Clad in a flour-dusted apron, I’m bent over a thin circle of freshly made pasta dough, concentrating as I tentatively fold the edges together to form a tiny, decadent chicken mousse tortellini.
I pause to inspect my handiwork, holding the petite pasta package up to the light pouring in from the massive picture windows behind the glossy demonstration counter at Brush Creek Ranch. Outside, the rolling sagebrush prairie of south-central Wyoming stretches for miles until it runs into the foothills of the Medicine Bow Mountains.
“Twist it like this,” says executive sous chef Dylan Therrien, showing me how to wrap the ends firmly but carefully around my thumb. Later, after my classmates and I had successfully crafted enough tortellini to go around (and with plenty of help from Therrien) we sat down for lunch to sample our creations.
The hands-on pasta-making class is just one of the many ways guests can tap into their inner chef or mixologist and pick up a new skill while vacationing at the 30,000-acre luxury guest ranch in Wyoming’s scenic North Platte River Valley.
Though Brush Creek offers horseback riding, shooting sports, fly-fishing, spa treatments and all the other Wild West-inspired pastimes you’d expect while staying at a dude ranch, it also gives guests the opportunity to participate in a wide range of unexpected activities revolving around food and drink.
Home to a distillery, a massive greenhouse, a goat dairy and creamery and a variety of highly skilled culinary professionals, the ranch pulls back the curtain and lets guests get in on the action through cooking and baking classes, wine and spirits tastings, greenhouse tours and goat meet-and-greets. Dining at the ranch, too, goes way beyond cowboy fare, with a focus on sophisticated, seasonal “pasture-to-plate” dishes made with ingredients either grown, raised or handmade at the ranch.
“There are a lot of people who don’t necessarily know where their food comes from,” says Drew Anderson, a longtime chef who oversees much of the ranch’s food and beverage operations. “It’s gotten so easy for people to go to the grocery store and buy a steak, in its little container, all sealed up and looking nice. But you have no idea where that animal came from, no idea where your produce came from, no idea where your dairy products came from. That, to me, is really the point of everything that we do here. It’s educational as much as it is what we’re putting on a plate or in a glass.”
Originally settled as a homestead in the 1880s, the property served as a working cattle ranch under a handful of owners for much of the 20th century. But starting in the late 1990s, cattle operations began to dwindle and the ranch fell into disrepair. Hospitality veterans Bruce and Beth White nabbed the sprawling acreage in 2008 and got to work fixing it up, adding modern buildings and sumptuous amenities while keeping the vast majority of the land in its ruggedly beautiful, natural state. To that end, the ranch offers exclusive access to more than 55 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, more than 10 miles of the Upper North Platte and more than 38 bolted rock climbing routes, to name a few outdoor recreation perks. It’s also home to a private 600-acre skiing and snowboarding mountain.
After more than 20 years at the helm of White Lodging, which owns and operates dozens of hotels, restaurants and bars across the country, Bruce White opted to pursue his lifelong dream of running a ranch in the American West. His deep hospitality roots shine through in every corner of the ranch, from the tasteful Western-chic décor in guest rooms and cabins to the down-to-earth staffers who cheerily greet every guest by name. White’s passion for good food and drinks, especially wine and spirits, is also abundantly clear at Brush Creek, where every meal or shared bottle is an opportunity to leave the hustle of everyday life behind, slow down and indulge.
Today, the ranch encompasses three all-inclusive resorts, each with its own subtly unique identity. With sophisticated log cabins and lodge rooms, The Lodge & Spa—the largest and longest-running of the ranch’s resorts—is perfect for multi-generational families who want to reconnect with each other and with nature. Magee Homestead, a Relais & Châteaux member, offers wellness-focused, adults-only getaways, while French Creek Sportsmen’s Club is a secluded hunting and fly-fishing retreat for small groups.
Travelers staying in any of the accommodations can visit The Farm at Brush Creek Ranch, venue that opened in 2019 where guests can not only enjoy fine dining, but also participate in immersive experiences.
Guests can tour The Farm’s 20,000 square feet of greenhouse space—snacking on fresh-off-the-plant produce along the way—then feast on those very same veggies and herbs for dinner at the high-end Cheyenne Club restaurant. They can watch ranchers pamper the roughly 40 Black Wagyu and 175 Red Akaushi that make up Brush Creek’s 100 percent American Wagyu program, then peek into the temperature- and humidity-controlled dry-aging room before enjoying a perfectly marbled ribeye or tomahawk steak.
At Brush Creek Distillery, visitors can learn the complex art of distillation, then, later, order an after-dinner cocktail made with the ranch’s Railroad Rye whiskey or its aromatic New American gin.
Guests can nuzzle the ranch’s herd of lovable Alpine, Nubian and Mini Nigerian goats, then learn (and taste) how farmers Lindsey Washkoviak and Ben Elzay expertly transform their milk into luscious cheeses, yogurts and ice creams at Medicine Bow Creamery, the first licensed Grade A goat dairy in Wyoming. The Farm is also home to a subterranean 30,000-bottle wine cellar, a sultry speakeasy-esque spirits vault brimming with rare whiskeys.
These and other food-centric experiences shine a light on the care and attention to detail that goes into every bite and sip at the ranch—and, in the process, they make everything even more delicious.
“You see the goats and the dairy operations, and then you taste that goat cheese and it just builds that appreciation,” says Anderson. “When you see all the work that goes into it from start to finish, it’s the best goat cheese or lettuce or steak you’ve ever had.”Best Deals On Amazon Prime