With at least three ways to instantly communicate via smartphone, “getting away from it all” is almost a bygone concept—almost. While we may be achieving physical distance from work and other worries, we’re never really giving ourselves a true break. To that end, there are a few places on the planet where the lack of connectivity is not only intentional but preferred. And Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa (458 Brooks Lake Rd, Dubois, WY, 866.213.4022) offers one such tech-free refuge.
Built in 1922 and listed on the National Park Services Register of Historic Places, Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa was—and is still—a popular stopover among travelers headed to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Named after the seventh governor of Wyoming, Bryant B. Brooks, the lodge (which sits at 9,200 feet and has seven rooms) is reminiscent of something you might find in a storybook—say, Gaston’s Hunting Lodge from Beauty and the Beast with its hunting trophies and great Western lodge vibe—the eight private cabins have a decidedly more contemporary feel.
Though the rustic accommodations are a thoughtful achievement in minimalist mountain style, that’s not why the place books up so quickly each season. Its real enticement is the access to world-class backcountry snowmobiling. The surrounding two million acres of rugged wilderness set against striking views of the Pinnacle Buttes, Brooks Mountain, and Richards Peak make this one of the top destinations for snowmobiling enthusiasts in search of seclusion and that sweet, sweet pow.
Repeat guests vouch for the reliably good conditions both on and off the trails. Don’t worry if you or anyone in your group is a novice; tours are led by expert guides who know the variable terrain backward and forward and can be tailored to accommodate all ability levels. Full- and half-day snowmobile tours run from mid-December to mid-March, and packages include equipment, gear, a guide, as well as lunch at the lodge.
No doubt snowmobiling is the star of the show, but if you’re interested in some unassuming, hootin’ and hollerin’ amusement, extreme snow tubing is a must. Tubers are transported via snowmobile to the top of a fluffy snow ridge with tubes in tow before sending themselves hurtling down a pillowy powder slope in a wildly uncontrolled manner. And then you get to do it all over again—and again. It’s the bee’s knees!
The lake itself is a stone’s throw away from the lodge and is known for its abundant trout population. Guided ice fishing forays (guests can bring catches back to the lodge for the chef to prepare for their evening meal), wildlife excursions, and self-guided cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are all part of the on-site happenings. Plus, the lodge partners with outfitters that offer other excursions, like dog sledding. And after long days of outdoor fun, you can soak and steam at the spa’s hot tub and dry sauna or book a treatment to recover from those tubing tumbles.
The lodge is truly off the grid, so you’ll have to wait to share your photos on social media. Located 310 miles from Park City along Wyoming Route 26, it is 60 miles northeast of Jackson Hole or 28 miles northwest of Dubois, Wyoming. In other words, it is plumb in the middle of nowhere. And you’ll be leaving your own wheels behind. Guests are shuttled via snow chariot (a 4x4 van) for the final five miles of the journey from the Brooks Lake Road parking lot to the main lodge.
The remoteness is real, and you can count on being there until your stay is over—there’s no running to the store to grab a few things. So, before you take the plunge into unplugged vacationing, pack knee-high boots (you don’t want to be hiking to your cabin in sneakers), your best snowy weather attire, a headlamp, and perhaps a personal supply of your favorite beer and/or wine to enjoy during dinner or at your private cabin.
And after checkout, consider clinging to that tech-free haven for a few extra hours—or even days—in order to enjoy exceptional wildlife viewing near Jackson. Indulge in a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge or tour the neighboring national parks with an eye out for mule deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, bison, coyotes, and wolves. In other words, stow the phone and grab a pair of good, old-fashioned binoculars instead.