The allure of a visit to the 15,000-acre Brush Creek Ranch in southern Wyoming is all about the outdoors—hiking, fishing, trail rides, rifle range, cattle drives, mountain biking—but the essence of the place is distilled in a handsome indoor spot within the main lodge.
The Cattle Baron's Library is the room's official name, though the staff informally calls it the man cave. Walls are hewn from clear alder, and the flooring is leather. The Western motif is handled deftly without lapsing into cliché: just a few choice pieces of taxidermy, including a black bear and an arctic fox. In lieu of a dusty mess of masculine memorabilia, a single, well-used fishing vest hangs framed on the wall, the gift of a family friend of Bruce White, who has owned the ranch since 2008. Striking contemporary black-and-white paintings of stylized cowboy scenes by artist Suzanne Creighton complete the atmosphere. A fireplace at one end of the room faces a humidor at the other.
There are many hand rolled Honduran, Nicaraguan and Dominican smokes available for purchase, from petite Punches to big cigars you can spend an hour on, like Alec Bradley Prensado, Arturo Fuente Churchill Seleccion D'Oro, Partagas Almirantes and Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary. At the low end of the price range are Quorums.
Accommodations are provided in the main lodge or in one of the nine log cabin residences, each of which have two to three bedrooms. Meals and activities are included in the room rates. Visiting with my cousin, we dined one night on creamy potato soup with smoked trout, Colorado rack of lamb and carrot cake. The next evening was hog roast night at the resort's Chuck Wagon, where the offerings included venison chili. Guests are encouraged to browse the lodge's walk-in wine closet to select a bottle to drink with their meal. On campfire nights, children are offered marshmallows for roasting.
Situated in the Platte Valley, the property was originally homesteaded in the 1880s. Modern amenities include a rock climbing wall and a spa featuring treatments such as a Wyoming River stone massage. The ranch can host a maximum of about 70 guests, who get to know each other during daytime rides and hikes and at mealtimes taken at long, family-style tables. Cocktail hour entertainment is provided by a modern country duo or trio.
The sports and recreation center, home to the ranch's Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing program, is a hub of busyness twice daily, when guests meet before setting off for whichever guided activities they've signed up for the prior day. The "Little Ranglers" program keeps kids aged four to eight happily engaged with ponies, trail hikes and hand crafts.
The staff puts considerable effort into making everyone feel part of the Western experience. An entertaining open top four-by-four ride through the bison paddock wound up on a hill at a historic spot where, early in the last century, a band of thieves hid out until the sheriff found them and brought their criminal careers to a quick end. The place is now known as Robbers' Roost.
The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch
66 Brush Creek Ranch Road
Saratoga, WY 82331