Wild Horses
Ron Stern

Escaping to the Mountains at Magee Homestead

Find out our guide’s tip for spotting a bald eagle

We were told to look for the white golf balls high in the trees. Our river-rafting guide said this outdoor nature tip used to spot the head of an eagle. It worked! The big feathered guy stared at us as we frantically retrieved our iPhones to get a good shot. Too late. We weren’t fast enough. He flew into the sky, showing off his magnificent wingspan, probably with a grin on his beak. Big gasps left our mouths.

“The Scenic Float,” as it is referred to among the locals, is a North Platte River raft trip. The river water is smooth and carries reflections of the cottonwood trees and the colorful sandstone boulders lining each bank. Our guide barely had to row the oars because the current gently directed the raft downstream. It was so serene and peaceful I almost dozed off.

This “float” is among several activities offered at the Magee Homestead ranch located near Saratoga, Wyoming. Our three-day visit kept us active without that feeling of busyness.

My husband, Ron, and I drove a short 2 1/2 hours from Fort Collins, Colorado, to the homestead. Venturing into this south central area of Wyoming was new to us. Some of the green mountains in the nearby Medicine Bow National Forest still held patches of snow left over from winter.

Ron Stern

Nancy Stern

The Magee Homestead ranch is located about a half mile from the main road, Highway 130. The sky is an intense blue at 7,000-foot elevation, and even the white clouds appear fluffier. At first sight, an oasis of lush landscape surrounds nine renovated log cabins. In addition to the relative isolation, the peacefulness stems from the fact that the ranch only accommodates 27 guests — and they’re all over 21.

The meals were served in the main lodge. The chef served up fresh, wholesome food not laden with calories but full of flavor. The produce was as local as possible thanks to the new greenhouse, where produce and herbs are grown for the kitchen’s edible creations.

My first morning’s activity was a mountain bike ride. Vitor, my activity guide, led us along a dirt path through the sagebrush and gently rolling hills. We saw mares with baby colts clinging to their sides. A colossal jackrabbit dashed across the path in front our bikes. A large group of pronghorn antelope sprung down the hillside. When the high altitude took away my breath, we rested for a few minutes and took in the 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains — the vistas were as breathtaking as the thin mountain air.

Ron Stern

Garden-fresh veggies

On a cobalt sky afternoon we drove out to a secluded area where the shooting range was located. Ron hit every target. My aim was not as precise, but it was fun anyway.

A much-needed facial cleaned off the five layers of dirt from my morning ride. The spa at Magee Homestead offers facials, massages, and body treatments. Yoga classes are held in the luxurious on-site yurt.

As Ron and I drove homeward, we talked about how we felt we had been gone for days. Our visit to the Magee Homestead was such a peaceful respite from the world. And I am sure I will never look at golf balls in quite the same way.

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