There’s nothing quite like slicing through a freshly groomed run at the beginning of a ski day—the blue sky, quiet mountain, tree-lined paths and nothing but a swath of corduroy-patterned snow in front of you.
The allure of those fresh tracks is so strong it even made its way into a plotline on the Showtime hit Billions. During his brief foray into private practice in season four, Chuck Rhoades spends an entire episode trading favors among his contacts to reach his ultimate goal. One of those favors? Exclusive “first tracks” early access to Deer Valley ski resort in Utah.
But what if every run of the day could be just like that first one? That’s what The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, a luxury dude ranch near Saratoga, Wyoming, is attempting to offer to its guests with its private ski location, Green Mountain.
Avid skiers know the challenges the past two years have brought to ski resorts across the country. Historically low snowfall, pandemic restrictions and overcrowding brought on by a record number of passes sold at popular resorts such as Vail and Breckenridge mean spending a day on the slopes often includes long lift lines and crowded runs.
With Green Mountain, Brush Creek is reimagining the typical ski day experience. It’s available for just 18 guests to ski or snowboard per day, and instead of riding lifts up the mountain, they hop into one of the ranch’s snowcats, which also groom the runs as they travel up them. This means the slopes are freshly groomed every time you ski—though there are steep powder runs and plenty of glades for more advanced skiers as well.
A day on the mountain starts with a 30-minute drive to the entrance of the million-acre Medicine Bow National Forest, then another ride in an all-terrain vehicle to one of the ranch’s mountainside yurts. Inside, a fire keeps things cozy as you suit up for the day (the Brush Creek staff will have already brought your skis and boots so they’re waiting for you). Ranch staff will also guide you through the mountain’s runs, determining your level of expertise and which runs would be most enjoyable for you.
Halfway through the morning, there might just be a pan of warm cinnamon rolls waiting by the fire for you, and a few hours later, you’ll have lunch in another heated yurt at the top of the mountain. Classic ski day fare—think chili, sandwiches and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies—gets a serious upgrade when it’s served by one of the ranch’s chefs using produce from its greenhouses and beef from its cattle.
Though you certainly won’t see as many runs as you would at a typical ski resort, the very experience of having the mountain practically to yourself more than makes up for it. It’s just one of the winter experiences Brush Creek Ranch has doubled down on as it strives to be known as a year-round destination.
Though the winter months are understandably quieter—there were around 20 guests staying there during a mid-March visit—the beauty and tranquility of the remote resort is no less appealing when the surrounding Sierra Madre mountains are snow-covered.
Since it opened in 2010, Brush Creek Ranch has become known as one of the best resorts in the West—and the country—because of its remote location, rugged luxury and outstanding food and wine program. As is becoming more typical of high-end resorts, even in the U.S., it’s all-inclusive, meaning the nightly rate includes your room, meals and alcoholic beverages (though certain cocktails and wines are not included), as well as many of the activities the ranch offers, including horseback riding, ice fishing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The Green Mountain ski experience, spa treatments, private horseback riding and certain other activities are an additional fee.
Though it’s not the easiest spot to get to—most guests fly into Denver and make the four-hour drive to the ranch or fly privately into the nearby Saratoga Airport—the ranch continues to be a favorite destination for multi-generational family trips and milestone getaways, particularly in the summer. But with Green Mountain, the resort makes a compelling argument for a visit during the winter months instead.
Rates at Brush Creek Ranch start at $1,250 per person per night. The Green Mountain experience is available mid-December to mid-April, and it costs $675 per guest, including lunch, gear and transportation. Guests can also rent a private snowcat for one to six guests for $3,750, and the entire mountain is available for buyouts for groups of up to 18.