The Meadow is a very special place. Nestled in the trees by Freeman Creek sits a quaint & rustic little cabin, vintage camper, fire pit with outdoor kitchen gear, a picnic table, a hammock and a porch swing. The cabin is cozy and normally heated by an Old Majestic wood stove as well as a heater, but while visiting the power had been down and we just had the wood stove and some kerosene lanterns and flashlights. Honestly, it was the type of experience we were looking for anyway.
Both nights we fell asleep to the sound of owls hooting in trees nearby and the creek rustling by. We also sat under a sky filled with more stars than I've seen in a long, long time (and I live in the middle of nowhere, Montana).
What makes The Meadow even more special is the hosts who own it. Shannon and Doug are two of the most gracious, warm & welcoming hosts I've ever met. Not only did they accommodate us on extremely short notice, but they also welcomed us into their home, shared stories about their lives & family and cooked us some delicious meals! They know the area very well (Doug used to work for the Forest Service and spent a lot of time exploring the surrounding mountains), so they can provide suggestions for the many activities in the area. With the Salmon River right there, a peak you can hike to through their backyard, Goldbug Hot Springs down the road and Lost Trail Powder Mountain not far away, there's something to do in every season.
Tucked in the woods, up in the trees with my pups, a glass of red wine, a fresh dusting of snow, lots of natural light spilling through the windows and my favorite tunes filling the treehouse - it doesn't get much better than that.
Kati & Darin are lovely hosts, and the amount of work and care they put into this treehouse is incredible. To say it's magical is an understatement; it's like your childhood dreams materialized before your eyes, but it's even better than you could have ever imagined. I'm so grateful that they've chosen to share this special place with the world.
You're far back enough in the forest to feel secluded, yet you're also close to great food and activities for every season. However, I would have no problem at all getting snowed in here for a few days and never leaving- it's got everything you need, including a beautiful kitchen, spa-like bathroom, big screen TV for Netflix, wifi, cozy nooks to curl up & read a book, bluetooth BOSE speaker to play your favorite tunes... I wouldn't call it camping, but Kati and Darin are going to be putting in a fire pit outside, so you can get your camp vibes in.
I've already told a number of my close friends and family that they must stay here (and take me with them of course), whether they live in Montana or across the states - it's worth the trip! I can't say enough good things about this spot.
I've driven through Helena a number of times, but never once have I stopped for more than coffee or gas until visiting Norwegian Wood...and I'm so glad I did. Once out of the center of town, the countryside scenery unfolds and takes you along the winding perimeter of Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana's third largest body of water.
As I pulled into Norwegian Wood, I was warmly greeted by Rene and his 6 month old labradoodle, Willow. Rene directed me to my tent and encouraged me to explore the property, telling me where I could find the golf course, the small fishing pond and all the different animals that call the ranch home. The tent was clean and cozy, and you could hear the creek trickling by steps away from the front deck. A trail follows the creek up to a small dam & fishing pond, and my pup Dylan and I enjoyed splashing in the water on the hotter-than-normal afternoon.
Wild turkeys wandered the property, and Dylan and I made frequent visits to the resident mascot, Bacon the pig. Rene was also kind enough to give us a ride on his atv so we could find his Scottish Highland cows (moments after meeting him, I excitedly told him how it was one of my goals to own a mini Scottish Highland one day). As we drove around, I noted how many great camp spots there were with panoramic views of the mountains.
The four glamping tents share an outhouse and a propane-run shower, however you can also use the restroom at the restaurant on-site when it's open. As much as I love a good camp meal, the Highland Bar & Grill is steps away from the tents and serves dinner Wednesdays through Sundays; wine, mussels and steak sure do complement a glamping experience.
With tons of hiking in the Helena National Forest, boating and fishing in nearby Canyon Ferry Lake, golfing on the ranch, the bar & grill, and the center of town not far away, you could really make your experience there as relaxed or active as you wanted it to be. It felt like the perfect place for a little romantic getaway (either with your partner or just solo...cause sometimes you gotta treat yo'self).
I can't wait to go back in the springtime and see the ranch all green and lush...and hopefully with a couple more baby Scottish Highland cows.
Veering off the main road and hitting the long gravel road leading into the valley, we were greeted by rolling hills framed by snow-capped mountains and filled with grazing cattle and wildflowers. We added a good hour onto our arrival time simply from stopping to take in the incredible scenery and wildlife along the creeks and West Boulder River; we even watched an osprey fly off with dinner from the river.
When we finally pulled up to Ellison Ranch, Kent invited us in and we shared a drink and discussed the different camp site options. Since it was getting late, we decided to set up our tent on a closer spot next to the West Boulder River and "Ted's beach," named after his son.
We hit up Holly's Road Kill Saloon (a cool spot a couple miles away) with Kent for dinner, and he gave us a tour of the other incredible spreads in the valley; his neighbors including a well-known actor, a former anchorman, a Hollywood stunt man, and an author to name a few.
In the morning we planned to photograph Kent and a few others as they moved cattle from one field to another. When we met for coffee, we learned that plans had changed, and Kent offered to give us a tour of the ranch. We hopped in the gator and my pup Dylan ran along behind us with Kent's cow dog (and her new best friend), Niña. We stopped at our next camp spot on a ridge overlooking the valley, went through the fields where some of his cattle were grazing, and went up to a vista where we looked out on seven different mountain ranges and the Yellowstone River; it was absolutely breathtaking.
After the tour, we were lucky enough to be invited to move cattle with Kent and two other cowboys, which was a dream come true for both Branno and myself (neither of us having extensive experience with horses or cattle). We rode through fields of wildflowers with Kent as our incredibly patient and gracious guide.
Immediately after, he gave us a tour of the old homestead where Ellison Ranch began and where Kent's mother-in-law grew up with her 10 siblings. A tiny, one-room school house built in 1910 still stands next to the larger home that was added on in 1918. The buildings are rich with history and filled with gems such as an old phonograph record player and one of the first maytag gas engine washing machines.
Later that night we hiked up to the ridge we visited earlier, set up camp, and woke up to the sweet smell of sagebrush and the sound of cattle in the distance.
What an incredible first Hipcamp experience. We can't say enough good things about Kent, who is a wealth of knowledge and life experiences, and his stunning property tucked away in the mountains. We can't wait to go back.