Big Timber, Montana
Much more than just a destination on the way to Yellowstone National Park, (85 miles to the North Entrance,) the Cross-Triangle Ranch is great for those wanting a tailor-made working ranch vacation. The spirit of the ranch is one of camaraderie and friendship and there are diverse activities available. Whatever you decide to do, you are in good hands.
At an altitude of 4100 feet, the Cross-Triangle Ranch sits along the bank of the Upper Yellowstone River with the Crazy Mountains to the north, a panorama of the Absarokee Beartooth Mountains to the south and a big expanse of prairie downstream. The family’s Norwegian ancestors originally settled in Sweet Grass County over a hundred years ago. The ranch currently has three generations living there near the close knit rural community of Big Timber, Montana (population 1,700.) Situated on 2,000 acres, today the ranch runs between 450 and 500 head of mother cows with calves at side, 250 ewes with their lambs, and 50 head of horses and mules.
The working dogs are the unofficial greeters who are often the first to welcome guests. Grandpa helps with the operations, changing set sets during irrigating season. Guests seek him out to hear the stories he tells about the old days when his young daughter Lonny, following his footsteps, would help him trail bands of a thousand sheep up steep trails to mountain meadows. Now as he passes the reins to the next generation, his daughter Lonny and her husband Cameron Mayo handle the cattle and sheep operation, with their children looking forward to continuing the tradition.
This testimonial comes close to summing it up. After spending time with the ranch family enjoying all that nature and life here in southwestern Montana has to offer, guests often plead, “please don’t tell everyone about this ranch … there is something so special about this place that we think it should be kept secret.”
- This is an operating cattle and sheep ranch and you can join right in on the daily riding. Most cattle work is done on horseback. Seasonal ranching opportunities are numerous. They include calving and lambing in the spring, moving cattle to new grazing land and riding herd health throughout the summer, and then trailing cattle back to headquarters in late fall.
- Guests may also like to take an active part by lending a hand doctoring stock, fencing, checking salt and mineral supplements, irrigating, getting dirty and having fun sharing a way of life that the ranch family loves and cherishes.
- In addition to the cattle and sheep work, there is varied trail riding. Never more than 10 riders at a time and usually the groups are much smaller with riding tailored to skill levels.
- The quality of self-guided fly fishing on the upper Yellowstone River is excellent. Not by accident the Yellowstone River is internationally known as one of the premiere trout waters in America. Cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout are all found in abundant numbers with easy shore-side access. (Guided fishing trips available for an extra fee.) In late spring waters are muddy due to snow melt and run-off, and then the waters clear up in the summer making it very appealing to anglers.
- Take the opportunity to work on your cast on the ranch’s pond, where you can learn the art, the science, and more about the fun of fly-fishing. Guide service available on request for an extra fee. (Limited fishing gear available.)
- If you are coming with your family, plan to visit during designated “Family Weeks” where children age 7 and above join adults in all activities.
- Cheer for your favorite cowboys and cowgirls at the local rodeo Wednesday evenings all summer.
- And if you can get the boss to agree to take an afternoon off in late July or August, it is great fun to float the Yellowstone River.
- The Lodge Dining Room is where everyone comes together for family style meals. Dietary restrictions are easily accommodated with advance notice. We should also mention the big-game trophy mounts that line the walls as evidence of Cameron and Lonny’s successful outfitting business.
- The “Lodge” has five private rooms, (most with two beds,) adjoining three shared bathrooms and a utility room which is available to guests for washing clothes.
- Just steps from the Lodge, but with more privacy, the "Cottage" has two bedrooms (a queen and twins), a bathroom, kitchenette, and living area that looks toward the Crazy Mountains.
- For the adventurous, there are authentically restored “Sheep Wagons” each with a single bed.