From Montana Dude Ranch Vacations to Owning the Bar W Guest Ranch

Thirteen years ago, Dave Leishman, sat at a desk, buried in papers, surrounded by the everyday life of a company he created from the ground up and wondered if there was more. He looked out the window of his office into the busy streets of Connecticut and thought, “It has to be greener.”  Leishman was ready to escape the chaos of the city life. He wanted simple. He wanted beauty. He wanted the west.

Experiencing the West on Montana Dude Ranch Vacations

Leishman quickly decided that he was going to find what he had been missing.  He was in search of something that couldn’t be found behind a desk, in a traffic-filled commute to work waiting for the next red light, or in the everyday chaos most are accustomed to. Leishman was going to find open ranges, big skies, and the starry nights of Montana.

Leishman, with the help of his long time friend, Phil Dukes of the Double D Guest Ranch, found his paradise. With his two oldest daughters, Leishman headed out west for a dude ranch experience of a lifetime.  The Leishman family landed at the Bear Creek Ranch in East Glacier, Montana.

This was a vacation to top all other vacations. It was life-changing, priority-altering — and it was everything he needed for an escape. Dave experienced the west, the stunning mountain terrain, and the simple western way of life. At that moment, Leishman found what he was looking for.

Bar W Guest Ranch

Before Dave and the girls could barely settle into their room, they saddled up and were on the trail. They rode for miles, up and down steep hills, loping through the open prairies, and covering the much needed open ground on horseback. The dude ranch experience didn’t end there. The evenings were busy with western dancing, rodeos, cowboy singers, and campfires. It was a different world to these Connecticut natives.  Leishman quickly traded his golf shoes for cowboy boots and his baseball cap for a cowboy hat.

It only took four sequential Montana dude ranch vacations before Dave realized that his heart remained on the open prairies and pine-covered ridges of Big Sky Country. Annual dude ranch vacations in Montana just wouldn’t cut it. He wanted a ranch, a place to call his own, a place to share the experiences and memories that he once felt with others.

Gorgeous scenery in Western Montana.

Turning Dreams into Reality at the Bar W Guest Ranch

Today, the Leishman family Montana dude ranch vacation lasts the whole summer. Daughters Meghan, Emily, and Haley work the ranch side by side their Mom and Dad. It’s a family affair. The Montana lifestyle overtook this big city family and they couldn’t be happier.  Dave purchased the Bar W Guest Ranch in 2004 and is excited to announce its 10th season this summer.

Montana Dude Ranch Vacations at the Bar W Guest Ranch

The Bar W Guest Ranch is located just four miles west of Whitefish, Montana. Beautiful vistas and rolling ridges adorn the countryside of this cozy Montana dude ranch. Nestled at the base of Spencer Mountain between two pine-cover ridges, there are over three thousand beautiful acres available for horseback riding and outdoor activities. Guests feel miles away from civilization, relaxing in the secluded wilderness that surrounds the Bar W Guest Ranch.

The Bar W creates an escape for travelers where time runs a little slower, things seem a little easier, and everyday feels like Saturday. Guests will experience true Montana hospitality from the moment they arrive until long after the sun sets. Dave knows firsthand how wonderful the culture, the landscape, and the hospitality is out west. He lives to share that experience with others. To create memories and smiles that last a lifetime.

Singing at the campfire on a Montana dude ranch vacation.

Dave, like many wish to do, turned his dream into a reality. He now lives the simple western way of life surrounded by big skies, starry nights, and western hospitality.  A life he once only dreamed of.

The Bar W Guest Ranch Way of Life

The Bar W Guest Ranch has blended elegance with western informality to create an atmosphere that truly comforts, especially after a long day in the saddle.  The lodge, cabin suites, and glamping tents are carefully appointed to compliment the western hospitality that makes every guest feel at home.  Guests experience the best of both worlds. They’ll experience the Wild West, be taken back to a simpler time, and enjoy the beauty of nature all while staying in an elegant setting surrounded by the comforts of home.

Glamping tents at the Bar W Guest Ranch

Guests are invited to explore the entire property – hiking miles and miles of trails, fishing for pike on Spencer Lake, swimming, mountain biking, throwing horseshoes, playing badminton and volleyball, or relaxing with cocktail hour at the lodge hot tub. Guests have the opportunity to experience what Whitefish has to offer such as whitewater rafting, zip lining, a walk in the tree tops, or playing nine holes of world-class golf. The Flathead Valley is a year-round playground for families, singles, and groups of all ages.

Just as Leishman experienced, the Bar W is the complete package. It’s a vacation where you’ll never need to leave the ranch. At the Bar W Guest Ranch, each guest not only experiences a vacation of a lifetime but leaves understanding the true cowboy way of life.

The Bar W offers exceptional horseback riding in the mountainous wilderness surrounding the ranch, the peaks of the Stryker Range, and the open meadows of Swisher Lake. The Bar W Guest Ranch is a horseman’s dream.

Equestrian trail rides at Montana dude ranch.

Guests can saddle up and enjoy thousands of acres of Montana wilderness on horseback or enjoy the variety of arena activities offered at the Bar W Guest Ranch. During the week, guests are encouraged to experience horseback riding activities including trail riding, horsemanship clinics, barrel racing, pole pending, cow sorting, roping, and team penning. By the end of the week, the cheers of new friends surround each guest as they compete in several horseback riding events at the Bar W Guest Rodeo.

All this and more is what visitors can expect from a ranch vacation at the Bar W. It’s time to sit back, relax, and let Montana surround you.

Finding Your Escape

Guests can visit the Bar W Guest Ranch year-round. During the summer months the ranch offers family oriented, all inclusive three night and six night packages. If guests are look for a unique experience, join the Bar W for a specialty week including Adult Only, Cowgirl Up, Cattle Drive, or Photography Week.

Bar W Guest Ranch photo, Whitefish, Montana

The Bar W packages include accommodations, incredible meals, maid service, all ranch activities, ranch facilities, fishing gear, boats, access to surrounding wilderness, and guided trail riding. Guests are encouraged to utilize all amenities of the ranch during their stay.

As the snow begins to fall and winter approaches, guests can wake up to the inviting smell of hot coffee and a fresh breakfast. Take a sleigh ride around the ranch or explore our trails on a pair of cross-country skis.  Enjoy a dog sled ride to appreciate the quiet wilderness of Montana, rent snowmobiles, or try downhill skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort. The winter activities on the ranch are as endless.

Wagon rides on at Bar W Guest Ranch in Western Montana

The Bar W is here for visitors to enjoy “The Montana Experience.” It’s a place to feel at home, a place to discover, and a place to enjoy family and friends. The Bar W Guest Ranch is easy to find, but hard to leave. Visit the Bar W for true Montana dude ranch vacations — where guests come as strangers, and leave as family.


Directions to the Bar W from Missoula (2 hrs. 42 min. |  135 Miles)