One of Montana’s most famous and exclusive guest ranches, Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge (406/837-4391, www.flatheadlakelodge.com ) is a well-established full-service dude ranch that runs $3,143 per week per adult (includes all meals and activities; children and teens have lower rates). The ranch is located right on the shores of Flathead Lake , just south of Bigfork , so if you’re looking for a family ranch vacation that mixes swimming, fishing, tennis, and windsurfing with the traditional horseback riding and campfire sing-alongs, this is it.
Save an easy $100 by making Wayfarers State Recreation Area (406/837-4196, http://fwp.mt.gov , May–Sept., $15) your base in Bigfork . This campground is just across Highway 35 from the main road into town. Because there are only 30 sites here, plan your arrival strategically, especially on holiday weekends.