Nov 7th, 2018
In 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 upland hunting for pheasant and chukar.
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.
The ranch offers two full ropes courses, a high course and a low course. Both include obstacles that you must negotiate through, over and around. Cargo nets, suspended ladders and swinging bridges offer safe, exciting challenges for adventurers of all ages. Additionally, their high course features three ziplines spanning nearly 500 ft.
Yoga & Fitness
Bringing a variety of yoga styles to the Ranch, Brush Creek’s certified instructors have taught at some of the world’s finest luxury yoga resorts. In addition to stunning indoor and outdoor teaching locations, guests also enjoy access to a full state-of-the-art fitness center with cardio equipment, free weights, strength training circuit, stretching area, private showers, sauna and steam room.
The Ranch has a 30-foot artificial climbing wall with multiple self-belay cables. The wall is 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.
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.
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 great pride in guiding some of the wildest and least-traveled trout waters in the American West. If you’ve never held a fly rod but have some interest in giving it a try, this may be one of the best places we know of to give newcomers to the sport a positive first experience. Remarkably, the majority of Brush Creek’s guided fishing trips are included in the package price while certain float trips on more distant public waters are treated as add-ons. The following is a detailed look at some of their key fisheries.
North Platte River
The North Platte is a discreet Western gem and one of the most underappreciated trout rivers in the Rockies. The sections of the North Platte accessed by Brush Creek Ranch are wild-flowing blue-ribbon waters that have not been stocked since the late 70’s. This is true wild trout fishing and, as such, offers the promise of both world-class catching and technical challenges. Conditions on the North Platte change constantly, meaning that on any given day one might fish dry flies for an hour of match-the-hatch fishing, toss a light nymph rig to suspended fish, and even lob big lead-eyed streamers. Holding a mix of brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout, the North Platte boasts an impressive 4,000-6,000 fish per mile, offering the distinct possibility of catching a Rockies Grand Slam as well as some truly impressive catches of fish in the 14 to 22-inch class. Brush Creek Ranch offers full day floats, half day floats and walk/wade half day trips on the North Platte. Float trips allow visiting anglers to access the greatest variety of water as well as the ability to wade fish as little or as much as one likes.
Flowing wild beneath a canopy of towering cottonwood trees, Brush Creek itself is the centerpiece of the Ranch’s fishing program. The ranch contains approximately four miles of Brush Creek and all guests even remotely interested 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.
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 un-enhanced, 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 exists 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.
The Encampment River is the most significant North Platte tributary that most people have never heard of. That’s because it’s the river that local anglers don’t like to talk about. Brush Creek Ranch owns two different properties on the Encampment River, totaling about 3.5 miles of riverfront. The Encampment is available as a half day walk-in option for
anglers, though the river truly deserves a full day of floating it in a raft with a fishing frame. Due to the nature of the streambed, wading opportunities are limited during the full day float trips. During June, July and August the Encampment River offers visiting anglers the best shot at hatch-specific dry fly fishing as well as opportunities to catch some truly impressive trout in the 15 to 24-inch range. The green drake hatch on the Encampment enjoys near-legendary status, though hatches of stoneflies, caddis and other mayflies keep things interesting throughout the majority of their season.
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.
Contact Charles at 800.552.2729 for more information on Brush Creek Ranch