Spartan Race at Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge

We’re excited to once again host this year’s, May 6th-7th, Montana Spartan Race at our Montana Dude Ranch! Spartans, prepare for the amazing views and rewarding climbs. Our Ranch is located on the shores of Flathead Lake. Breathe in fresh air and get ready for the pristine rugged trails. The terrain, covering 12+ miles, features punishing obstacles that will leave you breathless at the finish line. The views of Glacier National Park are not to be missed; and yes, you’ll just have to climb a hill, and crawl under barbed wire, then throw a spear, and so much more just to get there. But trust us, the reward for your hard work is more than worth it.

Get Ready
Spartan is a mission driven company committed to making the world a better place. They live to compete and compete to live, they believe you can’t have a strong body without a strong mind; they believe that obstacles make us stronger. Spartan provides racers of all levels a proving ground to test themselves. Spartan is the world’s best obstacle race.

Spartans know the importance of leaving no man or woman behind. This is as true off the course as it is on it. With that in mind, they are uniting with fundraising partner everyday hero to bring Spartans across the country a new platform to raise both money and awareness for those in need. Start raising money for one of our 40 official charity partners, or raise money for a personal cause!

Get Set
Callout your friends, co-workers and loved ones to get off the couch and into the mud. Whether they’re helping you over the wall or running up a mountain, make sure they’re with you at the starting line. Teams can be any size but must have at least 4 members to be included in the team rankings.
Bring your friends and family to the race to watch you conquer obstacles, dominate the finish line and receive your medal!Fans will enjoy music, raffles, entertainment, and festival challenges. Most importantly, fans will receive a front row seat to watch racers from the Spartan Race festival ground area.

Here the sky goes for miles, and the views from the course give you a taste of natural beauty at its finest.If you’ve ever wanted to see some real wildlife, you’ll likely get a healthy dose while you visit and maybe even while you’re racing. There are plenty of outdoor activities to partake in after the race. Check out Swan Lake, Echo Lake, or the Jewel Basin hiking area just to name a few. Take comfort in resting at one of our nearby lodges that offer a peaceful retreat to top off your Spartan vacation at our Montana Dude Ranch. Join the race and get ready to feel invisible.

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Spring into Nature with Horseback Riding

The snow is melting which means a new world is appearing from under the snow. In spring there is so much to see from fresh flowers to animals exploring the land. The best way to experience what Mother Nature has to offer is on horseback. At Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge we provide horseback riding throughout your stay. It is a chance for you to see what a Montana Dude Ranch has to offer.

On our 2,000 acre private ranch, we have a ton of sites to explore on horseback. From mountain wilderness, spectacular lake views, our private elk preserve, and some of Montana’s most beautiful landscape. Our riding program is focused on you, the guest. What this means is that our guests can ride as much or as little as they would like during their week at the Lodge. Our riding program offers a variety of riding options daily, for all ability levels, and various ride lengths and ages so that guests can pick and chose what riding experience they would like from day to day.

At our ranch, we want to make sure everyone has a chance to ride a horse. That is why our wranglers offer private riding lessons for beginner riders in our arena so that everyone feels comfortable out on the trails. For the experienced equestrians, our wranglers will take out smaller groups, ride faster, and cover some serious distance while venturing into some of the most untouched wilderness in the country.

With so much to see in Montana and on our ranch, we want to make sure you can see it all. Our Montana Dude Ranch provides the most fun and exciting way to view everything and that is on horseback. We pride ourselves on making the experience enjoyable for you as well as the horses. So spring into action and grab your cowboy hat and book your stay at Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge.

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What To Expect On A Montana Dude Ranch Vacation

Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge is a Montana Dude Ranch that is unlike any other. With an upscale rustic atmosphere, this ranch has a lot to offer. You’ll experience endless recreational activities and amazing hospitality from the Averill Family and staff. You might think what is there to do in Montana? And the answer is too much!

Life On The Ranch
Along with so much to see around the ranch, you’ll find that there is also a lot to do on the ranch. We offer an endless amount of fun with horseback riding activities for all ages and experience levels. This is a great way to explore the Montana wilderness. We are located on a private bay on the largest natural freshwater lake in the west. So you can imagine how much fun water activities can be at our beautiful lakeside ranch. You can enjoy lake cruise to experience the spectacular views, as well as sailing, paddle boarding, kayaks, canoes, and of course fishing. If you aren’t sure if your kids will want to do everything listed above. We do have children and teen activities to keep the littlest cowboys and cowgirls busy. Our friendly and trusted staff will help to guide your children through arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, laser tag, wrangler program, and a kid’s rodeo.

What To Bring
So with all these amazing and different activities you must be thinking what should we bring? Expect a wide range of weather conditions. With sunny summer days and cooler nights, layers are key. Blue jeans or comfortable pants are good if you are planning on horseback riding and of course, don’t forget those cowboy hats and boots! Sweatshirts, light jackets, and rain gear are perfect for bundling up by the campfire or layering up for Glacier National Park. For days by the lake a bathing suit, sunglasses, sunscreen, and sandals. On athletic days, think of spending your day biking or hiking, which means you’ll want to bring athletic shoes or hiking shoes. Then of course whatever else you want to bring to enjoy your amazing vacation at Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge.

The Great Outdoors
When planning your vacation to the Ranch there is a lot to take note of. It is only 35 miles from Glacier National Park. Located in the Rocky Mountains, this national park has glaciers carved in peaks and valleys running to the Canadian border. The mountainous Going-to-the-Sun Road crosses Glacier National Park. If you love to hike plan to spend some time pre or post ranch life with the opportunity to hike over 700 miles of trails, backpacking, and cycling. Plus, there is a possibility to see diverse wildlife from mountain goats to grizzly bears. If hiking isn’t your thing, we are walking distance to Bigfork, Montana. A Charming western artesian village on the bay with a wide assortment of fine art galleries, restaurants, and unique shops.

We want to make sure you have an amazing time on your Montana Dude RanchEnjoy 2,000 Acres of Private Ranch Riding.

Bordered by National Forest overlooking Flathead, explore the beauty of the ranch and Montana on horseback. Our ranch has been around since 1945, and we pride ourselves on giving guests the experience of western Montana hospitality combined with unparalleled recreation opportunities. We’ll make sure you and your family have the best vacation with us. Continue a legacy for generations when you experience Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge. Grab your boots and head down to Montana for a rodeo of a good time.

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Closer by the dozen in Bigfork, Montana – By: Linda Dove and Family

Who: Robert and Linda Dove of Kiawah Island, S.C.; Stephen Dove and a son, Jackson, of Arlington, Va.; Nicholas and Carrie Storer and two sons, Tommy and Ned, all of Kensington, Md.; Dan Solomon and Laura Dove and their children, Abigail and Jacob, all of Alexandria, Va.

Where, when, why: The challenge was to plan a family trip for 12 that would be fun for everyone, from 77-year-old Bobby to 12-year-old Tommy, and all those in between. Our requirements: no cooking (an absolute must); interesting and varied activities with lots of opportunities for outdoor ad­ven­ture; a wide selection of other guests for the 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds; and something that would equal or surpass our trip to Alaska last year.

Kudos to daughter Laura who, after much research, found Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, in Bigfork, Mont., just outside of Kalispell and 30 miles from Glacier National Park. The working dude ranch with more than 100 horses and an outstanding farm program is located on Flathead Lake and has many water activities, including water skiing, kayaking and sailing. It promised something for everyone, even those creaky grandparents who weren’t sure they would be doing the morning trail rides. We combined time at the lodge with a side trip to Glacier National Park.

Highlights and high points: We all made it a point to visit the lakeshore at some point every morning and every afternoon. Although only some of us made it for sunrise each day, we all came together each afternoon for sunset. Yes, there is life outside of Washington traffic, work deadlines and busy sports schedules. The scenery was lovely, but it was the relaxed conversation that seemed the most spectacular.

Cultural connection or disconnect: We were in Montana at the height of the drought and forest fire season, a record-breaker in 2015. It was eye-opening. On several mornings we rose to discover the ranch shrouded in gray smog, caused by the fires in Glacier Park. It was a stark reminder of how different life is in the West and the power and fickleness of Mother Nature.

Biggest laugh or cry: One of our 12-year-olds seemed to discover girls for the first time during our stay at the ranch. Much teasing among the cousins, but also some special moments when we could begin to see who he would be as he grows into manhood. Grandparent tears.

How unexpected: None of us expected to spend so much time on the water in Western Montana. The lakes are amazing — warm, calm and incredibly beautiful. We also loved the small town of Bigfork, which looks like something out of a Western movie. We were warmly greeted by the residents of this town of 4,000.

Fondest memento or memory: It is not easy to plan a trip for 12 people who have little time for vacations and thus have very strong ideas about what they should be. We spent a lot of time before the trip talking about what we each wanted from our experience. Everyone’s ideas were given equal weight — from the kids to the grandparents. How successful was our adventure? Our time in Montana met everyone’s expectations, above and beyond. This was certainly due in part to the activities and experiences at our lodge, which were amazing. But we all agreed that we had each brought something to the trip that was what made it so meaningful. Now we have to begin working something even better for next year!

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Drink Beer | Race | Conquer in The Last Best Place.

This 5k-ish 4 person relay will challenge your will and palate on the shores of Flathead Lake.

It’s like nothing you have done before with 10 Challenges (Giant Beer Pong, Keg Climbing Wall, Hops Hop, Keg Pull, Grain Pit to name a few) | Race Beer Sampling Stations | Festival | Live Music all located at the top guest ranch in Montana Flathead Lake Lodge. Sign your team up today as space is limited or sign up as an individual and we’ll pick your team.

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Team Building at The Ranch

“A few years ago we founded Elicit with the mindset of creating a company that everyone would want to work for. That led to the institution of what we call Mind Meld—a bi-annual corporate retreat that highlights collaboration, expanding our capabilities, and probably most importantly, having an awesome time with each other. In May of 2015 we spent Mind Meld 7 at the beautiful Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge and the team has subsequently dubbed it the “best Mind Meld ever.”

What made our experience so special is hard to pinpoint, because everything was great. The Lodge simply ended up being the perfect setting for our team. The main conference room easily accommodated our nearly 30-person company and we had access to other breakout rooms so splitting up into smaller teams was a breeze. The activities in and around the camp were perfect. I saw groups taking advantage of everything the Lodge had to offer—from kayaking and horseback riding to pickup basketball and volleyball. We even had a huge group head out to play laser tag in the woods. It was a blast.

While the activities were great, the food and staff may have been even better. As a company, we have quite an epicurean culture, but breakfast, lunch, and dinner, coupled with service from ‘friends’, continued to impress. The highlight was definitely the steak fry in the woods. Delicious food and an awesome experience—we rode in a vintage fire truck to the dinner site!

And all the while you are sitting in some of the most beautiful surroundings in the country. The lake, trees, and mountain ranges were breathtaking all day, but especially at sunset. We gathered each evening at the campfire by the lake to make s’mores, play a little guitar, and just take in the beautiful scenery.

Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge is an incredible place and provided us with an incredible experience. I highly recommend creating your own great memories there.”

Mason Thelen
CEO and Co-Founder, Elicit

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Happy Birthday America!

As we celebrate American Independence Day on the Fourth of July every year, we think of July 4, 1776, as the day that represents the Declaration of Independence, and the birth of the United States as an independent nation.

We also remember, and want to thank America’s true heroes who have served, and are currently serving our country. Every year the Ranch brings up the end of the Bigfork Parade with our fleet of fire trucks and horses in honor of our country!

Happy Birthday America!
Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge in the Bigfork, Montana Fourth of July Parade!
Marcy a 20+ year lodge guest celebrating the Fourth of July in style!

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Meet Our New Chef Ellen!

We are very excited for you all to experience the delectable food that Chef Ellen and her team will be cooking this summer! In the mean time we did a little Q&A so you all could get to know Chef Ellen before your summer vacation. See you all soon and make sure to bring your appetite!


How did you choose Montana?

By plane. When the executive chef of Glacier Park Inc. passed away suddenly I was asked to fly out to help get the culinary team through. Through was never defined and I never asked. I flew out from the east coast the next morning. My reason was simple, I knew from personal experience what it was like to loose a chef. Chef Gorski at Glacier Park Inc. was loved by his staff, they all were in shock when he passed away and I wanted to help his staff in any way possible.

What are some of your highlights while working at Glacier Park Inc.?

It was the hardest job I have ever held, and yet meeting and working with so many students from all over the world has been wonderful. There is nothing more fulfilling than being able to teach someone a concept without a common language and seeing their expression when they understand the message, or their face when they try avocado for the first time.

Where did you gain your culinary knowledge?

At the age of 14 I started cooking at the Putney Inn as an apprentice. That program brought me to the Von Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe and then the Fox Fire Inn. From there I was hired at South Seas Plantation training under Chef Banigan. I then applied to Stouffer Hotels and Resorts for their culinary management program. Upon completion, I opened one of their restaurants in Florida. It was a truly amazing experience.

How many years have you been cooking?

Over 35 years

Who is your culinary mentor?

Chef Joanna Jenkins, her creativity and use of fresh local products made the two years I was her Sou Chef the most inspirational of my entire culinary career. Chef Bob Walton was the executive chef of Grand Teton Lodge, St. Mary, Colter Bay and The Jacksonhole Golf club. He taught me the importance of team building and what it means to run a team.

What is your favorite dish to make?

That changes daily. I love to try new ideas and use locally grown products. Some of my main stay ingredients are dark beers, cheese, and fresh veggies.

How did you come up with this year’s menu?

This menu is a combination of traditional recipes that are a central part of Flathead Lake Lodge and my ideas that incorporate fresh local ingredients. Some courses are more traditional in concept; others are more of a modernist food fusion with a blend of flavor profiles.

Anything we should anticipate?

Memories of a wonderful vacation filled with great food!

What are you anticipating?

To build a culinary team that is going to elevate dinning at Flathead Lake Lodge, so perhaps next year you will be coming back for the food, the view, the horses, and the staff. . . notice the food was first!

ChefEllen ChefEllen1







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Averill’s Herd of Horses

For roughly fifteen years we have pastured our horses in the Creston area of the Flathead Valley. We have been lucky enough to have Bob Borgan, a retired county welder and diesel mechanic watch after our stock while in his fields. Bob, retired for 10 years this summer from his county post, has run his families farm operation dating back almost 40 years, much of which was done in the evenings or on weekends. Today, Bob and his wife Louanne, a retired school teacher, enjoy their time growing hay during the summer months, (this is the hay we feed at the ranch) and during the winter and spring months watching over the horses everyone enjoys throughout the summer. Bob and Louanne have a few of their favorites in the herd like many of our guests. “Bob,” our big buckskin is Bob’s favorite horse as he once was owned by Bob and called “Buck”. Louanne on the other hand favors the miniatures, Melvin, Ron, Calamity and Jethro. She spends many mornings feeding them treats and sitting in a small pen petting them. This spring Bob was ecstatic when Laine found a team of Mules to add to the lodge herd. A self-proclaimed mule guy, Bob has found two new favorites, Rose and Violet.

Perhaps you are wondering why we don’t keep the herd on lodge property year around? The main reason being that our number one priority is to sustain a healthy and well-maintained herd of horses for our guests. As our season slows down towards the end of October, we begin to pull shoes and take the horses up to “The Hill” where most of our trail rides go. Our entire property line is fenced for pasturing the horses, however when we put upward of 100 animals on our mountainous property the grass does not last very long. When it comes time to start feeding hay as the snow falls and the grasses wilt, it is much easier and safer terrain out at Bob’s farm. Wintering the horses in a 20-acre pasture with trees for shelter, a heated water tank and fresh chopped hay everyday, our horses live the life in the winter.

Bob Borgan taking care of the horses this Spring in the Flathead Valley, Montana
horses with big mnt in back
Bob’s property in Creston has beautiful views of the Whitefish Ski Resort also known as Big Mountain
Mini Mules and Donkey
Louanne has been taking very good care of these little guys all winter

That is until spring hoof trimming comes along. During operating season we shoe our horses on a 6-8 week schedule to keep them balanced and prevent soreness. During the winter we go a little longer between calling the farrier as the shoes are pulled and the horses naturally wear down their hooves. Sometime during mid February to early March, we will catch all the horses at Bob’s and trim their hooves.

Horse getting hoof trimmed
Trimming over 100 horses hooves is quite the spring project, taking 4 full days to complete

Spring has now sprung on us here at the ranch and Elizabeth and Garrett have returned for yet another season. This season these two southern characters are going to divide up the barn duties and look to expand on our offerings. This summer we look to take advantage of our expanding lesson program as well as some new trail ride options. The details will have to be kept under wraps and be a surprise when you arrive!

Howdy Ya’ll! Liz and Garrett are very excited to welcome back all our guests and meet new ones

Spring projects are in full force right now as the fencing maze around the barn and pastures have changed their look a bit. The pastures behind the barn have finally received their rightful split rail wood fencing to match, while the fence running along the pond road has been replaced after 20 years in use. It didn’t stop there as the alley leading to the feed lot is all new wood fence as well and while we were at it, we just tackled restructuring the pastures with some new metal and wire fencing that should last for many generations of lodge horses to come!

Wrangler Garrett making sure the new fence is level

A month or so ago, we found some new friends for the herd, Violet and Rose. They are our new sorrel Molly Mules. Drive, ride, or pack them and they are happy to serve. With the most genuine personalities in a four-legged friend, these two mules love their ears and chins scratched. In fact, do it long enough and they might just cave to using your shoulder as a headrest, don’t mind their heads they are rather large.

Violet learning the trails while taking in the beautiful views above Flathead Lake
Rose loves apples and her ears scratched! Make sure to stop by and meet her
Rose and Violet enjoying their new home in Bigfork, Montana at the Lodge. They have become great friends with Oz, Kahleesi, Forrest and Cannon!

Last but surely not least. This season we are proud to finally serve the public a little more. We will be offering three different length daily trail rides, 1 hour, 2 hour and a 3 hour ride that will make it into our elk preserve. The shorter rides will experience our Overlook of Flathead Lake as well as some other familiar terrain to our guests. This program will run June through September and is structured to co-exist with the lodge barn riding program. With the rides limited to a max of 10-14 and leaving from our Cliff House Stable, we look forward to this new endeavor.

Public Daily Trail Rides Starting this June. Enjoy the most spectacular views of Flathead Lake via horseback



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