By Bay Stephens EBS Staff Writer

BIG SKY – The Sage Lodge opened to the public July 16, offering lodging, dining and quintessential Montana experiences for guests. Fifty guest rooms between the lodge and four cabins increase lodging options for visitors to Yellowstone National Park, offering dog-friendly rooms to boot.

The property lies 35 minutes north of the Gardner entrance to Yellowstone on 1,200 acres of what was formerly ranch land, and includes two restaurants, a spa, retail shop and large outdoor hot tub.

Seattle-based Columbia Hospitality Inc. manages Sage Lodge while the Joshua Green Corporation owns the facility.

The lodge’s inception centered around fly fishing, as the property is located along a mile-long stretch of the Yellowstone River and has an on-site casting practice pond. The Joshua Green Corporation has a vested interest in angling, owning Far Bank Enterprises, which manufactures Sage, Redington and RIO fishing gear. Sage Lodge offers gear packages and guided tours through partnerships with Sage Fly Fishing and local fishing guides, respectively.

Joshua “Jay” Green III, grandson of the corporation’s founder, played a key role in casting the vision of an angler’s getaway, the lodge’s general manager Paul Robertson said.

“He has been a lifetime angler and I think it’s fair to say that this project was inspired by his passion for fly fishing,” Robertson said.

Programming through other local partnerships furnishes opportunities for guests to ride horseback, raft, take culinary classes, mountain bike, trek with llamas, paint, take photos with a resident photographer, and sightsee with Yellowstone Forever, the park’s official nonprofit partner. Winter activities include downhill and cross-country ski adventures, snowshoeing excursions and dogsled rides.

Although the lodge has the makings of a private resort, Robertson is excited the facility is open to the public, comparing its accessibility to that of nearby Chico Hot Springs. He expects the lodge to cater to drive-in guests as well as those flying in from across the country.

“Because of the size of the hotel, it allows for it,” Roberston said. “A percentage of our guests might be flying into Bozeman and staying in the area for an extended period and other people might just be coming up for the weekend or … the night.”

Equipped with an event barn capable of accommodating as many as 200 people, Sage Lodge wants to become a destination for groups and events, such as corporate retreats and weddings. Meeting rooms lend versatility to the space beyond large-group gatherings too, Robertson said.

Two on-site restaurants provide fare and drinks for guests: The Great Room located in the lodge, and The Grill, housed in the event barn. Headed by the former chef of the Salish Lodge and Spa in Snoqualmie, Washington, and Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe, Brian Sullivan, The Grill will serve chosen cuts over an open fire visible to diners throughout the restaurant.

As of the opening, the gamut of seasonal activities and the restaurant in the main lodge will be available and ready for guests. Barring any construction delays, The Grill, spa and event barn will be open mid-August to early September.

Visit sagelodge.com for more information.