Guest ranches have a long history in Montana as unique places where visitors can experience a taste of the state's old west heritage, and spend time fly fishing, riding, hiking, exploring mountain streams and just taking it easy in a quiet place. After a recent five day hike across the Beartooth Mountains, I decided that it was high time I found out what the ranch experience was all about. Montana is the right place to do that, and I managed to take advantage of two historic ranches very near both trailheads for the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness hike. The Skyline Guest Ranch, near the Silver Gate entrance to Yellowstone National Park and it's wildlife rich Lamar Valley, is located at the Clarks Fork Trailhead. And, on my return, once over Montana's famously scenic Beartooth Highway, I spent some time at the Hawley Mountain Ranch on a remote stretch of the Boulder River, only an hour from the East Rosebud Trailhead. Even committed hikers and climbers will find life at either of these places full of novel activities, like traveling on horseback rather than boots, and ultimately be seduced by the comfort, casual ambience, good food, and diverse company.