The Beargrass Writing Retreat

Each August the Beargrass Writing Retreat gathers some of the West's most celebrated and promising writers at the storied E Bar L ranch for four days of readings, workshops, craft talks, and generative writing opportunities that connect writers of all experience levels with self and place.  

Full Retreat: Saturday-Tuesday

Price of $995 includes three nights of lodging at E Bar L Ranch, all meals, and a variety of literary events including readings, craft lectures, guided writing exercises, manuscript consultation, and opportunities for Q+A with brilliant and personable guest writers. Additional a la carte options are available through E Bar L, including horseback riding, floating on the Blackfoot River, skeet shooting, and more. Registration is limited, and we expect to reach maximum capacity.

Extended Day Pass (8AM-9PM): Sunday & Monday

Price of $135 for an extended day pass provides access to a full day of programing, including all of our readings and guest lectures, as well as an invitation to attend a cocktail reception with appetizers, a ranch-cooked dinner, and our evening reading followed by a roaring bonfire.

Regular Day Pass (8AM-5PM): Sunday & Monday

Price of $100 for a regular day pass provides access to a full day of programing, including all of our readings and guest lectures. We keep our retreat small so that everyone has a chance to to spend time with our visiting writers. You'll be our guest for a day, with an 8,000 acre ranch as your backdrop.

The 406 Writers’ Workshop 

Beargrass Writing Retreat is a project of the 406 Writers’ Workshop. We are a writing workshop based in the mountain valley of Missoula, in dazzling western Montana. With year-round writing classes held in the welcoming, comfortable confines of our instructors’ homes, or meeting spaces around the community, attendees of the 406 Writers’ Workshop benefit from small dynamic groups that aim to nurture, inspire, and challenge beginners and seasoned writers alike. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How serious of a writer do I need to be in order to attend the Beargrass Writing Retreat? The retreat is geared towards all levels of writers (and lovers of writing), from established authors to those just starting out.

Why can’t I find the E Bar L Ranch online? Does this place really exist? The E Bar L relies primarily on word-of-mouth recommendations, and has no formal online presence. It’s functioned this way since the 1920’s, and it seems to work.

How do I get to the Beargrass Writing Retreat? You can fly into Missoula International Airport (MSO), which offers direct flights from Minneapolis, Seattle, the Bay Area, and other urban centers. The ranch is an easy and scenic 45-minute drive from the airport. You’re welcome to make your own transportation arrangements from the airport (driving directions will be provided), or contact us for help getting to/from the ranch.

Will there be WiFi available, and will my cell phone work? WiFi is available at the ranch, and most cell phones will work (Verizon and AT+T will have the strongest service).   

What can you tell me about the lodging situation? Guests stay in cabins made up of two rooms that share an adjoining full bathroom. If you’ll be attending the retreat with a friend or partner, and would like to share a room and/or bathroom, let us know. Cabins have covered porches, hot and cold running water and electricity.  

What can you tell me about the food/drinks at the E Bar L? The food at the ranch is fantastic. Most everything is made from scratch by a team of five: an executive chef, sous chef, pastry chef and breakfast cook. The day starts with a hearty breakfast, lunch is simple comfort food, and dinner – and dessert -- is where the kitchen really struts its stuff. Alcohol is not included in the registration price, but we can make some great recommendations for places to stop on the way to ranch to buy drinks (a shared refrigerator is available for guests’ use). Missoula is a hot spot for craft beer brewing and Montana-made spirits, and several local businesses are extending special deals for Beargrass participants.

My partner isn’t a writer, but has always wanted to visit Montana. Will there be enough for him/her to do? Absolutely. The grounds of the E Bar L are spectacular, with miles of trails for walking, running, biking or horseback riding. Additional recreational activities include fly-fishing, yoga, floating the Blackfoot river, shooting skeet, and more. We can help you work out the details. 

What kind of clothing should I pack? Montana in August can be hot during the day, but chilly at night. We tend to dress in layers, and suggest you do the same. It's likely that you'll want short sleeves during the day, and a sweater and jacket by the time evening falls.  

Meet Our Staff


Chris Dombrowski, Co-Director and Founder

Chris’ most recent book of poems, Earth Again, was runner-up for ForeWord Magazine's Poetry Book of the Year. Other collections include By Cold Water, a Poetry Foundation Bestseller, and two chapbooks. His poems and prose have appeared in scores of magazines and journals, including PoetryCrazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, and Gulf Coast. His prose appears frequently in Orion and The Sun, and has been awarded a Best American Essays Notable Essay Citation, as well as a Pushcart Prize Special Mention--his nonfiction debut, Body of Water, is forthcoming in 2016 from Milkweed Editions. Chris has taught at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the University of Montana, and in various writing conferences and retreats across the country. He currently directs the 406 Writers' Workshop. 

Robin Troy Beargrass Writing Retreat

Robin Troy, Co-Director

Robin Troy is the author of two novels, Liberty Lanes, which was a finalist for the High Plains Book Award and the Michigan Literary Fiction Award for novels, and Floating, which won the MTV prize for fiction. Her short stories and essays have appeared in anthologies and journals nationally, including the Seal Press anthologies Woman’s Best Friend and P.S. What I Didn’t Say. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana and was a professor of fiction-writing and MFA Program Director at Southern Connecticut State University for ten years before returning to Missoula. Prior to teaching, Robin was a journalist at the Missoula Independent and Fitness magazine in New York. She is currently at work on a non-fiction book titled Breathing, One Adult.  


Peter Picard, Finance Director

Peter Picard is a writer/producer and small business owner. He sits on the boards of several non-profits whose focus is improving the lives of underserved children, including Global Arts Initiative (co-founder), the Rockhouse Foundation, Bronx Academy of Letters, and the Russian Children Welfare Society. He lives in New York City.


Jolene Brink, Marketing Coordinator

Jolene earned her MFA in poetry from the University of Montana where she served as poetry editor for Cutbank and Camas. Her work has appeared in Southern Humanities ReviewThe Carolina Quarterly, and Post Road, among others. Her poetry collection, Peregrine, won the 2015 Merriam-Frontier Award. She is the owner of Copper Verb Design, a full-service creative consultation and writing service for nonprofits and entrepreneurs. She has worked with the University of Minnesota Press, Graywolf Press, The University of Minnesota College of Design, the Missoula Writing Collaborative and Open Country Press.