The Lodge at Sun Ranch, Madison River Valley, Mont.
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The historic Sun Ranch has operated in Montana's Madison River Valley for more than a century, and its 26,000 acres are home to some of the state's most pristine views of the surrounding grasslands and rugged Gravelly and Madison mountain ranges. In 2008, this sustainable cattle ranching operation relocated and expanded its lodge, transforming the old manor house into a luxurious yet eco-friendly retreat featuring a reading library, a great room with a hearth fireplace, educational tours focusing on Native American archeology or Yellowstone National Park, and only six rooms and two cabins, for an intimate experience. The lodge sits three miles off the highway for optimal privacy, but for even more seclusion, rent one of the two restored homesteader cabins for an authentic Old West weekend. Packages start at $900 per person, double occupancy, for a three-night stay in a deluxe lodge room (sunranchlodge.com).
There are more than you can list at this eco-conscious ranch, including the use of biodegradable products and a wastewater control system that protects nearby rivers and streams. The ranch also installed new wildlife-friendly fencing and predator deterrence measures that promote natural migratory patterns for elk as well as coexistence between the cattle and the Sun Ranch wolves. The lodge's meals are prepared from local free-range and organic ingredients thanks to the farm-to-table culinary program, and even the renovation itself was an environmentally conscious effort, using the existing manor house structure and reclaimed materials to create the new lodge. It also helps offset the carbon footprint of each guest through the Trees for Travel program, which plants ten trees in the Amazon for each visitor.
Save the World
The ranch, with the nonprofit Sun Ranch Institute, conducts on-site research to discover new ranching techniques that are economically and environmentally viable.