At the turn of the 20th century, ranchers in Jackson Hole, Wyo., discovered that it was easier to wrangle city slickers than cattle, and thus the dude ranch, as well as a new tourist destination, was born. For decades, wealthy Easterners, corralled by the romantic notion of playing cowboy in the shadow of the majestic Teton mountain range, arrived in droves to try their hands at lassoing. Though roping calves and riding roundup have gone the way of the iron horse, modern-day dudes continue to journey to Jackson Hole for reasons similar to their predecessors’: to enjoy a change of pace, a sense of adventure, a nature buzz.
Spring Creek Ranch delivers all three with a down-home, relaxed flavor that is well suited to its rugged natural surroundings. The resort’s Wilderness Adventure Spa is also secluded and low key, offering a relaxing hot stone massage and other signature treatments. But what truly distinguishes the spa—and explains its name—is its partnerships with local guides and outdoor enthusiasts who will take you on treks to remote destinations for hiking, white-water rafting, or horseback riding, which you can follow with a massage or energy treatment. (In the quiet winter season, activities include snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and skiing.) “We’re trying to give people an experience they will remember—maybe push their envelope a little, and then reward them afterward,” explains Stephen Price, the resort’s general manager. “At most spas, you get on the table, and you’re rubbed and scrubbed and done. Here, you leave saying, ‘I can’t believe I climbed that cliff or learned to ride a horse.’ ”
Bill Webb, a rugged self-made mountain man, is one of the ranch’s local partners who will provide you with an authentic Western backcountry adventure. Webb’s Green River Outfitters maintains a rustic camp 12 miles off the beaten path in a national forest near Bondurant, about 50 miles from Spring Creek. In summer, Green River Outfitters leads horseback rides from the main road to the camp, where you can fly-fish or hike to your heart’s content. At the end of the day, refuge awaits in a tepee, where a Spring Creek masseuse will work out any kinks you acquired during that day’s adventure. You can even stay overnight in one of the tepees, which surround the camp’s bare-bones log cabin.
Cathy Shill, another affiliated guide, will give your mind as well as your body a workout. Shill operates Hole Hiking Experience, which offers hiking and snowshoeing expeditions that acquaint you with the flora and fauna, as well as the history and geology, of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
“Spas always brag about how many square feet they have, but our spa is the entire Jackson Hole valley,” says Price. “We try to use what Jackson Hole has to offer and let people really capture the essence of the place.”
Spring Creek Ranch