A group of Relyance Bank Crown Club travelers recently journeyed to the “Big Sky Country” of Montana. The group began in Missoula where they had some free time to explore downtown before checking into their hotel and have dinner at The Montana Club.

Sunday morning, after breakfast the group departed for the Smokejumpers Museum. Their guide enlightened the group of the procedures the firefighters use when parachuting into the blazing forest fires and shared some personal experiences, according to a news release.

The group toured the Smokejumpers’ headquarters. The Crown Clubbers then proceeded on to the St. Ignatius Mission, which was established by the Jesuits in 1854.

The group had lunch and some free time to explore Big Fork Village before continuing to Whitefish. They had dinner and a free evening in the town of Whitefish where they overnighted at Pine Lodge. The lodge had a variety of activities available, several participated in shooting some pool, kayaking, paddle boarding and paddle boating. Even more had smores around the fire that evening.

The next morning, the group departed for Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National park.

“They boarded the iconic red buses for a narrated, scenic tour along the amazing Going-To-The-Sun road. They caught some glimpses of wildlife and stopped at several look-outs along the route. Everyone loved the park’s beautiful scenery filled with stunning mountains, waterfalls and glaciers. The group enjoyed an impromptu stop in the area for fresh cherries. After a full day, the travelers enjoyed dinner and a good night’s rest,” according to a news release.

The Crown Clubbers were up the following morning, driving to the Gates of the Mountains Recreation Area for a cruise along the Missouri River.

“The cruise along the canyon walls was perfect, they spotted several Ospreys and Bald Eagles along the way. They even saw the baby eagles learning to fly from their nest. After the cruise, the group enjoyed a picnic lunch before continuing their scenic drive through the Rocky Mountains to Big Sky and the 320 Guest Ranch, the perfect place for their three-night stay,” according to the release.

Many members arose early the next morning to watch the cowboys in action as they drove in the horses that live on this working ranch. Professional wranglers took the travelers horseback riding through the high mountain meadows, the National Forest and creeks with panoramic views. They found out why riding is a way of life in Montana as they got to know the ranch horses a little better, according to the release.

“Montana is mecca for millions of trout fishermen the world over and the 320 Guest Ranch is smack dab in the middle of some of the best opportunities for fishing. Many in the group discovered this first hand as they enjoyed a lesson and time casting for trout. Two miles of the Blue Ribbon were made famous as the setting for the fishing scenes in the movie ‘A River Runs Through It’. It literally runs through the property,” according to the release.

Several members also went to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center.

“The wildlife park and educational facility offers visitors a chance to experience the world of grizzly bears and gray wolves in a unique way. All the animals are rescues and are unable to survive in the wild. They have bears from as far away as Alaska. The bears have a large outdoor habitat, it is designed with many natural features and provides a comfortable and stimulating environment for them to roam in. The wolves, born in captivity, live in three different packs. The natural facilities give visitors an up-close and personal look at their normally secretive lives,” according to the release.

“The wildest excursion of the day was the scenic rapids raft tour in the shadows of Lone Mountain. After suiting up in life jackets, helmets and paddles, the group had a blast as their gentle float tour, meandering through the upper canyon of the Gallatin River, turned into an exciting rapids race. Even after a few incidents, everyone agreed, they loved the ride,” according to the release.

That evening the ranch had a chuck-wagon barbecue dinner with live entertainment. The next day the Crown Clubbers met their local guide to tour West Yellowstone National Park.

“West Yellowstone is said to be the most scenic portion of the park. The group enjoyed Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. They stopped for lunch and some shopping at Canyon Village. They also got to see much of the wildlife in the area,” according to the release.

The group ended their tour with a farewell dinner on the ranch before retiring under the “Big Sky’ in Montana.

Crown Club members on this Western Tour were Rita and George Sevall, Lynell Bowen, Tenie Bullard, Gaye and Happy Caldwell, Billie and Wayne Isaacs, Donna and Neal Heflin, Beth and Ricky Cook, Kay and John Garrison, Elaine and Tommy Dial, Rhonda Glover, Johnita Waddle, Doris and John Vailes, Linda and Rayvon Vailes, Edna Mae Morgan, Becky Simmons, Eva and Bill Glover and Mike Brewer. Cindy Cullins, Crown Club director escorted the tour and reminded the group of tours coming up in 2020.