Gene Kilgore’s Ranch Vacations

Ranch Vacations
The Leading Guide to Guest and Resort, Fly-Fishing, and Cross-Country Skiing Ranches in the United States and Canada, 6th Edition.

Wyoming’s newest dude and guest ranch resort: The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek

Lodge_exteriorSet in south central Wyoming’s wild and beautiful North Platte River Valley, Brush Creek Ranch has been a homestead and ranch since the 1880s. Now, its long and storied history bears a new coda: The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch. Ah, but that’s not how the last chapter of the tale of Brush Creek Ranch was initially supposed to be written.

In late 2008, the Chairman and CEO of premium hotel brand White Lodging, Bruce White, bought Brush Creek Ranch, outside of Saratoga. His intent was to create a family sanctuary and perhaps even a place to hold charity functions for the Bruce and Beth White Family Foundation. “The White family has had a passion for service and hospitality for more a quarter of a century and as our next venture, we wanted to create a Western getaway that utilized our vast experience in the industry while striking a perfect balance between wholesome recreation, economic sustainability, environmental stewardship and preservation of the culture of the West,” said Bruce White. “The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is the fulfillment of this vision and exemplifies the true spirit of the West.”

End of story? Not exactly. Eventually, the Whites realized they wanted to share this truly luxurious setting in the heart of the American West. So they’ve opened it to guests who are looking to ‘experience authentic outdoor adventures along with a spirit of genuine hospitality’. Set for a spring 2011 Grand Opening, the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek is now accepting some ‘pre-opening reservations for weddings, corporate retreats, individual guests, and group events in an all-inclusive format that includes accommodations, food and beverage and activities’.

But it is all done in the spirit of responsible conservation. So a big chunk of the ranch is preserved in a conservation easement, and White and the staff are committed to ‘harmoniously balancing the needs of wildlife, livestock, the land and watershed through an ongoing land, stream, pond and forestry restoration and management plan, ensuring that Brush Creek Ranch will flourish for generations to come’.

Casual sophistication best describes the facilities. And while it is still a real working ranch, there’s plenty to do besides ride and rope; in fact, there’s a long list of activities in all seasons. The ranch sits on 13,000 acres of private land and borders the vast Medicine Bow National Forest, so the fund can include riding, hiking, hunting mountain biking, and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and more.
But perhaps the most amazing experience here is for anglers. In the Orvis- endorsed fly fishing program, guests can cast a line into six miles of sparkling private waters on the ranch (including 3.5 miles on Brush Creek, known for its incredible wade fishing), plus there’s pond fishing (great for beginners) and float fishing.

The Lodge’s facilities offer yet more: a spa, a state-of-the-art fitness center, the Cattle Baron’s library, a covered U-line equestrian center, a mustang arena, and a sports and recreation center that features a large indoor center court and cross court for basketball, volleyball, broomball. Want more? Then choose indoor simulated golf and shooting, shuffleboard, air hockey or foosball.

Lodging options in 37 spaces accommodate 150 guests and range from Log Cabin Residences, to Trailhead Lodge Rooms and Cabin Rooms & Suites; all are complete with luxury amenities.

Details: Lodge Rooms start at $720 per night (off-peak) to $1,300 per night (peak).  Cabin Rooms & Suites start at $720 per night (off peak) to $1,600 per night (peak). Log Cabin Residences start at $1,800 per night (off peak) to $6,600 (peak).     Pricing is per unit, per night (not per person, not based on double occupancy). For more, click here.


Spring into an Arizona guest ranch resort

rancho de caballerosSeasonal special

Ah, springtime in the desert. The desert wildflower season in Southern Arizona and the Tucson area (where so many dude ranch resorts are located) is a bit unpredictable. A good flower season requires early winter rains, and then a warm and unusually wet spring. So far, things are looking promising for a great wildflower display in the desert. But no matter what, there is sure to be something great blooming from February through May, from brittlebush to giant saguaros.

Imagine saddling up at your guest ranch resort and riding through a spectacular show of brittlebush (already blooming now) and magenta hedgehog cactus. The spindly ocotillo—with its fire engine red blossoms— is blooming along with the low-growing fairy duster with its misty pink flowers.

Slow Old Paint down to a walk, look down from the saddle and you may see splashes of yellow from gold poppy, bahia, fiddleneck, paperflower, desert hibiscus;  pink from Parry penstemon, and blue from lupine, and blue dicks)

Now’s the time to go out in the desert and nip away for a warm, sunny dude ranch resort vacation. But which ranch to choose? Since Arizona ranches have so much to offer, it can be a challenge. If its an upscale hideaway you want, try Hidden Meadow Ranch (near Greer), with its elegent log main house and 12 luxury log cabins; or the Rancho de los Caballeros (which has an Old West lodge, and championship golf) in Wickenburg, with its 79 charmingly elegant casitas.

Bar 10
If you’re looking for casual and family-friendly, consider the Bar 10 Ranch near the Grand Canyon, with its big, country-style meals and genuine western hospitality (the Bar 10 sits at almost 4,200 feet in elevation, so March is still the off-season here, which means rates are lower). And near Wickenburg, the Flying E Ranch is loaded with family-friendly fun, wide-open spaces, and bountiful meals served family style.

Both White Stallion Ranch and Tanque Verde Ranch outside Tucson offer a ton of fun things to do, from nature walks to swimming and gourmet cuisine, along with the kind of classic southwestern design and décor that many clients come for. Tanque Verde even has tennis courts and a swanky little spa out by the swimming pool. This is living!

If you need help planning side trips while you’re in Arizona, don’t forget Arizona Country Excursions, which can take you on guided horseback or ATV trips through the Arizona desert.

But if you need more help with your selection, turn to Ranchweb for help. To begin, click on Selecting A Ranch and you’ll see groupings of ranches by lists of all the options that various ranches have to offer, from riding, fishing, and cattle drives to spas and luxury options. If you’re looking for deals, click on Travel Bargains on the home page. It’s another handy sorting tool.

Details: For a wildflower update, go to