Hidden Meadow Ranch is located about 10 miles north of Greer on Forest Road 118. Information: 866-333-4080 or www.hiddenmeadow.com.
© Morey Milbradt
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Luxury LodgingGourmet food and expensive linens are rarities in the middle of nowhere, but at Hidden Meadow Ranch, they come with the territory.
By Robert Stieve
About 100 years ago, Greer got lucky. It was already blessed with aspens, ponderosas, meadows and streams — the natural wonders you read about in Robert Frost poetry — but in the early 1900s, the little village was swallowed up by the newly established Apache National Forest. At the time, the appropriation ruffled some feathers, but looking back, that move by the federal government ensured that Greer and its surroundings would be spared from overdevelopment. It got lucky.
Today, Greer is synonymous with the middle of nowhere. It's the rustic heart of the White Mountains — the place people go to get away from it all. Of course, the lack of development means limited overnight accommodations, but there are a few options, and one of the best is Hidden Meadow Ranch.
Located on 150 acres surrounded by what's now known as the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Hidden Meadow Ranch is a cross between Camp Tamakwa and the Four Seasons, with a little Martha Stewart and Grizzly Adams thrown in.
Originally homesteaded by an old-timer named Chellis Hall, the ranch features a large main lodge and 12 log cabins made from hand-peeled blue spruce. All of the cabins include a living room/dining area with a wood-burning stone fireplace; bathrooms with slate countertops and oversized soaking tubs; a covered porch overlooking the meadow; bedrooms outfitted with Spring Air pillow-top mattresses; hand-carved wood furniture; and XM satellite radio. This isn't Little House on the Prairie. This is the lap of luxury.
The same theme dominates the main lodge, where the seasonal gourmet menu incorporates fresh ingredients and features entrees like achiote-marinated elk tenderloin and pan-seared crab cakes. It's haute cuisine, which is about the last thing you'd expect in this neck of the woods. What's more, the atmosphere of the lodge makes it even better. There's knotty pine from floor to ceiling, 20-foot picture windows, through which you can see a billion stars, and a 35-foot granite fireplace. About halfway up the façade is a mounted elk shot by supermarket magnate Eddie Basha, a friend of the original owner.
In addition to the niceties, a night at the ranch includes all kinds of activities in the great outdoors — horseback riding or hiking on 2,000 miles of surrounding trails, fly-fishing on the ranch pond, archery, canoeing and mountain biking. All of this, as you'd expect, comes with a price. On average, about $500 a night, per couple, but that's an all-inclusive rate that includes three meals a day and any of the ranch-sponsored activities.
It's more expensive than a tent, to be sure, but after a long day in the national forest, exploring the aspens, ponderosas, meadows and streams, what would you rather have waiting for you at the end of the trail: a sleeping bag and an Oscar Mayer hotdog, or a pillow-top mattress and a pistachio-crusted lamb chop?