Tucked away in a small Western enclave sits the Travel + Leisure 2017 winner of the “Best Resort Hotel” designation (and the Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Award winner in the same category). It’s not on a sandy beach surrounded by palm trees nor in a bustling city beneath neon lights. It’s not even really all that identifiable on a map. It’s a dude ranch in the mountains.
The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is one of three luxury ranches by the brand. Located in Saratoga, Wyoming, the resort infuses a mix of adventure and tranquility into a remote town with no stoplights that is populated by just 1700 residents. Its TripAdvisor reviews by travelers are nearly perfect with almost everyone commenting on the exceptional service and pristine setting.
The all-inclusive experience includes lodging, amenities, food, and activities. With fly fishing, mountain biking, winter sports, and nighttime entertainment, the Lodge & Spa offers action-packed itineraries for all in every season. Looking forward to a more laid-back trip? Take advantage of the spa treatments and relax next to the fire with a good book. You might not be ready to officially trade in the family car to run errands on horseback, but you won’t want to leave, either.
We thought you might need some further convincing, so we’ve gathered a list of twenty reasons to make the great outdoors at Brush Creek Ranch your next vacation destination.
20 On A Clear Day, You Can See For Miles
Perched above the lodge, you have a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding ranch and the 13,000 acres it sits on. Look outward to see rolling hills and meadows dotted with sagebrush in the Platte River Valley that are stunted by the towering trees in the Snowy Mountains and Sierra Madre mountain ranges. In the distance, gaze up at Medicine Bow Peak. Set a whopping 12,000 feet above sea level, it’s one of the tallest peaks in the country.
Keep your eyes open for wildlife, too. This is, in fact, a working ranch and you never know what you will come across.
19 The Ultimate Destination Wedding Awaits
The question has been popped and now you’re wracking your brain to figure out where to get married.
You could hold the ceremony in your hometown or elope, but none of it seems just right. Not to mention, you have no idea where to book a band, how to feed one hundred people, or why venue reservations don’t always include chairs. Have no fear, the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is here.
The ranch has every detail of your special day worked out so all you have to worry about is celebrating. You will even arrive as a newly married couple to your reception in a horse-drawn carriage.
18 The Real Fun Starts In The Snow
At the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, you will be just steps away from some of the best backcountry trails in the nation. With an average monthly snowfall of just under nine inches in the winter, chances are you will be soaring through freshly fallen powder.
Take a tour of the ranch on snowshoes, set out for a peaceful day of cross-country skiing, unleash your inner child on a sled, or elevate your adrenaline on a fast-moving snowmobile. You choose your desired activity and preferred level of difficulty and staff will make it happen.
Winter enthusiasts and summer-lovers alike will have a blast playing in the snow (snow angels optional, but encouraged).
17 It's Just You And The Fish On A Crisp Fall Morning
The ranch’s all-inclusive fee provides you with access to professional guides that will lead you to fly fishing (or ice fishing, if you travel to the ranch during the winter) success. Outfitted with equipment, you will learn how to cast, reel, and catch from the shallow waters or in a boat. With over twenty miles of streams, creeks, and rivers flowing through the property, you’ll be happy as a clam (or some other freshwater reference).
Don’t go back home without at least one fish tale to tell (and in that story your fish can be as big as you want, even if you weren’t actually that lucky).
16 Outdoor Yoga Has Never Felt So Refreshing
You won’t find a traditional yoga studio at the ranch, but don’t let that keep you away. Instead, set your intentions and sights high and unroll your mat under the direction of certified instructors at Falcon Peak Overlook. This unique experience offers unparalleled views of the Sierra Madre Mountains and Brush Creek.
The clean mountain air will fill your lungs as you transition through guided sequences designed to calm the mind and invigorate the soul. Afterward, climb back down and continue your day in the fitness center or sauna.
Listen to the birds and embrace the wide open space. Your warrior pose will thank you. Namaste.
15 The Sunsets Never Disappoint
Big skies equal even bigger sunsets. Have your camera ready to capture the beautiful pinks, yellows, and oranges as the sun slowly sinks below the nearby mountain range. Or, just live in the moment and completely unplug from technology while you memorize those colors. You can even close your eyes and try to imagine what the area around the ranch would have looked like when it was first settled in 1884.
The ranch’s philosophy of “educate, enhance, enjoy” ensures the land will be preserved so generations to come can stand in the same spot to take in a sunset.
14 The Stars Will Always Guide You Back
At the end of the day after hours of ranch activities, fight the urge to curl up in your bed and head outside to be dazzled by the night sky.
If you’ve never spent a night out west and had the privilege of laying in the grass while staring up at the constellations, prepare to be amazed. The stars provide a show you would gladly pay money for, but you don’t have to because out here (away from the smog and city lights) they shine brightly and can easily be seen by all.
When you finish stargazing, stop by the fire pit for conversation and roasted marshmallows.
13 Foot-Stomping Entertainment For Guests To Enjoy
Now taking requests (country music preferred, but all accepted)! Let loose and groove with the house band, featuring various musical guests throughout the season. Allow your feet to lead the way and start a line dance for your fellow guests to jump into. After the music dies down, walk to the ranch saloon for darts, billiards, and poker.
Did we mention the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is a popular destination for corporate retreats? That means you can watch Bob from accounting boogie down and sing along to his favorite hits. Your employee relationship will never be the same.
12 This Girls' Trip Sets The Bar High
Skip the usual location for your annual girls’ trip (you’ve been to Las Vegas three years in a row) and surprise your ladies with an all-inclusive weekend at the ranch. You won’t need much more than good attitudes and an appetite for adventure to create lasting memories.
Lodging rates increase from June through August, so lean toward an off-peak time frame. It’s still going to cost several hundred dollars per person, but you won’t be left arguing over where to eat or how to spend the day (priceless). Plus, the money you’re saving can be spent on matching plaid button-ups and cowgirl boots, which will obviously bring you all closer together.
11 Hang Out With A Furry Friend
Not much could make the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch any better as the experience is already phenomenal, except of course a resident dog. Fortunately, there are numerous four-legged staff members.
Working ranch dogs are trained to help move cattle and perform other tasks during the day, but are allowed to mingle when their shift is over. Catch them bounding around in the field or snagging a nap after dinner (the dinner that you aren’t going to share with them because they have strict diets). You can’t bring your own dog, but cuddling these ones will be almost as satisfying.
10 Hike Your Way To A New Perspective
You don’t have to be a trained mountaineer or experienced backpacker to take advantage of the many hiking opportunities (and splendid views) available near the property. You also don’t have to go very far. Neighboring Medicine Bow National Forest provides one million acres of unspoiled wilderness accessible to all staying at the ranch.
Staff offer a variety of hikes for varying skill levels, from short excursions and wildlife hikes to trail running and day-long hikes to some of the tallest peaks. No matter the distance, you will feel like you conquered Mount Everest (and hats off to you for getting active on your vacation).
9 Challenge Yourself On A Ropes Course
You’ve probably already stepped a bit outside your comfort zone by booking a trip to the ranch, so this is a great opportunity to go all in.
Show off your climbing skills first on the rock wall and then test your balance on the ropes course. The aerial course has two levels, twenty-five and forty feet up, with obstacles on both.
Now that you’ve overcome your fear of heights (or have at least stopped shaking), you need to get back to solid ground. Strap into a 150-foot long zipline to feel like you’re flying or freefall (to, well, feel like you’re falling). Just maybe don’t look down.
8 Indulge In A Spa Treatment
Okay, so maybe massages, facials, and salon services weren’t a part of the wild west in its prime, but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself now.
One of the many perks of the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is its ability to feel genuinely rustic and historical while offering state-of-the-art modern amenities. This is what hospitality legend, Bruce White, was aiming for when he re-opened the ranch as a luxury oasis in 2010, according to Travel + Leisure.
So, get comfortable and let the onsite professionals at The Trailhead Spa take your vacation to the next level.
7 Relax With A Picturesque View
While there are plenty of activities to keep you busy throughout your entire stay at the ranch, you are still encouraged to relax. There’s no better way to do that than just sitting with the natural scenery (seriously, your stresses will melt away without you even realizing it).
Sip your morning coffee on one of the lodge’s outdoor spaces (or near a window if it’s too cold) or grab an afternoon snack and head over to Old Baldy to watch golfers take on the eighteenth hole. Every way you look will be a new view that’s better than the last.
6 Cozy Up In A Cabin
You have probably already figured out that the ranch is kind of a ‘choose your own adventure’ place when it comes to activities. Well, that goes for lodging, too.
Guests can choose between private rooms in the main lodge, small cabin suites (equipped with fireplaces), and two to three-room cabin residences. There is even a ‘glamping’ (glamorous camping or camping with amenities) option. Glamping gives guests the opportunity to spend the night in a heated or cooled tent on the outskirts of the property.
Learn more about the land you’re staying on and experience a true expedition with the comforts of home.
5 Take The Reins And Explore The Grounds
You can’t go to a dude ranch and not ride a horse (or at least get close enough to touch a horse if you really can’t bring yourself to hop on).
Beginners can start out in the riding arena to become more comfortable with commands while intermediate and expert riders can take to the trails. Those with experience that want to work on some rodeo skills can obtain instruction in pole bending and barrel racing.
The ranch even offers a three-hour cattle drive excursion in which you and your horse gallop around the property helping the ranch hands move cows.
4 Attend A Different Gathering Every Night
Lawn games on Sunday, karaoke on Monday, campfire stories on Tuesday, archery tournament on Wednesday, rodeo on Thursday, and a cookout on Friday. These are just a few examples of events that make it onto the weekly itineraries for ranch guests to enjoy. With so much variety, you will never have to do the same thing twice.
For families with children, you will love the “little wranglers” programming. Here, staff offer family-friendly options like guided interactive tours, pond fishing, arts and crafts, and scavenger hunts to make sure even the smallest of guests are getting the most out of their ranch experience.
3 Invite Your New Friends To Race Alongside You
Your experience at the ranch can be as communal (or not) as you want it to be. Sure, there’s something to be said about accepting solitude and being comfortable with the peace and quiet, but you might really enjoy meeting new people and sharing the spirit of the ranch together.
Invite the nice couple or family that you met at breakfast to join you on a pleasant bike ride around the property or take to the trails for over fifty miles of heart-pounding, two-wheeled speed. For a little more power, skip by bikes and opt for the All Terrain Vehicle (ATV).
2 Dine In Style
Executive Chef, Daniel Grunbeck, has worked across the country from Colorado to South Carolina. At the ranch, his multi-course menus incorporate Wyoming classics like elk sausage and wild-caught trout with worldly fare (plus Taco Tuesday). He even adds in occasional pig roasts and fireside cookouts to the traditional family-style seating in the lodge. You’ll look forward to the next meal as soon as you’ve finished the first.
The onsite greenhouse currently grows over one-hundred varieties of fresh foods and herbs and provides a true farm to table dining experience. If you leave the ranch hungry, you must have done something wrong.
1 Fight For A Cure By Vacationing For A Cause
Now in its sixth year, the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch hosts an annual retreat designed just for women. Called ‘Cowgirl Up for the Cure’, the ranch donates proceeds from vacations booked during this time back to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for cancer research. Funds are also matched by ranch owner/manager, Bruce White, for added impact.
For three days, ladies can take part in pink glove boxing, sunrise yoga, and cocktail receptions while networking with others. There are also seminars on health, wellness, and cancer prevention, as well as a 5k walk/run Race for the Cure.