A Wyoming Ranch Offers the Full Cowboy Experience. You Bring the Boots
- Written byDarren Elms
Arriving at Casper-Natrona Airport in Wyoming, the men’s restroom greets me with a sign: “Please Do Not Spit Tobacco in the Urinals.” Crude? Maybe. But this is cowboy country, and already I’m 100% here for it.
Since spending a few summers as a kid at my grandfather’s brother’s ranch in southern Utah, I often long for the Western adventure. I miss the stories of campouts and deer hunts, surrounded by cousins who rode ATVs and horses like we did dirt bikes and station wagons here in Los Angeles.
Those times were unfussy, often dirty, sometimes dangerous and always memorable. And although it felt like another world from my cushy suburban life, a small part felt like home.
Maybe that’s why I jumped at the chance to visit Reid Creek Lodge in Wyoming. The lodge is one small part of the sprawling 300,000-acre Wagonhound ranch located north of the little town of Douglas. The ranch touches three counties in the shadow of the Laramie Range and varies between 5,000 and 9,000 feet of elevation. This is a real working ranch—home to horses, cattle, outfitting and farming. It’s also the home to Catherine and Art Nicholas, who took ownership of the historic property in 1999 and helped steward its preservation, growth and sustainability over the last two decades.
Reid Creek Lodge is a brand-new offering introduced to give guests a taste of the Wagonhound experience. A former hunting lodge, the 8,000-square-foot structure was renovated and outfitted with Western-inspired furnishing and art and comfortably sleeps up to 22 people. When you book the Reid Creek Lodge, you get the whole kit and caboodle: accommodations, transportation, a private chef and your choice of ranch-style daily activities. If you’ve dreamed of having a whole “national park” to yourself for a spell, this is your ticket to paradise.
Your party will fly into Casper and be greeted by your host for the trip. Ours was Mitch, born in Douglas, well-traveled and a reliable guide to all things Wagonhound. En route to the ranch, he made a fortuitous stop at Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters, a destination for more than a century for boots, hats and all things cowboy. We stocked up on ranch essentials and hit the highway for an hour-long journey into the glorious Wyoming wild.
At the ranch, you’ll meet the family of employees who keep the property and business in working order, including cowhand Tait and married stable and arena managers Cougar and Heather.
At the lodge, your private chefs (ours were the incredible Nancy and Ashley) cook up three square meals a day, which you can enjoy from the comfort of the dining room or alongside your adventure somewhere on the ranch. And this is not your average ranch fare: fresh-baked rosemary bread, tri-tip sandwiches, fresh salads, French toast, spiked watermelon juice and rich chocolate cake, to name a few menu items. It’s elevated but still true to the seasonality and local ingredients.
You can have your pick of activities including horseback riding, hiking, archery, shooting, fishing and more. Horseback riding is a must for this urban cowboy, and I got saddled up with Hollywood—my trusted companion for a beautiful saunter through the yellow grasses, rolling hills and unusual rock formations that span the property.
If two wheels rather than four legs is more your style, they have a fleet of e-bikes to take you up and down the unpaved paths in and around the lodge. If you’re lucky, you might spot some of the regular wildlife, like an elk, mule deer or antelope.
And don’t forget to watch the sunset and stargaze. From some of the higher vistas on the ranch you can take in nature’s panorama. It might not be home, but you may wish it was.