Llamas help Montana outfitter bring customers to nature

Posted at 2:52 PM, Jul 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-20 16:52:24-04

SWAN LAKE – One of the oldest outfitters in the country, located in Swan Lake, has a special way of attracting customers to nature: with llamas.

Llama trek guide Austin Beck said, now under new ownership, Swan Mountain Outfitters is one of the oldest outfitters in the country.

Operating since 1977, Beck told MTN News that there’s pressure to maintain the well-known outfitting company.

“A lot of famous people have been on Steve’s treks previously. George H. Bush’s vice president went on two treks with Steve,” Beck said.

“Just in general having so many people, have so many good experiences since 1977 out there in the Swan range, I think there’s definitely a lot of pressure,” he added.

The treks vary from half-day hikes to overnight trips and while visitors hike, the llamas do the heavy lifting.

“Eventually they will get up into the 80 to 100 pound mark … their goal to be carrying,” Beck said.

“It is a similar climate to where they originated from in Peru and Argentina,” Beck said. “The higher elevation there, but in terms of how cold it gets here in the winter and the dryness of it.”

Luckily, junior llama trek guide Lola Tabor says llamas are really low maintenance. She’s been wrangling llamas since she was seven.

“The easiest part about llamas is probably, like, we don’t really have to do much. We just have to feed them, and they’ll graze in their pen,” Tabor said.

Being low maintenance makes llamas good pets, according to Beck. However, if you want to take on a llama, Beck says each llama needs one-fourth acre of grass to graze — and you need at least two, as llamas are social creatures.

Swan Mountain Outfitters has a variety of excursions into the wilderness.

-Reported by Maren Siu/MTN News