As a kid, the thought of a sleep away summer camp terrified me.
As an adult, I can tell you that I think we found the ultimate “summer camp” experience when we departed the National Bison Range and made our way towards Flathead Lake (the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River). We pulled into the property known as Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, we were immediately taken back by how perfectly manicured the grounds were. Flowers beds abounded and the grass lush and green. Not exactly what we were expecting from a dude ranch, but we were about to quickly find out that Flathead Lake Lodge is not your average dude ranch. Owned and operated by the Averill family for more than 65 years, Flathead Lake Lodge occupies 2000 pristine acres, not only bordering national forest, but also sits pretty on the shores of Flathead Lake.
We met up with owner Doug Averill while we were there for the afternoon and he gave us not only a tour of their perfect grounds, but also the kind of spectacular hospitality that you only find in a family owned business. You know, the kind where you’re begging to come back.
And while we were only there for an afternoon/evening, the families who were staying there were all there for a week. It’s safe to say we were more than a little envious of those families when we had to depart. Averill’s property is unique in that their experience is completely all-inclusive. Families book week long stays a year in advance and arrive at Flathead Lake Lodge to find themselves immersed in all things dude ranch along with all things waterfront vacation. It’s honestly, a perfect mix.
Feel like joining the morning trail ride? Awesome, just show up at the scheduled time and you’ll get saddled up. There are enough horses to accommodate every guest (maximum capacity at the resort is 120 guests and they stay fully booked) so no worries.
Would you rather head out for a day of fun on the lake? They’ve got you covered with their entire fleet of watercraft. Just want to hang out and play in the lakefront “yard”? Go for it!
There are plenty of activities as well as a lakefront pool to keep everyone happy. And when they bring in the horses in the evening … you do not want to miss it! Truly a sight to behold:
And then you’ll hear it. The unmistakable sound of the dinner bell, signaling the obvious. We joined Doug and his son Chase along with a couple from Texas for dinner in the lodge. And when I say dinner, I’m talking about a sit-down, multi-course, mouthwatering dinner. All Mayhem allergy approved, by the way. It ended with pumpkin roll … a fan favorite around our house. Although ours doesn’t normally have huckleberries on the side. But when in Montana, huckleberries will be on everything!
But we didn’t just get to tour the grounds while we were there, Mayhem basically lived out all her wild wild west fantasies in a few short hours. First, she spotted a plaid shirt in the lodge’s gift shop. Next, she found a lasso and got to work learning to throw it.
And finally, she got to ride a real full grown horse.
Just like all of our previous days in Montana, we didn’t want this one to end. Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge is truly something spectacularly special. But they kicked us out because they were already booked to capacity. And Tia had more adventure in store for us too ….
Massive thanks to the Averill family, especially Doug and Chase, for hosting us for a fantastic afternoon of fun and incredible food. This property is clearly one we’d revisit in a heartbeat and we hope that’s sooner rather than later 🙂