Granite County, United States

Granite County in south-west Montana is rural and rugged, a place where the favoured mode of transport is the horse, and patches of protected wilderness remain gloriously roadless. The region is as it was when it was first roamed by the Salish, and they left behind evocatively named places: Bitterroot Mountains, Lost River Range (in neighbouring Idaho) and a monument to the Battle of Little Bighorn are all marked on a map. Snow-capped peaks, trout-filled creeks and dense forests make up the spectacular natural beauty, dotted with former mining strongholds and ghost towns. Granite County is between two grand national parks, Glacier and Yellowstone. Montana’s as wild and wonderful as ever, and visitors can experience life as it was for the pioneers – only it’s not such a struggle these days.

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When to go

All year is an outdoorsy affair, but spring and summer bring with them blooming landscapes and even brighter big skies – come now for horse riding, fishing and hiking. In winter, the region’s ski resorts get busy.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Nearby airports include Missoula and Butte. There are direct flights to Butte from Salt Lake City with Delta (www.delta.com); United (www.united.com) links Missoula with Denver and San Francisco. Private-plane owners can land at Anaconda.
  • Trains

    Amtrak’s (www.amtrak.com) Empire Builder route stops in northern Montana, so you can get to East Glacier Park and then pick up a hire car at the Avis outlet across the road (+1 406 226 9227; www.avis.com) to continue the journey to Granite County.
  • Automobiles

    Hiring a car is cheaper than relying on tours and transfers; Missoula airport has most of the big-name companies, as does Butte. Prepare for some hefty distances.
  • Taxis

    Long rural stretches make having your own wagon a wise move.

The frontierswoman

The frontierswoman

Gallop across wildflower meadows around the elegantly wood-panelled The Ranch at Rock Creek in Granite County Montana.