By Tessa Rodriguez
IF YOU’RE A CITY PERSON who prefers cocktail parties to cattle stampedes, the concept of a vacation in frontier country may sound rough and tumble–and not in a good way. Fear not, fellow traveler. We’ve scoured the West to bring you the best in luxe adventures from a celeb-magnet Montana dude ranch to a Colorado mountain retreat where urban cowgirls and boys kick off their boots in style.
Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa: Gateway, Colorado
Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks took his love of nature to the next level: Rather than channel-surfing the action at home, you can fully immerse yourself within it. Hendricks’ top-ranked Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa, a red-rock idyll tucked inside the Unaweep Canyon, offers a wildly eclectic menu that includes soothing spa services, educational dinosaur digs and an off-road UTV romp. One popular way to get around: by Bentley, Porsche, Mercedes or Tesla, available for rent on the premises. If you prefer just one horsepower, spend an afternoon on horseback at Gateway’s Palisade Ranch, where you can enjoy a tranquil trail ride followed by roping lessons. After all that work, relax in their divine spa, which specializes in healing through high-desert rituals and elements. Arriving by private jet? You’ll be chauffeured in one of their push luxury cars.
Hotel Terra: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
If you prefer your Western a bit less country and more contemporary, check out Hotel Terra Jackson Hole, nestled in quaint Teton Village. True, you’re likely to meet hipsters rather than horsemen at this super-chic, eco-boutique resort, but it still honors the Wild West ethos of discovery and adventure. Take a captivating tour of the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, or enjoy room service on your deck and simply admire the gorgeous views after a day at the spa. Speaking of, an in-demand treatment at Chill Spa is the Artic Berry Peel and Peptide Illuminating Facial, using locally sourced ingredients. For the ultimate in swank, book the Three Bedroom Suite, which includes a deep-soaking Zuma air-tub and Rain shower. It also boasts a full kitchen that’s perfect for a private chef.
The Ranch at Rock Creek: Rock Creek, Montana
This is not your typical ranch; it’s more like a piece of heaven that descended upon Montana with the sole purpose of bringing joy. The Rock Creek hotspot, hidden on 6,600 acres of rugged wilderness, is the ideal destination for you city slickers who aren’t going to slap on a pair of chaps and start a campfire – well, maybe you’d wear chaps. If you want to get outdoorsy, choose from activities like fly fishing and horseback riding in warmer months and snowshoeing and sleigh rides in the winter. Commune with nature in comfort, and stay in one of the four creekside glamping cabins on the property. Are you a foodie? (Who isn’t, really?) The Ranch, a member of the upscale Relais & Châteaux culinary-driven portfolio, doesn’t serve up the usual fireside hot dogs and hamburgers. Rather, executive chef Josh Drage’s cuisine takes inspiration from ranching heritage and mountain traditions. His delicious ranch-to-table menus are created with local ingredients and always perfectly paired with regional wines. Cue the sound of angels singing.
Lone Mountain Ranch: Big Sky, Montana
The word “dude” entered the Western lexicon in the 1870s when Yellowstone rangers referred to visitors by the D-word. (The rest is history. Dude.) Lone Mountain Ranch, which turned 101 years old this year, remains one of the best dude ranches in the country, and better yet, it’s just 18 miles from Yellowstone. Famous dudettes in 2016 include a Kardashian (Kourtney) and Pretty Little Liars actress Shay Mitchell. Along with celebrity sightings, Lone Mountain employs a staff of expert guides who lead magical tours on horseback, llama and snowcoach. If you’re into cross-country skiing, there’s 50 miles of excellent Nordic trails. If you’d rather take in the scenery by air, there’s a hot air balloon ride; by river, whitewater rafting; bypass all of the above and attempt an oil painting class with Montana artist Jackie Rainford. And for a truly memorable Western jaunt, hop aboard a horse-drawn sleigh to an authenticcowboy dinner in the 100-year-old North Fork Cabin. A bucket-list experience indeed.
Cloud Camp at the Broadmoor: Colorado Springs, Colorado
For nearly 100 years, the Broadmoor has been an icon of excellence in Colorado Springs, blending the Great Outdoors with the Grand Budapest Hotel (but European-elegant, not faded in its grandeur, as in the Wes Anderson movie). The resort’s Cloud Camp is perched 9,200 feet at the top of Cheyenne Mountain, with breathtaking 360-degree views of the plains, Pikes Peak, Pike National Forest and the Colorado Rockies. While at Cloud Camp, you’ll enjoy the Broadmoor’s impeccable service, haute cuisine (a reflection of Spencer Penrose’s glamorous 1920s heyday). Make sure to book the Fire Tower Suite, a two-level suite perched atop an historic fire tower. The privacy and views are spectacular, especially when you wake up to a jaw-dropping sunrise. Activities range from the relaxing to the exotic and include cooking classes, falconry lessons and tomahawk throwing.
TERESA RODRIGUEZ is a travel expert and the founder of tangodiva.com. She is also the author of several books, including Fly Solo: The 50 Best Places on Earth for a Girl to Travel Alone; Solo: 7 Keys to Conquering the World Alone; and Body, Mind.