Recently I packed up the Jeep with my 14-year-old daughter to cross the northern border of Colorado for our first ever visit to Wyoming. This state has been on my bucket lust forever, so expectations were high. We were invited out to the Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyoming to live out our Wild West Annie Oakley dreams…in full on rustic-luxe style. It made a lot of sense to us to make this a mother-daughter trip. We knew it would be one to remember.
It ended up being the best bonding experience that went far beyond our wildest dreams. What could be more authentic and perfect than a guest ranch dating back to the late 1800’s? Located on Wyoming’s Platte River Valley the location is fertile, rich and full of life.
You can harness your pioneer spirit as soon as you drive in through the gates. This is an all-inclusive ranch, so once you get there you don’t have to worry about anything. Your lodging, food, drink and a large selection of activities are covered by the rate. We stayed at the Brush Creek Lodge & Spa, there is also the Magee Homestead and the French Creek Sportsman Club, all offerings from the collection will create everlasting memories.
We saw these beauties as we entered the ranch & I made a point to say hit to them every day…
Our drive from Telluride, Colorado wound us through beautiful countryside and Rocky Mountain views. It was a true treat meandering through the Medicine Bow National Forest. With over 1,000,000 acres, this forest is something you should make a point to see if you decide to drive. We especially enjoyed the open range, with hungry cows & sheep gazing at us and babies tucked in close to their mamas.
Wyoming is a very special place and one that I will visit time and time again. It is a vast state with so much to offer. It truly is the untamed spirit of the west. The landscape varies widely with the jagged Grand Teton Mountains to Yellowstone National Park to the rolling hill and plains that we visited. This 30,000-acre ranch (over 45 square miles!) is nothing short of spectacular. There is so much nature to discover that it would take a lifetime.
BCR is owned by the White family (of White Lodging) who originally bought the property to share with their family. When they realized how amazing this place was they wanted to share it with the world. They own a growing collection of historic ranches that you can book for your very own luxury ranch experience. These are still working cattle ranches, so your experience there is authentic in every way.
At Brush Creek Ranch they observe the highest standards of sustainability of their land, surrounding areas and the environment. They are stewards of responsible ranch management and you can see these high standards throughout your visit, from the reusable water bottles to the preservation of the land. These days this is something to really admire & take notes on.
We felt right at home at BCR from the very first booking phone calls & emails to as soon as we were greeted by the charming staff. They can handle anything and everything to make your stay a dream come true. At check-in, you are given a tour of the ranch and introduced to key contacts. They are available throughout your stay for bookings, general info, and any special requests will be handled promptly.
No matter who you are traveling with, there are accommodations to suit every personality and sized group. Modern, luxurious amenities blend perfectly with the well preserved historic vibe. Leela and I stayed in the very comfortable, spacious and historic Blacksmith cabin.
This stand-alone cabin is a historic property formerly used by the ranch blacksmith. It’s centrally located in the Rendezvous camp, conveniently next to the Saloon & dining areas. There are various locations on the property with lodging. If you want to be in the center of things or more remote, the choices are there for you. You can book a lodge room, cabin suite or cabin residence…there is even the possibility to go Glamping!
One of the things I love the most was the abundance of open space and fun gathering spots on the ranch. My daughter enjoyed playing guitar after dinner in the Trailhead Lodge. We also spent time in the Saloon playing shuffleboard, pool and chatting with the other guests.
Food & Drink
Being a huge fan of High Alpine Cuisine (the theme of my new cookbook), I was so excited to taste the food on the ranch. There are many unique experiences for die-hard foodies at BCR. Each meal is prepared with a creative and fresh focus. There are offerings available for every dietary style. Because you are on a wild west experience you can indulge in all kinds of BBQ cookouts, a weekly Pig Roast, plenty of wild-caught fish, bountiful fresh salads, fruits, veggies and of course awesome desserts. After dinner, you can even head to the fire pit where s’mores generously await.
Chef Dan Grunbeck maintains a western flair with each meal, and every venue helps to add to the authentic experience. Multi-course meals are served at the Trailhead Lodge, there are campfire meals served under the big starry sky at the Creekside Dinner Camp and rustic meals are served at the friendly Chuckwagon. Read more about the ranch cuisine here. Whenever possible the Chef uses ingredients from their 6,480 square-foot greenhouse, over 100 different items are grown in this gorgeous facility.
There is a guarantee that you will always have a happy belly! Here is a lunch at the Chuckwagon…
A few favorites on the menu in the Trailhead Lodge included this Pasta Bolognese with locally raised Akaushi beef…
The Chocolate Duo with honeycomb brittle was an unexpected twist…
The Apple Tart Tatin was presented so beautifully, we loved the dried apple garnish…
At BCR there is a very comprehensive wine and spirits list that will swoon you for happy hour and pairs expertly with your meals. There is a sommelier on the premises to help with wine pairings. Be on the lookout for cocktails inspired by the wild west, using the freshest seasonal ingredients.
Before and after dinner be sure to make your way to the Saloon for live music, beer, wine and cocktails.
Activities on the Ranch
A few weeks before your visit BCR one of the friendly itinerary planning staff will call to book your activities and spa appointments. This makes things so easy, when you get to the ranch there is nothing more you need to think about as it’s all been taken care of. If your personal schedule or interests change, they can also swap things around when you get there. No pressure or stress ever. If you have your favorite gear, go ahead and bring it. If not, BCR has everything you need to get outfitted for ranch activities.
Indulge your adventurous spirit in so many ways while enjoying the fresh air and cool breeze on your skin. Some traditional ranch activities include fly fishing on the Platte River, horseback riding, archery and trail adventures. The ranch has 140 beautiful horses that love being ridden by all levels of riders. There are also shooting sports, where you can test your skills on the clay course, pistol and rifle ranges. Which of course we did…
All of these activities are suitable for the novice or pro. The excellent, expertly trained guides and staff can show you the way no matter what your level. There is endless eye candy for the photographer as well, one of the most exciting opportunities is the early morning Running of the Horses on Mondays and Fridays.
Keep in mind that you will be participating in high altitude activities with the ranch property being situated between 6,900 up 10 12,000 feet. That means you need to stay well hydrated, listen to your body for signs of physical exertion and wear plenty of sunscreen. You are way closer to the sun at this altitude.
If you are traveling with smaller kids, there is a Lil Wranglers program for them which includes scaled-down activities for the wee ones.
If relaxation and spiritual centering is more your thing, there is The Trailhead Spa and yoga classes to help you unwind. These are great to do in addition you the adventurous activities, I love the mix!
Thankfully I have a closet full of western clothing. I love the style of the wild west, with a glamorous twist. Pack comfortable clothes for the daytime. The days will likely yield sunshine and the air is dry, not humid. There are washing machines and dryers available for guest use. If you are going to be horseback riding bring a pair of jeans and cowboy boots if you have them, the ranch has boots and hats available to you.
Bring layers for the evenings as they can get quite cool. Also, pack rain gear…afternoon monsoons are bound to happen. The ranch will also provide you with a packing list after booking.