And just like that, our fourth annual Week of Hope was recently held at Flathead Lake Lodge. An event that got its start to honor our 75th anniversary in 2020, Week of Hope is now a ranch tradition that we look forward to every year. As you can imagine, this is an event that takes many hands to bring to life, from monetary donors to sponsors and vendors to staff and volunteers. We could not bring a Week of Hope to life each year and give the gift of hope to critically ill children and their families without the incredible people who help make it possible.
Here’s a peek at some of the folks who helped with Week of Hope (and to those who also gave monetary donations, please know that your help, donations and support are much appreciated):
Glacier Raft Company: Hosted a scenic float trip for 50.
American Vision Photography: Paul Andes took portraits and did photo shoots for each family, as well as candid photos throughout the week.
Dan Linn, Rideback: Due to Dan’s generosity, each year we have a Week of Hope video that captures the memories, family bonding and adventures throughout the week. This video is a treasured keepsake for everyone involved!
Outback Trading and M&F Western Products: Donated cowboy hats for all the kids.
Logan Health Children’s: Provided nurses and wheelchair-accessible van.
Eva Gates: Donated huckleberry jam.
In addition, our own TJ (who is our dishwasher at the lodge) has been keeping and recycling cans all season. He donated the money he raised to Week of Hope.
And while we could tell you all of the reasons this week is so special to us and to the families who attend Week of Hope, we though we’d share a few quote from the families themselves.
“You don’t know how much this touched our family; my son forgot he had cancer for 5 days”
“Thank you for all the memories and for being an agent of grace to all of us.”
“From Sept 11-Sept 16, Dave and I and the kids got to experience the most incredible time together, thanks to HopeKids and Flathead Lake Lodge. We celebrated Andre, spent time just being us and away from everything we handle in our day-to-days (appointments, therapies, etc..) and we’re introduced to and formed bonds with 15 families just like ours from the across the country. Friendships were formed; new adventures and experiences were had, and memories to last a lifetime. This vacation out to Montana was the most incredible experience and we are so forever grateful to have been given this.”
“My son has not talked or played with anyone for over a year until Garrett sat down next to him at breakfast camp.”
“We had been trying to get our child on a horse for years, he was not a fan, but Cotton won his heart, and we will be forever grateful for this week. I will never forget the feeling of having support.”
For more from the week, see the photo album here. From us to you, thanks for being part of the Flathead Lake Lodge family.
With sincere gratitude and a humble heart,
This September, Flathead Lake Lodge will be the host location for the fourth annual Week of Hope, an event with HopeKids. Started in 2020 for our 75th anniversary, a Week of Hope is a tradition we’re honored to be a part of. For 2023, 16 critically ill children and their families will spend September 11-16 at the ranch where they can enjoy time together, experience new things and make sweet memories.
And while we could tell you how amazing this week is and how special it is to the families who attend, the ranch and our staff, instead we thought we’d introduce you to two of the families attending Week of Hope this fall.
Meet the Valle family
The Valle family will travel from north Texas to northwest Montana to attend a Week of Hope, with the HopeKid being Evan Valle, a 9 year old with MELAS. For the past six years, Evan has been hospitalized numerous times, does twice daily breathing treatments, takes multiple medications and more.
In the words of his family, “This week will mean the world to our family to be able to relax and enjoy each other’s company and meet other families. We don’t often have the opportunity to take a vacation and especially not of this magnitude. We have certainly never been to Montana! This will be a once in a lifetime option before Evan’s condition changes. A change of scenery will recharge and rejuvenate Evan’s soul. Thank you for the opportunity to experience this wonderful adventure. Hope is a powerful thing!”
Meet the Davenport family
The Davenport family will join Week of Hope from Colorado, with HopeKid Michael who is 9 years old. Since he was 1 year old, Michael has deal with complex epilepsy that includes thee types of seizures, as well as autism, asthma and more. He’ll be attending Week of Hope with his mother and older brother Eddie, who has also been dealing with health issues since 2020.
In the words of his mom Eileen, “I am a single mom with 2 amazing kids that struggle more than any kid should have to just to survive in this world. They teach me every single day how to be strong, have compassion, and to never give in to the chaos we deal with. Through all the hardships, HopeKids has been one of the biggest blessings by providing opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. Their dedication, patience, and hard work has truly given our family HOPE over and over again! Thank you to all the donors who help support HopeKids, your generosity helps families create unforgettable memories. This week will show my two boys here’s a world outside of complex medical care and judgment from others due to disabilities. It will provide memories other than needle pokes, invasive testing, and day to day struggles of ongoing medical hardships. Being chosen for Week of Hope creates an opportunity to enjoy the wilderness in all its glory, while giving a platform to encourage rest and peace in a way we have never had as a family unit. This trip is a silver lining to a grey cloud, reminding us that tough times consistently happen in life but there is also relief and sometimes it comes from complete strangers in unexpected ways. This adventure will allow us to connect with other families in different HopeKids’ chapters and allow all those selected to reset our souls to take on whatever life throws our way. The trip means an opportunity to spend quality time as a family unit, which is priceless and rare to come across. Last but not least, this trip means Michael can take pride in marking off Montana on his treasured scratch off map of the United States hanging in his room!”
Over the past few years, this week has touched the lives of many families. It’s a week that reminds us to slow down and soak up the moments, while always remembering that at the end of the day, family, love and hope are the most important things. If you’d like to help bring a Week of Hope to life this year, we invite you to donate here.
With hope and gratitude,
While we’ve always taken great care in our flower beds at Flathead Lake Lodge, this year we’re offering something brand new – a cutting class.
Each week, Cec (who has been at the helm of our flowers for the last several years) teaches a cutting class where she walks participants through the various elements of floral arrangements, including the types of flowers (like the thriller, spiller and filler), textures and more. Cec also walks guests through the different elements, from textures to colors and monochromatic design options to varying heights. From there, guests can cut flowers to their heart’s content and create their own individual flower arrangement.
The lodge’s 30 raised beds have 50+ types of flowers, including sunflowers, specialty snapdragons, zinnias, bells of Ireland, bunny tails, asters, lisianthus, dahlias and more. The flowers in the gardens were selected for a couple of reasons, such as vase life and the fact that they can be cut and easily grow again.
A new offering for this year, the class is offered every Thursday at 9 a.m., with guests being able to take their arrangement back to their cabin to enjoy for the remainder of the week.
So far this summer, we’ve seen some beautiful floral arrangements and we’re looking forward to seeing what our guests create this season and in years to come.
Until next time – happy trails,
Here at Flathead Lake Lodge, we specialize in all-inclusive stays and family traditions. Founded in 1945, we’ve been delivering high-quality vacations for nearly 80 years. And while we’ve been offering all-inclusive stays for decades, we realize that there are some elements to this type of vacation that folks aren’t familiar with.
With that in mind, here are 9 things to know about an all-inclusive vacation at our ranch resort in Montana.
1. You can do nothing or everything.
A vacation at Flathead Lake Lodge is just that – a vacation. How you choose to spend your time at our home in Bigfork, Montana, is entirely up to you. You can be busy from sunrise to sunset with abundant activities. Or you can unwind, relax and lounge to your heart’s content by our lakeside pool. This is your vacation and we want you to treat it as such.
2. Once you arrive, you don’t open your wallet until you check out.
After you check into your accommodations at our Montana guest ranch, you won’t need to pull your wallet or credit card out to pay for drinks, dinner, transportation or activities. You won’t need your wallet until you’re ready to hit the road for home. (If you opt to do off-site guided activities, there are additional fees to those outfitters.)
3. High-caliber food and drinks are included.
While we might be biased, we know a good thing when we see one. And Chef Rob is a good thing. He’s been with the ranch for over five years and brings his culinary talent to every meal you have while you’re here at the ranch. Plus, he works with as many local purveyors and farmers as possible to ensure that your dining experience includes as many Montana-grown or Montana-made items as possible. Rounding out our culinary offerings are Pastry Chef Bri and our talented team of mixologists. Needles to say, you won’t go away hungry or thirsty. And if you have dietary restrictions or allergies? Our culinary team can accommodate you.
4. Everything you need is here. But if it’s not, we can get it for ya. (Or take you to get it.)
We have amazing employees and if you ask any one of them for something, chances are you’ll get it and you’ll get it quickly. But, if on the off-chance that we don’t have what you need, we can run to town and grab it for you or we can take you into Bigfork to snag it.
5. We’ve got mountains. And we’ve got water.
One of the elements that helps set Flathead Lake Lodge apart from other guest ranches is the wide array of what we have to see, do and experience. While we’ve got horseback trail rides through our nearly 2,000 acres of terrain, we also sit on the shore of Flathead Lake, which means there are a plethora of water-based activities to enjoy during summer in Montana.
6. Vast array of activities and things to do.
Whether you prefer land-based adventures (like horseback trail rides, guided hikes, mountain biking or touring our on-site elk preserve) or water activities (like sailing, wakeboarding, stand-up paddleboarding and swimming), you’ll find robust activity offerings when you stay at Flathead Lake Lodge. We also have a well-rounded kids program that’s broken down by ages, with experienced staff to supervise.
7. Two types of stays – family and adults-only.
Summer at the ranch is all about weeklong family stays and with our abundant offerings and private accommodations, Flathead Lake Lodge is ideal for family vacations and multigenerational family bonding. And while summer is focused on the kids, each spring and fall we turn the ranch into a get away that’s just for the grown-ups with our adults-only adventure retreats. It’s basically summer camp, but for adults, in the best way possible.
PS: we also offer corporate retreats, special events and destination weddings. More here.
8. Everything is included, making it a value vacation.
There’s a huge value that comes with an all-inclusive stay. Our 2023 adult rates start at $5,439 for cabins and suites, and $4,417 for lodge rooms. And while we realize that could come with some sticker shock, that includes EVERYTHING. Your meals, your drinks (including alcoholic beverages), accommodations and all activities, from horseback trail rides to a mountain meadow steak fry and Pinzgauer tours to sailing in our 1920’s historic sailing sloops.
9. Room to breathe.
Our lakeside guest ranch has nearly 2,000 acres of pure Montana that runs from the shore of Flathead Lake up into the Swan Mountains behind the ranch. What this means is that you get breathe in as much of Montana as possible. The lodge grounds are beautiful and are home to a variety of landscapes, making it easy to find your own quiet corner of Big Sky Country right here at Flathead Lake Lodge.
If you’ve been thinking about an all-inclusive vacation, we’d love to visit with you more about Montana’s Flathead Lake Lodge. You can email us or call our office at 406-837-4391.
We’re kicking off our 2023 season with something new – Locals Nights at Flathead Lake Lodge.
Before we fully open the doors to the ranch for our weeklong stays, we’re opening the Main Lodge for four nights: May 5, 6, 12 and 13. Each evening, Chef Rob will be whipping up a four-course prix fixe menu with wine pairings.
Here’s an overview of what to expect…
May 5 + 6
The four-course menu includes endive salad, prawn and grits, chicken and dumplings and apple strudel, with wine pairings served with each course.
May 12 + 13
This weekend’s menu features potato leek salad, crab cake, pork osso bucco and tiramisu, also served with wine pairings.
What Else You Need to Know
Tickets: $90 per person, which includes gratuity.
Happy hour starts at 5:30 p.m. (cash bar), followed by dinner service at 6:30 p.m.
From our family to you and yours, we’d love to welcome you to our historic Main Lodge to enjoy an evening of mouth-watering culinary dishes and perfectly paired wine. Tickets are available now and can be purchased here.
See you soon,
Last month, Flathead Lake Lodge was nominated to be included in the “10 best dude ranches across the country for 2023” in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice awards. First things first, we were grateful to be among the ranks of other incredible guest ranches across the country. We know firsthand how many amazing dude ranches there are, especially in the West. From Arizona in the south to Montana in the north, our landscapes are dotted with ranches, all offering their own distinct experience.
After being nominated by a panel, the 10Best Awards take it to a vote. Over several days, folks cast their vote for their favorite guest ranch and at the end of the contest, Flathead Lake Lodge snagged the number six spot…here’s what USA Today had to say.
“The terms “luxury” and “rustic” may not often be paired, but they’re fitting descriptions of Flathead Lake Lodge. This lovely ranch situated in the foothills provides an all-inclusive vacation that’s family-friendly to its core. It spans 2,000 acres, giving guests the advantages of its lakefront location with activities like sailing, canoeing, wakesurfing, stand-up paddleboarding and lakeside campfires. On land, there’s horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking on offer.”
To the folks who nominated us and those of you who voted for us in this contest, thank you! We’re delighted that you love this place as much as we do and are so glad that you are part of the Flathead Lake Lodge family. It’s our privilege to share the legacy, lifestyle and magic of this place, year after year.
Until next time,
PS: if you’re interested in visiting the ranch in Bigfork, Montana, this summer, we have a handful of weeklong stays available, as well as our spring and fall adults-only adventure retreats. Give us a call at 406-837-4391.
A family-owned and -operated business since 1945, Flathead Lake Lodge has been part of the Bigfork, Montana, community for more than 75 years. As one of the town’s largest employers and oldest businesses, we take our responsibility to community service and stewardship seriously. We love this place and understand how important it is to keep Bigfork as charming, welcoming and wonderful as it’s been for decades.
That’s where the Flathead Lake Lodge Community Fund comes in. After every season, we contribute 1% of all accommodations revenue to the Flathead Lake Lodge Community Fund. This fund supports a slew of great causes, community projects and individual initiatives every year. It’s important to us that we support those organizations and people who work hard to make a positive impact in the Bigfork community.
During the past four years, we have awarded over $20,000 and are excited to be continuing this tradition. We value our little town and look forward to working with you to make Bigfork even better.
Applications are currently open – to apply, simply download the application below and return it to us by November 15, 2022.
Thanks for all you do to help make Bigfork a wonderful place to call home.
2022 marks the third year we’ve had the privilege of hosting a Week of Hope at Flathead Lake Lodge in partnership with HopeKids. Originally started for our 75th anniversary, Week of Hope has now become an annual event that we look forward to each year as we welcome critically ill children and their families to the ranch to life in Montana and make memories. (To learn more, you can read our posts from 2020 and 2021.) In the middle of the hustle and bustle of life, Week of Hope reminds us to stop, slow down and appreciate every moment.
For Week of Hope 2022, we welcomed 19 families from across the United States. And we had many of the same feelings we’ve had in the past – during Week of Hope, it’s almost as if nothing else matters or exists except making sure that the kids and their families are welcomed and loved, while being able to relax, bond, have memorable moments and leave the ranch with incredible family memories.
It’s hard to put into eloquent words what a Week of Hope means to us, and what we hope it means to the families. So instead of stumbling along and trying to share our perspective of the kind of feelings and bonds that come from a week like this, we wanted you to hear it from some of our families.
“Evan LOST everything along with Carter and the rest of us. Football was gone. High school was gone. He missed out on every dance, activity and social aspect of his young life while protecting his little brother. He’d do it again a thousand times over, for Carter. This past week, I saw the light come back into his eyes for the first time in a long time. I saw his passion and his spark to start living again, without constant fear. I saw Evan just able to be Evan again. A gift that we received that could never be replaced. My mama heart is melting. Can’t wait to watch this guy’s future soar.” -Kiana
“Being around other families who have similar challenges and being able to share our stories, fears, and hopes with each other has been such an empowering experience during Week of Hope. It was truly beautiful watching the children come together. I will forever cherish the memories made here and the people we met.” -Daisy
To our Week of Hope families, thank you for trusting us and allowing us to be part of this experience. To our staff and volunteers, thank you for everything you gave to this week (and everything you give to the world every day). And to our donors, thank you for giving the gift of hope and the role you play in bringing this week to life.
It was an honor, a privilege and a blessing to spend a Week of Hope with you.
-Chase and the Flathead Lake Lodge family
Here at Flathead Lake Lodge, we want our guests to feel like family. After all, among our 2,000 acres of Montana you’ll find plenty of room to adventure, breathe, relax, unwind and make memories. While we do our best to share what to expect, what to pack and everything you can do as a guest of Flathead Lake Lodge, sometimes we need to turn over the reins and have other folks do it for us.
Most of the content of this blog post was written for first-time guests by other first-times guests (or as the ladies who wrote this say – written by newbies for newbies), after their inaugural first week at Flathead Lake Lodge, July 10 – 17, 2022.
Without further ado, here are the “Top 12 Things Flathead Lake Lodge Newbies Need to Know.”
1. If you planned out your entire week ahead of time, know that it won’t turn out exactly as you planned. This is okay. You’ll still have fun and get to do everything you want. We promise!
2. On sign-up day (which is Monday), arrive early and have your top priority activities picked out. Give each person in your group an assigned activity to get in line for and sign up, that way you can cover more ground quicker.
3. If you don’t get to sign up for something you wanted, put your name on the waitlist and still show up for that activity. Chances are, at least one of the folks who did sign up won’t show up and you’ll get to do it.
4. At times, sailing lessons can be hit-or-miss activities because there may or may not be wind. Be sure to plan an activity to substitute in case it doesn’t work out. (But if you can take a lesson, do!)
5. Be sure to sign up for horse-related activities, including horseback trail rides. And if you need a lesson, be sure to mark that on the sign-up sheet. (You can also talk to the gals in the office and they can be sure you get squared away for a lesson.) Same goes for the watersports lessons in the morning – be sure you sign up! In the afternoon, all you need to do is write your name down on the whiteboard and you will get to go.
6. The families who have been coming for years are very nice, we promise! Don’t be intimidated. You’ll quickly meet them during the on-ranch activities and before you know it, you’ll have some lovely new friends.
7. For meals, find other newbies to sit with or other families that don’t have a large extended family group staying at the lodge. If you met someone at an activity, ask if you can join them for dinner!
8. When it comes to mouse races, be sure to bring some cold hard cash. Plus, you can combine your funds with other families.
9. Jump on YouTube and look up “How to pen” before team penning. Trust us.
10. Check in with the office for the daily schedule and any changes.
11. Come a day or two early and visit Glacier National Park! It’s 40 minutes from the ranch and is well worth a visit.
12. Take advantage of the laundry service – you can pack less!
*Ladies, it was a joy to have you and your families here at the ranch! Thanks for sharing what you learned and passing along your experiences for future fist-time guests.
Our 2022 summer season is firmly underway and we’ve been welcoming guests to the ranch’s 2,000 acres from near and far. While every week is special at Flathead Lake Lodge, there’s always a little something extra about our Fourth of July week. Our fireworks show combined with the Fourth of July Parade in Bigfork – not to mention the rodeo – always brings the heat. Plus, many of the guests have been coming to the ranch during this week for around 30 years, which means it’s jam-packed with longtime friends, memories, multiple generations and all sorts of fun.
Here’s a look at this year’s Fourth of July festivities…
May freedom always ring. With gratitude,
For the second year in a row, we’re welcoming the Ladies AllRide Mountain Bike Retreat to Flathead Lake Lodge. Slated for October 3 – 7, 2022, this women’s-only retreat combines the best of both riding worlds – horseback trail rides and mountain biking – on our 2,000 acres. A five-day, four-night retreat, it’s designed to give attendees professional mountain bike skills instruction and plenty of time to hit the ranch’s miles of expertly-designed trails.
Wondering what to expect? Here’s a peek at the retreat.
Off the bikes, guests can participate in other activities offered at the ranch, including morning yoga, guided hikes, beach campfires, kayaking on Flathead Lake and tours of our on-ranch elk preserve. Chef Rob also makes sure to serve up plenty of made-from-scratch meals to keep attendees fueled and satisfied, while also give them opportunities to taste the many flavors of local Montana purveyors.
All guests stay on the ranch in Flathead Lake Lodge’s accommodations, including lodge rooms and cabins.
If you’re ready to treat yourself to fall in Montana, all while strengthening your mountain bike skills, learn more here. You can also call us at 406-837-4391.
See you on the trails,