Eager to escape the week’s workload and to celebrate our wedding anniversary, my husband, Mark, and I pull into the long driveway that delivers us to the doorstep of Steve Gamble’s Gallatin River Lodge. A rustic fishing and hunting lodge from the outside, complete with pond, mountain views, and deer foraging in the meadow (did I hear someone yell “cue the deer?”), the Gallatin River Lodge is anything but rustic on the inside. This little luxury inn sits on 350 acres just 15 minutes from downtown Bozeman.
We are greeted by several staff members and promptly shown to our room – one of six at the lodge. The rooms are welcoming and comfortable, featuring fireplaces, Jacuzzi tubs, and plenty of room to relax. The rooms are well-appointed with BeeKind® products by Gilchrist & Soames, Starbuck’s in-room coffee, assorted teas, plush bathrobes, and beds that make you want to skip the fishing and catch up on your sleep instead!
Once settled in, dinner awaits us in one of three dining rooms. Everything on the menu sounds good, but we start with the drink special du jour – a frosty gimlet – and a jumbo shrimp cocktail served with two sauces: vanilla and a spicy bloody mary sauce. Excellent!
The Gallatin River Grill has been recognized with a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for its impressive wine list at more than 120 selections representing multiple regions.
Executive Chef, Craig Seguin, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, shares a Midwestern upbringing and the influence of his French heritage in his menu selections. I decide on the lamb chop entrée and Mark orders the beef tenderloin special. Both are sumptuous and prepared to perfection.
Pastry chef Katharine Bost prepares delights such as the Lodge’s signature, silky Crème Brulee, and a flourless Chocolate Torte. I’ve almost forgotten we’re here to FISH!
Following a hearty breakfast Saturday morning, we grab our fishing gear. Gamble, our guide for a full day on the Lower Madison river, swiftly ties on tippets, stone flies, and San Juan worms and explains proper fly-fishing terminology: “strike indicators” (not bobbers) and “descent accelerators” (not split-shot). He provides us with some welcome casting instruction. I wonder how many guests show up with shiny equipment and little knowledge of how to use it! Our previous fly-fishing experience was limited to small streams, copious amounts of bubbly beverages, and far too many willows. I’m not sure our flies ever stayed on the line long enough to cast the slightest shadow on the water.
The river is fast but even midday, the trout are snacking. Mark catches a meaty rainbow trout – his first from a drift boat, and on big water. The day is shaping up close to perfection. We pull to shore for a picnic lunch, prepared fresh for us that morning – Caesar salad with steak, curry couscous, and fresh fruit with mint. Shortly after lunch, Mark reels in a beautiful brown trout. As the afternoon wears on, Gamble graciously guides us to expectant pools, disentangles our lines and replaces flies.
Several experienced guides are available to provide instruction, floating, and wading on the area’s three nearby rivers: the Gallatin, Madison, and Yellowstone.
We head back to the lodge and mingle with a few others over a beer at the Grill’s massive, antique bar until it’s time for our scheduled in-room massages. Could it get any better? I replay some of the day’s conversations while my massage therapist locates tense muscles with her elbows (ow!).
Slightly sleepy, but quite hungry, we take our table in the corner and order bison meatloaf and the chef’s special. A little surprise is delivered to our table. Morel mushrooms had been harvested on the property that day. The little fungi are stuffed with chevre, sage, and roasted garlic – they are savory and incredibly satisfying. Our entrees were equally so, and we topped off our evening with some of Katharine’s Huckleberry Panna Cotta.
Earlier in the day, Gamble talked a bit about the history of the lodge, some of its esteemed guests, and his plans for the near future. Now celebrating its tenth year in business, the Lodge is not only a popular destination for hunters and anglers, it is also a popular (and romantic) choice for weddings. He has plans to build a gazebo near the pond this summer to double as an altar and a place for other gatherings.
The Gallatin River Lodge – the only Montana lodge admitted to the Select Registry – is as much a romantic getaway or weekend retreat as it is a hunting and fishing lodge. It’s comfortable, yet indulgent and provides an overall experience that encompasses great service, delicious food, friendly and professional staff.
Dinner is served at The Grill beginning at 5:00 p.m. nightly, with a final seating at 9:00 p.m. The bar is open beginning mid-afternoon.
Rate information is available at http://www.grlodge.com.