Into the Wild BlueElevate your spa experience mountainside at Spring Creek Ranch in Jackson, Wyoming
By Debra Bokur
From the top of the butte, I can see the jagged line of peaks that form the Tetons, still capped with snow. Beside me, naturalist Kurt Johnson raises his binoculars and points: a young Bald Eagle, riding an air current, seems to float against a backdrop of blue. If, like many women, you love a terrific workout, but prefer the great outdoors to the sterile environment of a gym or fitness center, Spring Creek Ranch www.springcreekranch.com was made to order. Located on a vast wildlife sanctuary in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the resort offers a selection of Mind-Body getaways that incorporate customized personal training sessions, outdoor activities, pampering at the property’s Wilderness Adventure Spa, and Soul Readings with psychic Carol Mann.
My personal preference is for long hikes, and that’s exactly what I got. The terrain I covered varied from mountain paths and light forest to broad meadows. While getting a full-body workout in the fresh air, naturalist Kurt Johnson acted as my guide, providing me with the added benefit of learning more about the surrounding ecosystem. The wildlife preserve itself is populated by yarrow, larkspur, lupine, coyote, badgers, mule deer, and a stunning variety of birds; while the National Elk Refuge, adjacent to the ranch, is inhabited by moose, bison, bears, wolves, Bighorn sheep, and thousands of elk that winter in the shadows of the Tetons. Throughout the refuge, trails and quiet roads provide access for seasonal cycling and trekking, and I spent every spare moment exploring them The routes we followed in the mornings challenged me physically, while Johnson kept me fully engaged in my surroundings by sharing facts about the wildlife and botanicals that live and grow here. In the afternoons, I set out on my own for more hiking, followed by relaxing yoga sessions back on the deck of my room.
During my stay, I also participated in one of Spring Creek’s signature Wildlife Safaris, also led by Johnson. The safaris are offered at various times of the year with differing themes depending on the season. Spring brings guided bear and wolf excursions, while summer options include organized stargazing during astronomy outings, dawn and dusk wildlife viewing, and forays into nearby Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park.
Johnson took me to the elk refuge, where we spent several hours watching bison, elk, more hunting birds, and a dozen or so moose—keeping at a safe and respectful distance while viewing them through Johnson’s high-powered equipment. As we observed three bull moose interacting with each other and the surrounding environment, Johnson explained that though they were standing close together and behaving amiably right now, they would be far more aggressive and combative in mating season. During summer months, he adds, these majestic animals aren’t able to survive the warmth of the climate at this altitude in their dense, thick coats, and will seek higher elevations and cooler air until fall returns. As I watched them gently nudging each other, I found myself deeply moved by how absolutely perfectly they fit into the surrounding scenery.
A getaway at Spring Creek isn’t all scrambling up sheep paths and over buttes, though. I enjoyed a glorious, deep tissue massage at the small, cozy spa located beneath the lobby level, and a powerful Reiki session during which I actually felt my throat chakra release and open. One of my favorite treatments was the Call of the Wild. Following a hike with my therapist to gather wild herbs, I had a wrap that used oils from the same botanicals I’d just picked, while a soundtrack of local birdcalls and wildlife sounds played in the background. Afterwards, I relaxed with a tisane made from local herbs.
In the pursuit of total balance, I also had a Soul Reading session with psychic Carol Mann. Mann was actually one of the reasons I was drawn to Spring Creek, as I’d heard firsthand accounts from colleagues about her ability to tap into the past and present energy of individuals, providing them with messages about their soul’s purpose in life. Mann’s psychic reading included a discussion of my individual karmic patterns, the talents and skills my soul carries with it from one life to the next, and how to best utilize these gifts in order to make my current life more fulfilling. Her insightful commentary gave me plenty to think about, and I left the ranch feeling balanced and very much at peace (sore thighs notwithstanding).
One of the best things about Spring Creek is that you can customize your stay to suit your individual preferences and needs. If you just want to wander the paths, enjoy great meals with spectacular views, and indulge in treatments at the spa, that’s exactly what you can do. Or, you can plan out a full itinerary that includes geocaching with a GPS across a private 1,000-acre stretch of wilderness, go ballooning or horseback riding, visit a rodeo, gallery, or museum, or take part in any number of snow sports during the winter. There’s also great shopping and dining in the small town of Jackson Hole a few minute’s drive from the resort—if, of course, you can bear to tear yourself away from the scenery.