This Wyoming Ranch Is Open in the Winter for the First Time Ever — With Some of the Most Remote Ski Runs in the U.S.

And it's a limited run.

Snowmobiles at Darwin Ranch, Grand Tetons in Wyoming

Courtesy of Darwin Ranch

There are some places that remain wild, and the state of Wyoming — the least-populated state in the country — has its fair share of them. One such gem is the Darwin Ranch, the most remote guest ranch in the lower 48. At the Darwin, you’re at least 15 miles from your nearest neighbor, there’s no cell service, and you’re surrounded by wilderness

But that’s not to say you’ll be roughing it. The Darwin has long taken good care of its own — it was one of the first dude ranches in the West and has hosted travelers looking for a slow-paced, outdoor-focused summer vacation since the ‘20s. But this year, the mother-son team who runs the operation is expanding their offerings into the winter with a backcountry ski experience

Group of three walking up hill in skis at Darwin Ranch, Grand Tetons in Wyoming

Courtesy of Darwin Ranch

“It is so seriously remote in the winter,” Oliver Klingenstein, who runs the ranch with his mother, told Travel + Leisure. “The guests won’t see anybody else in their entire stay — the place is theirs, and access to that corner of the Bridger-Teton is theirs for their stay.”

With the new winter offering, the family’s time-tested formula remains the same: Guests stay in beautifully updated 100-year-old cabins with wood-burning stoves and meet in the lodge for three hearty meals a day, served family-style. But instead of going hiking, horseback riding, or fishing, as they would in the summer, guests strap on their skis and head out into the frosty wilderness to ski some of the most remote backcountry in the nation.

“You won’t see another track the whole time you’re there, let alone another person,” said Klingenstein, who notes that there’s something for every type of skier at the Darwin. “Rolling hills for Nordic touring, a groomed track for skate skiing, low-angle pow turns, and if you want to walk a little farther, or hop in a snowmobile, we can get into some real skiing. It's not hardcore — it’s really the land of the pow.”

Group of five walking in skis at Darwin Ranch, Grand Tetons in Wyoming

Courtesy of Darwin Ranch

Each day, the ski guide (often Klingenstein himself) evaluates the conditions and leads the ski group into the backcountry. The informal, small-group approach allows guests to weigh in on what they want out of the day — to ski the steeps, search out untracked powder, or tour around to look at local wildlife (this is bighorn sheep country).

After the day's adventures, guests return to the ranch for a fantastic meal and drinks by a roaring fire. Food has long been one of the Darwin’s standout offerings, and the winter spread lives up to its reputation. Meat comes from the nearby Ishawooa Mesa Ranch, practically everything is homemade, and veggies are sourced locally whenever possible.

“It's like going to the most remote ski hut, but instead of a hut, there is a fully functional luxurious lodge to call home. Of course, our food, guiding, and hospitality is spectacular — but nothing beats the location,” Klingenstein said.

When stars come out, cocktails and the day’s stories are exchanged over a soak in the wood-fired hot tub with unobstructed views of the night sky. And after a night of sleep in supreme peace and quiet, the fun begins again.

Snowmobiles at Darwin Ranch, Grand Tetons in Wyoming

Courtesy of Darwin Ranch

The Darwin’s backcountry ski trips max out at eight people and last a minimum of four nights. The season is short — late February to the end of March — when Klingenstein says skiers can take advantage of “longer days, a better snowpack, and warmer weather.” 

The all-inclusive rate of $750 per person, per night, includes full access to all the property’s amenities — including meals, sauna and hot tub, snowmobile transportation, and guiding services. It’s BYOB at the Darwin and most guests bring their own ski gear, although rentals can be arranged.

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