Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch Blog

 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...
volleyball at hawley...
roping at cookout

 COVID-19 Informationhawley 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 are excited about the 2021 season and look forward to seeing former guests and acquiring many new friends as well. We are very thankfull to have finished the 2020 season with no COVID infections of guests or staff during or after their stays.

In regards to the COVID 19 issue, we feel fortunate to live in Sweet Grass County.  Whenever you venture out into society these days there could be an inherent  risk. Although Montana has had spikes in the virus, it is still a fairly safe place to vacation.

A few UPDATES below to inform those visiting or wanting to visit us in 2021 about the steps we are taking to provide as safe of an environment as possible at the ranch:

  • The 2 week quarantine for out-of-state visitors was lifted on June 1, 2020, and we plan to open for business the week of June 6, 2021 if no future quarantine is issued.
  • At times you will be in fairly close contact with about 30 people during your ranch stay which could have some inherent risks.
  • Temperatures and screening of guests and staff will be undertaken.
  • Spacing of dining tables will be done as much as possible. The lodge deck also offers more social distancing for meals.
  • Sanitizing of tables, chairs, bathrooms, doorknobs, horse tack, and other surfaces touched by individuals will occur as reasonably possible.

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 will try to avoid chances of exposure to COVID as much as possible in order to forge ahead with your vacation plans.   That helps us provide a safer environment  for you and others, so everyone can enjoy their time spent in this great Montana wilderness.


 BRAY’S CABIN in Montana....Now Just a Pond!

Brays Cabin

A very picturesque place in the Upper Boulder area just south of Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch is what used to be known to us as Bray’s Cabin.  Tucked back in the forest by a pristine spring-fed pond was a dwelling built by Robert Bray, probably in the 1920’s, along the old mining road to Independence.  Robert forded the Boulder River near 4-Mile to reach his cabin.

Are You Game for a Unique Ride in the Montana Wilderness?

Have you ever thought of taking a wild ride into a mountainous wilderness?

Our Pinzgauer, an Austrian military vehicle, has provided many people with such an adventure.

mountain jeep ride

Our guests have a hard time believing that the Pinzgauer can travel on some of the very difficult terrain that it encounters.  Crossing creeks, driving over huge boulders, and climbing up steep, narrow, and rocky roads doesn't faze this vehicle in any way.  While traveling to the end of the primitive road views of the surrounding mountains are breathtaking!

Montana jeep ride in wilderness

jeep trip in Montana mountains












Once reaching the destination in the Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness people decide if they are  going to meet the challenge of a climb up to the top of Monument Peak or rather picnic, hike, or fish around the beautiful glacier lake.  The altitude of Monument Peak is almost 11,000 feet, so that hike is not for the faint of heart.  However, those who reach the top of the mountain are exhilarated by the magnificent beauty they experience when feeling like they are on the top of the world!


 mountain hikers  Hawley Mountain hikers on mountain top

Springtime in the Montana Mountains

After long months of winter in Montana the first signs of spring are always refreshing, especially in the higher altitudes where winter starts early in the fall and ends late in the spring. May and June are also our rainy months which along with some sunshine help to norish the grass and flowers. 

 montana spring flowers2  montana mountain hike

Montana "Puddle Jumping" by Horseback or Guests!

Often dude ranch activities will run into some type of obstacle.  Some are more serious than others.....and then some are just plain "interesting!"

montana puddle jumping1

Mountain Horseback Riding with Skye

horse at dude ranch1                      horse at dude ranch3                      horse at dude ranch2  

 Our painted horse, Skye, is a favorite of our guests.  It could be because of her unique color, but it could also be her petite size.  Also her cooperative disposition and ability to take good care of her rider might be reasons why guests are attracted to her.  Skye was purchased from one of our wranglers who needed money for college a few years ago, and she has been a great asset to the ranch.

"Hangout" Place for Families at Hawley Mountain Ranch

We can't think of a better place for a family to gather to experience new things, share lasting memories, and spend quality time together than booking a family vacation at a dude ranch.  Lots of smiles and laughter are seen and heard during the guests' week stay at Hawley Mountain.

family Montana vacation  family reunion vacation

Each week  guests arrive as a single, a couple, a few good friends, or a family with children.  Some weeks the whole ranch is booked by one large family who gather from all parts of the country to share a special time of reuniting after being apart for a long period of time.  There are few distractions at the ranch due to our remote location, so guests spend a lot of time interacting with each other and sharing lots of experiences.

A Montana Meadow Ride Is Fun for Guests

horseback ride in meadow

Let the adventure begin as wrangler Ryan leads the horseback riders from the barn to start a meadow ride.  Some of our most scenic views are found on the easier trail rides in the meadows around Hawley Mountain Ranch.

Montana meadow horseback ride

 The meadow ride just below the lodge gives riders an opportunity to enjoy the scenery surrounding them without having to deal with narrow rocky trails.  Riding by our stocked trout pond and being totally surrounded by the 10,000 feet mountains is relaxing, especially for those who have not ridden much before their arrival at our dude ranch.  


Each September we have the privilidge of the company of these three fun and "warm hearted" fly fishermen from Minnesota.  Since all three are retired they tend  to take fly fishing less aggressively than most of our guests.  We enjoy watching the process of their fly fishing methods and preparation which includes packing lunches for them which includes peanut butter, onion, and anchovy sandwiches!  

Montana fly fishermen    fly fishermen on the Montana Boulder River

Preparation takes some time and concentration.                                                                                            A time to take a break before starting.

Please Have a S'more....

smore"s at the campfire 

Twice a week at the campfire a favorite activity is "S'more Time."  Each person has his/her own technique roasting the marshmallow.  Some take a lot of time to roast theirs to a perfect golden brown, while others burn their marshmallow to a crisp.  However, we have noticed that the finished product turns out doesn't really matter.

smore fun at hawley mountain campfires

They all taste good!  Evidence is often found on the faces of the "roasters".  A little dirt on the face and hands from the volleyball game doesn't seem to hamper the experience.  Yum!!

Ranch Tasks in the Fall for the Hawley Mountain Staff

The end of the summer season is drawing to a close the end of September.  However, there remains many things to get accomplished during the next few weeks.  Staff members have already dug into some of  the tasks for fall work.  


First Horseback Ride of the Week

The guests gather on Monday morning at the barn for some safety and riding instruction given by our wranglers before heading out on their first ride of the week.

first morning horseback ride

 Each rider is given careful attention by the wranglers to make sure everything is just right.

100th Year Milestone at Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch  

Who would have guessed that the purchase of the Tom Hawley homestead by the Jarrett family100 years ago would result in the present day guest ranch at Hawley Mountain? 2017 was certainly a year to remember up here at the ranch.  A large group of family and friends gathered in July to help celebrate this important part of ranch history. 

100th hawley mountain ranch celebration

Over 130 guests gathered to celebrate with us, and it was a great time for conversations with old friends and share a lot of "memories.

people gathering at hawley mountain      people at hawley mountain celebration

Best Ranch Cook in the West!


Hawley Mountain Ranch has found a real treasure in our cook, Nancy.  Returning for her 5th year 
she has prepared tasty meals for a hungry group of guests and staff with amazing variety and effeciency. Ranch meals are served buffet style, and there are always plenty of choices for everyone's preferences. 

We are included in Travel Montana

Our activities are permitted by the Gallatin National Forest.

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

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