We are sitting in the Great Room of the Double Arrow Lodge and sipping craft beers.
The kids are playing dominoes in the warm Western atmosphere of the lodge. A fire licks in the river rock fireplace, other guests relax on comfy couches, and bison and deer mounts decorate the walls.
I’ve just come in from cross-country skiing the trails on the resort’s golf course while the boys swam with their dad in the pool. We were pleasantly relaxed, a little tired, and very hungry.
It is pizza night at Seasons Restaurant, something they do during the week for locals, and while we aren’t locals, we are taking advantage of a good deal in a beautiful location the Seeley Swan Valley.
“We like to offer a fun reasonably priced option to let people get out and enjoy a good spot,” said Double Arrow Lodge General Manager Bonnie Philliber.
The Corlett Ranch was a stock ranch before it was bought in the late 1920s by Jan Boissevain and Col. George F. Weisel. Boissevain dreamed of a combination horse and dude ranch. The Double Arrow Ranch, named after a brand on Boissevain’s favorite horse, was established in 1929 and became the first commercial dude ranch to be located at Seeley Lake.
In the 1940s and early 1950s, the Double Arrow Ranch saw several owners and operators.
Philliber’s family and partners bought the resort in 1989. It hadn’t been open for a while and needed restoring. At that time, the Phillibers also built Seasons Restaurant offering “classic country cuisine.”
“We try to capture the flavors of each season,” Philliber said.
The menus feature the freshest seasonal items and are tailored for the activities guests are participating in at that time of year. They offer hearty, filling dishes for winter sports enthusiasts and lighter meals for the summer hiking, golfing, and lake crowd.
“The pork chop (topped with a real maple, apple smoked bacon compound butter) and kale salad are hearty for winter and fall,” Philliber said.
And while the menu changes seasonally, popular items remain year-round, like jet-fresh seafood and hand-cut, in-house aged steaks. Free-range West Texas rattlesnake cakes made with rabbit sausage, blended with Pecorino cheese and bread crumbs, then pan seared and topped with a maple cayenne glaze; and grilled wild Alaskan salmon paired with a flavorful Flathead Valley port wine cherry glaze are popular items.
Stirrups Lounge, adjacent to the restaurant, is a relaxing spot to enjoy cocktails in a cozy setting. In addition to the award-winning wine list and local microbrews on tap, Stirrups Lounge offers an assortment of fine after-dinner drinks, cognacs, and cordials, as well as many fine single-malt Scotches. Seasons received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for five years running.
Its signature drink, the Double Arrow Mudslide featuring Irish cream, coffee liquor, vodka and vanilla ice cream is a favorite.
Breakfast and lunch are also served at Seasons, and we were back the next morning for “Huevos Rancheros,” a breakfast burrito, and pancakes topped with strawberries. The hearty breakfast got us ready for a day of exploring the hilly, Seeley Lake Nordic trails and slip sliding on the icy cover of Seeley Lake.
For guests sticking closer to the resort, lunch is also served at Seasons. Salads, sandwiches, burgers and soups fill the menu. The resort hosts conferences, weddings and other groups that spend the day meeting, golfing or skiing, and taking advantage of the other amenities. Guests come from all over the world, drawn to the valley’s recreational opportunities. They also come for work.
“We consider ourselves a rendezvous location for small business meetings,” Philliber said. “People come from Great Falls, Missoula and all around Montana to meet here.”
After three days at the Double Arrow Ranch and several meals in Seasons Restaurant, our family left wanting more. More Western cuisine, more time hanging out in the lodge playing games, and more time gazing at the Seeley and Mission Mountain ranges.
If you go
What: Seasons Restaurant in Double Arrow Lodge
Open: Seven days a week, 7 a.m. close
Where: Highway 83, 2 miles south of Seeley Lake.
Phone: 1-800-468-0777 or 406-677-2777
From the The Great Falls Tribune, April 17, 2015