Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam. Or at least let me rent one like Rancho Alegre Lodge, a seven-bedroom, 10,000-square-foot-house in Jackson Hole, Wyo. It's perched on a butte, surrounded by 50 acres of pristine meadow. (If you don't spot any buffalo, you might catch sight of some elk.) But the real appeal lies in a jaw-dropping view of the Teton mountain range and its miles of snow-capped majesty. "When you are on the property, you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere," says Lisa Husband, an event planner with Destination Jackson Hole. "It's just very magical."
Rancho Alegre may be remote, but it's not lacking in luxuries. An $11,700 weekly rate gets you one meal a day, a scrumptious breakfast prepared by a personal chef who uses fresh eggs and organic vegetables grown on the grounds. The house sleeps a maximum of 22, and the weekly rental fee includes two on-site staff members at your beck and call 24/7 (ranchoalegre.com; 307 733-7988).
The master suite is decorated with European antiques and a small woodburning stove. The main room has a more Western feel with animal heads, a pool table, and French doors that open onto a spacious deck. A cozy library, featuring oak floors, cherry bookshelves filled with everything from classic novels to current fiction, and a tile fireplace, is there to give rest to the weary. Outside is a barnyard, whose permanent residents include two goats, a pair of lambs, and several dozen chickens.
Beyond the ranch, adventure awaits. In the summer, Jackson Hole is known for hiking, horseback riding, fly-fishing, and whitewater rafting on the Snake River. The region also features three ski resorts, including the world-famous Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which opens this year for skiing and snowboarding on Dec. 4. "The Big One," as it bills itself, is known for its challenging terrain, including the nation's longest continual vertical drop at 4,100 feet. But Jackson Hole Mountain has also been improving its options for intermediate skiers and children.
No trip to the region would be complete without a visit to two of the nation's greatest attractions. Grand Teton National Park, with its 13,000-foot granite face, glacial lakes, and wildflower meadows, is 30 miles away. Yellowstone National Park, home of Old Faithful, is 55 miles away. Want some culture? A summer concert series presents classical music four nights a week until mid-September at the 740-seat Walk Festival Hall near Teton Village. Rock and rollers might check out the Mangy Moose, where the likes of Little Feat and Dickey Betts will be appearing in September.
Back at the ranch, Wyoming Balloon will deliver a hot-air balloon (and pilot) for aerial views of the mountains and valley at a cost of about $200 per person. At night you can cozy up outside the lodge and toast marshmallows at Rancho Alegre's fire pit while gazing up at the stars.
By Christopher Palmeri