Photo Credit: Eric Rosen & Resort at Paws UpEarlier this summer, we took you to the majestic forests of northwest Montana to visit one of North America's premier outdoor destinations, The Resort at Paws Up, which pioneered the concept of glamping, or glamorous camping, that has taken the luxury vacation world by storm.
Home on the Range
Don't get us wrong. After seeing the four 830-square-foot, two-bedroom family tents and two one-bedroom tents at Creekside Camp, we didn't think you could improve upon them. However, Pinnacle Camp took everything we loved about Creekside Camp - the rustic-chic field décor, the plush heated "Last Best Beds," wooden exterior decks for sitting outside and enjoying nature, and en-suite bathrooms with dual granite - countered vanities and heated floors, and managed to outdo it by adding full-size jetted spa Jacuzzi tubs in the bathrooms.
The six tent suites include four 1,030-square-foot two-bedroom tents with a king-size bed and two twins in each. There are also two 565-square-foot one-bedroom tents including Tango Point, the official Honeymoon Suite since it has a king-size bed and an antique-style copper bathtub in the main room for romantic evenings together listening to the rushing river below.
Pinnacle Camp's Dining Pavilion, where guests can enjoy all their meals-family style at long tables, relax on the sofas and armchairs around the stone fireplace, and watch the sunset over drinks, looks a lot like Creekside's. Only this one sits high above the confluence of the Blackfoot River and Elk Creek, and faces west for those perfect late Montana sunset views.
There's a bald eagle's nest just across the creek, making for great natural entertainment in the evenings as the birds hunt their dinner; and before the camping butler lights up the campfire for a round of s'mores (and maybe some impromptu guitar music) after dinner.
Each of Paws Up's campsites also has a dedicated camp chef to fry up a hearty cowboy breakfast (though there are also fruit platters, cereal and yogurt for the light eaters) and grill dinners of local specialties like elk tenderloin, filet mignon and salmon with homemade pesto.
Paws Up's real glamping hallmark, however, is the dedicated camping butler at each campsite who attends to all guests' needs, from serving drinks and making sure the WiFi works, to a simple turndown service in the evenings, to giving local tips and recommending and setting up all the guests' activities while at the ranch.
While there, we partook in a little whitewater rafting along the snow-swollen Blackfoot River, spotting eagles and ospreys along the way. We also spent a morning on a cattle drive, learning from range-roving cowboys how to rustle the steers from the mountainsides and corral them into special pens.
Fellow guests we spoke with went on horseback trail rides, fly-fishing on a nearby river (another signature activity at the ranch, since this is A River Runs Through It territory), ATV-ing across the 37,000-acre property, and, of course, spending a lazy afternoon getting a massage in one of the heated tents at the resort's Spa Town.
When we didn't feel like eating at our own camp, we caught a resort shuttle back to the main "village" of buildings where we could have a lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup or an open-faced BBQ brisket sandwich with fried onions and chopped pickle relish with sweet potato fries at Trough. We also decided to get gussied up one night and have dinner at the resort's finer dining establishment, Pomp.
Here, we dined on roasted quail with western hedgehog mushrooms, spaghetti squash and cipollini vinaigrette; and roasted elk loin with steel-cut oat porridge and dried cherry demi glace, with huckleberry ice cream for dessert.
The weather didn't permit us to have a Chuck Wagon dinner - sort of like an open-air buffet with entertainment - out on the grounds, so instead we feasted on prime rib, roasted chicken and all the fixings in the tack room of the Saddle Club equestrian center. We also learned how to throw hatchets and knives, and got a mule-packing demonstration.
You won't often find us spending our leisure time pitching tents and rustling cattle, but if all camping were like Pinnacle Camp at Paws Up, we'd be saddling up all the time. Visit PawsUp.com to learn more.