A canyon oasis
By Maria Wyllie Explore Big Sky Staff Writer
GALLATIN GATEWAY – Over the past year, the Inn on the Gallatin, located
along the banks of the Gallatin River on Highway 191 north of Big Sky, has
undergone many changes, including a facelift, a new menu and year-round
hours, all under the direction of new owners Deanne and Steve Stalnaker.
The couple is originally from southern California, but they have deep roots in
Montana and have been visiting family in the area for years. Deanne kept an eye
on the property for nearly a decade.
“It was a running joke,” Deanne said. “When we would drive through, I told my
kids we would own this someday.”
Then, in June of 2012, their daughter Stephanie sent them a picture of the Inn
with a “for sale” sign in front. “Things just fell into place, and we said, ‘why not,
let’s do it,’” Steve said.
The sale was finalized in January 2013, and the Stalnakers now live on the
property, calling the canyon their home. For five months they worked to renovate
the cabins and café themselves, bringing the 1955 establishment into the 21st
Although they have no experience in the food and beverage or hotel and tourism
industries, they’ve found success simply by following the Golden Rule: “Treat
others how you want to be treated.”
Operating with the customer experience in mind has created a friendly
atmosphere at the inn’s café, where waitress Becca Lieurance always recognizes
repeat clientele and chef Erin Benson sometimes brings you your food herself.
As much as the Inn needs business from visitors staying there or parking in
the RV lot, the support from locals cannot be dismissed. Recognizing this, the
Stalnakers have made a point of supporting the community.
“We have been very conscious about buying local and making sure as much food
as possible is made from scratch,” Deanne said.
Serving what Chef Benson describes as “comfort American fare,” the café is
open for breakfast and lunch Wednesdays through Sundays. Offering consistent
service is important to the Stalnakers, so they’ve opted to close the doors on
Mondays and Tuesdays to give Benson and Lieurance, their only employees,
Now open for business year round, the Inn on the Gallatin is a perfect respite
for skiers, fishermen, those seeking a weekend escape, and of course hungry
locals. Deanne and Steve will welcome you to the Inn like it’s their home. That’s
because it is.