The Cliff Ranch Resort in Ovando, Montana Lets You Experience Western Life in Luxury

At the Cliff Ranch, guests experience breathtaking views, exciting outdoor adventures and first-class accommodations
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Thanks to a total renovation, the Fire Tower Lodge provides plenty of room to rejuvenate after taking on outdoor adventures on the property’s 2,000 acres. | Photography by Gibeon Photography

Vacationers looking for a getaway that offers access to both rugged adventure and luxury amenities have a new destination to add to their bucket lists: the Cliff Ranch. Situated between the Blackfoot River and majestic mountain ridges, the 2,000-acre Ovando, Montana, property is available exclusively to private groups ranging from eight to 30 people, making it an idyllic spot for friend getaways, family reunions, destination weddings and corporate retreats. Guests can choose from any number of tailor-made experiences, including hikes, horseback riding, mountain biking, guided fly-fishing and skiing. Those seeing more restorative pursuits can take on outdoor yoga and art classes.

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In the main lodge’s entry, a half-flight of stairs leads to the Fire Tower, where guests can take in the cliffs, make a private call or enjoy a private moment with a cup of coffee.

Total rest and relaxation are also on the menu here via the newly upgraded accommodations. Well-appointed log cabins feature modern kitchens, baths with heated floors and one or two bedrooms, along with bars and sitting areas. The jewel of the property, the Fire Tower Lodge, is the perfect group gathering spot thanks to the totally renovated kitchen, plentiful indoor and outdoor gathering places and hot tub—along with six bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms. The Cliff Ranch also provides access to a private chef for the course of the week-long stay.

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In order to maximize the views, all the original windows were replaced and new ones were added. The abundance of natural light, brand-new bar and a blend of original furnishings and pieces from Missoula-based Wagner’s Home Furnishings make the living room ideal for happy hour.

The seamless transition from the great outdoors to a just-as-great indoors is a result of the efforts of new ownership and Missoula-based architect Angie Lipski of MMW Architects. When Lipski first walked the property back in 2017, she found a main lodge clad in green corrugated siding and a cluster of tired log cabins that she describes as “parched and dehydrated.”

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The reconfigured kitchen features a pair of Caesar- stone-topped islands, a butler’s pantry, larger chef’s pantry and a mix of elements including Walker Zanger’s Duquesa Alba tile, steel beams, rustic logs and Ravelle glass pendant lighting from Restoration Hardware.

While a previous architect had attempted to connect all of the structures with a common outdoor space in the 1990s, there was no clear direction 30 years later. “It was like a blender. There were too many ingredients jammed in, and it was like somebody just hit the go button,” she says.

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The Cliff Ranch’s main lodge and trio of log cabins sleep up to 30 guests. One of the coziest bedrooms is in the Fire Tower Lodge, which features warm wood-planked walls, an even warmer fireplace, a quaint sitting area and four-poster bed.

Because the owners wanted a property that could function as both a private home and small-scale luxury resort, Lipski went to work creating a more straightforward entrance among newly erected log cabins. “We decided to do a flat room with a grass roof, and the Fire Tower in the middle as the marker of entry,” she says. “That gave us a spot to do front-facing terraces and a head gate.” The main lodge got a complete makeover both inside and out with new porches, reworked dining zones, refreshed living areas and a chef’s kitchen with a butler’s pantry to provide guests easy access to morning coffee and afternoon wine. “We also created an area where people can refill their water bottles after endurance runs and bike rides,” Lipski says. “At first I thought that was a little wacky, but people are constantly using it.”

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Here, there are plenty of opportunities for alfresco dining, outdoor meetings and nature breaks. The ranch offers plentiful indoor and outdoor gathering places where guests can enjoy meals prepared by their private chef.

After two years of work, Lipski can’t say enough about the wonders that come with a stay at the Cliff Ranch.

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In addition to the stunning natural terrain, the property boasts newly erected stone walls, plentiful outdoor dining areas and a hot tub.

“Specific rhythms and choreography happen within every space,” she says. “There are places for two-person conversations, spots to zone out and read, and then there’s the heart of the lodge, where the kitchen staff creates nourishing, soulful food for everyone. When I last visited, there wasn’t any music playing—the ‘music’ was a mix of laughter and the sounds of a knife on the cutting board. It all makes for an experience people will never forget.”


RANCH Cliff Ranch
PHOTOGRAPHY Gibeon Photography

Categories: Mountain Travel