And, amid the blooming larkspur and lavender in Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming, are six majestic mountain getaways that take a city-slicker out of her comfort zone (and cubicle)—a hard-core working dude ranch and a hiking resort with a treetop yoga studio to the ultimate in luxury camping (AKA glamping).
What they all have in common? Chilly morning mountain air, wide horizons and open skies that fill up with stars at night, and roaming elk and bison as your neighbors. Giddy’up and get going–even if you’ve never been on a horse. —Amanda Benchley, with additional reporting by Ann Abel
Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa
65 miles west of Denver, Colorado
Don’t let the ominous-sounding name hold you back. Devil’s Thumb Ranch, on 6,000 acres, offers some of the Rockies’ most heavenly hiking, mountain biking—and yes, spa treatments, like the copper-tubbed Bourbon Bubbler soak (pictured). Only in this kind of paradise can you trek past grazing horses and Wagyu cattle and enjoy lunch (um, often from that same prized herd) at the top of the Continental Divide—or zoom over meadows of wildflowers on 40 mph ziplines. Quieter cowpokes can practice their downward dogs in the treetop yoga studio. End the day gazing at the stars and roasting marshmallows at the outdoor fire pit.
Rooms from $270 per night, www.devilsthumbranch.com
J Bar L Ranch
Centennial Valley, Montana
Even Physique 57 might not properly prepare your inner thighs for a week at J Bar L Ranch in Big Sky Country, where the kind of workout you’ll be getting is as a ranch hand. Only a handful of guests at a time may experience this authentic working ranch vacation, where you’ll be on horseback a lot. (Expect early morning horseback rides to check that wolves haven’t attacked the cattle.) Considering the surrounding valley has only 40 inhabitants, and downtime means choosing from 1,000 miles of hiking trails, you’re truly getting away from your real work back home.
A week-long working ranch stay is about $2,200 per guest (based on 2 guests), www.jbarl.com
Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa
Montana’s Paradise Valley, 30 miles north of Yellowstone National Park
The natural hot springs have been luring outdoorsy types to this simple, family-run property for over a century. The two pools—without the distinctive sulphur stink—are a famous recovery aide after a day (or days) of hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting in nearby Yellowstone Park. Accommodations can be barebones (though there is WiFi). But with six-foot tall sunflowers, apple orchards, and the sound of a trickling stream, you won’t need much other entertainment.
Rates start at $55 per night in the main lodge, www.chicohotsprings.com
The Resort at Paws Up
35 minutes from Missoula, Montana
Paws Up takes “glamping” (glamorous camping) to a new level. You’ll stay in canvas tents, tricked out with electricity, a feather bed, and a “camping butler” to meet every need, like gluten-free diets or dispensing Band-aids for your hiking blisters. There are no early morning wake-up calls, but you might easily rise and shine for the amazing activities (most cost extra), like hot air balloon rides, horseback riding on the property’s 37,000 acres, or fly-fishing. The Moose Drool massage (hint: the drool is a candle-wax massage oil), Huckleberry Body Scrubs, plus yoga and Pilates take place in “Spa Town,” a colony of tents set off in a meadow.
Rates start at $885 per night for two (includes airport transfers and 3 meals; there are also individual, luxury mountain homes), www.pawsup.com
The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch
North Platte River Valley, Wyoming
Few things are more exhilarating than doing sun salutations on a cantilevered mountain deck, in synch with the sun rising in the east. Unless, of course, you are barrel racing on a rodeo horse or wiggling through a ropes challenge course that’s 30 feet above the ground. This high-end, high-country Wyoming ranch has something for the most seasoned spa-goer to the big-game hunter (but perhaps less offerings for the vegan). Yet despite the comforts of fur-covered beds in private log cabins, it’s the panorama of national forests, mountains, and meadows that will humble even the most confident cowboy or jaded city-slicker.
Rates start at $1,700 per night for two (includes meals, beverages, activities, instruction, and gear), www.brushcreekranch.com
Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado
After robbing a bank in nearby Telluride, Butch Cassidy inscribed his name at the Main Saloon at this log cabin and luxury tent getaway in the Colorado Rockies. The resort has restored the entire ghost town, and now hydrating wraps and detoxing scrubs transpire in what was once the Pony Express building. Legend has it that the hot springs promote healthy skin and its lithium will mellow you out. There’s also every kind of outdoor Western fun here: hiking the tall peaks of the San Juan Mountains, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, and even water-skiing. And no cellphone towers.
Rates start at $550 per night (includes 3 meals and beverages), www.duntonhotsprings.com
Photo: Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado
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