A mindfulness retreat to Montana’s wilderness is your chance to reconnect with yourself and nature. Join a group of like-minded ladies on a 3-day backpacking trip with campsite setups at Upper Holland and Sapphire Lake. The trail leads you through dense woods, conifer canopies, wildflower meadows, and tons of waterfalls until you reach your destination—pristine alpine lakes. Whether it’s tripping through nearby trails, sipping on your tea by a cozy campfire, or dipping in lakes encircled by pine trees and towering peaks, you’re bound to experience a restorative adventure.

  • Lush mountains of Montana dotted with clear blue alpine lakes

  • Learn the ropes of backpacking and setting up a perfect campsite

  • Total reset of mind and body in nature with the support of like-minded women


Retreat to Montana’s mountains on this all-women backpacking trip! Over the course of three days, you’ll be immersed in the alpine wilderness around the Upper Holland and Sapphire Lake. If you’re feeling up to it, your guides will offer stretching, meditation, and journaling time every day. Spend your days swimming in lakes and your nights warming up next to a campfire. As you’ll have all meals included and plenty of optional activities to try out, you can relax and look at this trip as a quick getaway from your everyday life!
  • Start walking through conifer woodlands of Montana’s mountains. Go through backpacking basics, from gear to setup to map reading. Once you reach your campsite for the night near the Upper Holland Lake, spend the rest of the afternoon however you’d like. Take a dip in the lake, relax at your camp, or get to know your hiking friends. Your guides offer optional guided stretching, journaling, and meditation. After a delicious dinner and a warming fire, you’ll get cozy for the night in your tents with your new tent buddy.
    Hiking: 7 miles/ 11.3 km
    Elevation: +2,400 ft/ 730 m
    Meals: Dinner

    A group of women and dogs in Montana mountains.
  • Watch the sun go up onto the lake with your morning cup of coffee. To kick off your morning, do some guided stretching, after which you’ll have breakfast. Go over how to break down a camp, repack your backpacks, and set off to your new campsite. Once you arrive at the alpine Sapphire Lake, you have the freedom to do whatever you’d like. Enjoy your time at the campsite or head on a guided hike to the next series of lakes—it can be as short or as long of a hike as you want. Once you all regroup at the camp, stretch, journal, and meditate.
    Hiking: 2 miles/ 3.2 km
    Elevation: +800 ft/ 245 m
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    Alpine lake in Montana.
  • Rise and shine with more coffee and stretches. Take in your last morning swims and pack up at a leisurely pace to head out. Once back at the cars, you’ll have much deserved cool drinks and say your goodbyes.
    Hiking: 5.4 miles/ 8.7 km
    Elevation: +680 ft/ 208 m, -3,580 ft/ 1,091 m
    Meals: Breakfast

    View of Montana wilderness and alpine lakes.
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Meet your guides

Madison Browning
Madison Browning
Madison has been a guide for over 5 years and lives to be outdoors. She considers backpacking, climbing peaks, and sleeping under starry skies a form of self-care, so when she isn't backpacking, she's planning her next adventure.
Sally Stecher
Sally Stecher
As one of the founders and lead guides of GNWG, Sally thinks backpacking is meditative and wants to share the backcountry with more people, especially women.  She loves her daily yoga, running and meditation routine.  
Great Northern Wilderness Guides
Great Northern Wilderness Guides
Great Northern Wilderness Guides
Great Northern Wilderness Guides was founded by Madison Browning and Sally Stretcher, two local guides and backpacking enthusiasts. They are at their happiest when they’re out on the trail, climbing peaks, and sleeping under starry skies, and they delight in sharing the meditative benefits of Montana’s backcountry with more people, especially women.

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5.00 (4 reviews)
Jemma M. about Great Northern Wilderness Guides on Google Reviews

One of the best trips I’ve ever been on! I felt so safe even in the middle of nowhere on my first backpacking trip. The guides were helpful, supportive, and a ton of fun! Would love to go again if I get the chance!

Kayla N. about Great Northern Wilderness Guides on Google Reviews

Great Northern Wilderness Guides provides such a thoughtful and fun experience in the backcountry. You will be taken care of and simultaneously empowered. Would highly recommend!

Emily H. about Great Northern Wilderness Guides on Google Reviews

I can’t recommend booking a trip with Madison and Sally enough! They answered all of my questions leading up to the trip and were so patient and helpful throughout the entire experience. I gained so much knowledge and confidence from backpacking with this group of women. Well worth every penny!

Rebecca F. about Great Northern Wilderness Guides on Google Reviews

10/10 would highly recommend! Check them out! We had a great time and the guides were fun!

Things to know

  • What you get on this adventure:

      • An experienced, local hiking guide with extensive knowledge of the area
      • 3 days of all-women backpacking from Upper Holland Lake to Sapphire Lake
      • All meals
      • All camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cooking system, hiking poles, daypack)

    If you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, make sure to notify your guide in advance of the trip. They will adjust the menu accordingly.

    What’s not included:

      • Transportation to Whitefish, Montana
      • Transportation to the meeting point in Whitefish
      • Accommodations before and after the trip
      • Guide gratuities — optional
  • No prior hiking experience is necessary for this backpacking trip! This all-women Upper Holland Lake to Sapphire Lake trip only requires a base level of fitness. The most you’ll hike is on day 1, when you’ll walk for 7 miles (11km) with 2,400-foot (730-meter) elevation gain. Other days require significantly less hiking. If it gets too much for you, you’ll simply take it slow with plenty of water, snacks, and swim breaks. If you want to hike more, your guide will pair you up with a hiking buddy and you can explore more on your own!

  • Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

      • Day pack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 25-40L bag) — will be provided, but feel free to bring your own
      • Hiking poles — will be provided, but feel free to bring to bring your own
      • Sleeping bag and sleeping pad (provided by guide)
      • Water bottle or hydration bladder (2L capacity)
      • Lightweight hiking boots or shoes
      • Spare clothes for layering
      • Waterproof rain jacket
      • Sunhat
      • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
      • Headlamp or flashlight
      • Sunglasses
      • Camera — optional (but recommended)

    The sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent, hiking poles, backpack, and cooking system can be provided by your guides. If you need hiking and camping gear, make sure to notify your guides in advance. Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.

  • Group sizes and prices:

      • For this all-women adventure, you’ll have two women guides on your trip.
      • The maximum number of people is 10. It takes a minimum of 2 people for this tour to operate. 
      • Price is per person and the cost does not decrease as the group grows. 

    Min. age requirements:

      • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
      • Minors younger than 18 may be permitted to join the hike on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

    If your group has hikers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

  • A 30% deposit to secure your place is due upon booking. The remaining amount is paid 3 months (90 days) prior to departure. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies. 

      • If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to one hundred twenty (120)  calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a full refund. 
      • For cancellations ninety (90) to one hundred nineteen (119) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of the total amount paid when Booking. 
      • For cancellations seventy-five (75) to eighty nine (89) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of twenty-five percent (25%) of the total amount paid when Booking. 
      • After that deadline, Client is not entitled to any refund. Any reimbursable expenses arising out of the Booking incurred by Guide prior to the date of cancellation (including but not limited to plane tickets, car rental payments, and lodging or transportation fees) are non-refundable as soon as they are incurred by the Guide.
  • To get to Whitefish, most people fly into Glacier Park International Airport, 15 minutes away from Whitefish. Glacier Park International Airport offers direct flights to 13 major US cities, including Seattle, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Las Vegas and Phoenix. From there, you can take a taxi or a shuttle service to Whitefish.

    Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, which will usually be at Whitefish Depot Park. It’s important to note that you can’t leave vehicles parked overnight at the park, which is why we recommend walking or getting a ride there.

  • 57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity. 

    We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, their guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Montana, please refer to CDC’s guidelines for international travel to and from the United States and Montana’s COVID-19 information website.

    Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

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