Here are five destinations to consider:
The Home Ranch, Clark, Colo.
A visit to this mountain retreat near Steamboat Springs, involves decision making. Will you choose rocking on the porch, listening to the rustle of Aspen leaves, multiple massage sessions or curling up by the stone fireplace with your favorite book while the kids sharpen skills in the corral under the watchful eyes of resident wranglers? (The children and teen programs will keep the youngsters in your group plenty busy.)
Or, you can join the family for fly fishing on a private stretch of the Elk River, (it's Orvis-endorsed) morning hikes, afternoon trail rides, day-long outings into nearby wilderness areas, yoga classes and post-dinner music, barn dances and star gazing. During the winter months, snow shoeing, Nordic and downhill skiing and horseback and sleigh rides are all possible.
You’ll enjoy exceptional cuisine, fine wines and well-deserved slumber in the comfort of cozy lodge rooms or rustic yet well-appointed cabins, tucked within a tree studded landscape. Pack your schedule with active pursuits or relax your week away. Either way, it’s all included.
Westgate River Ranch, River Ranch, Fla.
You'll be just an hour from Orlando but feel a world away when you arrive at the largest dude ranch east of the Mississippi. Situated on 1,700 acres of wilderness in Florida's cattle country, the ranch offers a menu of lodging options that include glamping-style tents, lodge rooms and two-bedroom cabins. Opt for horse and pony rides, airboat excursions, miniature golf, nature hikes and zip lining. You'll want to take in the Saturday night rodeo, campfires, cookouts, hayrides and a weekly street party.
Latigo Ranch, Kremmling, Colo.
Choose your season and relish the peace and tranquility you'll find at this historic ranch. With never-ending views along the Continental Divide, choose from snowshoeing, tubing, cross-country skiing and fat biking in pristine winter conditions. The summer months offer top-notch horseback riding on over 200 miles of trail, cattle drives, hiking and mountain biking for the active members of your family. For those eager to relax, settle in on the porch for a card game, in a meadow or near a crackling fire with a book or puzzle at the ready.
Lone Mountain Ranch, Big Sky, Mont.
Just a stone’s throw from Yellowstone National Park’s northwest border, in the shadow of Lone Peak, you’ll find a cluster of hand-built cabins. Authentic and luxurious, the historic accommodations, tucked creekside, in the pine trees or in meadows, help visitors conjure the days when the property was a working cattle ranch, operating in untamed country.
Then, like now, the region is home to stunning vistas, and abundant wildlife including grizzlies, black bears, bison and wolves. In the company of guides or on your own, adventurers have the chance to fish Blue Ribbon trout streams and explore the last best place via horseback, Nordic and downhill skis, snowshoes and on the many hiking trails in the area.
White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Ariz.
Family-owned and -operated, this working cattle ranch is known for award-winning service, exceptional riding opportunities and a family-friendly atmosphere. Ride amid towering saguaros and enjoy moonlit bonfires, hay rides, fat tire biking, cowboy entertainment, astronomy shows, Western dance lessons and a weekly rodeo where family members can admire the roping, barrel racing and steer wrestling skills of local wranglers.
Take part in a family fly-fishing adventure and you’ll wake up in some of the country’s most pristine places.
Here are a handful of fabulous places to consider:
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
For an extraordinary angling experience, consider an overnight trip on the South Fork of the Snake River. On day one, you’ll hone your skills floating through some of the most coveted water in the western United States.
Later, as the sun sets, arrive at the South Fork Hilton, a fully-outfitted camp ,tucked in the pines with a steep canyon wall as backdrop. The overnight includes a deluxe dinner, tall tales, roasted marshmallows around a campfire, and a good night’s rest in cozy platform tents.
The second day promises stunning scenery, 16 miles of braided waters and the opportunity to expand the adventure wading around gravel bars and up side channels. The trip is ideal for a multigenerational outing.
Stunning scenery, diversity of waterways, plentiful fish and an enthusiastic community of guides combine to make Montana a top notch base camp for your fly-fishing adventure. Spend a day on the Madison River with Joe Dilschneider, owner of Ennis, MT-based TroutStalkers and your family members will go home with more than basic casting skills. You’ll learn to “match the hatch”, fish pocket water from a raft and how to maximize a day on the famed Madison River. A day on the Yellowstone River, a long stretch of blue-ribbon trout habitat or nearby spring creeks will also make for great memories.
Formed by the confluence of the Gallatin, Jefferson and Madison rivers at Three Forks, the mighty Missouri River flows 700 miles across Montana, and is considered one of the most productive trout fisheries in the west.
The small town of Craig is among the numerous launch points from which families explore this storied river. Expect a picturesque landscape, trophy trout and the opportunity to imagine Lewis and Clark navigating the same waters.
Jackson County, North Carolina
With more than 3,000 miles of trout streams and 1,100 miles of hatchery-supported trout waters in the mountains alone, North Carolina is a fly-fishing haven. Home to the nation’s only designated fly-fishing trail, the Western North Carolina Fly-Fishing Trail takes anglers to 15 prime spots in the Great Smoky Mountains to cast a line. Expect a variety of options from wide-open rivers to small, secluded streams. The heart of the trail, the Tuckasegee River, or the “Tuck” as it’s known by locals, is the county’s largest body of water. Designed by two outdoorsmen and fly-fishing guides, the trail is an ideal way for fly-fishers of all skill levels and ages to learn the art of fly-fishing.
Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania
The Letort Spring Creek, Big Spring Creek and Yellow Breeches Creek, two classic limestone spring streams and one freestone stream are considered “hallowed waters” and have enticed fly fishers to the area since the 1800s. Enthusiasts can expect to cast for brook, brown and rainbow in the local streams where a variety of riparian ecosystems provide diverse fly-fishing opportunities. Consider a stay at the Orvis-endorsed Allenberry Resort where fly-fishing packages are offered. The Valley is also home to the Pennsylvania Fly- Fishing Museum.
Sun Valley, Idaho
This mountain town is perhaps best-known for its famous ski slopes. But the region’s gold-medal waters make for yet another reason to nudge Sun Valley higher on your family vacation list. You’ll be on the hunt for rainbow, brown, brook and cutthroat trout on Silver Creek, the Big Lost and the Wood rivers as well as in pristine mountain lakes.
Tap into the town’s vibrant cultural scene or strap on skates for a whirl around the ice rink at the -famed Sun Valley Lodge.
May what matters most inspire your family’s future travel plans.
Here are five ideas to consider:
Small feet splashing in the surf. First tracks through powder. A really big tug on the fishing line as you float a scenic Montana River. Climbing to the top of the hill through personal pedal power. Those are the moments that bring joy to parents as they watch their children and grandchildren experience a rush of adrenalin and the unexpected thrill of a new experience. Make plans to see the sparkle in their bright eyes today.
Whether it’s a milestone birthday, an anniversary, a wedding, a new family member or your clan’s good health, there is reason to celebrate in the months ahead. Modern day cruise itineraries are designed to help you put a plan in motion. Whether you choose to cruise the Caribbean islands, the wilds of Alaska, the coast of California or in more exotic waters, there is something for every age group to experience every day and a way to toast to your collective good fortune every night.
Reduce the stress of daily life through endorphin-releasing adventures paired with wellness promoting activities that will manifest happy memories as well as healthy habits. Unplug and learn to meditate. Take a yoga class together. Spend the day at the spa. Paddle across the lake. Go for a family run or hike through the red rock canyons in Sedona.
Perhaps the best we have to give is our time. So plan now to share your wealth with those you hold dear. Plan a getaway with the grandparents, a romantic holiday with your spouse, a weekend with the cousins, and the best Spring Break ever with the kids. Meet your college friends and their families for the big game. Embrace the idea of hanging out with theme park princesses or in a world of wizards while it still matters. Create a shared experience that will last for a lifetime.
Share the bounty with others. Volunteer vacations enable parents to model their most deeply held values while demonstrating compassion for others who share our place on the planet. Develop new talents, brush off rusty skills and make a difference as a family. For a day, a weekend, or longer, help build a house, teach someone to read, uncover artifacts or improve an endangered habitat.
Many resorts and hotels, like the Andaz at Peninsula Papagayo in Costa Rica, offer the option to give back to the local community during your own holiday getaway. You may also want to consider including a less fortunate friend or family member in your next vacation. As they say, love makes the world go round.
Contact: https://papagayo.andaz.hyatt.com www.SandalsFoundation.org www.Habitat.org ReadGlobal.org.
Great places and great experiences are best when shared with people you love.
That’s the philosophy of the pros at Troutstalkers, a fly fishing outfitter that specializes in Montana and Madison River Fly Fishing Trips. Their business is based on sharing a passion for the outdoors, their fly fishing knowledge, and a long history of meaningful experiences with friends and clients.
“We approach every day with a sense of exploration and discovery, and never stop learning,” explains owner Joe Dilschneider. “Often in this sport, just when you figure something out, everything changes. That’s what keeps it interesting.”
The Troutstalker pros can’t think of a better way to spend time with the grandkids than fly fishing.
“Fly fishing is life! The parallels to the important aspects of life are almost endless,” explains Dilschneider.
Troutstalkers believe that guiding is based around shared interests and curiosity, mutual respect and friendship. Their goal is to provide every client with the best leadership, coaching, companionship and knowledge possible. They commit to giving 110% to make your experience with your family members safe, enjoyable and educational.
Based in Ennis, MT., Troutstalkers offers guided day and overnight trips on the Madison, Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby, Yellowstone, Missouri, and Gallatin rivers. They also can help families plan a trip to other world-class destinations including Montana's Smith and South Fork of Flathead Rivers, Florida Keys, Bristol Bay Alaska, Bahamas, and Argentina.
For more information: www.MontanaTrout.com
Troutstalkers is a member of the FamilyTravel.com Grandparents Travel Collection.
If you would like additonal assistance planning or booking a family trip, we can help.
When I was knee-high to the cattle roaming near my Midwestern home, my grandfather gave me a block of old barn wood for my birthday. Burned into it was that famous Helen Keller quote, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” My grandfather knew a thing or two about growing things in the dirt, and about his precocious granddaughter.
Later, in a relatively abbreviated period of time, I went from a deliciously luxurious life spent marinating in grand adventures, near and far, to the sometimes austere and certainly crazed life of a single mama running her own business and running after a tiny human.
Where do great adventures factor in?
Do I still take that Chamonix ski trip, but this time pack in my kiddo instead of my ice tools? Do I throw caution to the Montana wind and buy a ticket to New Zealand? Or do I now buy two tickets and download 20 hours of cartoons to the iPad for the flight? And do I realize a lifelong dream of learning how to sail, press pause on my Montana life and allow the winds to carry me around the globe…albeit this time with a tiny-human sized life jacket aboard?
The answer is simple.
Yes, yes and YES!
I’ve made many mistakes at this parenting game that I've tackled on my own.
But what I am most proud of, what really sends the gooey, chocolate center of my heart into palpitation, is when my daughter runs up to me and says, “Mama, let’s go on an ADVENTURE!”
Now, to a nearly 3 year-old the term ‘adventure’ means a slew of different things. We often load up on crusty bread and ‘adventure’ on our bikes to the MSU duck pond and share carbs with our webbed friends. We also ‘adventure’ to nearby Yellowstone National Park for geyser gallivanting, to practice our elk calls and then spend the evening bouldering on grassy slopes high above Gardiner with Electric Peak on the horizon.
And most recently, ‘adventuring’ has included Kaia’s inflatable dragon floatie that we’ve launched for many aquatic missions across Montana’s rivers and lakes (Lake Upsata is a recent favorite…full of lily blossoms, loons and trumpeter swans!).
As my daughter grows older, she continues to astound me with her simple wisdom. She is correct in that ‘adventuring’ does not always have to include lengthy plane rides, schlepping gear up a far-flung mountain or river, and scaring myself silly in general. All of that is good in moderation, but what we are so lucky to enjoy in Montana is the spectrum of adventure. From meandering ambles scouting for bear grass on the Whitefish Trail in northwestern Montana, to leisurely canoe paddles in the stunning Missouri River breaks, to dawn patrol backcountry ski days filled with homemade muffins and fresh powder tele turns in Hyalite just south of Bozeman…we can fill our boots with adventure in any fashion we choose.
All we have to do is walk out our front door.
Becky Edwards is a runner, climber, skier and all around mountain lover who resides in the shadows of the Bridger Range with her family. She owns a communications and marketing consulting company: www.SunSnowCreative.com and is a founder of www.MontanaMountainMamas.org.
During a recent outing I was reminded why they call one of my favorite sports “fishing”.
And not “catching”.
For many families, summer is a time of transition. Family schedules and structures take on new shapes and sizes. When September rolls around, will there be more school supplies to buy? Or will the nest soon be emptying? This year, the warm summer breeze reminds me of an adventure we experienced years ago.
Not far down the sandy bank, I could see my 18-year-old son Alex rhythmically casting his fly into the Salmon River, intent on luring a trout. He was tanned and relaxed. His smile came easily as his angling efforts paid off.
I was looking for some uncomplicated time with my middle son before he went off to college. Perhaps selfishly, I wanted his full attention. Not those moments diluted by phone calls or text messages, the lure of the evening’s social activities or side glances to catch the latest on ESPN. So off to the wilderness we went.
Our backcountry choice was the Salmon River, referred to as the River of No Return by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. What we found in Central Idaho was a river corridor of exceptional beauty meandering through two million acres of wilderness, exciting whitewater, calm river pools, white sand beaches, and traces of American history not likely found in any other river valley in North America.
I was more than willing to share our time on the water with my youngest son Ted, who was about to miss his older brother as much as I would. From Boise, we climbed aboard a plane so small it felt like a bathtub toy. And we seemingly floated into Salmon, Idaho after enjoying up close and exhilarating views of the rugged mountain wilderness near Stanley and Sun Valley.
We were met by our charming host Wayne Johnson, owner of Salmon River Rafting, who would eventually impress us as a jack of all river trades. He informed, organized and otherwise herded us from our Salmon hotel to the water’s edge.
We were in the good company of a father, his son and two grandsons from Michigan, a couple from Minneapolis and our guides Wayne, Steve and Megan. Once afloat, our group of ten was dispersed among two kayaks, a rubber raft and the swift boat that carried our supplies down river.
Some of us were eager for the extra challenge (and exercise) provided by the kayaks. Others were just as content to relax in the boat, enjoying the near perfect weather and the surrounding Frank Church Wilderness. That is until we heard the rumble of rushing water ahead.
From the beginning, our guides carefully coached us to take the white water seriously and keep our feet first and down river should we end up in the drink. And it was a good thing!
Over the course of five days, rapid after rapid, we screamed, splashed, strategized and steered our way in and around giant boulders, swirling holes, and foamy waves that crashed over our heads.
My kayak partner Mark and I high-fived in pride for having stayed right side up more often than my two muscular teens traveling in tandem.
Evenings were spent enjoying hearty food prepared by Wayne and his capable crew, then stories and poems around the campfire, and the company of our fellow adventurers. The biggest decision of the day was whether to assemble the tent or enjoy a peaceful night under the stars.
Wayne Johnson is a veteran of the river, having spent most of his adult life guiding through this wilderness corridor. His love for the flowing water, the natural surroundings and the significant history provides tremendous added value to the trip. As travelers on the Main Salmon River we found ourselves immersed in an historical gold mine with Wayne as our guide, telling tales of hermits and homesteaders, while leading us past grave markers and abandoned log cabins. We saw Indian pictographs and happily immersed ourselves in hot springs considered medicinal by the early Indian settlers.
On our final afternoon, Alex and I headed up a small creek from our campsite and spent the afternoon gleefully catching the most colorful trout either of us had ever seen. It was one of those magical afternoons, suspended in time, only the wilderness can provide.
A Yellowstone Grizz ambles near Lake Yellowstone. ( Photo (C) Lynn O'Rourke Hayes )
Unspoiled natural places, authentic cultural experiences and distinctive communities draw travelers from around the world to America’s “last best place”; Montana.
Jump start your plan to visit Big Sky country here:
Visit your National Parks.
With Yellowstone to the south and Glacier National Park on the northern border, this Big Sky state offers the perfect launching point to explore two of our national treasures. Visit stops along the Lewis and Clark trail while you’re at it.
Take a stroll back in time as you observe remarkable living history demonstrations, dine in century-old structures, enjoy ice cream in an old-fashioned parlor, and ponder tales of ghosts said to drift along the boarded sidewalks in Virginia City and Nevada City. City tours via fire engine trolley, carriage rides and a follies stage show make for a vintage flavored getaway.
Helena, the state’s capital city with a rich mining history, is designated one of the country’s best small arts towns. The Montana Historical Society, founded in 1865, houses one of the country's most important collections of Charles M. Russell art as well as the work of noted frontier photographer F. Jay Haynes. Don’t miss the Archie Bray Foundation, established in 1951 on the site of a brick factory. Tour the studios and grounds of this unique endeavor in the ceramic arts that attracts artists from around the world. Ask about summer programs for adults and children.
Big Sky bonanza.
Nestled in meadows and surrounded by forestland, Big Sky is an outdoor lover’s paradise. A year round playground, this mountain town is home to Big Sky and Moonlight Basin ski resorts as well as fishing, mountain biking, golf, and rafting just to get the list started. Hiking is popular in the nearby Lee Metcalf Spanish Peaks Wilderness.
Attend a rodeo, stay at a guest ranch, participate in a round up. Ride horses into the hills, visit a stock yards. Throughout Montana, you’ll enjoy the chance to see real cowboys at work and learn about the rich culture that provides a time tested and colorful strand in our national tapestry.
Find out more: www.VisitMT.com.
First time casters and veteran anglers enjoy the natural places that enable a fly fishing vacation. Test your tippet deep in the wilderness or perfect your back casts on the resort lawn.
Gather your gear. Then enjoy the beauty and art of fly fishing:
LL Bean Outdoor Discovery School. Freeport, ME or Columbia, MD.
The knowledgeable instructors at LL Bean can jump start your family into the wonderful world of fly fishing with their one or two-day introductory courses. You’ll learn about fly-tackle, delve into knot tying, fly tying, and fish-food identification, then move outside to practice casting skills in a nearby pond. Continue the analysis and improvement at home once you’ve viewed their video of your newly acquired skill.
Contact:For class registration: www.llbean.com
Chetola Resort. Blowing Rock, NC.
The only Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing lodge in North Carolina has plenty to offer the entire family. Pack a rod for a half day trip to “The Refuge” on Boone Fork Creek, a destination deemed ideal for beginners and families. When not casting a line, check out the children’s camp, a heated indoor pool, fitness center and nearby rafting and golf.
Match the Hatch. Montana.
Great places and great experiences and best when shared with people you love. Spend a day on the Madison River with Joe Dilschneider, owner of Ennis, MT-based TroutStalkers and your family members will go home with more than basic casting skills. You’ll learn to “match the hatch”, fish pocket water from a raft and how to maximize a day on the famed Madison River, the Yellowstone River, a long stretch of blue-ribbon trout habitat or nearby spring creeks. You are sure to enjoy time on Montana Rivers, where the scenery is as compelling as the lure of a trout on the line.
Fishing on the Farm. Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN.
With two ponds and a stream on site, plus more than 700 miles of fishable trout streams in the neighboring Great Smoky Mountain National Park, this gem of a property offers the novice or experienced fly fishing family the opportunity to enjoy great water as well as a sea of additional activities. Horseback riding, mountain biking, cooking schools, the Farmhouse Spa and charming accommodations on 4,200 pastoral acres, combine to create a picturesque haven for a gathering clan.
Contact: www.BlackberryFarm.com .