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I’ve always enjoyed Montana in the winter, which I know sounds odd. But the combination of exhilarating outdoor adventures under an endless sky and of snowy vistas enjoyed from a cozy couch before a woodburning fireplace is sensational. During my stay at The Resort at Paws Up and its spectacularly beautiful on-site sister property, The Green O, I had a prime opportunity to enjoy all the cold-weather activities of the season.
We had only ever visited this well-known property, which is nestled within a 37,000-acre cattle ranch, during summer and fall. As we returned, fond memories came rushing back of cattle driving, fly-fishing in the same Blackfoot River waters as Brad Pitt’s character did in “A River Runs Through It,” water skiing and taking a pontoon-boat tour around the Island Lodge at Salmon Lake.
Over the course of our week in this snowy wonderland, the resort proved itself as a magnificent year-round destination. Though we never had time to squeeze in skijoring (think water skiing but on snow and pulled by a horse) or an excursion with a single-passenger electric snowmobile called a MoonBike, we enjoyed numerous iconic winter activities. Below are my three favorites.
We drove about 30 minutes to meet our musher, Jessie Royer, and her pack of Alaskan huskies for the 3-mile ride we had reserved. Royer has raised sled dogs for more than 30 years and owns and trains nearly 70 dogs at her home. When not in Montana, she lives in Alaska, where she has competed in the Iditarod more than 20 times, finishing third twice within the past five years. Her passion for her “pets” was endearing.
She is equipped with double-driver sleds, so we had the option to ride in the sled or to stand on runners at the back behind her. Royer hooked up each sled dog one by one, telling us “they want to run” and “they’re bred to pull.” The dogs’ enthusiasm was palpable. Each strained to be picked for the ride, and there was a sort of energy coursing down the line. Royer explained that they stop being sled dogs when they no longer bark with fervor at the beginning of a trip, so they choose when to retire. Though some of the dogs looked intimidating at first, they were affectionate when I approached, a few even rubbing against my leg or nuzzling my hand.