Retreat into the Montana Rockies (April 2023)

Stretching from Canada to New Mexico, the Rocky Mountains are a majestic and defining feature of the American West.  The state of Montana sits in these northern Rockies, an area of solitude and unparalleled natural beauty, flush with dramatic wilderness, diverse wildlife, and alpine lakes. Montana’s second largest city, Missoula is one of the most culturally vibrant places in the United States. Here an incredible arts and literary scene meets the wild mountains to create an unforgettable experience. Less than an hour from Missoula on Highway 83, one of Montana’s most scenic drives, is Seeley Lake, an area flanked by the Mission and Swan mountain ranges.

The Retreat into the Montana Rockies takes place April 14-16, 2023 at The Lodges on Seeley Lake. This is a three-day, two-night retreat with something for everyone: emerging to published writers, lovers of nature and travel writing, and lifelong learners in search of a beautiful getaway where best-selling authors and seasoned teachers teach writing and talk about their work.

Taking inspiration from these surroundings, Kathryn Aalto, Bryce Andrews, and Pete Fromm come together as teachers and writers of nature, place, and the American West. There will be enriching lectures on craft, discussions of readings, and reflective writing exercises with ample time to talk with the writers. The Retreat into the Montana Rockies provides time and space for quiet reflection, community-building, and immersive learning.  Please see the itinerary below for details.

Tuition of £565 (which automatically converts to US dollars, euros, etc at checkout) includes:


  • Workshops, craft talks, panel talk, after-dinner readings
  • All meals including tea & coffee breaks
  • A supportive network of like-minded writers
  • Exclusive access to The Lodges on Seeley Lake
  • Individual post-retreat meeting via Zoom with Kathryn to discuss your writing


Very limited space. The itinerary is below. The organizers of this Montana writing retreat are committed to an inclusive and convivial atmosphere where diversity is welcomed in all ways. For lodging options, please see below. A full refund on tuition is available until March 1, 2023. Please write to with any questions.



Kathryn Aalto
Kathryn is an American teacher, designer, speaker, and writer living in Devon, England. She is the author of three books. These include Writing Wild: Women Poets, Ramblers and Mavericks Who Shape How We See the Natural World, which The Los Angeles Times described as “A fantastic resource for readers looking to grow their TBR piles.”  She also wrote the New York Times bestseller, The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood, which The Wall Street Journal called “lavishly illustrated with superb photographs as well as reproductions of the delightfully familiar Shepard illustrations. . . . an affectionate book written with enthusiasm.”  She writes for Smithsonian, Outside, Resurgence, Sierra, and more. Before becoming an expat, Kathryn renovated a turn-of-the-century farm in Washington State and restored a salmon spawning stream. She co-founded the Rural Writing Institute in the Lake District of England and leads writing retreats in England and Scotland. She will give talks on writing the personal essay, elements of narrative nonfiction, and creating a writing practice.



Bryce Andrews
Bryce is the author of Down from the Mountain, Badluck Way, and Holding Fire. His books have received honors including the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Authors Award and the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival’s Grand Prize. He lives on a ranch near Arlee, Montana. In addition to grazing cattle, growing berries, and writing, he works for a non-profit conservation group to reduce conflicts between large carnivores and human beings in the rural valleys of the Northern Rockies. Bryce’s writing derives from his varied work. He is fascinated by wild creatures and their struggles to thrive in the changing landscapes of the American West. Read about Bryce’s work in “One man’s crusade to help humans and bears coexist” in The Washington Post. Bryce will be our after-dinner speaker on Friday night when talks about and reads from his new book, Holding Fire: A Reckoning with the American West. Kirkus Review writes of Holding Fire: “A welcome, eminently sensible contribution to the literature of the American West—and responsible gun ownership.”  His Saturday lecture will be about finding stories in the everyday.



Pete Fromm
Pete is a five-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Literary Award. He is the author of five short story collections, five novels, and two memoirs. In 2007 he wrote the screenplay for the short film “Dry Rain,” based on his story of the same name, and in 2013 the film of his novel, As Cool as I Am, was released, starring Claire Danes, James Marsden, and Sarah Bolger. His second memoir The Names of the Stars: A Life in the Wilds was named an Honor Book in the 2016 Montana Book Awards. His latest novel, A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How to Do, was published in 2019.  He has been on the faculty of Oregon’s Pacific University’s MFA in Writing program since 2005, and lives in Montana. Pete will give our Saturday evening talk about the circuitous route, based on nothing short of a series of lucky chances, that led him to a prolific writing career and a life in the wild spaces of the western US. Along the way he’ll read a few short excerpts from a few of his books. With an eye toward tactics for successfully using description, on Saturday, Pete will talk of strategies for developing a narrative arc that will help draw readers into a story where nature is one of the main characters.




The Lodges on Seeley Lake have varied accommodation options and are based on individual preferences. To book your desired room, please contact Vicki Voegelin at or call 800-900-9016. It is recommended that you book your room at the time of retreat registration. A full refund on lodging is available until February 18th, 2023 (50% thereafter).




Friday April 14

3 PM Arrival
6 PM Cocktails and Welcome with Kathryn Aalto
6:30 PM Dinner
8 PM After Dinner Speaker, Bryce Andrews

Saturday April 15
7:30 AM Breakfast
9 AM Session 1: “An Introduction to Narrative Nonfiction” (Kathryn)
10:30 AM Break
11 AM Session 2: “Finding Stories in the Everyday” (Bryce)
12:30 Lunch
1:30 Session 3: “Honesty and Self-Revelation: The Art of the Personal Essay” (Kathryn)
3 PM Break
3:30 PM Session 4: “Strategies for Developing a Narrative Arc (When Nature is the Main Character)” (Pete)
7:30 PM Cocktails
8 PM Dinner
9 PM After Dinner Speaker Pete Fromm

Sunday April 16
7:30 AM Breakfast
9 AM Session 5: Q&A and Discussion With the Authors
10:30 AM Break
11 AM Session 6: “Five Keys to Great Nature Writing” (Kathryn)
12:30 Lunch
1:30 Session 7: “Creating an Intentional Writing Practice” (Kathryn)
3 PM Farewell


“I was a new writer when I was accepted to RWI 2018: what I needed from the retreat was an insight into whether I had what it takes to be a writer, and, if so, what it would take for me to become a good writer. After a short, but thrillingly intense, retreat, I had a) the confidence to think of myself as a writer, b) the elements of an action-plan for my future writing development, and c) a network of talented and supportive friends in the tutors, and participants who had shared the experience. The consistent emphasis on authenticity of voice, together with the eclectic range of visiting speakers, gave me perhaps my most profound learning from RWI i.e. an informed vocabulary appropriate for describing my own work, and for considering the work of writers across the wider genre of nature and rural writing. If any developmental experience is to be described as life-changing, for me this was it.”— Geoff, RWI 2018

“For me, the Rural Writing Institute was a dream opportunity: a perfect location, and the chance to learn craft from fabulous writers rooted in the land, as well as other accomplished and prominent practitioners of poetry and creative nonfiction. What I had not expected, but has proved equally powerful, was the immediate creation of a writing community characterised by profound mutual trust and fellowship. In those few days, we began friendships — across nation, gender, age, levels of experience, and multiple other differences — that will clearly endure. That such a group of colleagues and comrades was forged during the Institute is a tribute to the transformative generosity shown by Katy, James, and the Rebanks family. Their trust, openness, respect, and genuine joy in the work they do spread outward to all of us. The seeds planted and nourished there have already born rich crops of creative work and professional advancement.” —Nicola., RWI 2018

“Leaving the Rural Writers Institute, I felt connected to a long history of authors inspired by their relationship with the land. James, Kathryn, and the assembled guest speakers, helped navigate us through this history and consider where the form might grow. We learned in the hay barn, by the beck, and even whilst mending a dry stone wall. I can’t think of a more perfect way to engage with literature and the land. RWI gave me confidence to explore new avenues of my craft and, best of all, brought together a diverse community of passionate writers.” —Lauren, RWI 2018

“In spring 2018, a serendipitous click on a tweet led me to the RWI 2018 website and Wendell Berry’s words ‘Telling a story is like reaching into a granary full of wheat and drawing out a handful. There is always more to tell than can be told.’ Berry’s words encapsulate perfectly my memories of that gloriously sunny weekend spent on the Rebanks’ lake district farm, with Katy and Polly, Ed and Rob, plus through the magical ether, David, Tara and Jane. Oh, and the cohort of intimate strangers who, after that intense weekend, a Slack app group, a 2019 reunion and book anthology, a forthcoming 2020 gathering, I feel I can now call friends.” — Liz, RWI 2018

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