Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch Blog


Bird Watching….. A Popular Activity at Hawley Mountain

western taniger


eagle in flight

One source of entertainment for our guests, especially those living in the cities, is watching the various species of birds that are part of our wilderness habitat.  Depending on the season, the variety changes from month to month.  Perhaps the most unusual bird we see is the Western Tangier, recognized by its bright yellow and orange plumage.  Occasionally a blue bird is spotted, and a bald eagle and osprey are frequent visitors to the pond area eyeing those tasty trout.  


round up in am4

Morning Roundups Can Be a Challenge!

At the break of dawn in all kinds of weather the wranglers report to the corral, saddle up their horses for the day, and then head to the pasture to round up the horse herd. 



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. 


If the ghost town of Independence could talk, what amazing stories it could tell!  Independence’s town site doesn’t look like much today, but this area which is about 12 miles farther up the Boulder Road from Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch is rich in history and hidden beauty.  

old post office
Beginning around 1870 determined prospectors began flocking to the Upper Boulder region when very promising deposits of gold and silver quartz were discovered.  Joe Keeney staked the first claims at Independence, and his wife was the first woman to give birth there. The grand gold rush hit the area in 1891.  In 1892 the population of Independence was estimated to be between 400-500 men and a handful of women.  They were a very hardy bunch of people to endure the fierce climate conditions year round at a 10,000 feet elevation.  


If you have ever wanted to feel like you were viewing your surroundings from the top of the world, then join us on a hike up to Monument Peak which lies at the very end of a primitive road.

Monument Peak and Blue Lake

Wild West Rodeo

rodeo bulldoggingThere’s nothing like a Big Timber rodeo to experience the old Western way of life.  Spectators of all ages converge to the fairgrounds near the Yellowstone River to watch the various entertaining events….everything from mutton busting to bull riding!
The last weekend in June is reserved for Rodeo Days in the small town of Big Timber.  It’s a time for family get-to-gethers, class reunions, and an influx of tourists to enjoy the two day event.  People gather in the grandstand in the early evening…and let the fun begin!

Campfire Fun

Not only is the campfire cuisine enjoyed by our ranch guests, but the variety of activities keeps people entertained. Intense volleyball games occur almost every week (using “mountain” rules, of course!). Roping our stationary steer, Norman, or pitching horseshoes tests skills of accuracy and provides a lot of laughs. Jean branding using our ranch irons sends guests home with a special (and inexpensive!) souvenir from Hawley Mountain.

jeans branding7
roping lesson1

 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

Wranglers at Work

A “wrangler” is defined as a person who herds or cares for livestock on a range.  That’s exactly what our wranglers at Hawley Mountain Ranch do….and they do their job well.  Getting saddled up by dawn they bring our horse herd in off the pasture to begin the day.  Then it’s time for the feeding, saddling, and taking guests out on rides to explore the wilderness.  Other tasks fill their days as well, such as fence fixing, trail clearing, weed spraying, and caring for the horses in many ways. 


Moose Alert!

Nothing gets the attention of our guests more than the words, “There’s a moose in the meadow!”  This always brings everyone to the lodge windows for a better view. 

2 moose 2

Can Deer Become Pet-Like?

deer closeup2

Autumn Arrived on Hawley Mountain

autumn by barn


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.

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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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All Rights Reserved.

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