The Resort at Paws Up Truly is the Last Best Place
After a six and a half hour drive from Jackson, through Idaho and into western Montana, we were happy to arrive at The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough. Passing through the magnificent gates with the words, “Paws Up” etched on one side and “The Last Best Place” on the other, I couldn’t wait to experience what I had watched on videos for months before we got here.
Sometimes there are no words for a place like Paws Up, but if I had put it into words it would be…inspiring, stunning, grand… special. There are few places that will touch you the way that a resort like this will. With 37,000 acres to build on, the property is sprawling, yet still has an intimate feel as only 500 acres are used for the village. Each home or campsite consists of 6-10 cabins or tents and is completely secluded from the other sites, so you feel like you really are out in the wilderness with only a handful of other people.
Built in 2005, they will be celebrating their ten year anniversary next year and that’s just one of the great reasons you should visit. There are 6 Meadow Homes, 10 Big Timber Homes, 10 Wilderness Estates, and 6 tents at each of the Luxury Camping Sites: Moonlight Camp, River Camp, Creekside Camp, Pinnacle Camp, and my favorite…Cliffside Camp, which is perched on a dramatic overlook onto the Blackfoot River. The campsites are 8 miles from the main Paws Up village, so they really give you the feel of camping out in the backcountry. River Camp is great for kids as it’s right on the water with a small beach. All of the sites come with complimentary bikes.
Upon check in, in one of the most beautiful reception areas I’ve seen, we were handed our itinerary, keys to our home and….our own personal car for use on property. Yes – they give you a car. And a private butler and chef if you happen to be staying in one of the luxury campsites. Our home for the weekend was a Meadow Home, which is a 1300sq ft log cabin with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, full kitchen and living area, laundry room and a back deck with, of course, your own hot tub. After gaping at the accommodations, we headed down to Tank and Trough, the bar and eatery on property for a late lunch. Did I mention that all of your meals are included as well? I had one of the best margaritas I’ve had in ages made with tequila, ginger and fresh lime juice.
Activities abound at Paws Up and include: hot air ballooning, horseback riding and equestrian lessons, ATV touring, white water rafting, jet ski and boat rentals, archery, cattle herding, wagon driving, hiking, and you can even rent your own private helicopter to take you to view Glacier National Park. There is a 76,000 sq ft stable and equestrian center where you can hone your horsemanship. Don’t feel like being active? Then relax at Spa Town and indulge in a multitude of treatments.
Spa Town is a colony of pristine white tents stitched together by a wooden boardwalk, situated just past a babbling brook and nestled among towering pines. The welcome tents feature full baths and showers, while individual treatment tents are fashioned with a lovely sink, a heated massage table, and a view of the meadows.
What’s really amazing is that there is no need for the traditional “spa” sound tracks you hear in average spas because the brook, chirping birds, and rustling of wind in the trees above is played daily by Mother Nature herself. Paws Up gives new meaning to the term “getting lost” in the woods. You can choose from a plethora of massages, body treatments and even a shamanic healing session.
The Fitness Cabin at Spa Town offers a unique and tranquil environment for your work-out. The following equipment is available for your use while a guest at Paws Up: treadmill, BowFlex machine, stationary bike, free weights, weight bench, yoga mats, yoga balls, medicine balls, stair master and complimentary water and towels. There are also complimentary yoga sessions.
It’s exciting to see that they are also implementing many sustainable practices including: using earth-friendly cleaning products, energy efficient lights, organic bath products and the option for guests to re-use linens. They also have made some significant environmental commitments including catch-and-release fishing and sustainable farming practices.
Listed below are some of the green initiatives:
• “Farm and Ranch to Table” dining at Pomp and Trough
• Members of Blackfoot Challenge — A local organization dedicated to land conservation and stewardship of the Blackfoot River corridor
• Development of 30 safari-style tented guest accommodations that provide a minimal carbon footprint. Implementation of leave-no-trace construction at camps
• All guests receive a refillable/reusable Paws Up water bottle to reduce consumption of plastics
• Employee transportation program including a shuttle bus service and carpool reimbursement
• The providing of on-property and nearby staff housing to reduce commuting times
• Development of the Bad Beetle brand. A company that converts deadfall trees killed by the North American Mountain Pine Beetle into wooden sustainable Apple accessories- www.badbeetle.com
• Development of the Greeno brand. A company that converts deadfall trees killed by the North American Mountain Pine Beetle into sustainable flooring- www.greenobuilt.com
• Development of the Paws Up gravel pit to provide material for ranch roads
The next day we headed out to the Farmer’s Market in Missoula which is held every Saturday. We toured the market with Chef Dale Levitski (a former Bravo TV Top Chef) who picked out a wide assortment of fruits and veggies that he would be cooking for an event we were attending that night called The Last Best Supper. This farmer’s market was by far the largest I’ve ever seen and the produce was unbelievable. Vibrant colors of the rainbow and enormous! We couldn’t wait for dinner! At the market we were able to sample some delicious strawberries and huckleberries. There was just about every kind of product available: homemade jams, pie on a stick, fresh squeezed lemonades, kumbucha, cheeses, and great organic body care products. I would live in Missoula just to go to this market every week!
We wrapped up the day at The Last Best Supper event held at the longest dinner table I’ve ever seen outside overlooking the rolling green pastures of the ranch. Chef Dale totally outdid himself with a 4-course meal paired with amazing Schug wines. We started with Truffle Gnocci Parisienne with cauliflower, broccoli, golden zucchini and huckleberry. The Gnocci was light and creamy with a delicious truffle flavoring enhanced by the fresh, crisp veggies. Next came a Mountain Chowder with crab, shrimp, bacon, white beans, corn, sun gold tomatoes and kale. Again, the flavors were spectacular and it was the perfect combination of seafood and veggies. The main dish was NY Strip Steak au Poivre with chanterelle and melted leek stovetop stuffing and morel mustard butter. The steak was as tender as a filet and the melding of the stuffing with the mustard better was mouthwatering. Lastly, we were served the Torn Apart Pie with Tana’s plums, strawberries, poppyseed pie crust, cream cheese frosting and ginger anglaise. It sounds incredibly sweet, but the plum had just enough tartness to completely balance this dessert. Scrumptious! Top all of this off with an incredibly attentive and friendly staff and you’ve got the makings for the meal of a lifetime.
Sad to say, after a brief two nights we had to leave Paws Up, but this is a place we will surely return…it won’t be our last visit to the last best place! Visit www.pawsup.com.