The Rocky Mountains stretch 3,000 miles from New Mexico to Canada, creating numerous out-of-the-way places to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life and get out into nature. In destinations throughout the region, scenic venues offer a change of pace, along with amazing views and outdoor opportunities.
Ranch at Rock Creek
The Ranch at Rock Creek is a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star luxury property that also offers a world-class culinary experience to guests. The ranch can host 125 guests on-property where food, drinks and most activities are all included. Skiing, snowmobiling, horseback riding, shooting and fly-fishing are just a handful of the available outdoor activities. The ranch has 70 horses that can be ridden year-round and at all experience levels. The spa on-property costs extra.
The 2,700-square-foot Buckle Barn Great Hall and Lawn can be booked for meals and cocktail receptions of up to 125 people. The Buckle Barn Library is a smaller, more comfortable meeting setting for up to 30 people, with upholstered chairs, a flat-screen TV, a wrap-around table and bookshelves filled with Western classics. Smaller meeting spaces are also available throughout the property.
The ranch has many teambuilding activities, including paintball, shooting challenges, scavenger hunts, geocaching, a survival skills challenge, a ropes course, barnyard Olympics and a ranch carnival. Every guest gets the use of a bicycle to travel around the 6,600-acre property, and lodging ranges from luxury suites and cabins to glamping tents.
Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center
The beauty of the Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center is that everything is under one roof, said Bruce Horii, director of sales and marketing for the resort. The lodge buildings and conference spaces are connected by covered walkways so people don’t ever have to go outside unless they want to.
Of course, most people want to, no matter the season. Beaver Run sits on Peak 9 of the Breckinridge Ski Resort and is just a few blocks away from Breckenridge’s historic downtown, with its many boutique shops and locally owned restaurants and pubs.
The resort is surrounded by mountain bike and hiking trails, and the conveniently located Beaver Run SuperChair quickly whisks skiers and snowboarders to the top of the mountain. The resort has handled events as large as 1,500 people in its 40,000 square feet of function space. The largest ballroom is 7,200 square feet and can comfortably hold 500 people.
“The beauty of having a lot of function space is we can do several smaller groups at the same time,” Horii said. “We have a large banquet, catering and service staff, so we’re always used to multitasking.”
He said the staff at Beaver Run like to have fun, so they make sure groups incorporate elements of the town or the mountain, depending on what their goals are. Many groups do teambuilding exercises outdoors, take historic walking or ghost tours of town, or visit the many breweries or distilleries in town.
Utah State University Botanical Center
The USU Botanical Center is not like most botanical gardens; it was built as a demonstration and teaching center. Because the center is associated with the Utah State University Extension, its gardens and natural areas are planted only with trees, flowers and shrubs that grow well in Utah’s drier climate.
There is an edibles demonstration garden that not only looks at the best food to grow in the state but also at the best ways to irrigate it.
“Utah is the second-driest state in the nation,” said Jayne Mulford, Utah House manager at the USU Botanical Center. “One of the things we are concerned about is how to have beautiful places and environments without using tons of water.”
An arboretum on the property features 400 species of trees grouped into hydrozones based on their water requirements. Adjacent to the Botanical Center is a research farm that conducts experiments on fruit trees, berries and organic gardening.
The Botanical Center is a great place to host a meeting or an event. Utah House is a green building demonstration that is set up to look and feel like a real home. It demonstrates water conservation, healthy living, universal design and energy conservation. A waterwise landscape surrounds it. Groups of 25 to 40 people can fit in Utah House. Larger groups can use the meeting space at Wetland Discovery Point, a beautiful facility with floor-to-ceiling windows that is surrounded by water.
Visitors can fish and hike the system of trails that wends through the property during meeting breaks.
Sun Valley Resort
Sun Valley, Idaho
The Sun Valley Resort is at the base of Bald Mountain in Sun Valley, Idaho. The four-season resort can host groups of 20 to 800 people in its 400 guest rooms spread between two hotels, townhouses, cottages and condominiums. The resort also operates the ski area.
The views are beyond compare, said Brent Gillespie, director of sales for the resort, and meeting attendees can take time off from their conference events to go skiing, play golf, fly fish, ice skate, swim, ride horses or go mountain biking.
“With us running and operating everything, we run it through our catering managers and our sales department, which makes it easy to book things and organize,” he said. If groups want to organize events off property, like whitewater rafting or Salmon River float trips, the resort will handle it for them.
Sun Valley is well known as a skiing destination. The base of Bald Mountain sits at 5,600 feet in elevation, and it is just over 3,000 vertical feet to the top.
The resort has numerous meeting spaces, including the Limelight Ballroom, which can hold 1,000 people theater style or 500 people banquet style. The ballroom can be broken down into three smaller venues, and there are nine other meeting rooms that can accommodate 16 to 350 people. Sun Valley Village and the Sun Valley Lodge both have meeting spaces that can accommodate up to 300 people.
Snow King Resort
Jackson, Wyoming, serves as the gateway to both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. The Snow King Resort is nestled into the side of Snow King Mountain, the town ski hill, and is about six blocks from the town square with the famous antler arches.
The views from the resort’s Grand View Ballroom and Grand View Lawn are of Grand Teton peak, buttes, mountains and the valley.
The resort is known for its outdoor activities, like hiking, biking and skiing. There’s also a large ropes course in the area that is great for teambuilding.
“It is no fun to be here and sit in a conference room all day,” said Ariel Koerber, marketing manager for the Snow King Resort. “There is a beautiful view, but it is best if we can get out to enjoy it.”
The newly renovated resort has more than 10,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, plus a private lawn that can accommodate tents and a dance floor for dinners and cocktail receptions. The largest group the resort can host outdoors is about 600 and indoors is about 350 in the Grand Teton Ballroom.
Many groups like to hold half-day meetings at the resort, allowing their attendees to take advantage of the outdoors. The resort is close to an elk refuge. In the winter, groups can take a sleigh ride through the refuge, getting a close-up view of these majestic animals.