Brush Creek Ranch Unrivaled Luxury, Angling & Activities for All
By Charles Gehr Brush Creek’s spectacular centerpiece, Trailhead Lodge. Photo: Brush Creek Ranch
n my mind this place wavers like a dream, except that I know with certainty that I was actually there and it was real. I admit that I am biased towards Wyoming. From southern Colorado north through Banff, I know and love the Rockies, but for a number of reasons, I most revere Wyoming. By choice I went to college there, and by choice I committed several crimes of angling passion there, the most relevant of which was deliberately “poaching” a certain reach of Brush Creek. It’s the only time in my life I’ve knowingly fished water on private property. It was under different ownership then and I too was a different person, not that either excuse the offense. But the truth was I had heard of a particular pristine tributary of the North Platte called Brush Creek that was the type of trout stream where fly anglers wanted their ashes scattered. Fast-forward 15 years. I am now an “established fly fishing professional.” I spent three years working in fly shops, I spent five years guiding the Deschutes, and six years ago moved to Ashland, Oregon as the Rockies travel specialist for Fly Water Travel. Then, roughly a year ago, I learned that a new and reportedly fabulous facility, far beyond the scope of the specialized fishing lodges with which I most often work, had opened somewhere east of Saratoga, Wyoming. It was called Brush Creek Ranch. I googled it and zoomed in on the upside-down red teardrop. It was, of course, the same gorgeous creek I had briefly poached my junior year. Yet as I made plans to legally
revisit, I had no idea that this property had recently become the benchmark for western dude ranches; a place where pampered elegance, an enormous number of adventure activities, fly fishing and hunting all prospered together. In 2009, the current owner of Brush Creek Ranch, who shall remain anonymous, purchased a grand sprawling property smack-dab in the middle of Wyoming’s stunning Sierra Madre Mountains. Subsequent land acquisitions have brought the total to 30,000 acres. His intention was to create a lavish getaway retreat for family and friends. Given his history of creating high-end hotels across the country, no comfort, detail or expense was spared in the building of his personal log cabins, main lodge and recreation facilities. After a year of private operation, the guests and owner alike agreed it was unfair to keep such an incredible experience hidden from the outside world. The facility and setting were just too spectacular and the level of service too refined to withhold it from the public. Starting in 2011 Brush Creek Ranch opened to the public, and the response from guests confirmed that this property holds a truly special place in the upper echelon of the world’s luxury sporting lodges. Simply put, the spectacular Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch offers couples, families with children, and serious sportsmen alike the greatest variety of quality activities and experiences that we have ever seen.
WYOMING’S BRUSH CREEK RANCH
Accommodations For All The lodging options at Brush Creek Ranch are vast and varied, ensuring your stay at the Ranch is perfectly suited to the size and needs of your group. Guests can choose from elegant lodge rooms, intimate cabin suites, or larger cabin residences. For larger groups looking to have a private fully-staffed ranch experience, the Magee Homestead offers the ultimate in exclusivity and comfort, and for those wanting to rough it a bit, Brush Creek even offers a great night of remote “glamping” with advance notice. The centerpiece of Brush Creek Ranch is their 38,000 sq. ft. Trailhead Lodge. This impressive facility boasts an elegant dining area, single and double occupancy lodge rooms, a vast wine cellar open to guests daily, a full-service spa/salon and a wellness center. Trailhead Lodge houses 13 luxurious guest rooms with captivating ranch views, expansive rooms and refined western décor. For couples seeking additional privacy, their Cabin suites, situated close to the Trailhead Lodge, offer guests the same amenities (including heated bathroom floors and 400-thread-count sheets) as the lodge rooms with additional living areas. For groups or families, Brush Creek Ranch also offers a series of 10 deluxe cabins with unique room configurations, ensuring that there’s a finely appointed residence that meets your party’s exact needs. For the ultimate in large family and private party gatherings, the Magee Homestead at Brush Creek Ranch offers a secluded hideaway with a full service facility and dedicated staff. Located just five miles from the main lodge, the Magee Homestead
Fishing for wild trout on the upper reaches of the North Platte. Photo: Brush Creek Ranch
features a private lodge and seven historically restored cabins in a tranquil creekside setting. A full complement of private staff will ensure that private parties of up to 24 are able to enjoy all that the Ranch has to offer in privacy and unmatched comfort.
Activities Beginning with horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, indulgent spa experiences or fully outfitted fishing, shooting and hunting programs, Brush Creek Ranch offers quality options for every conceivable guest. Western Riding: Irrespective of age or ability, Brush Creek offers all who are interested the opportunity to ride welltrained horses in the heart of the true west. From their stately 28,000-square-foot indoor riding arena and stables to over 50 miles of private trails and endless open range, Brush Creek Ranch provides a memorable and quality riding experience. Guests can start their weeks with a variety of general rides, working into the more advanced options. Riders with previous experience can graduate to more difficult trail rides or elect to learn the art of reading and cutting cattle with real cowboys. Hiking & Mountain Biking: Brush Creek Ranch has more than 50 miles of groomed single and double track trails for guests to experience on foot or on bike. The Outfitter’s Center offers high-quality full-suspension mountain bikes and all other necessary equipment. Guests can join guided group hikes/rides or venture out on their own to explore the Ranch.
WYOMING’S BRUSH CREEK RANCH Trailhead Spa: The Trailhead Spa offers a full range of massage, skin, and salon services as well as saunas, steam rooms, an outdoor hot tub and a state-of-the-art fitness center, enabling guests’ access to full relaxation and wellness.
perfect for beginner and intermediate sport climbers or anyone wanting to experience the thrill of rock climbing in a controlled environment with the safety and reassurance of proper ropes and harnesses.
Shooting: Brush Creek offers venues for rifle, shotgun, pistol and archery enthusiasts alike. With competition rifle and shotgun courses, a five-stand competition shooting course and an eight-station walking sporting clays course with multiple shooting scenarios, they have it all. In addition, the Ranch offers standard rifle and pistol ranges as well as mechanical targets. Archers enjoy two separate 3-D archery courses, one with 3-D animals and the other with less walking and more concentrated targets.
Kids Program: One of the best ways to ensure that parents and grandparents have a good time is to ensure that the youngsters are having an even better time. Brush Creek understands this and proudly offers a truly remarkable experience for kids through their Lil’ Wranglers program. The program is lead by highly qualified professional guides and counselors so you can find comfort in knowing your children are enjoying their own adventures. Over the course of the week, the Lil’ Wranglers experience archery, arts and crafts, calf scramble, capture the flag, fort building, geocaching, hay rides, hiking, low-impact paintball, low ropes course, mountain biking, ranger tours, pond fishing, horseback riding, roping lessons, scavenger hunts and ziplines, making it the most dynamic and multifaceted kids program we have encountered.
Hunting: In the fall, the ownership’s Brush Creek Ranch Outfitters offers guided hunts on selected reaches of their vast 20-square-mile property. With an unsurpassed variety of terrain and an utter absence of outside competition, their fully outfitted, fully guided experiences are a rare and productive treat. Seasonally dependent, guests can target elk, deer, antelope, mountain lion and moose as well as bountiful up-land hunting for pheasant and chukar.
Just like everything else at Brush Creek Ranch, their fly fishing program is vast, varied and in a class by itself. With more than 20 miles of essentially private rivers and streams and multiple still water venues, Brush Creek Ranch can keep a serious fly angler fishing new quality waters for weeks. This is not a program put together as an afterthought to a dude ranch experience, but rather one of the pillars of what the ranch holds dear. The Ranch employs a team of dedicated professional fly fishing guides that take Ropes Course: The ranch offers two full great pride in guiding some of the wildest and least-travMorrish ropes courses, a high course and a low course. Both eled trout waters in the American West. If you’ve never Hopper include obstacles that you must negotiate through, held a fly rod but have some interest in giving it a try, over and around. Cargo nets, suspended ladders and swingthis may be one of the best places we know of to give newcomers ing bridges offer safe, exciting challenges for adventurers of to the sport a positive first experience. Remarkably, the majority all ages. Additionally, their high course features three ziplines of Brush Creek’s guided fishing trips are included in the package spanning nearly 500 ft. price while certain float trips on more distant public waters are treated as add-ons. The following is a detailed look at some of Yoga & Fitness: Bringing a variety of yoga styles to the their key fisheries. Ranch, Brush Creek’s certified instructors have taught at some of the world’s finest luxury yoga resorts. In addition to stunNorth Platte River: The North Platte is a discreet ning indoor and outdoor teaching locations, guests also enjoy Western gem and one of the most underappreciated trout access to a full state-of-the-art fitness center with cardio equiprivers in the Rockies. The sections of the North Platte accessed ment, free weights, strength training circuit, stretching area, by Brush Creek Ranch are wild-flowing blue-ribbon waters private showers, sauna and steam room. that have not been stocked since the late 70’s. This is true wild Paintball: If, in the back of your mind, you have ever wanted to try paintball in a safe, non-threatening setting, there is no better place than this. Brush Creek’s private paintball course is positioned along a hilltop meadow with unique rock outcroppings that provide interesting cover and hiding spots. All games are organized, supervised and refereed by professional staff. All equipment and fatigues are included.
Climbing Wall: The Ranch has a 30-foot artificial climbing wall with multiple self-belay cables. The wall is
trout fishing and, as such, offers the promise of both world-class catching and technical challenges. Conditions on the North
“Simply put, the luxurious Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch offers couples, families with children, and serious sportsmen alike the greatest variety of authentic quality activities and experiences that we have ever seen.”
Top: The elegant Magee Homestead; a wild brown trout from Brush Creek. Middle: The view from the main lodge. Bottom: The spa; morning yoga class; instruction at the range. Photos: Charles Gehr and Brush Creek Ranch
WYOMING’S BRUSH CREEK RANCH Platte change constantly, meaning that on any given day one Encampment River: The Encampment River is the might fish dry flies for an hour of match-the-hatch fishing, toss most significant North Platte tributary that most people have a light nymph rig to suspended fish, and even lob big lead-eyed never heard of. That’s because it’s the river that local anglers streamers. Holding a mix of brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout, don’t like to talk about. Brush Creek Ranch owns two different the North Platte boasts an impressive 4,000-6,000 properties on the Encampment River, totaling about fish per mile, offering the distinct possibility of 3.5 miles of riverfront. The Encampment catching a Rockies Grand Slam as well as some is available as a half day walk-in option for truly impressive catches of fish in the 14 to 22-inch anglers, though the river truly deserves a full day class. Brush Creek Ranch offers full day floats, half day of floating it in a raft with a fishing frame. Due to floats and walk/wade half day trips on the North Platte. the nature of the streambed, wading opportunities are Morrish Float trips allow visiting anglers to access the greatest limited during the full day float trips. During June, A n ato May variety of water as well as the ability to wade fish as little July and August the Encampment River offers visitor as much as one likes. ing anglers the best shot at hatch-specific dry fly fishing as well as opportunities to catch some truly impressive trout in the 15 Brush Creek: Flowing wild beneath a canopy of towerto 24-inch range. The green drake hatch on the Encampment ing cottonwood trees, Brush Creek itself is the centerpiece of enjoys near-legendary status, though hatches of stoneflies, the Ranch’s fishing program. The ranch contains approximately caddis and other mayflies keep things interesting throughout four miles of Brush Creek and all guests even remotely interestthe majority of their season. ed in fly fishing should spend some amount of time experiencing it. While relatively small, Brush Creek holds an impressive number of brown and brook trout in the 8 to 14-inch range with occasional fish up to 20 inches. Much of the creek is characterized by riffles, pocket water and an occasional long-tailed plunge pool. Dry flies and dry/dropper presentations tend to be the ticket. Days on Brush Creek are divided into morning and afternoon sessions, with lunch breaks most often taken at the lodge. Guests depart for their fishing days with guides in 4X4 ATVs that are specifically outfitted to carry fly fishing gear. French Creek: Less than 25 ft. across, magical little French Creek is considered by many the crown jewel of the Brush Creek Ranch fishing program. For those that like unenhanced, truly wild brown trout fishing, this system offers four miles of exactly that. Don’t think for a minute that the size of this intimate walk and wade stream is indicative of the size of its fish, as this creek has some beauties. Additionally, a deluxe, fully staffed, creekside satellite facility for groups of up to 10 anglers has just been completed on French Creek. The brand new, exquisitely appointed French Creek Sportsman’s Club will likely become a coveted classic among the west’s most discerning small stream enthusiasts.
Stillwaters: In addition to the many miles of free-flowing river and stream fishing, Brush Creek Ranch has seven still water ponds that are brimming with willing trout. For someone who wants to try fly fishing for the first time, a kid that wants to catch a fish by any means necessary, or a seasoned angler looking for a few hours’ worth of relaxation, we strongly encourage you to sample some of these great ponds. Over the past six seasons I have seen a lot of operations and spent a good deal of time mulling over what makes each special and uniquely appropriate for a diverse mix of travelers and anglers. After departing Brush Creek Ranch, there was some real processing that took place. My head was spinning. Never had I been to a single operation that offered so much, in such a setting, and with such attention to luxury and detail. The entire place was over-the-top, yet utterly appealing in all aspects. In terms of a destination where visitors of all ages, sexes, interests, and abilities had more than ample opportunities to indulge themselves, Brush Creek looms in a golden light all its own. It is just one of those places, now that I am older, where I could imagine my ashes being someday scattered.
Travel: Guests fly into Laramie, WY where they will be picked up by the ranch. Alternately guests may fly into Denver, CO and rent a car for the 2.5 hour drive. Private air transportation may land in Saratoga, WY only 13 miles from the ranch. Season: April–November Capacity: 150 guests Essential Tackle: A 5 or 6-weight fly rod with a weight-forward floating line. Top Flies: Morrish Hopper, Morrish Anato-May, Olive/Yellow cone head Zuddler
Top: Zip-lining Wyoming style; the bar at Trailhead Lodge. Middle: Campfire circle outside the main lodge. Bottom: Riding on the property; fishing the North Platte. Photos: Charles Gehr and Brush Creek Ranch