Big Sky, Montana
City slickers beware: Stay at the Lone Mountain Ranch and you're likely to lose your edge. The change will be subtle at first, as power suits and pumps give way to blue jeans and cowboy boots. Soon, cell phones and laptops will be exchanged for less intrusive tools, such as fishing poles and riding reins. Then, before you know it, your stride will slow to a stroll and you'll find yourself shouting "yee-haw" into the sweet mountain air.
For all of this, aside from the natural beauty of the place, you can thank the Schaap family and their hospitable staff. For the past 20 years, they have put forth enormous effort to offer a taste of the Wild West (or not so wild, as the case may be) to visitors who pass their way.
Home base at the ranch, which sits in a small valley near the village of Big Sky, Mont., is the dramatic Dining Lodge, featuring golden, hand-peeled logs, antler chandeliers, a massive stone fireplace, a three-meal-a-day restaurant and an authentic saloon. Scattered around the property are 23 log cabins, the three-bedroom Douglas Fir House and the six-room Ridgetop Lodge, which offer "cozy luxury" that includes full baths and fireplaces.
By day, schedules fill up with everything from horseback riding and llama treks to gold panning and canoeing. An Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing program offers anglers the chance to cast for trout. And naturalist guides offer insight to regional flora, fauna and then some. A special children's program, which operates from June 15 through August 30, allows everyone to feel at home on the range. Rates are $1,789 per person, per week, including meals and most activities. Special packages and rates for children under 5 are available. Contact: Lone Mountain Ranch, P.O. Box 160069, Big Sky, MT 59716, (800) 514-4644, fax (406) 995-4670, www.lmranch.com