Throw away any preconceived notions you have about a guest ranch (friend) and say hello to unsurpassed luxury at the Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyoming.
There is something for everyone in your family on the 15,000-acre ranch, and whatever you choose to do from the many options available, it will be a first-class experience and will cost you nothing extra. The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is an all-inclusive luxury resort, I mean a ranch, with practically everything included in the cost of your prepayment. That’s right, no additional charges and no tips allowed.
The idea that the family is having a hard time on a western ranch is as far back as the time when the wagons took the settlers west. Families get all the traditional western pursuits, and some modern as well, while being pampered and fawned over by an incredibly responsive staff at this farm and cattle ranch.
Brush Creek Ranch: Antecedentes
Brush Creek is located in southern Wyoming, away from the tourist hotbed of Jackson Hole. It’s a four-hour drive from Denver or a 75-minute drive from Laramie Airport. Nestled alongside nearly a million acres of government-owned Medicine Bow National Forest land, locals call this part of Wyoming the “real” Wyoming, unspoiled and virtually uninhabited. This is a place where tourists are rare, but moose, elk, deer, antelope, mountain lions, and a variety of other animals abound.
While the ranch, which sits 7,500 feet above sea level, focuses on horseback riding, Brush Creek’s uniqueness depends on the variety of activities available to guests. I’ve been to two other ranches in the west and neither offered such a wide selection of activities, especially appealing to guests who don’t see themselves on horseback every day of a vacation stay.
Some of the 35 activities to choose from include: ATV tours of the ranch; an incredible firearms program that includes target shooting, pistols and rifles; a paintball skills / zip line course; fly fishing; and an archery program. No matter what you choose, there was no additional cost and everything you needed was provided. The only activities on the entire ranch that had an additional fee were hunting and spa services (with massages administered on a full-size Teepee).
Each day guests select a morning and afternoon activity. You sign up for what interests you, then Brush Creek makes it possible. The typical day begins with breakfast at 8 a.m., morning activity from 9 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., lunch at noon, afternoon activity from 1:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., cocktails at 5:30 a.m., and dinner at 7.
It’s also not ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to activity skill level. To give you an idea of the variety of options available for different skill levels, my daughter and I selected a 2-hour horse ride from three options for a morning’s activity. The other options were a 1 hour ride for beginners, the 2 hour intermediate ride, or the 3 hour ride for hard core riders. (A fourth option, for the very experienced, was to saddle up and actually work with the ranch staff all day moving cows and horses from pasture to pasture.) Whichever trip you choose, you don’t have to worry if you don’t have boots; Brush Creek has loans.
One activity that underscored the value of the all-inclusive program was the firearms program. For someone who likes to shoot or even the newbie, this is a valuable benefit due to the high cost of ammunition. My daughter, who had never shot, was instructed and trained by an extremely patient and knowledgeable instructor. So she and I were able to fire an unlimited number of rounds at skeet targets from a 20-gauge Beretta shotgun. We fired until our shoulders hurt. Shockingly, shooting ended up tied with horseback riding as my daughter’s favorite activity.
Fly fishing with a fly fishing guide at Brush Creek, the ranch’s namesake, was also on our agenda. Eight miles of the creek’s crystal clear waters flow through the ranch. Although my daughter is a veteran of deep sea fishing, she always wanted to put on her waders and walk down a stream and catch a trout. I had never fly fish and had only done it once. We showed up at the ranch’s Outfitters Barn, the central gathering place, and Brush Creek took it from there, providing the top-of-the-line Orvis waders, boots, and reels to land our trout.
The “ranger tours” were stimulating and informative. Touring the ranch in an outdoor four-seat Polaris Ranger ATV, with top speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour, was quite exciting. During our guided tour we saw hawks, antelopes, deer, marmots, prairie dogs, and rabbits as we traveled dirt roads, trails, and even took the off-road Ranger to see several buffalo from the ranch up close.
Finally, it doesn’t always go, go, go on Brush Creek. Daily yoga is available every morning, and takes place on a specially constructed platform that spans over a canyon to provide spectacular views. A hot tub and sauna (as well as a state-of-the-art workout facility) are also available to help you recover from your time in the saddle.
Food was another area that set the ranch apart from the rest: in a word, gourmet. One night it was lobster and steak, then elk sirloin, and finally quail. I think you got it. Meals were served in the three-story Trailhead Lodge, made of tremendous pine woods with large windows offering spectacular views of the Cordillera Nevada and the Sierra Madre Mountains in the distance.
Breakfasts and lunches were delicious too: chili shrimp omelettes, smoothies, fresh fruit, as well as more traditional favorites like scrambled eggs, fried chicken, and sandwiches with homemade cookies.
As for drinks, they are also included as part of the all-inclusive package. Whether it was soft drinks, water, wine or mixed alcoholic beverages, there was no additional charge. The refrigerators in the dining room and in the wooden coolers strategically placed around the ranch were filled with ice-cold drinks to sip anytime they wanted. If the drinks in the coolers didn’t satisfy their thirst, adults could help themselves to some of the 800 bottles from the wine collection or they could indulge in the replica of the western parlor and order a glass of wine or their favorite mixed drink.
The lounge was open every night from 5:30 to 7 pm and after dinner.
Unplug and reconnect
For families, Brush Creek is perfect for reconnecting with teens who spend all their time connected to their phone. With virtually no cell service due to its remote location, after the initial shock of being disconnected from the outside world, teens will rediscover the lost art of parent conversation just like my 16-year-old daughter did. It’s also the kind of place where you don’t have to worry about your family’s safety; most guests don’t even close their room doors. Another reason guests can relax is that there are no crowds to fight.
Although the ranch is large, the number of people staying on it is usually very small, 4 to 50 on a typical night.
When it comes to accommodations, guests can choose from the hotel’s 13 western-themed rooms or private cabins located throughout the ranch. Again, another positive for guests with families is that the rooms in the hostel do not have a television or telephone; To have fun, children should go out and explore. As the wranglers explained, you are in Wyoming and you shouldn’t be spending too much time in your room. We do not!
For more information, visit The Lodge and Spa on the Brush Creek Ranch website.
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