Near Glacier National Park, a laidback luxurious getaway is drawing both yoga enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Our first view of Dancing Spirit Ranch in Northwest Montana was breathtaking. We entered the 350 beautiful acres driving down a dirt road to our welcoming and comfortable home-away-from-home.
We were as unprepared for the grandeur of the setting as we were for the elegant service we received. Pampered and treated as if we were in a big city 5-star resort, we were in reality next to the world-renowned Glacier National Park and picturesque town of Whitefish.
The combination of the elegant service and accommodations, and the incredible background of the mountain scenery, provided an unforgettable experience for us two escapees from our small Austin apartment that had become both home and office the past year. Dancing Spirit Ranch was a wonderful location to reset, find calmness, and embrace the outdoors.
It was such a pleasant drive to Dancing Spirit, just 15 minutes from the Kalispell airport. Robin Gardner, the co-owner, welcomed us with a meticulous itinerary for the week, which illustrates Dancing Spirit’s attention to details and the satisfaction of their guests. Our first task was to relax and enjoy the view of the Alpenglow against the mountains from our porch with a charcuterie board and glasses of wine. (Alpenglow is an optical phenomenon that appears as a horizontal reddish glow when the sun is just below the horizon.)
We chose the quaint one-bedroom Little White House for our week stay. Overlooking a beautiful 14-acre pond, the former schoolmarm’s cottage was the perfect place for the two of us. Moved from its original location a mile away, it is one of a group of buildings which now forms the heart of Dancing Spirit Ranch.
During our stay we learned more about how the family created this boutique retreat center and vacation rental. The Barn is 100 years old and has been restored with a kitchen, dining room, library and sitting areas. The seven-bedroom Bunkhouse decorated with weathered barn wood is charming for large groups. Then there’s the Schoolhouse, a flexible space ideal for gatherings of all types including workshops, spiritual retreats, yoga classes, and more.
Guests can easily take advantage of being outdoors. There are over five miles of trails winding around ponds (created by the owners to encourage wildlife and support their own ecosystem) and through the meadows and forests.
We spent an afternoon wandering the property and visiting all the sacred stone sites. The most remarkable is the Tower of Power, a massive circular stone building that sits four feet below ground and extends into the sky, complete with a fire pit in the center. Prepare to spend a lot of time roaming about the property, but keep an eye out for the mama bear and her cubs who are currently residing on the property.
It was a pleasure to meet Executive Chef Ananda Johnson, who is also a yoga instructor. Every meal was created especially for us by her and her team of sous chefs, Jared and Taylor, alongside Kendra, an Herbal Specialist. Our favorite meal was homemade pizza with a fresh salad from their organic garden and local farmers markets. On our last night there, we were given a s’mores basket, carefully prepared so we could roast marshmallows at the outdoor fire pit. All very zen!
Activities On and Off the Ranch
There was more than enough for us to do during our stay at the ranch. From yoga, and bird-watching, to exploring the peaceful sculpture areas, tours, lessons, meals, and of course, time to just relax. We could have spent two weeks there, and still wouldn’t have had enough time to completely explore the property and all the beauty it has to offer.
Glacier National Park
Even though we had plenty to do on the property, we also wanted to take time to explore the surrounding area. One of our favorite days off property was spent at Glacier National Park. Depending on the time of year, there are many adventures to enjoy — hiking, biking, bird-watching, skiing, fishing and swimming.
In the middle of the park sits Going-to-the-Sun Road, which is a spectacular 50-mile, two-lane paved road that bisects the park east to west. During May (when we visited), the road is still being snow plowed. Although closed to cars, it’s open to bike and hike so we rode e-bikes as far as we could until we ran into eight-plus feet of snow on the road. The views at the top were stunning, well worth the 40-mile bike ride!
We spent the last morning of our trip in the charming town of Whitefish. Visiting Whitefish Lake, we relaxed on the family-friendly beach, then enjoyed Bonsai Brewing Project, and walked down Main Street, which is lined with charming stores and eateries.
A Boutique Retreat Center
Dancing Spirit Ranch can accommodate any event, whether it’s a group business trip, a family vacation, or a solo vacation. They also provide yoga, culinary, and writing retreats, as well as hosting small weddings and elopements. We will undoubtedly return, and we are looking forward to scheduling one of their retreats and bringing our family with us. Any opportunity to stay at Dancing Spirit Ranch, regardless of the time of year, would be an amazing, unforgettable experience.
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Cover photo courtesy Dancing Spirit Ranch
Kim Hudson is a graphic designer and travel writer for Texas Lifestyle Magazine. A world traveler, Kim is always up for a new adventure. During her free time, you can find her outside running, paddleboarding or skiing. Instagram @kimmmmyhudson. Facebook: Kim Hudson.