Just back from… Brush Creek Branch
One of my favorite things about working in the travel industry (and there are many!) is that despite being a voracious traveler and consumer of all types of travel related media, I’m still constantly surprised by the incredible destinations that I learn about for the first time. I’ll admit that over the years I’ve largely focused on international travels, but more and more I’ve come to realize how many gems are hiding just a short flight away. The Southeastern corner of Montana, home to the stunning Brush Creek Ranch, is one such rare gem!
“The landscape of the American West has to be seen to be believed and has to be believed to be seen.” – N. Scott Momaday
It’s hard to accurately convey or imagine all that Brush Creek Ranch encompasses, and all of the emotions that it will evoke, until you’re there. There’s just something about being under that big Wyoming sky, with the looming 12,000 foot high mountain peaks, the rivers and streams babbling through, and the endless prairies blowing in the breeze. At Brush Creek Ranch you feel utterly removed from the stresses of everyday life and the traffic, noise, pollution and everything else that comes hand in hand with city life. Yet with full cell reception, fast internet, luxurious accommodations, and the best chefs, bartenders and sommeliers you could dream of – you’re sure not to miss anything about your urban lifestyle. This luxurious getaway has been awarded the Travel + Leisure #1 Resort in the US and #2 Hotel in the World, and the Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice #3 Resort Hotel in the U.S. – need I say more?!
Brush Creek Ranch is officially the Brush Creek Luxury Ranch Collection, meaning that it’s made up of three different properties that each have their own unique draws. I experienced two firsthand: the adults-only Magee Homestead, and the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek.
On the whole, the Brush Creek Luxury Ranch Collection is the best of both worlds in more way than one. From the exceptional culinary offerings to the meticulous design and high-end furnishings, it provides all of the comforts of home; and then some, with the expansive views, serene quiet, and top notch hospitality. It’s also the perfect getaway for active couples, families and groups, with two activities per day included. Everything from mountain biking, to archery, shooting, rock climbing, horseback riding, fly fishing and much more are available daily to take full advantage of all that these beautiful lands have to offer. At the same time, it’s up to you to choose whether you want to do one activity per day, two, or none. Spending the morning in a rocking chair next to the roaring fire in the lodge, followed by an afternoon spa appointment, is an equally memorable and well spent day at Brush Creek.
Travel Plan: Most people fly into Denver, from which it’s a scenic 240 mile drive north until you land at Brush Creek Ranch. When booked through Foray we will always arrange direct, private transportation for you to arrive in style! Closer but smaller airports include Laramie, WY (62 miles away) and the nearby Saratoga, WY airport (15 miles) which is only available for private planes. Drive times and distances vary depending on the season since some roads are closed for winter, so best to double check with your travel advisor before leaving!
Where I Stayed:
I first checked into Magee Homestead, the adults-only ranch that’s across the road from the main Lodge & Spa, which is family friendly. Magee Homestead has several standalone cabins like the one pictured below, as well as a three bedroom cabin, all surrounding a central lawn. It has its own pool and spa area with an indoor hot tub grotto and sauna – the perfect place to spend a fall or winter afternoon! The pièce de résistance is the bar and restaurant exclusively for Magee Homestead guests. The gorgeous dining room features a full bar, often with live piano music, an ultra cozy lounge area next to the fire, and of course an outdoor patio to enjoy the famous sunset views. Each meal is an elevated dining experience, and is included with your stay!
While the Lodge & Spa is just across the road from Magee Homestead, it offers its own unique experience. Here you have the choice of a lodge room connected to the main spa and dining area, your own private cabin, or even a complete ranch home! Golf carts are available to drive yourself from your own private nook of the ranch to the central area housing the spa, dining room, activity center, and an old western saloon!
The Best Thing I Ate: This really deserves its own post! There were moments when I was eating a meal that could easily be from any of the top restaurants in San Francisco or New York, and then looked out the window at the vast ranch views and nearly couldn’t believe it.
Brush Creek took their culinary program to the next level (and beyond!) with this year’s opening of The Farm. The Farm is its own complex that includes the Cheyenne Club restaurant, a swanky cocktail bar and lounge, creamery, greenhouse, bakery, distillery, spirit vault, cellar, and event space. Oh, and they raise their own American wagyu! It doesn’t get any more farm-to-table than this.
Hidden beneath the Cheyenne Club restaurant is a maze of tunnels housing a speakeasy, the spirit vault, cellar, and several cozy tasting rooms. The collection is truly one of a kind, and the expertise of the staff who oversee it is unsurpassed. Again, driving down the two lane highway through southern Montana you would never in a million years dream that this exists here! I visited The Farm on my last night at the ranch and even after experiencing everything else that the ranch had to offer, this still instilled a complete sense of awe. Dinner at the Cheyenne Club is included with your stay at Brush Creek Ranch.
During the daytime guests can visit the bakery and creamery or try your hand at a culinary class. Special events abound throughout the year, whether it’s a dinner with the winemaker or a special release party, so if your dates are flexible it’s always worth checking what’s on the calendar while planning your trip.
Trip Highlight: It’s hard to pick, but the first thing that comes to mind is the world class massage at the spa! I’ve had many massages in my day, everything from a $5/hour Thai massage on the beach to Forbes Five Star spas, and this was easily one of the best. The best part is that I felt that I had really earned it after spending the day before rock climbing and mountain biking.
Favorite Activities: The highlights for me were rock climbing and fly fishing. The ranch maintains a list of activities that are fully included in your stay and a few others that are an additional cost. The sky’s the limit: if it’s an outdoor activity, you can probably do it at Brush Creek. Personally I felt like this was an excellent opportunity to dabble in activities that I otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to, or wouldn’t go out of my way to try. Enter rock climbing and fly fishing!
Prior to Brush Creek I had only done outdoor rock climbing once before and had climbed indoors a few times in San Francisco. I was pleasantly surprised when no one else signed up for rock climbing so I had my own private guide for the entire morning. He drove me to three separate spots on the ranch where I climbed five rock faces, far and above what I thought I was capable of. My guide was so knowledgeable and passionate about rock climbing and pushed me to achieve far more than I knew I could! One of the most impressive things about Brush Creek is the depth of their guides’ skills. They can cater to any level enthusiast for all of the activities offered.
Fly fishing just felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity, so all of us girls signed up. Imagine my surprise when I caught a good sized trout! We talked about fishing for days and it was one of our favorite memories from our short stay.
Don’t Miss: I cannot emphasize this enough – give yourself plenty of time to fully enjoy all that The Farm has to offer! Whether it’s dinner, wine tasting, or a culinary class, plan to visit several times during your stay.
Also, don’t miss the night sky! Sip a drink on your patio or go for a short walk to feel the power of the Montana night sky. If you’re like me, you’ll soon be reminded of some of the best things you miss out on living in the city.
Time of Year: The fall was an absolutely perfect time to visit. At the end of September the leaves had just begun to change color enough for this California girl to get excited. Evenings were chilly and days were sunny and a comfortable temperature when working up a sweat with all of the outdoor activities.
Summer is a very popular time that books up in advance, especially the entire week of the 4th of July. They go all out for this and apparently it’s an annual family tradition for many!
Come wintertime the mountains and prairies transform into a winter wonderland. As you can imagine winter sports reign supreme during this time, and guests have a renewed appreciation for time spent cozying up to the fire or at the spa. One of the most unique things about Brush Creek Ranch is that they’ve recently opened up their very own 600 acre ski area with all levels of ski runs – yes, their very own private ski area! Check out their live ski cam!
Thanksgiving or Christmas at Brush Creek are also sure to create long lasting memories.
Trip Duration: I spent three nights and could have easily spent a full week there. The quiet, expansive space, designer rooms, and breathtaking vistas were enough to make me want to stay forever. Add to that the incredible food, wine, spa, and myriad activities to choose from every day, and it’s a lot to pack in. I was constantly on the go during my short stay because there’s just so much to do – it is 30,000 acres after all! I would recommend that most people stay for a week so that they can take time to properly relax while still taking full advantage of the activities on offer.
Travel Tip: #1 In case you’re wondering about how to pack for a luxury dude ranch vacation, think Western chic. Brush Creek is actually quite casual and most of the time you will see guests walking around in their activewear from the day’s activities. Cowboy boots and hats are always welcome! The Farm, home to upscale restaurant Cheyenne Club as well as extensive wine and spirit tasting rooms, is the only place on the property with a dress code – again, stick with Western chic and you’ll be set!
#2 Go with an open mind and a can-do attitude! You can’t go wrong with any of the activities offered and the expert guides are well equipped to teach all levels. Why not try something new or learn a new skill on your vacation?
I Wish I Had: More time to try out more of the activities, hike in the surrounding Medicine Bow National Forest, and spend some quality time at the extensive wine and spirits caves at The Farm.
Ready for your very own ranch getaway?
Curious if Brush Creek Ranch would be a great fit for your next family getaway, corporate retreat, or wedding? Send us a note and we’ll provide our honest opinion along with advice on the best rooms to stay in and activities to plan. Plus, we’re able to offer the following complimentary amenities, just for booking with Foray! Contact us here.
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- $150.00 per person (up to 2 paying adults per room) towards ANY premium activity of his/her choice
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi