The beloved bygone era of the Old West endures at Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa, a 96-year-old exclusive and all-inclusive luxury resort nestled in Wyoming’s Rocky Mountains near Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park. The historical guest ranch takes guests back to a simpler time while still providing the modern conveniences of a pampering, present-day getaway.
An endless sea of stars in a night sky undiluted by city lights, and daylight hours spent meandering through meadows and woods on foot and on horseback, eyes peeled for the birds and beasts that call expansive forests home. A quiet, dewy early morning canoe paddle across a cliff-framed lake. Trout plucked from a cool, clear mountain stream, with the day’s catch grilled up moments after being pulled from the water. Freshly baked bread topped with melting squares of butter, served in a dining hall lined with hardwood flooring and filled with log furniture spread with white linens, a river rock fireplace at one end and soft lighting emanating from wagon wheel chandeliers overhead.
“Our aim has always been to provide up-to-date amenities in an atmosphere that stays true to the lodge’s real Western history and provides guests with a truly rare experience only possible in our remote Wyoming setting,” says General Manager Adam Long. “We draw daily on the lodge’s nearly hundred-year history of gracious service, comforts and outdoor activities to give our guests a meaningful blending of old and new.”
By 1922, when Brooks Lake Lodge was built, gas-powered cars had just begun to replace the horse and buggy, which meant that Americans could more quickly and easily explore a country in the throes of fast and meaningful changes. It was the perfect time for a destination ranch to establish itself as a premier getaway for newly minted city folk, and that’s exactly what was happening in this breathtakingly beautiful rural enclave, the ultimate result of a chance encounter just a few decades earlier between Wyoming’s seventh governor and this verdant valley that leads straight into Yellowstone National Park, just 45 miles away.
“Among the fir and pine there glistened a lake… what a sight! Tracks of elk and deer abound,” former Governor Bryant B. Brooks wrote of his first views of the lush area that would eventually house the lodge, which sits by the 260-acre Brooks Lake named for him. “Where I sat on my horse stretched a broad, peaceful valley. I stood closer that day to nature’s heart than ever before.”
The historic guest ranch started as a stopover for travelers headed to Yellowstone, but it soon became a haven for those looking to escape into “nature’s heart,” a setting and mindset that exists to this day in this comfortable and living history lodging – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – tucked away atop the Continental Divide.
Nowadays, travelers make a beeline for the unique type of historical experience that Brooks Lake Lodge provides, a top trend that travel sites such as TripAdvisor say will continue into 2019. In fact, in a recent survey, the travel crowdsourcing site reported that “bookings for ‘historic and heritage experiences’ saw the most growth in 2017.” The same survey also revealed that aquatic activities dominated the top ten fastest-growing travel-related categories for U.S. travelers, including canoeing and fishing.
Both activities are among the many outdoors opportunities offered by Brooks Lake Lodge on picturesque Brooks Lake, with its alpine setting and Pinnacle Buttes backdrop, along with horseback riding or hiking deep into the surrounding Shoshone National Forest backcountry, and the chance to practice or receive instruction on the lost art of archery.
After a day of exploring and relaxing, guests can enjoy an appealing variety of gourmet meals served in the historical dining hall, as well as a relaxing afternoon fireside tea time and cocktails in the Cowboy Bar, a Western-style saloon complete with hewn-log furnishings, period antiques and games like darts, and shuffleboard. A full range of spa services – such as a hot stone massage or fruit active glow facial – are available at the on-site Rocky Mountain Spa, with its tranquility room, two spa service rooms, and an oversized outdoor hot tub overlooking the Pinnacle Buttes.
The handful of spacious yet cozy lodge rooms and private cabins ensures that Brooks Lake Lodge can host only a limited number of guests at any one time. The elegantly rustic lodge rooms are individually decorated with handcrafted lodge pole pine furnishings and goose-down comforters, while private, heated log cabins sport wood-burning stoves and inviting sitting and dining areas. An overnight stay includes lodging, all meals, tea time, outdoor activities, guided or unguided, and access to the on-site Rocky Mountain Spa facilities such as the gym and hot tub. Spa services are billed a la carte.