Extreme Outdoors

Sitting on a beach. Walking tours. Visiting Museums.

Did simply reading that first line nearly put you to sleep? I nearly feel asleep writing it. Let’s try this again.

Helicopter rides. White water rafting. Off-roading.

If reading that line spiked your heart rate, I’d reckon you’re longing for a good old fashioned outdoor adventure. But not just any romp in the wilderness, you fancy something a little more extreme. Well my thrill-seeking friend, you are far from alone.

In fact, more travelers than ever before are ditching their Mai Tais, walking shoes and audio guides for water bottles, hiking boots and helmets as they seek out the thrills of adventure travel. This thirst for heart-pounding activities has turned adventure travel into a $263 billion a year industry (that doesn’t include the $82 billion spent on related adventure gear, apparel and accessories) and the fastest growing segment of the leisure travel industry according to a 2013 study conducted by George Washington University.

While extreme outdoor adventure can, in some cases, be found near traditional hotels, why would you just dip your toe into the great outdoors when you could jump all the way in? Why drive into nature for only a few hours when you could stay, eat, sleep, and play in nature 24-hours a day?

That’s where glamping comes in. With glamping, you can experience the comforts of a hotel, all while being within the epicenter of the outdoor adventures you’re seeking. And the sounds of crickets, babbling brooks and crackling campfires, those won’t be coming from a sound machine.

So to get you thinking about your wild escape, here are just a few epic outdoor activities and a sampling of properties that’ll let you release your inner adrenaline junky like never before.

Helicopter Adventures

PHOTO 1 Image Credit “Nimmo Bay Website”

For the ultimate in helicopter adventures, look no further than Nimmo Bay, a tiny, family-owned wilderness resort located in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. Here, you can heli fly fish, heli kayak, heli stand up paddle board, heli hike or just heli picnic. What exactly does that mean? It means you and your provided gear will be picked up by a chopper and flown to remote and pristine locations to fly fish, kayak, paddle board, hike or dine. Now that’s extreme!

Rappelling

PHOTO 2 Image Credit “The Resort at Paws Up Website”

Picture this: you’re standing on the edge of a 170 foot cliff, the Blackfoot River tumbles by below and beyond that, a picture perfect Montana valley-scape. This is the scene for your rappelling adventure at The Resort at Paws Up. With harness and ropes secure, you turn around, back facing the 170 drop below, and take your first step off and down the cliff. A few leaps and bounds later, you’ll be at the bottom smiling from ear to ear ready to do it again.

Hot Air Ballooning

PHOTO 3 Image Credit “Mahali Mzuri Website”

The views on the ground at Sir Richard Branson’s safari camp, Mahali Mzuri, in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve are legendary (from the comfort of your tent’s balcony you’ll see giraffes, zebras, wildebeests and more). But gently and quietly float hundreds of feet above the ground in a hot air balloon at sunrise, and this landscape, one of the world’s most awe-inspiring, will truly get your heart racing like never before.

Hunting

PHOTO 4 Image Credit “ Brush Creek Ranch Website”

If your idea of a extreme outdoor adventure calls for a little more firepower, then hunting at Wyoming’s The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is for you. Amidst massages and fine dining, you can head out into the 30,000 acre property with expert guides to hunt for ducks, deer, antelope, elk and more. The trill of the hunt never felt this good.

River & Ocean Kayaking

PHOTO 5 Image Credit:Credit “Clayoquot Wilderness Resort Website”

While Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, located on west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, has it all (from heli adventures, to rock climbing, to fishing and horseback riding), don’t pass up the opportunity to hone your kayaking skills under the supervision of expert guides. Whether you want to learn to navigate small rapids or paddle in search of bears, whales and eagles, you’ll end your day feeling even more confident for tomorrow’s extreme adventures.

Trevor Morrow is a Los Angeles based travel who runs the experiential, adventure and luxury travel blog TrevorMorrowTravel.com. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @trevormorrow.

Main Image Credit:“ Brush Creek Ranch Website”

Brush Creek Ranch – Chad Chisholm

By Chad Chisholm, Contributing Writer

Wyoming is not typically thought of as a luxury destination as a whole—with sweeping prairies, rugged mountains and seemingly more horses than people, the wide open skies are ripe for a glamping experience. And that experience is found at Brush Creek Ranch located west of Laramie, Wyoming. All-inclusive vacations are often thought of as being south of the border, conjuring images of sandy beaches and crashing waves, cheap tequila and thin piña coladas. Nestled between the Snowy Range and Sierra Madres in the breathtaking North Platte River Valley of Wyoming, the Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is an all-inclusive luxury ranch that defies all preconceptions.

The feel of the ranch is like visiting a friend’s home, a very generous friend. From the open wine cellar, which is self-service and full-service, I enjoyed a hand-picked bottle on the wraparound porch of the lodge while taking in the setting sun over the valley. With gas-fed firepits and ice-filled water-cooling stations, creature comforts are found throughout the property at your fingertips, making guests feel like they are at a five-star resort yet still in breathtaking natural beauty.

A “boot free zone” offering slippers to guests to change into from dusty ranch shoes, the Main Lodge is home to a 38,000 square foot living room, with wine cellar, grand piano, coolers stocked with everything from Starbucks Lattes to Rockstar Energy Drinks and bottled water. Even the private dining room in the main lodge has elegant touches such as leather floors, antler chandeliers, and a walk-out porch complete with fireplace.

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Accommodations at Brush Creek Ranch include everything from the 19th Century cabins that have been fully restored to the comfortable lodge facility. Sleeping 150 total, rooms and cabins with names such as Lupine, Snowberry, and Juniper add to the charm. A-List celebrities and vocal artists are already enjoying what the ranch has to offer, including the Rendezvous Camp and Kinta’s, one of the previous owner’s private residence complete with 2 Master Suites, full kitchen, dining room, and Ice House- Brush Creek’s glamping addition with charming full sized bed and modern ranch touches. Open mic night and karaoke has been host to music legends and up-and-coming pop stars alike, with a new cocktail being named in honor of a certain red-headed country singer who belted out an impromptu concert at the Saloon for an intimate crowd of guests.

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No televisions are found in any of the rooms, encouraging guests to be outdoors, socializing with other ranch goers, and exploring the grounds. From the gourmet food served at Chuck Wagon with daily lunch service, to The Saloon, complete with shuffle board, darts, and a well-stocked top-shelf bar, there is plenty to explore on the property. Ranger Tours whisk guests away to the buffalo pasture, where you’ll never be closer to the all-male bison crew. Stunning views are to be had overlooking the valley and listening to the rushing Brush Creek. Skittish hikers be calmed, the area is rattlesnake free and full of hiking and biking trails.

The lodge is also home to the spa, complete with outdoor teepee facility, perfect for a unique couples massage. I thoroughly enjoyed the Native American inspired music playing while luxuriating in the signature massage services. Scents of sage permeated the air, whether from the spa oils or rolling hills covered in the wild flora and fauna, I do not know. Relaxation takes on a new meaning when immersed in an atmosphere that inspires all of the senses. An outdoor Jacuzzi surrounded by aspen saplings is yet another comfortable addition with views of the surrounding property.

The culinary experience at the ranch is decidedly delectable. “My culinary vision is quite simple,” states Executive Chef Drew Anderson, “To stay true to the ingredients. I want our guests to experience as much of the local food from the Mountain West Region as possible and for those ingredients to be fresh, seasonal, and cooked perfectly.” I thought he did an excellent job of staying true to that mission; with feasts available at the Trailhead Lodge, Chuck Wagon, Creekside Camp, yurts, and Falcon’s Peak. “In the end, I want our food to be approachable, while giving our guests the opportunity to try something they wouldn’t otherwise try at home,” explains Anderson. With menu items such as corned buffalo hash for breakfast or slow smoked pork ribs, brisket, and whole carved chicken for lunch, the venues and fresh food marry together for a memorable experience, whether partaking in cowboy potatoes or fresh baked bread, venison chili or mouthwatering desserts.

Saloon

A 24-hour fitness facility with spin classes and P90X training, pebble-accented steamroom with lavender sage essence, and cedarwood sauna can all be found alongside meeting centers, conference rooms, and a 24-hour business center. WiFi is available on the entire property, so while enjoying the great outdoors in “the middle of nowhere,” the best of both worlds are found under a blanket of stars and wide-open skies. Morning yoga courses at the Falcon Peak Overlook are sure to stir the soul and restore balance before the day begins.

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horseback

Gear for the 35 activities is included in nightly rates, making for an easy packing job when planning the trip. From horseback riding, fly fishing, and guided hiking tours to paintball, a shooting range, mountaintop yoga, and rock wall climbing there is something for everyone at Brush Creek. Cooperate retreats, family vacations, and full buyouts of the ranch are all viable options to enjoy the ranch, a spectacular stay whether doing corporate team building or throwing a beautiful wedding celebration, all while enjoying glamour camping.

A wedding garden with a water feature, amphitheater style seating, which incorporates chairs or gigantic pillows for the day-of ceremony or celebration, and nearby fishing pond with the soothing sound of a babbling brook is a perfect and serene area to celebrate any major occasion.

A working ranch, the ownership places special emphasis on “loving the land, but not loving it to death.” Utilizing eco-friendly grazing practices and natural cleaning and hygiene products, the ranch is a standout and trailblazer in a state that doesn’t even recycle. Leading the way in environmental stewardship, The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is a constant reminder that harmony can be found while conducting business, pleasure, or getting back to the basics of enjoying our natural surroundings.

Rock

History is an intrinsic quality of this historically based ranch and surrounding area. Homage is paid to early settlers of the area in extraordinary photographs of the people and property in the 1800s. The ranch dates back to 1884, and some of the original buildings still stand after being rehabbed to accommodate new guests. The second floor of the old barn is now a Cowboy Chapel and dance hall, where guests can now take country line dancing lessons or have a beautiful wedding ceremony. The process of reestablishing and reconstituting the original structures has been arduous, but the well-appointed rooms and activity spaces speak to the care that was put into numbering the logs, disassembling the structures, stripping and refinishing the wood, and creating luxury quality accommodations complete with slate showers, hardwood floors, and leather sofas in the rooms and modern activity spaces on the ranch.

From meeting spaces for business groups to a winter-time skating rink overlooking the rolling hills, Brush Creek Ranch has a lot to offer. Located in the North Platte River Valley four hours northwest of Denver along the scenic byways through Laramie and the Medicine Bow National Forest, the vacation begins as soon as you hop in your car. Nearby Saratoga airport is 15 minutes from the ranch, or shuttle service from DIA is also available. With no need to bring gear for activities, as they are all covered in your nightly rate, it is a worry free vacation into another space and time yet close to home. For rates and reservations, visit www.brushcreekranch.com

Photos: Courtesy of Brush Creek Ranch