In Yellowstone, the hit Paramount Network drama about a superrich Montana cattle baron and his dysfunctional brood, patriarch John Dutton (played by Kevin Costner) goes to great lengths to protect his colossal ranch—he is the largest landowner in the United States—from big, bad corporations salivating at the prospect of turning so much unspoiled property into the next hot luxury resort. While his methods for fending them off are questionable, any fan of Yellowstone who has faithfully followed along with the Dutton dynasty for four seasons can relate to his predicament. Their way of life is portrayed as so pure and salt-of-the-earth, and very American—just cattle, cowboys, horses, and absolutely pristine land.
In a recent episode, John’s acid-tongued daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly) meets with Caroline Warner (Jacki Weaver), the CEO of Market Equities, one of the latest aforementioned big, bad corporations hellbent on turning the Duttons’ slice of Montana into the next Aspen. “The fantasy of the west,” Caroline says, “is Montana’s only valuable resource.” While that may not be entirely true, the “fantasy of the west” certainly has become a most lucrative and enticing calling card as of late—there is possibly no billionaire left in this country who hasn’t yet done a luxury ranch buyout to pretend, at least for a brief moment, that he is a rugged macho man in tune with Mother Nature. Even Rupert Murdoch has gotten on board—he just bought a $200 million Montana ranch from a member of the Koch family.
With Yellowstone now halfway into its fourth season, the pull of the Old West is greater than ever. While it isn’t lost on us that the very idea of a luxury ranch vacation would make John’s skin crawl, below are 9 stunning western destinations to get a taste of the Dutton lifestyle.
Triple C Ranch by Cuvée, Colorado
Anyone even remotely familiar with Yellowstone will know that John Dutton doesn’t take kindly to strangers—or sharing. So to truly channel the Dutton way of life, only a private, standalone ranch decked out in wood-burning fireplaces and antlered chandeliers may do. Enter: Triple C Ranch, one of the latest offerings by luxury villa rental company Cuvée. Located just 90 minutes from Denver, the sprawling 250-acre property has room for an intimate group of 16. A number of Yellowstone-worthy experiences are included with rentals (which start at $14,375 a night), from horseback riding, ATV rides, archery, and fly fishing in the summers to snowshoeing and snowmobiling in the winter. You’ll also have your own private chef (no, he isn’t named Gator) to whip up regional specialties like local bison short rib, smoked trout canapes, and cheddar biscuits with Palisade peach jam.
Sage Lodge, Montana
Located just 35 minutes from Yellowstone National Park in an area known as Paradise Valley, and nestled in the shadow of majestic Emigrant Peak, is the Sage Lodge, a rural haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Activities include llama treks, fly fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hot air balloon rides, helicopter tours, skiing and snowboarding, rafting, rock climbing, biking, yoga, stargazing, and, of course, exploring America’s first national park. The spa will be a godsend after a long day of sport and adventure—so will unwinding with a glass of wine and taking in the panoramic views from one of the property’s two restaurants.
Sorrel River Ranch, Utah
Sorrel River Ranch enjoys the distinction as the only luxury resort in Moab, the Utah city rich in national parks (Arches and Canyonlands) and otherworldly landscapes. What’s more, the property itself is on 240 acres that hug the Colorado River and afford some of the most incredible—and up-close—views in town of those iconic sandstone buttes and mesas. For the most intrepid of travelers, the best way to take in all the sights may be by skydiving: The hotel just launched a new package that includes a skydiving experience that takes off from Canyonlands Airport and lands directly onto resort grounds. Acrophobics, fear not: there is plenty more to do, from UTV tours to sunset horseback rides.
Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado
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Hidden in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, Dunton Hot Springs was an 1800s ghost town turned cattle ranch that languished for years before someone saw its potential as a luxury destination. With just 13 log cabin accommodations on 1,600 acres of land, this is as close to the private ranch dream as you might get—with all the amenities and perks of a 5-star resort. And true to its name, you can add natural mineral hot springs to the long list of requisite western activities. As far as the celebrity cred goes, Dunton Hot Springs got a major stamp of approval in September when Emily in Paris star Lily Collins married fellow Hollywood scion Charlie McDowell in an intimate ceremony at the property.
Lodge at Blue Sky, Utah
For those who want a taste of the rural ranch life without veering too far from civilization, there is the Lodge at Blue Sky, an Auberge Resort, which sits on 3,500 acres in the Wasatch Mountain Range yet is just 35 minutes from Salt Lake City. And with Park City being the winter playground it is, the long list of activities includes dog sledding, ice fishing, snowmobiling, sporting clays, wildlife tracking, sleigh rides, and all possible types of skiing, be it heli-skiing, Nordic skiing, or exploring remote backcountry trails with a pro. It’s all just as glorious in the summer, too, when you can horseback ride, hike, and fly fish.
Lone Mountain Ranch, Montana
Located in picturesque Big Sky, Montana, about an hour north of Yellowstone National Park, Lone Mountain Ranch is the real deal. First homesteaded more than a century ago, in 1915, the rugged 148-acre property has been around long before the area—and luxury ranches—became popular. Authentic charm can be found everywhere, from the 27 historic log cabins that were recently upgraded in 2016 to the locally grown, on-the-range fare served at its restaurant Horn & Cantle (think menu items like Montana beef, flathead trout, elk meatballs). Expect all the requisite ranch activities, along with naturalist-guided tours of Yellowstone and proximity to Big Sky Resort for miles and miles of skiing and snowboarding trails.
Brush Creek Ranch, Wyoming
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As far as luxury ranches go, the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyoming, is top of the line. (It’s also where Karlie Kloss and Joshua Kushner held their second wedding.) There are just 44 keys, ranging from lodge rooms to 3-bedroom residences, on a 30,000-acre plot of gorgeous land. From rock climbing, archery, golf, and fly fishing to ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing, there are plenty of activities for every season. For foodies, the Farm at Brush Creek offers cooking classes, wine tastings, distillery tours, and multi-course meals featuring the ranch’s own 100% American Wagyu beef.
Triple Creek Ranch, Montana
As a Relais & Châteaux property, Triple Creek Ranch is one of the most romantic destinations in the country, with impeccable hospitality and excellent food and wine. Best of all, it’s adults only. Nestled in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, which is also where the real Dutton ranch is located, Triple Creek Ranch has 25 beautifully appointed accommodations—all have wood-burning fireplaces and hot tubs—and tons of things to do, including dog sledding, skiing, hiking, horseback riding, cattle drives, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, trap shooting, and nature safaris.
Resort at Paws Up, Montana
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With 37,000 acres of land, the Resort at Paws Up may as well be its—or rather, your—own mini national park. There is no main lodge or visitors’ center. No traipsing down carpeted hallways to reach your room. Instead there are 28 luxury homes and 36 tricked out glamping tents dispersed throughout the property. A spate of activities making great use of this massive nature playground abounds—horseback riding, fly fishing, e-biking, hot air ballooning, skijoring (horse-pulled skiing, essentially), dog sledding, the list goes on. Along with the meals and activities included in the rate, guests staying in the cabins also have use of a Lexus SUV to get around the resort.
Leena Kim Associate Editor Leena Kim is an associate editor at Town & Country, where she writes about travel, weddings, arts, and culture.
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