When it comes to luxurious getaways, high-end dude ranches and international fly fishing escapes are more often than not the focus of our Lodge Spotlight Series. However, in this installment, we’ll be looking way East of the Mississippi and plotting a course for Western Pennsylvania, home of the one and only Nemacolin Resort.

For those who know the name, Nemacolin Resort possesses a reputation for being bigger than life. Occupying over 2,200 acres in Southwest Pennsylvania, Nemacolin is a guest resort that prides itself on creating a uniquely magical experience for every guest that decides to visit. Within Nemacolin’s campus boundaries, one can find an airfield, a casino, a zoo, a meditation garden, an antique automobile museum, a field club, as well as much much more – and that only scratches the surface. To do it all in a day would be an impossible task. To experience all the resort has to offer in a month would even be an impressive feat. So, to say that Nemacolin embodies the spirit of extravagance is, somehow, still a gross understatement.

Founded in 1987, Nemacolin all started when founder, Joseph A. Hardy III, was searching to purchase a couple of acres of land near a body of water in hopes that his daughter, who is now the current owner and president of Nemacolin, Maggie Hardy, could have somewhere secluded to fish (something we all spend our days wishing for). However, upon seeing the property, Joseph Hardy fell in love with the land, thus beginning the ever-growing familial venture that Nemacolin is today.

During our time at the resort, we had the privilege of experiencing some of the outdoor activities that Nemacolin had to offer; such as fly fishing, clay shooting, golfing, and off-roading. Of course, we took some time to indulge in some of the included creature comforts such as fine dining and whiskey tasting, as well. So, go ahead and follow along as we recount our experience and offer some insight into what a typical few days at the Nemacolin Resort might entail. 


Being a pretty typical fishing bum myself, never would I have dreamed of experiencing a place of such grandeur – especially, as a guest. So, it was without hesitation that when we received an invite to come to see the Resort, we leaped at the opportunity. Before we knew it, wheels were touching tarmac at PIT, and our crew was headed Southbound to the small town of Farmington, PA.

As the rental truck puttered down US-40 East, the rolling green hills complimented by a Pennsylvania Summer Sunset quickly opened up to a sight that could be witnessed from miles away: the Nemacolin Chateau. It was a structure that looks like it was plucked straight from the imagination of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and dropped atop the tallest hill overlooking the small town below. As we rolled through the gates, we all grew restless with anticipation as we poured over our glossy paper map, attempting to pick out where we’d be staying amongst the countless features and attractions the campus had to offer.

A glance at the Nemacolin Chateau. Image courtesy of Trip Advisor.

After a few wrong turns and some minor course corrections from the helpful resort staff, we pulled up to the entrance of our home for the next 72 hours: Falling Rock. Immediately upon arrival, resort staff met us and promptly unloaded our bags as a parking valet pulled the truck around back. We would soon learn the entire campus was accessible via on-demand shuttles, and it would be the last time we’d need car keys until we were headed back to the airport.

An outside view of Falling Rock. Courtesy of Nemacolin Resort.

Upon entry into the lobby of Falling Rock, we were immediately greeted with glasses of champagne and a check-in card. As we filled out our information, looks of: “Oh boy. What have we gotten ourselves into...” were exchanged amongst our party. As if the champagne at the door wasn’t enough, it was once we completed our check-in that we were greeted by the butlers assigned to each of our rooms. That’s right. Butlers.

Outside: A guest's dog being walked by Nemacolin staff.

As we were escorted to each of our rooms, walls of exquisite paintings and unique sculpture art met us around every turn. Even the elevator walls were decorated in an elaborate carpeting that, after a glass of champagne or two, could leave anyone with enough entertainment to last the night.

Once we reached our rooms, we were left awestruck by the beautiful open space we were each to be staying in. With breathtaking views of the grounds, heated bathroom floors, and details as specific as a menu from which you could select an array of different pillows to sleep on… this place seemed to have it all. After coming to the conclusion that things couldn’t seem to get any better, we were quickly proven wrong. It was dinner time.


When it comes to the culinary experience at Nemacolin Resort, it is just that: an experience. Within the first moments of entering ‘Aqueous‘, the high-end restaurant located just right of Falling Rock (our living quarters for the week), it was apparent our team was in for a treat. Accompanied by the symphony of chatter and the clatter of silver and ceramic, the aroma of freshly prepared seafood and fine wine filled out nostrils as we were escorted to our table to meet our host and field guide, Ty, to discuss the days to follow. That of course would have to wait as we indulged in a total sensory overload of sights, smells, and tastes.

Some mentionable favorites from the night would be a “seafood tower” which featured a display of fresh fish, shellfish, and other delicious oceanic delights that transported us from a dining room in Western Pennsylvania to the shores of New England. But that was only us getting started. Additionally, we indulged in tomahawk steaks larger than our heads and seared to perfection; complimented by a list of delicious, imported wines longer than a retail pharmacy receipt.

Over the course of the following afternoons and evenings, we experienced a meriad of different food options ranging from casual pub cuisine to some of the finest dining the Resort had to offer. All of which, equally as sapid and fulfilling – yet, also offering a delightfully diverse experience pending the location of the table. Whether it was Bavarian pretzels and quesadillas at the Peak, or eloquently plated Steak Frites, chicken breasts, and cheese boards at Lautrec, there was a one-of-a-kind experience to be had and wonderful company to share it with. Oh, and the desserts? Don’t even get us started…

A complexed fusion of raw materials, such as icing and beats, culminated to be one of the finest desserts to ever grace our palettes.

Additional to mind-melting food and wine, our taste buds were also treated to a sampling of fine whiskeys, led by Nemacolin’s in-house whiskey Sommolier. Within the Hardy Room, which is an indoor cigar room, library, and bar, we sat back and sampled multiple locally-sourced whiskeys, while simultaneously learning about the complexities and nuances that make each glass its own unique encounter. While I,  and much of our team, often operate by the standard of: “If it’s brown, it’s down” (With no correlation to the deer-hunting figure of speech), when drinking whiskey; I can happily say we all walked away from the tasting with a much more profound understanding of what it means to truly experience the finer elements of fermented corn.

The Nemacolin Field Club: 

With offerings such as; clay shooting, archery, hunting, and of course: Fly Fishing, the Nemacolin Field Club truly embodies the spirit of sport. During our stay at the resort, we spent the majority of our time enjoying some of the activities that the field club and its staff had to offer, such as exploring meandering trout streams and honing in our form behind a 12-gauge.

Fly Fishing at Nemacolin: 

Day 1:

After arising from a steak-and-wine-induced food coma, we stuffed our fishing gear into bags and headed down to the lobby, where we were greeted by a golden morning sunrise and a shuttle ready to transport our team to the field house for a day on the water. Upon arrival, we were greeted by our friends, Mike Steiner and Ty Schaefer, with hot coffee and a firm handshake.

Once we entered the field house itself, the familiar smell of wood fixtures and shotgun lubricant assured us we were in a place somewhere slightly more familiar than the night prior. The walls, lined with exotic mounts, unraveled droves of hunting and fishing tales accompanied by the usually uncommon companion of such: proof. As we paced the perimeter of the facility, just trying to take it all in, we were met with some forms to sign and licenses to get. You could tell from the look in the eyes of our guides, there was no time to waste – we were going fishing.

After a quick ride up the road, interrupted only by a quick stop at a gas station for some breakfast sandwiches (a true delicacy to those in waders), we arrived at the first stream we would be fishing. Shaded by a canopy of Oak and Pine, the gentle current of the brook ran adjacent to the fishing house, where we polished off the last of our breakfast sandwiches and admired some of the antique skin mounts that decorated the hand-crafted wood trim of the old Pennsylvania abode.

It wasn’t long after we were finished rigging up several 4 and 5-weight rods with some dry-dropper combos that we tromped down to the river’s edge and plotted a plan of attack. being on private water owned by Nemacolin certainly proved to be advantageous, as within just a few moments of crowding the south side of a riffle coming off a large rock, we saw a fish rise to the top to sip the last of the morning hatch. The fish rose again. And again. With just a few casts above the riffle, a gorgeous rainbow trout jumped out from its cover and engulfed the small Adams-style dry fly. From lot to the riverbank, we had a fish in the net before the coffee in our cups had time to cool.

As the day progressed, it was a lot more of the same. Splitting up into 3 groups, we fed fish after fish, hastily grabbing at each fly as soon as it was solidified in its drift. The stream was cool and the current was calm. As each fish hooked, with some landed and plenty lost, the guides celebrated with enthusiasm and cheer, as if it was their first time seeing the act performed, or doing so themselves.

As we worked our way up the stream and reconvened by the road, we decided the sun was high enough that it was time to retire for the afternoon and allow the stream some rest. As we headed back to the vehicles, each party exchanged fish stories, jokes, and laughs. That day was one we wouldn’t forget, but we all knew it was time to up the ante and go seek out some wild trout.


Day 2: 

With smiles still firmly plastered to our faces, we grabbed our raincoats and loaded up for a beautiful drive off to a public, wild trout stream where Nemacolin guides oftentimes bring their clients who were looking for a fun challenge.

As we pulled into the riverside lot, the fog consumed our party as our 4 anglers and the 4 Nemacolin guides poured out from the vehicles and made haste toward the River Quivers. It wasn’t long before the only sounds heard from our posse were the sounds of boot laces being cinched tight and reels screaming as fly-line was hastily ripped from its housing and fed through the rods.

Once all flies were tied on and ginked, we again split up into groups and approached the river, this time with tender step and care. It wasn’t long before Mike, perched atop a boulder extruding from the ripping current, spotted a small trout rising underneath an overhanging Mountain Laurel. After taking a moment to watch the current and assess the shot, mike waited for the fish to rise again. After what felt like an hour, but was probably only around 30 seconds or so, the fish came up again, and Mike took his cast.

The fly and the 6x tippet it was attached to gently unfolded atop the water, just about 2 feet above where the trout was sipping. In perfect rhythm with the bubbles around it, the small caddis floated down, right through the trout’s feeding lane. Surprisingly, however: no one seemed to be home. Again, Mike brought his fly back, and with a few false casts, laid out a perfect presentation in the same spot. No dice. He repeated the process again, and again, and again; and like a mad man, stubborn and determined, repeated the process over and over to no avail. However, on around the 15th drift, the little trout abruptly broke the surface and grabbed the fly. In a torrent of excitement and disbelief, Mike ripped the rod tip back… but the fish was gone. We’ve all experienced it. A missed fish set on a moment too early or a second too late… in the end, we’ll never know. Poor Mike lowered his rod, let out a howl, then smiled and turned his body upstream in pursuit of a more-willing participant.

Like the one that got away. Luckily, where there’s one opportunity – another is not far.

Luckily for Mike and for all of us, it wasn’t long before our wishes were granted. Tucked into tiny pockets of pooling water, we found beautiful brook trout and brown trout more than willing to eat a carefully presented fly. It wasn’t long before, up and down the river excited yells echoed against the canyon walls as each group of anglers finally found themselves on a fish.

As we all began to work upstream towards a large boulder feature, the separate groups began to congregate. With fish on the board for all, laughter and fish puns took the place of quiet focused casting. Soon enough, after a few more fish were netted, we all gathered together in a parade back to the trucks to celebrate a job well done. Surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery and in the presence of amazing company, it was hard to leave this place, as it felt like we had just arrived. But with a few more tales to add to our personal anthologies, and some new water conquered, we couldn’t help but trade our melancholy brought on by the thought of leaving, for the pure bliss of time well spent on the water.

Clay Shooting: 

With fish off the mind (for now), it was time to transition our field pursuits to some things that go boom. Specifically of the Italian Variety.

With a closet full of top-of-the-line Beretta Auto Loaders and break action over-unders, it was hard not to feel like a kid in a candy shop when brought into the Nemacolin Field House’s gun closet. After a safety run-through and a brief shotgun fitting, our team loaded up into the fieldhouse golf carts and sped down the paved path with aspirations of dusting some clay pigeons.

When it comes to sporting clays at Nemacolin, it feels more like navigating a golf course than it does a shooting range. Of course, the proper safety measures are in place, but the offering Nemacolin delivers is second to none when it comes to the shooter’s experience. This became extremely evident to us as we pulled up to our first stop and unloaded at the covered shooting bleachers.

Before our team squeezed the trigger, Ty, who has somewhat of a knowledge of shooting classy, whacked down a couple of pigeons like it was nothing, in order to demonstrate how the course worked. From there, each of us took turns working the range as orange discs flew from low to high, left to right, and close to far. With some helpful coaching from Ty, we began knocking targets out of the sky with relative ease.

After a few rounds each, we loaded back up into the carts and zoomed down to the next position. The beauty of having the range set up like a course was the advantage it presented to us as shooters to learn and adapt. As soon as we got used to one environment, we were forced to reset to a new one. Additionally, each throwing mechanism was set to throw their clays down a drastically different path, at different speeds, and different angles. Paired with the helpful teachings of the Nemacolin staff, we were able to hone in on each element of our shooting as we progressed through the course, ending with us feeling 10x more confident than before, and our shoulders about 2x more sore than before.

Additional Activities: 

In our short stay at the Resort, we were able to slip in some additional activities besides fishing and shooting, such as golf, off-roading, and touring the property.


When you enter the gates of Nemacolin, one of the first things you notice is the expansive golf course that surrounds the property. Looking as if it was plucked straight from the lowlands of Scotland, the rolling hills of green, accented by old stone walls and various water features, tell a story of their own.

Should you have the chance to play through the beautiful course, Mystic Rock, offered to Nemacolin guests, you will officially be able to say you’ve shared the same course with some of the most successful golfers to ever play that game, including the one and only Tiger Woods. That’s because from 2003-2006, after a suggestion from Tiger himself, Nemacolin hosted the PGA Tour: Pennsylvania Classic. With all this in mind, some of our team wanted to make sure we slipped in a round on the legendary course.

On a rainy summer morning when we got to experience the course ourselves, there wasn’t much that could dampen our spirits. While not possessing the same caliber of golf game as some of the champs that had walked the green in years prior, it would’ve been near impossible to not have a fantastic day when getting to play a course designed by the one and only, Pete Dye, and with one of Nemacolin’s top pros. While we had to battle through some unwelcome rain, as well as one or two balls sent to their watery demise within the various hazards that populated the course, getting to play a course like Mystic Rock is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity. That being said, maybe next time we’ll hit the Golf academy first for a few extra pointers…

Hit ’em low, hit ’em far. Nemacolin Pro shows off her skills with an absolute missile down range.


In stark contrast to the other half of our team’s golf outing, some of us had the opportunity to head over to the “Peak“, the Nemacolin destination for activities that’ll get your blood pumping, and do some guided off-roading.

Neither of us expected it, but it turns out that at a place like Nemacolin Resort when you’re told you are going to be doing some off-road, YOU are definitely going to do the off-roading. It became evidently apparent to us what exactly the waivers we signed were for, when we approached the kitted-out, 4″ lifted jeeps on 36″ tires, and were promptly handed the keys. With our guide in the passenger seat, we each ran through a trial course, which alone, was enough of an overlanding experience to facilitate some heart palpitations. From there, it was off the trails…

With rain pouring down, turning the two-track into a soup track, we put these vehicles to the test (and then some). Rock crawls, boulder climbs, and drops big enough to give the after-market suspension in these machines a run for its money, was just the start. The true icing on the splattered chocolate cake was getting to run the jeeps through giant accumulated mud puddles that had built up on the trails. With a torrent of rain still hammering down on us, these “puddles” turned out to be more like small rivers, and we were encouraged to go nose-first through them – without a snorkel.

Legs still shaking with excitement, we pulled back into the Peak parking lot about 2 hours later; our beautiful forest green Jeep, now the color of the Colorado River during runoff. While we were in no rush to be done with the experience, it was certainly refreshing to be back on some flat ground. It did however leave our party with some unhealthy premonitions as to what we should do to our own trucks to bring them to a fraction of the standard of the beast we had just ridden.

In Conclusion: 

To try to sum up our short, but incredible, visit to Nemacolin, seems almost fruitless. While the times described above are a high-level recount of some amazing experiences captured on camera, the true value of Nemacolin is the moments enjoyed in between. The ownership, staff, and the hundreds of people involved in the operation are truly what holds Nemacolin a notch above the rest. There is an undeniable passion there shared amongst the staff that is impossible to ignore and infectious upon contact.

To address the obvious, Nemacolin nor we will try to hide the fact that this is a premier resort, and with premier resorts, comes a premier price. This is not a cheap place to visit, and to some, that might just not be in the cards. However, to anyone saving up or with the ability/desire to spend a little more on a truly memorable getaway: we couldn’t recommend a visit to Nemacolin Resort more.

While there is an abundant list of activities to enjoy for those who, like us, prefer to play outside and come back from our time away from work more tired than when we left, there is also no shortage of diverse and enjoyable activities anyone can enjoy. Because of its scale, Nemacolin has made it possible for anyone of any age or demographic to stay entertained and mesmerized during the entire duration of their stay.

While reflecting on our stay, it’s hard to imagine we accomplished everything highlighted above, and a whole lot more, in just a few days. Nemacolin has such an incredible eye for detail and with each activity you enjoy while there, the takeaway is so much more than just a day spent fishing or shooting clays.

Life’s all about leaving new places with more than you came with. Whether that’s a newfound appreciation for the natural world around you, or simply a few strokes off your golf game (In our case, with how we ate: it’s also an extra inch or two on the waistline). No matter what you’re trying to take away from your visit, we are certain Nemacolin can deliver.

Thank you to Nemacolin Resort for hosting us, and for the many fond memories made. We hope to see everyone again, soon. To learn more about booking a stay at Nemacolin Resort, click: HERE.

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