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Forty-five minutes north of Yellowstone’s North Entrance, experience a magical horse-drawn sleigh ride at 320 Guest Ranch outside of Big Sky, Mont. Wednesday through Saturday throughout the winter, the ranch’s teams of Percheron draft horses pull guests along the Gallatin River with stunning views of Gallatin Canyon.
Depart on the 5 p.m. ride for sunset and twilight views in late winter. You’ll see incredible stars on the 6:30 p.m. ride, or the 5 p.m. ride closer to winter solstice, thanks to Montana’s big skies and lack of light pollution. Get cozy under blankets and enjoy a beautiful, snowy loop that will bring you to a campsite with a heated wall tent. Here, you can enjoy appetizers like wild game chili, cheese and crackers and popcorn, alongside hot drinks and adult beverages.
Take some time to meet your team of draft horses. Most rides are pulled by the all-black team Chip and Charlie and the black and gray team, Magic and Joe. A crackling campfire waits outside the tent to keep you warm on your way back to the sleigh. Keep your eyes peeled for river otters and other wildlife as you glide past the river. The excursion lasts an hour.
(Photo: Courtesy 320 Ranch)
Staff suggest that you dress like you’re going skiing as nighttime temperatures can get quite cold.
320 Guest Ranch prices its sleigh rides so that the entire family can enjoy an excursion. Passengers 13 and up are $75 each, children four to 12 years old are $45 each and kids under three ride free. Prices are subject to change. Each time slot includes two sleighs, one that holds 12 people and one that holds 18.
“We aim to make the experience accessible to the whole family,” says manager Kaitlyn Kelley. “We love watching the kids build snowmen as they wait to board and watching guests interact with the horses.”
Private sleigh rides are offered in the afternoons for guests who want a more intimate experience.
Sleigh rides run Dec. 15 – March 12, depending on snow conditions. Around the holidays, rides run seven days a week. Make sure to give yourself a little extra time to get to the ranch when it’s snowing as road conditions in the area vary with weather.
After your ride, stay for dinner at McGill’s Restaurant and Saloon. The restaurant has an upscale steakhouse menu with local flair. You’ll find beef raised at a nearby ranch on the menu, alongside Montana-caught trout and elk meat.
The restaurant’s saloon occupies the property’s original homestead cabin built in 1898 by Sam Wilson. In 1936, the Wilsons sold the ranch to Dr. Caroline McGill, who was a visionary far ahead of her times. She was Montana’s first woman doctor and pathologist, pioneered the idea that time spent outside is mentally and physically beneficial to humans and founded Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies.
Make a weekend out of your visit and stay on-site at one of the ranch’s 58 guest cabins. They range from duplex-style cabins perfect for couples to large houses along the river that can sleep eight.
In the summer, the ranch offers tons of other activities. Go on a trail ride, enjoy a chuckwagon barbeque or pig roast dinner, take a fly-fishing lesson or sign the kids up for a wrangler lesson.
Book your sleigh ride and learn more at 320ranch.com.