Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa, a historic guest ranch, is located in Wyoming’s Shoshone National Forest, surrounded by evergreen forests next to the Alpine Brooks Lake.
The all-inclusive Rocky Mountain resort has been named a “Top All-Inclusive Family Resort in the U.S.” by Reader’s Digest; one of the “20 Best All-Inclusive Resorts in the U.S” by U.S. News & World Report in 2021; a best place to “Lean into Winter” by Travel + Leisure in 2020 and a 2018 “Best Lake Resort” by National Geographic Traveler. And if that list of accolades doesn’t make you eager to head to Wyoming — read on!
Most everyone has heard of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Yet, here in Texas, few have heard of Brooks Lake Lodge, which sits about an hour and a half from the Jackson Hole town square. Jackson Hole is known for its western motif, Grand Teton mountain range and the many high-wealth billionaires that have made it an upscale destination.
At the end of a 5-mile gravel road, which is covered in 4 to 8 feet of snow in the winter, you’ll find the rustic lodge and its peaceful atmosphere. With a clear view of Brooks Lake, the epicenter is a main building that houses the lobby, a living area, the bar, the main dining hall and eight lodge guest rooms.
Brooks Lake Lodge (BLL) celebrates their 100th Anniversary in 2022, after being built in 1922 as part of six lodges that were created by a land management corp; it is one of only two that are still in existence (the other one being Old Faithful Lodge). BLL, a national historic landmark, is owned by Texan Max Chapman and is one of his many endeavors, which General Manager Matthew Tousignant calls “a beautiful piece of jewelry.” Meaning, the lodge is a gorgeous experience existing to share with others, not just to make a profit.
Parks a Plenty
Northern Wyoming is famous for Yellowstone National Park. This national treasure turns 150 in 2022 and is approximately an hour and a half from the lodge. (For fans of the hit show, Yellowstone, no guarantees you’ll run into Kevin Costner or his complicated TV family during your visit, though!) Grand Teton National Park sits about 45 minutes from the lodge, situated between it and the Jackson Hole Airport. Therefore, a typical guest is really torn between getting out and seeing the beautiful famous sites of the area and staying put to enjoy all that the Brooks Lake Lodge has on property.
As an all-inclusive resort, the lodge includes two activities per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon for guests to choose from. In the summer, five activities are offered including horseback riding, fishing, archery, canoeing and hiking. In the winter, you’ll find cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, downhill tubing, ice fishing and, their most popular, snowmobiling.
Because there is so much to do on property, there is a three-night minimum but most guests choose to stay four or more. And, it’s not a bad idea to just have a day of no obligations which provides time to read, nap or enjoy the spa. There you’ll find an outdoor hot tub with a view of the mountains and an indoor dry sauna. Plus, with the lodge being at 9,300 feet, it takes a few days to even acclimate to the outdoors.
Accommodations + Staffing
Also on property are seven log cabins, ranging in size from a small one-bedroom up to a family cabin that can sleep 10 people. The accommodations are rustic but very comfortable with high-quality bedding, a clawfoot tub in the bathroom, and Wyoming-themed decor, including vintage snowshoes and American-Indian wall hangings.
During the summer season, which runs mid June to mid September, the maximum occupancy is 36 guests, which is only a few more people than the number of staff living on-site. In the winter (mid-December to mid-March), occupancy drops to 22, making for a very intimate and relaxed experience.
Three meals a day and afternoon tea time (charcuterie board and cookies) are included in your stay. Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style in the main dining room. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a breakfast that includes the chef’s fluffy biscuits with sausage gravy, a great way to start your active day.
Dinner is a white linen tablecloth, full-service menu offering an appetizer, an entrée with sides and a dessert. Alcohol is an additional expense, but highly worth it to enjoy a great wine, a local craft beer or a cocktail in this relaxed setting. Dinner might feature one of many game entrées including elk, venison or bison.
And There’s More…
Jim and Jamie Dutcher, the world’s foremost scholars on wolves, are regular guests, having visited the ranch for decades. Jim started visiting the ranch as a teenager, became a wrangler later in his teens, and they enjoy visiting each year. You can learn more about their nonprofit, Living with Wolves, and find their books sprinkled around the lodge.
The lodge features an impressive art collection, with many pieces in the dining room, from artist James Wilcox (Cathedral Group and Sleeping Indian Mountain in Jackson) and Scott Peters. Peters’ Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon in Yellowstone, is one of three, the other two being in the West Wing of the White House and in the Smithsonian.
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Cover photo courtesy New Thought Digital
Marika Flatt, Outstanding Austin Communicator 2021, is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She began her travel writing career with Austin Woman Magazine when it premiered in the fall of 2002. Now, she can be seen on TV shows across Texas, offering travel tips, in addition to her long-running “Weekend Trip Tip” on NPR’s Texas Standard. This was her first visit to the state of Wyoming.