty foods and find a place to dig in after a busy day of ranch activities.  

 dude ranch family vacation

 guest ranch family vacation

  We notice that everyone has a unique style of approaching their cookout food as they start to "chow down"!  Getting their mouth around a hefty burger or a lengthy brat requires some concentration....and effort!  

all inclusive ranch vacation

Montana guest ranch cookout

   Where there's a will, these youngsters will find a way.  If the large picnic round table isn't available for seating (or the boys are choosing a little space of their own!) a spot has been found where the huge burger or grilled steak with fixings can be enjoyed with pleasure.  


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. 


Contact Us or Request A Brochure

Use this form to request a brochure or more information.
A link to the brochure will be available once the form is submitted.
If you would like us to mail a brochure, remember to include your address in the comment section.
(Your email address or contact information will not be shared with others.)

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".