Swan Mountain History

The Crown of the Continent Discovery Center, Bubba Luke’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor, Swan Mountain Activity Booking Center and the Discovery Center Gift Shop & Gear Outfitter are the latest additions to the Swan Group of Companies, which is a family-run group of companies focused on outdoor recreation in Northwest Montana.

The Swan Group of Companies began in 2004 when owner, Pat Tabor, initially formed Swan Mountain Outfitters, with the purchase of Lion Creek Outfitters. The outfitter base camp was conveniently located just 12 miles south of the Tabors’ 40 acre ranch in Swan Lake. Over the next few years Pat and his wife, Joanne, worked to establish Swan Mountain Outfitters as a premier provider of Montana family vacations by offering high quality summer wilderness pack trips, float and fishing trips, custom trail rides and guided hunting trips in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

The Tabors began to use their home (now named Swan Mountain Ranch) as a unique guest ranch facility to complement their summer activities and fall hunting trips and to host weddings and family reunions. Additionally, Swan Mountain Ranch offers year round lodging and the best of winter recreation in Montana with over 30 kilometers of groomed trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing as well as a 1/3 acre frozen pond for ice skating.

In 2006, Pat Tabor responded to and won a National Park Service RFP to operate the horseback concession in Glacier National Park. As a result Swan Mountain Outfitters – Glacier Division was born. Pat and Joanne recruited their daughter and son-in-law, Aubrie and Erik Loroña, to run the new business as the exclusive providers of Glacier National Park trail rides and drop camp services.

Shortly after commencing operations in Glacier National Park, the family recognized a demand for, but lack of, quality training programs for horseback-based jobs. To solve this dilemma, they created Swan Mountain Wilderness Guide School that same year. Through a series of unique courses including a 4-5 week wilderness guide school, a 10 day outfitter training program and several week long specialty training programs for hunters and adventurers, wranglers, packers, backcountry cooks and waterfowl guides, the school now offers the best in guide school instruction and adventurer training taught by a significant staff of recognized experts and professionals.

Things remained relatively quiet until 2010 when the family welcomed the addition of their son/brother, Patrick Tabor, to the staff and added Swan Mountain Llama Trekking to the company mix. Swan Mountain Llama Trekking was created by the purchase of Great Northern Llama Company from Steve and Sue Rolfing. The Rolfings first bought llamas in 1979 to carry Steve’s timber cruising equipment for his U.S. Forest Service work in the mountains of northwest Montana. That was the beginning of Great Northern Llama Company, America’s oldest llama pack trip outfitter and guide service. Swan Mountain Llama Trekking has kept the service, llama application and routes the same much as it was at the very beginning – offering a wide spectrum of guided llama treks for novice and experienced hikers alike in the beautiful Glacier Country of Northwest Montana.

In the fall of 2010, the USFS Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger District put out an RFP for a new snowmobile outfitter and guide for the Canyon Creek and Desert Mountain snowmobile areas. Swan Mountain responded to and won the RFP. They were awarded the new permit in January of 2011 and shortly after secured an additional permit on the Swan River Ranger District for the Crane Mountain snowmobile area. Swan Mountain Snowmobiling offers guided tours and rentals in more areas than any other company in the Flathead Valley as well as the area’s longest (Great Northern Ultimate Tour) and shortest (2 Hour Quickie) tours.

During the summer of 2011, Swan Mountain began to lease the corral space behind the Rawhide Trading Post and took over the USFS permit to operate horseback rides from there. This new “West Glacier Corral”  has allowed Swan Mountain to work with additional business partners in the area to offer a variety of unique things to do in Glacier National Park. The property owner decided to sell the summer of 2013, so Swan Mountain bought the land and building and renamed it the Crown of the Continent Discovery Center.