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Catriona at the Dude Ranch.
Catriona at the Dude Ranch.
On the trail in Montana.
Skimming stones in Montana.

Montana Dude Ranch

Thursday, August 19, 2004
Saddle up and see the beautiful countryside of Montana on horseback at the Montana Dude Ranch — yee-ha!

Dude Ranching began in the late 1800s when a fee of $10 covered a week's accommodation, all meals, a good horse to ride and the pleasant company of the ranch family. The Dude Ranchers' Association strives to preserve this way of life and its members make sure the same basics apply.

Montana, or Big Sky Country, is America's 4th largest in size but 44th in population rankings, meaning there is a lot of wide open space. Scenery is mountainous and rugged and during July and August the Glacier National Park is quite busy. There is plenty of glacial activity and as you go along the main thoroughfare, Going-To-The-Sun Road, you will see mountain goats and bighorn sheep. During winter the road is open only to snow-shoers and cross-country skiers.

According to Ted & Lucy Mikita, "dude" is really another word for guest. Their place, Laughing Water Ranch, is just an hour away from Kalispell Airport. The Ranch was Ted's family home and it's obvious they love sharing it and their western hospitality with their visitors.

It is in the beautiful Kootenai National Forest in the northern Rockies at about 980 metres and is a wonderful place for typically western holidays.

They cater for just 32 guests at a time year round, but the Dude Ranch season is from May to October. Winter activities are from November to April.

The main lodge has 4 deluxe 2 bedroom suites with ensuites. It also has 3 huge fireplaces, Chuck Wagon Dining Room, Ponderosa Game Room and Tamarack Dance Hall.

The rest of the accommodation is in the form of log cabins, each with two private rooms, baths, covered porches and decorated with western artists' work.

Horseriding is the main part of the day's activities, and there is an animal for every level of ability. There are wranglers on hand to give instructions, or you can take personal riding lessons. You will have two 3-4 hour trail rides each day and two optional all day rides.

The Ranch has lots of trails, stocked trout ponds and an almost endless choice of activities and entertainment. The Glacier National Park is about an hour's drive from Laughing Water — not far when you see the wonderful scenery.

The Mikitas haven't forgotten the children. They have a special program called Kamp Kootenai/Fort Laramie where they are taught native American culture through craft, sign language , nature walks, campouts and cookouts. They can even sleep in tepees and have a real pow-wow.


The Laughing Water Ranch is in Fontine, Montana, one of the United States’ north-west states.


Laughing Water Ranch seven day packages with room, meals and riding start at around $760 per person twin share.
Qantas flies daily to Los Angeles. Return economy airfares start at $1966 from Melbourne, $1988 from Sydney, $2105 from Brisbane, $2297 from Adelaide, $2633 from Perth and $2744 from Darwin, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
Delta Airlines has connections from Los Angeles to Kalispell starting at about $576 return per person.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Laughing Water Ranch
Ph: 0011 1 406 882 4680
Fax: 0011 1 406 882 4880
To book a flight visit or call 13 13 13.

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