Wyoming is home to bears, bald eagles, bison and bronc riders, among others. It’s a place where you step back in time to the wild west days; where neighbors were few and far between and land stretched out as far as the eye could see. A place where cowboys rode in the Tetons for days at a time looking for their cattle.
I recently discovered the wide open spaces of Bondurant, Wyoming at The Lodge at Jackson Fork Ranch. This intimate lodge, located 40 miles south of Jackson Hole, is ideal for singles, couples or families looking to experience an active adventure vacation while still enjoying gourmet meals and luxury lodging.
Open year round, Jackson Fork Ranch specializes in fly fishing, but like the fictional character Doctor Dolittle, with his menagerie of animals, the owner of this 1,300 acre bison ranch has a soft spot for animals, thus explaining the presence of 350 bison, a Percheron horse breeding program, miniature donkeys and a Trumpeter swan partnership with the state of Wyoming.
Wyoming fly fishing
The sun beat high overhead on my first cast into a riffle on Wyoming’s Upper Hoback River. I saw the splash of a tail flick the surface of the water as the fish maneuvered away from the fast current.
My next cast landed in the eddy and danced my fly right to the shady spot by the river bank. Nibble, nibble, tug on the line; this fish was mine – for the moment. I’m a catch and release girl when it comes to native cutthroat trout.
Hiking in wild Wyoming
Waders off, we return to The Lodge at Jackson Fork and change into hiking boots. After filling our water bottles, our group decides between an ambitious hike to Kilgore Falls behind the lodge or down a flat forested trail. We opt for the forest trail and are rewarded with wild flowers, a beaver house and moose sighting by the Upper Hoback River. After patiently posing for our party of papparazzi, the moose meanders off the gravel bar, headed into the forest.
Dining at The Lodge at Jackson Fork Ranch
Dinners are well thought out culinary adventures at the all-inclusive Jackson Fork Lodge. As most guests come for the fly fishing, it’s a given that fish will surface on the menu during your stay. Bison will also be highlighted in the form of bison filets, bacon or perhaps tucked under layers of pasta in a house made lasagna. Mr. Joe Ricketts, TD Ameritrade founder and owner of The Lodge at Jackson Fork Ranch, also owns several bison operations in Canada and Montana, as well as High Plains Bison, a manufacturer of bison meat. If you have never tasted bison, you are in for a treat.
Back to the menu at hand; an herb filled creme fraiche tart with yellow and red garden fresh tomatoes and basil started our dinner, followed with bison on a bed of mashed potatoes and asparagus. A trio of house made chocolate cake, upside down pear cake and cream puff pastries completed the meal.
Breakfasts are hearty affairs with eggs benedict and fried potatoes, fresh fruit and juice, as well as homemade granola with yogurt. Picnic style lunches are packed to go at the lodge for your outdoor adventures. Lunches may range from meat and cheese sandwiches, with chips, salad and fruit, to cold chicken, Cous cous salad and homemade toffee or brownie bars. Gluten free options are available, as well.
Be advised that the lodge does not own a liquor license. It’s BYOB (bring your own beverage) at the ranch.
Horses at Jackson Fork Ranch
Just as Wyoming is larger than life, it follows that the horses of Jackson Fork Ranch would be massive. Looking down at the pasture from Jackson Fork Lodge, the horses grazing in the meadow don’t look that big. However, get up close to these gray or black beauties and you’ll be hard pressed to call them ponies.
Take a Percheron driven carriage ride (or sleigh ride in the winter) through the Upper Hoback valley, watch the ranch hands feed bison (there’s even a bison round up in November) or go horseback riding into the Bridger Teton National Forest between the Wyoming Range and the Gros Ventre Range.
Sweet dreams at Jackson Fork Lodge
After a day of fishing, hiking, horseback riding, or Nordic skiing, slip into the outdoor hot tub and soak up the Wyoming beauty. Then it’s time to turn in and tune out in your private room at Jackson Fork Lodge. All rooms in the four bedroom lodge, which may be rented out in its entirety, are named after settlers in Wyoming.
My upstairs room, the Sublette Suite, rented for $625 per night, including meals, and featured a king bed, stone fireplace, Jacuzzi tub and separate shower, in addition to a large walk in closet. With a panoramic view of the Upper Hoback Valley and surrounding mountains, be sure to take in a sunrise or sunset during your vacation.
Need to know:
Guests will either drive to Bondurant, Wyoming or fly into Jackson Hole Airport (JAC.) While shuttles from Jackson Hole Airport may be arranged, it is recommended that guests rent a car during your visit to Jackson Fork Ranch. You’ll need access to a vehicle for visits to downtown Jackson Hole, meeting fishing guides or sight seeing off property. Check the website for details.
Check-in time: flexible
Check-out time: 12:00 p.m.
Plans are underway for a 20 room lodge at Jackson Fork Ranch. The ranch has a “no tipping” policy for staff. Outside partners and guides for fishing and horseback riding is left to your discretion.
For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter.
If You Go:
The Lodge at Jackson Fork Ranch (866) 953-1290
670 Upper Hoback Road
Bondurant, Wyoming 82922
Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Jackson Fork Ranch.