By LISA KLEIN
Many travelers are looking for ways to unplug from the screens and phones of daily life and spend some time in the wild.
Luxury ranches are giving guests a respite from technology and a return to nature with an authentic taste of the American West, with some added high-end touches.
“You’re going to experience wildlife encounters and you’re going to have a luxury experience as well,” said Jeremy Belnap, general manager of the Ranch at Rock Creek, a working cattle ranch in Philipsburg, Montana.
“We are friendly and welcoming you into our home more so than an upscale city center hotel,” he said. “The ultimate experience we’re looking to create is one of disconnecting, and reconnecting with nature.”
Nature is not hard to find on a Western ranch.
The Ranch at Rock Creek sits among pine, aspen and cottonwoods in remote Montana, where wildlife is abundant. There are deer, bald and golden eagles, hawks, beavers and rams that call the ranch’s land home.
“Bighorn sheep, especially when they’re clashing and battling it out, can be fun to hear,” Mr. Belnap said. “There’s a herd of them that live nearby. We’ve [also] got some resident moose this year, which are a lot of fun.”
Guests at Brush Creek Ranch, a farm in Saratoga, Wyoming, also spot the occasional moose, along with birds, jack rabbits, eagles, deer, pronghorns and marmots.
“Our landscape is incredibly varied, from towering rock croppings to aspen groves to pristine meadows, and we are surrounded by the Sierra Madre mountain range and Medicine Bow National Forest,” said Michael Williams, the ranch’s chief operating officer and executive vice president.
Along with taking in the peaceful surroundings, ranch life offers plenty of activities for the entire family that range from relaxing to adrenaline pumping.
“Horseback riding is our most popular activity, I’m sure, because of its Western feel,” Mr. Williams said. “Fly fishing is also incredibly popular, and we have 20 miles of private waters for unparalleled fly fishing.”
Cattle drives, barrel racing and hunting add to the authentic ranch experience at Brush Creek.
Guests at Rock Creek also flock to horseback riding and fly fishing, as well as archery and the shooting range.
During a ranch ride along, “you actually get to be a rancher for the day and work alongside our ranching manager, who works the livestock every single day,” Mr. Belnap said. “Feeding a steer, bottle feeding, sorting cows – all things you can get into that are a little bit more authentic to a working ranch.”
Unique experiences include culinary classes on the farm at Brush Creek and mining for sapphires in the Montana mountains at Rock Creek, where guests can take home their sparkly finds.
With the herd
The Western wilderness inspires, and provides, nearly everything on both ranches.
“Every experience we offer ties in our destination and the land on which we occupy,” Mr. Williams said. “We know our guests are visiting the ranch to immerse themselves in the true American West, from the activities they experience to the cuisine they dine on.”
At Brush Creek Ranch, the produce – goat cheese, Wagyu beef and even spirits – are all sourced from the property.
The Ranch at Rock Creek also sources locally and sustainably, from organic dairy to its own cattle and apiary to the jewelry, artwork and leatherwork made by local artisans in its retail store.
“Our role as a working ranch means we want to support our community and the location in which we are set,” Mr. Belnap said.
Of course, the ranches do it all with a luxurious touch.
Both properties are all-inclusive so that guests need not worry about bringing out their wallet for every meal or activity, instead concentrating on relaxing and having fun.
The culinary experiences run from authentic ranch fare to tasting menus with wine pairings at the Rock Creek, while Brush Creek offers private tastings and a 94-yard wine cellar from which to choose bottles.
High-end linens, spa services and customizable everything create a five-star stay that will not soon be forgotten.
“Being able to get away out into the remoteness where folks can disconnect, and reconnect with friends and family is more important than ever,” Mr. Belnap said, all while experiencing things they may have never done before.
“Being able to experience those things for the first time every day can be life changing,” he said. “When each day is filled with those brand-new experiences, there’s just so much to reflect on and think about and talk about at the end of the day over a fine meal.”
Trading the hustle and bustle for a taste of ranch life allows guests to come away from more than just a vacation.
“What I hear over and over is the togetherness that guests are allowed to have with their families,” Mr. Williams said. “They want to bring home memories instead of souvenirs.”
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