On Montana’s Blackfoot River, in a boat, amongst the landscape where Lewis and Clark famously traversed, I’m levitating atop a watery carpet of tiny bubbles. Within The Resort at Paws Up’s 37,000 acres of untrammeled pine-peppered hills and golden meadows, I feel like I might be the only person on earth. Except for Brian—my fly fishing guide, who’s paddling the rapids, peering into the water for trout, and coaching me gently, but fervently. “Now! Cast! There. Make rainbows. Okay, let it drift. Good Girl.” Brian wants me to catch a fish. What he doesn’t know, is that I don’t care about hooking one. I’m content just being here, bobbing atop the percolating stream, floating through this vertiginous river-scape, mottled with a thousand shades of green.
Fly fishing might not be everyone’s idea of a wellness sport.
Oh, I keep angling. But, that just adds to my overall tranquility and sense of zen. The repetitive action of casting into the crystalline stream, noting the colors and shapes of rocks and flora, adjusting my line into artful arcs, watching my meticulously-tied fly dance on the water, as we float past it . . . all this lulls me into a happy state of serenity. I listen to the water whisper its secrets, feel the wet wind on my face, and imagine the hungry fish below waiting for my hook like fickle lovers.
Fly fishing might not be everyone’s idea of a wellness sport. Indeed, when one angles with a hearty guide like Brian, who does all the rowing (not to mention the untangling, re-tying, and unhooking), there may be only a modicum of actual calories burned by those fishing. (I do contend that keeping my body balanced on the side of the boat as we pop over the tiny rapids without falling out surely counts as core work.) But, fly fishing doesn’t have to be physically active to be good for us. As meditative and recalibrating as yoga, angling is wellness for the soul.
As one practices throwing out the line, over and over again, the mind and body sync. The repetition initiates a form of meditation that clears negative thoughts, enhances creativity and promotes inner harmony.
How can that be? To start with, casting from the side of a boat or the river bank relies on timing and rhythm. As one practices throwing out the line, over and over again, the mind and body sync. The repetition initiates a form of meditation that clears negative thoughts, enhances creativity and promotes inner harmony. In addition, being near or in water has been proven to calm the nerves, lower blood pressure, and encourage feelings of happiness. No wonder fly fishing feels like a sacred act. Some even call it a religion. Ergo, its life lessons are automatic: go with the flow, practice non-attachment (catch and release!) and exult in the joy of the present moment.
At The Resort at Paw’s Up, fly fishing isn’t the only way to stay fit, find happiness and feel alive. In fact, this mind-boggling dude ranch, less than an hour from Missoula, offers so many ways to experience well-being that the only stress while in residence might be making choices. Renowned for having coined the phrase “glamping,” Paws Up re-defines posh roughing it. The all-inclusive, dreamscape retreat holds a collection of six luxury camps, composed of 36 grand tent suites in all, some with more than one bedroom. Adorned with heyday safari elegance, the tents set a mood of dramatic repose with en suite bathrooms (complete with heated floors), sumptuous linens and beds, eye-catching artwork, soaking tubs and oriental rugs. The tents lie amid the landscape’s highlights: atop cliffs, by the rivers, in the shadows of Lookout Rock (where Meriwether Lewis once stood to survey the expanses). Just as stunning, 28 commodious homes with hot tubs and ample terraces, cleverly designed to evoke rustic cabins, but kitted out with opulent amenities, dot the rim of a wide meadow, each surrounded by trees. Later this year, a new adults-only camp will open. Greeno, set in a forest, designed as contemporary tree houses, will offer yet another Paws Up astonishing option.
But, a world of wonder awaits outside your Paws Up door—or tent flap.
With accommodations so spectacular, leaving one’s cozy enclave takes some motivation. But, a world of wonder awaits outside your Paws Up door—or tent flap. Besides fly fishing, seasonal activities hail from a trove of everything you’ve ever wanted to try. From archery to cattle drives, white water rafting to ice skating, ATV adventures to paintball games, dog sledding to downhill skiing, horseback riding, jewelry making, clay shooting, hiking—the list goes on throughout the year. The peerless gym boasts sweeping vistas, while the Grizzlyman fitness trail takes your workout into the woods. At Spa Town, a haven configured with tents, treatments embrace al fresco elements, as the immune boosting scent of pine and wildflowers imbue the experience. Best bet? Stay for a month.
Ideal for families, groups of friends, honeymooners, business associates—even solo travelers—, Paws Up does more than guide guests on unprecedented adventures. It leads them to transformation.