There’s nothing like an authentic winter’s sleigh ride in Montana to get you into the holiday spirit. There are several places in the state where you can experience this magical pastime, and people of all ages can join in the fun.
We will take a look at the history of the beloved winter pastime and offer up our choices for the best places to experience sleigh rides in Montana.
A Guide to Sleigh Riding in Montana
History of Sledding and Sleigh Rides in Montana
The history of sledding dates back to the earliest days of human existence in the snow.
Sleighs have been used as a form of winter transport since before recorded history. Traditionally, sleds were pulled by hand, but people around the world came to use animals to pull them to lessen their workload as time went on.
Russia seems to have been the first country to use sledding as a form of recreation, with Russian aristocrats practicing sledding on wooden tracks in sleds carved from ice blocks in the 1650s.
In Montana, sleds were used by both Native Americans and white settlers for the transportation of supplies. Over time, both sleds and sleighs naturally became part of local winter recreation.
What is the Difference Between Sleds and Sleighs?
Though often used interchangeably, the terms “sled” and “sleigh” are actually different. According to Wonderopolis, both are objects used for transportation, either for people or supplies. They both have a smooth bottom that sits on slim runners and travel by sliding across surfaces like ice.
Sleds are typically smaller than sleighs and are often used for recreational purposes only, at least in modern times. By comparison, sleighs are larger, have open tops, and seats for more than one passenger. Modern sleighs also have to be pulled by animals (think of Santa’s sleigh).
In Montana, you can experience both sledding and sleigh rides. The latter is often performed with either horses or reindeer drawing the sleigh.
The 7 Best Places to Catch Sleigh Rides in Montana
Cripple Creek Horse Ranch
Looking to experience an authentic sleigh ride in Montana? Look no further than Cripple Creek Horse Ranch!
Located in Trego, the ranch lies on a farm of 47 acres and offers both sleigh and chuck wagon rides through the wintry landscape. Only steps away from the Whitefish Mountain Range, the area provides guests with sublime views that will stay with you forever.
Sleigh rides at Cripple Creek last for 45 minutes and offer the chance to view winter wildlife from beneath a cozy wool blanket.
As part of the ride, guests can choose to add on a full dinner at the ranch, which takes place in a warm cabin. There’s also the option for refreshments only, which are shared around a fire at the campsite.
For a group sleigh ride with just refreshments, prices start at $180 for three adults, with an extra charge of $60 per additional adult.
Lone Mountain Ranch
The Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky is home to one of Montana’s most magical winter adventures: the sleigh ride dinner.
Guests are invited to board a horse-drawn sleigh, which will take them to an authentic cabin illuminated by traditional lanterns. There, they’ll indulge in a generous dinner of family-style prime rib, while enjoying the entertainment provided by cowboy singer-storytellers.
This genuine Old West experience runs from December through March. The sleigh departs daily at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The experience costs $150 per person and includes a three-course meal (with kids’ menus available), mulled wine and hot chocolate, a shot of Moonshine, entertainment, and the sleigh ride.
Double Arrow Lodge
Along with being a haven for cross-country skiers during the winter, the Double Arrow Lodge at Seeley Lake is one of the best destinations to experience a horse-drawn sleigh ride in Montana.
Running during the winter months, the sleigh rides embark through the frosty meadows surrounding the lodge, at the base of the Swan Mountains Range, after departing from the Main Lodge.
Guests are treated to hot chocolate in the Great Hall before or after the ride and are welcome to relax in front of the fireplace while they enjoy it.
The lodge also offers romantic antique cutter sleigh rides for two. These include hot rocks to warm the feet, champagne, and a buffalo robe to keep you warm as you celebrate anniversaries, special dates, or, (perhaps) a proposal!
The Resort at Paws Up
Located in Greenough, the Resort at Paws Up is one of the most lavish accommodations and outfitting experiences in Montana. There are several exciting outdoor activities available at the resort, including old-world sleigh rides.
In addition to dog sledding during the winter, the Resort offers guided sleigh rides pulled by Norwegian Fjord horses. While viewing the winter wonderland-like scenery, you’ll enjoy hot chocolate and hot cider from the comfort of the sleigh.
Guides also have endless stories and historical facts to regale guests with as the sleigh travels through the snow.
Sleigh rides come at a cost of $550 per group and last for 45 minutes. There’s a maximum of 10 people allowed per group, and all ages are welcome to ride the sleigh.
During the winter, the Elkhorn Ranch in Gallatin Gateway gives guests the chance to immerse themselves in the true Montana winter with lunch and dinner sleigh rides.
Traversing through the snow of the Gallatin Canyon, the rides are the ultimate way to view the spectacular Montana scenery.
Sleigh rides run from Thursday through Sunday, from December through February. Lunch rides depart at 12 p.m. while dinner rides depart at 4 p.m., and both feature half an hour to 45 minutes of sleigh time plus a three-course meal with two complimentary drinks included.
This option is best suited for groups, as pricing is based per sleigh, which can hold up to 12 people. The lunch sleigh ride is $1,350 per sleigh, while the dinner sleigh ride is $1,750 per sleigh. In total, the experience takes three hours.
320 Guest Ranch
The 320 Guest Ranch is also located in the picturesque Gallatin Gateway and offers enchanting sleigh rides. The sleighs are pulled by the ranch’s hard-working and beloved draft horses and run from December through March, weather permitting.
Sleigh rides depart at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and travel along the Gallatin River to the Mountain Man Campsite, where a bonfire will be lit. There, guests will be treated to wild game chili, cheese and crackers, popcorn, hot beverages, and adult beverages.
Prices for these Appetizer Rides are $85 for adults and $55 for children under 13, while children under three can ride for free. Additionally, you can also reserve private sleigh rides for a more intimate experience.
Bar W Guest Ranch
Located in Whitefish, one of Montana’s winter capitals, Bar W Guest Ranch is another outfitter operating sleigh rides in Montana. Along the way, guests will get views of Spencer Mountain and the surrounding beauty.
Each sleigh can fit 10 people, and three sleighs depart a day, at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Sleigh rides run on a reservation basis, and include cookies, coffee, and hot chocolate, which is served upon your return.
Prices start at $65 per person, so this is definitely one of the most affordable ways to experience sleigh riding in Montana. You can even bring kids three years old and under along for free, provided they sit on someone’s lap.
Guests are also welcome to bring their own drinks on the sleigh!
Sleigh Rides in Montana – Conclusion
Sleigh riding is one of Montana’s most treasured winter pastimes. There are plenty of destinations throughout the state where you can reserve your spot in a horse-drawn sleigh and enjoy the charm of an age-old tradition.
Whether you’re looking for a cost-effective sleigh ride or want to splurge, there’s a ride out there for everyone!