The allure of the long days of summer filled with mountain air and sunshine has captured the imagination of many out-of-state travelers. Some decide to uproot, chase their dreams and move to the treasure state, only to realize the glorious summer days might only last four months give or take, depending on the year. The saying, “winter is coming,” from the Game of Thrones is the harsh reality calling Montana home. Don’t worry; our Montana trips fall in the prime months of June-September when our home state shows off all of its glory! Ahhhh, summer in Montana; that is something worth dreaming about, especially as we currently have negative temperatures.
In 2004 Owen Gue, co-founder and president of The Cycling House was looking to escape another Montana winter to train in the sunshine for his upcoming road cycling season. Owen was born and raised in Montana and knew at the end of cyclocross season that winter was knocking on the door. Owen was racing for Broadmark Capital, a semi-professional team out of Seattle, and they pointed it South for Tucson winter training camp. After one week in the warm Tucson sun, he knew he needed to share this experience. During their camp, the team stayed under one roof, sharing home-cooked meals, and had van support on their rides. The wheels were turning (literally), and Owen and his teammate Evan decided to create a similar experience to share. The following winter, they rented a house in Tucson and started The Cycling House. The house got bigger each year after that, and in 2008 they hosted their first 10-person trip. After this group experience, Owen knew he was onto something special, as did those ten guests, all of whom became repeat customers, and a few have not missed a trip to Tucson since 2008.
Finally, after years of running trips in Arizona, California, and Europe, Owen and The Cycling House team decided to share Montana with our guests and created The Tour De Montana, a point-to-point camping trip. The trip was a hit, and in 2016 we introduced Glacier to Yellowstone, followed up with Montana Gravel in 2018. This summer, we have ten weeks of adventures planned on both road and gravel routes. Winter is still here, it’s currently 5 degrees outside, but we are dreaming about those glorious summer days.
First, we have three weeks in June and three weeks in September at one of our favorite locations – The Cliff Ranch. The Cliff Ranch is nothing short of spectacular; the 3,000+ acre ranch sits on the edge of the mighty Blackfoot River – beautiful views extend across the pastures of the massive cliffs that are the namesake of this incredible property. The evening skies at the ranch are worth staying up for; the long summer days make it challenging, but once it’s dark, taking a step outside or, better yet, laying in the grass and looking up, you will have the best stargazing around! The rides have something for everyone – beginner to advanced gravel riders – and we spend 98% of our time on dirt. Days are spent getting the tires dirty and the legs dusty, and we return home to wonderful meals prepared by our Cycling House Chefs.
Next up, we’ve recreated our camping experience but added a twist. In mid-July, we will host our first trip at Camp Paxson on the edge of Seeley Lake, Montana. The Camp was an old boy scout camp and offered rustic cabins and a huge dining hall; the property is surrounded by wildlife and huge Ponderosa Pine trees. This area has hundreds of miles of gravel roads, and many call this section of the 3,000-mile Great Divide bike route the most spectacular! We loved our camping trips, but logistically they created challenges, and for this week, you can unpack your bags and enjoy your time at the lake off the bike.
The only point-to-point trips on our summer calendars are the Glacier to Yellowstone and Yellowstone to Glacier hotel trips. Going to the Sun road in Glacier National Park is a highlight, but the real winner might be Beartooth Pass – both are bucket list rides! The trip is point-to-point, but we stay in two of the accommodations for two nights on this six-night, seven-day adventure. Less packing means more time to relax off the bike in beautiful locations. We stay at Jacobson Cottages in East Glacier for two nights and Rock Creek Resort in Red Lodger for two nights. If you are looking for big miles on pavement and even bigger views, this could be your trip!
We know winter will end soon, and we can’t wait to start planning and hosting all of these adventures. Many of our guides call Montana home; sharing it with guests is one of our favorite parts of our jobs. Cheers!