Why Choose a Wilderness Pack Trip?

Ride into the backcountry and embrace the ultimate calm and pristine beauty of the wilderness.  Our guides, camp jacks, and camp cooks take care of the packing, set up, and chores associated with camp life and horse care. This leaves you to let all your cares melt away as you enjoy life’s simple pleasures and the blessings of mother nature. Travel by horseback is a deep-rooted piece of American heritage.

For most folks, the wilderness is no longer accessible as they are born into and wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of city life. For some even, the idea of entering the wilderness is intimidating. This is where Swan Mountain Outfitters comes in- we are passionate about providing all folks (even beginners!) a route into the wilderness in a way that showcases its rugged beauty and builds a new rapport with nature. We believe the more people who can share this experience, the better chance America’s lands have of being protected for future generations to enjoy, appreciate, and get back to their roots.

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“Your staff was excellent and the camp comfortable. I felt safe at all times. The food was tasty and plentiful. I not only had a great time but learned a great deal about everything from horses and mules to fishing, hunting and just plain sightseeing and relaxing. The trip was so perfect I cannot stop talking about it!      -Howard Pyles”




What to Expect on Our Wilderness Pack Trips

Your trip begins in Northwest Montana’s Swan Valley. An often-overlooked gem, the Swan Valley has all the beauty of glacier country, but is nestled quietly apart from the nearby big attractions of Flathead Lake, Glacier National Park, and the big city of Missoula.

Base Camp

From our “base camp” in the Swan Valley, you’ll greet your guides and they’ll begin packing up your duffel onto mules. Our guides will match you to a mountain savvy trail horse and provide some basic horsemanship instruction. Group sizes tend to be six to eight guests, so unless you’ve got a private pack trip, there may be some new faces to greet too. You’ll then hit the trail and make the 14 mile journey following Lion Creek up from the valley floor to our “upper camp” which rests just on the very border of the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Upper Camp

Upper camp, being 14 miles from the nearest road, electricity, or plumbing, offers a quiet and serene camping setting. But, you won’t be exactly roughing it. Wall tents (large canvas tents that a person can stand and move about easily inside) with platform beds and foam mattress’s await you for a good night’s sleep. It can be cooler at night at this higher elevation (over 6,000 feet) so our wall tents are equipped with wood burning stoves so you’ll stay cozy.  You’ll fall asleep with a full belly too, as our camp cooks are experts at roasting, grilling, and even baking over the fire and coals.

Daily Excursions

The next morning, awaken to birds chirping and the fire crackling as the cook boils up cowboy coffee to start your day. You’ll mount up again and ride over the pass into “The Bob”.  You can choose to stop at lakes for a dip or to cast for trout, or just to take beautiful photos of the vistas and admire the wildflowers. The rigor and adventure of these middle days is up to you! Our guides are happy to tailor your daily activities to fit your needs and goals.

No matter the length of your trip, you’ll return to upper camp each night.  Having a home base like this is a great advantage to be able to explore at your own pace each day, and, you only have to unpack your duffel once!

The Finale

On your last day, we’ll pack up and head back down to base camp. It will be tough to say goodbye to your horse, who you’ll have surely formed a bond with over the duration of your trip. You’ll want to say a heartfelt farewell to our friendly staff and promises to stay in touch (perhaps plan a future trip?) with the other guests in your group.

If we haven’t described exactly what you’re looking for, ask us about custom trips, or, head over to our sister company Salmon Forks Outfitters who are able to offer roving trips, 7, 8, & 9 day trips, and can access other corners of the Bob Marshall Wilderness such as the Chinese Wall.

Additional Information

A backcountry pack trip is an exciting adventure. Even if you have had the opportunity to saddle up and head out for a few days before, the more you know the easier it is to just relax and enjoy! Here are some additional materials that will help you pack and plan for your trip.

SMO Summer Pack Trips-Packing List – We recommend printing out the Packing List so that you can check each item as you pack! Nothing is worse than forgetting your water bottle or your favorite hat.

SMO Summer Pack Trips-FAQ – This document will answer frequently asked questions about our pack trips. As it says at the bottom though, feel free to give us a call if you’re still  wondering about something!

SMO Summer pack Trip-Meals –  Here at Swan Mountain we understand that having a good time is dependent on feeling well fed, so take a look though this document describing the amount and type of meals you can expect on your trip.


Be sure to scroll down to find pack trip options.


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