“I remember doors latched with elk antler. Chairs and bookcases made of burled wood and poles, their seats of woven leather and cane,” Mark Spragg writes in Where Rivers Change Direction, his fine memoir about growing up on a traditional Wyoming dude ranch. He goes on: “The buffalo skulls nailed above doors… A bench fashioned from a ten-foot length of sixteen-inch-diameter pine, sawn in half lengthwise… A stuffed golden eagle, his wings outspread, suspended from a wire and turning in the peak of the ceiling of the lounge. There were the heads of moose, elk, deer, antelope, and mountain sheep. And rugs of bear and mountain lion tacked up on the walls. The whole bodies of owls and trout. Drawer pulls made of the sawed-off butts of deer antler.”
To an extent, of course, his family’s lodge was put together this way for effect. But these dramatic, hand crafted interiors also speak to something that lies at the root of pioneer country, where just outside the walls of even the grandest rough-hewn houses live the same things that reside within them — and vice versa. Under the tall peaks, along the dry and windblown plains, there is no true refuge.
To this day, few people live in Wyoming. It has the lowest population density of any state besides Alaska. Comparatively, it has lots of visitors — many of them lured to the glorious spectacle of Yellowstone, with its geysers and waterfalls.
A good deal of the growth and glamour these days are around Jackson Hole. Not that long ago, the place wasn’t much – a seeming depression (hence the name) between a pair of mountain ranges. But now celebrities occupy discreet ranches there, and expert skiers ply the gnarly slopes. You can order Hawaiian blue prawn ceviche at Couloir, a celebrated restaurant in town. But the people behind many of these new settlements — including Couloir — are also interested in not letting too big a gap emerge between what they’re offering and true Wyoming.
By default or design, the state has protected what it’s got. Wyoming (nickname: The Cowboy State) has long staked a claim as the authentic home of the cowboy; its brand, so to speak, is an image of a bucking horse and rider. The town of Cody was developed by (and named after) Buffalo Bill, the man whose roadshow more than a hundred years ago stirred a European mania for the Wild West that still hasn’t subsided. The original “Marlboro Man” campaign was shot in-state, at a sage-strewn dream of a place called Pitchfork Ranch.
When people linger in Wyoming, it tends to be in their imagination. In the 19th century, most of the pilgrims passed on through — en route to the gold deposits of Colorado and California, or the glittering coast. (You can still see the deep ruts left by their wagon wheels, near the town of Guernsey.) Before the sprawling cattle ranches, there were forts to defend these emigrants against the Native American tribes incensed (justifiably, it would seem) by all the traffic. Some of the most vicious Indian battles happened in Wyoming, where a congelation of spilled blood tops the layers of fossils and dinosaur bones.
Wyoming’s latest notorious breed: the maverick skiers of Jackson Hole, the enclave’s co-called ‘Air Force.’ They thrive on going out of bounds, even if they’re not outlaws in the same way they were a decade or two ago.
This fraternity of hot-doggers represents a flashier way of doing things; they’re the rodeo riders, so to speak, and contrast with that other, softer-spoken image of the cowboy — men who deal easily with horses and stay laconic behind the wheel of the pickup trucks. Theirs is a life that few of us these days are actually cut out for. To join them truly, we can admit, is pure fantasy. But go to Wyoming and you can find the fodder for it — for “a life,” to crib another phrase from Spragg, “that lined the face, leaned the body, and satisfied.”
Flat Creek Saddle Shop
Flat Creek Saddle shop prides itself on being an “old time” Western saddle shop with emphasis on customer satisfaction, service, and a huge inventory of 250 saddles, chaps, chinks, accessory tack, custom belts, saddle pads, blankets, and pack equipment for horses and mules. Their saddle inventory is one of the largest available. A few of the brands carried are Courts, McCall, Circle Y, Longhorn, Martins and Tucker, and they can also custom-make saddles. Because of the extent of their inventory people often bring their horses in to custom fit their saddles.
Couloir is now a proud member of 1% for the Planet, which compliments the restaurant’s eco-friendly practices of guaranteeing that the majority of their ingredients come from a 250-mile radius. Menus are designed seasonally to reduce their carbon footprint, as are their extensive use of local farmer’s markets and ranches. Dine with Altitude at Couloir Restaurant and Bar. The restaurant is recognized by Food and Wine Magazine (Feb 2008), Men’s Health Magazine as the “Manliest Restaurant,” and named on the Condé Nast Hot Tables List (2008) for its exceptional hospitality and seasonal menu.
Locally owned and operated since 1971, Teton Mountaineering is the source for high quality climbing, backcountry skiing, camping equipment and clothing in the Jackson Hole area. The experienced staff will help you plan next excursion and offer first-hand, local knowledge about all of the activities to do in the Tetons.
Diamond Cross Ranch
The Diamond Cross Ranch is a historical, family owned working cattle ranch. It features unobstructed views of the Grand Tetons and is surrounded by National Forest and the National Park. It hosts numerous corporate groups, weddings and art performances. Special events consist of horse whispering demonstrations and competitive roping.
Eat delicious cowboy cuisine, the way Granddad taught the Chuckwagon to cook; fine-cut, natural aged Wyoming beef, cooked to perfection in Dutch ovens over a blazing wood fire. They are known for their breakfast, featuring all-you- can-eat sourdough pancakes or your choice of biscuits and gravy or French toast. Lunch includes soups, salads and sandwiches on homemade breads. Top off your day with an all-you-can-eat western style dinner, served over an open fire in cast iron Dutch ovens.
Amangani is a luxury Yellow Stone resort perched on the edge of East Gros Ventre Butte in Jackson Hole, a high mountain valley in northwest Wyoming. Amangani overlooks meadows and grazing land but is surrounded by spectacular mountain ranges, hence the word “hole” to describe the valley. Directly across the valley from Amangani is Teton Pass, which divides the Snake River Range from the snow-capped Tetons. The town of Jackson is the southern gateway to nearby Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, less than 100 kilometers away. The snow-fed waters of the Snake River gather in the Yellowstone Plateau and wind south through Jackson Hole.
Mountain Man Toy Shop
This retail shop features two concepts in one. Mountain Man Toy Shop carries handmade Damascus steel hunting and pocket knives, hand forged axes and tomahawks, lassos, gentlemen’s shaving accessories and more. The rustic log cabin interior lends itself to a blackjack table, an 8’ pine cowboy bar, a world record size elk mount and an 18’ hot rolled steel wall of knives. You can try your hand at throwing tomahawks on the giant wood crosscut target on the outside wall of the shop. The space also features New West KnifeWorks. These fine kitchen knives are made using the highest performance powder metal (CPM) steel, elegantly designed and are proudly manufactured in the USA.
Snake River Angler
Snake River Angler is a full-service Fly Fishing Shop and Guide Service based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The valley of Jackson Hole is surrounded by the peaks of the Teton Range to the west, the immense Gros Ventre and Snake River ranges to the east and south, and the highlands of the Teton Wilderness to the north. From these high peaks flows the clean, clear and cold water that provides one of the greatest trout fly-fishing destinations in the world. They offer trips in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and target brown and rainbow trout, but the true gems of the basin are the vast quantities of native cutthroats.
Jackson Hole Playhouse
Built in 1916 the building that is now home to Jackson Hole Playhouse served as a blacksmith and buggy shop. As times changed rapidly, so did the building. It became the town’s first car dealership, its first bowling alley, a billiard hall, a Western Union outpost, and, it is rumored, a house of ill-repute. In 1959 the building was changed into a theatre. Today the Playhouse prides itself on quality family theatre, providing the best of Broadway Musicals and drawing its talent from all of the 50 states.
Cayuse Western Americana
Cince opening its doors in 1997, Cayuse Western Americana has offered Jackson Hole a museum-like setting to showcase one-of-a-kind antiques. Owned and operated by expert Mary Schmitt, the historic downtown store amazes customers with its collection of cowboy, Native American Indian and National Park artifacts. The trained staff can tell you the history and heritage of each unique item and take you on a cultural tour of America’s westward expansion. Cayuse also offers a selection of art, jewelry, artifacts, and other memorabilia.
Wool & Whiskey
Located in Teton Village, Wool & Whiskey is a men’s mercantile shop with a fully stocked whiskey bar. The store, first of its kind in Jackson Hole, takes a functional yet ruggedly sophisticated approach towards dressing the western man in a modern lifestyle. The outerwear and clothing selection is of a tougher breed – from the bomb-proof local Mountain Khakis to classic Pendleton jackets. Neat or on the rocks? This is the only way white lightening is served at Wool & Whiskey.
Roadhouse Restaurant & Brewing Co.
Recently written up in Zagat’s list of ten high-end barbecue joints in the United States, the Roadhouse Restaurant & Brewery menu is full of dishes as creatively crafted as their brews. They are continuously trying to conjure up ways to reduce their impact on the environment. They buy local and source their proprietary beef blend from the Mead Ranch in Kirby, Wyoming. They hope to soon provide their excess mash grains to local ranchers. Stop in and they’ll tell you how their chef and brewer work hand-in-hand to incorporate ingredients that compliment both the food and drink menu.
Snake River Grill
The Snake River Grill is a Jackson Hole landmark, known for its atmosphere, extensive wine list, delicious food, and attentive staff. There is a private dining room and a patio for warm nights. Executive Chef, Jeff Drew, has created an American grill’s perfect menu.
Jackson Hole Rodeo
Rodeo has been a part of Jackson Hole’s cowboy culture since the first settlers arrived over 100 years ago. Your Jackson Hole vacation would not be complete without experiencing the legendary Jackson Hole Rodeo.
White water rafting is a popular activity in the Snake River, as is fishing and boating. But if you do an internet search of Lunch Counter Rapids you’ll find several entries about surfing. Surfing in Wyoming! The rapids meet a short, steep rise in the river-bed and rise up in glassy, roiling tubes. Facing the oncoming rush of river water surfers ride the rapids.
From a renovated old A-frame house comes the Kitchen, a vision of a restaurant that provides something different – a refined yet casual establishment that incorporates a modern take on cuisine with comforting notes. The cuisine embraces various culinary techniques and ingredients including all natural meats, seasonal vegetables, and sustainable, fresh fish. The presentation is clean, simple and natural. The beautiful and elegant architecture of the building mirrors the concepts in the food.
Located inside the Pink Garter Theatre, The Rose is Jackson Hole’s first and only classically inspired cocktail lounge. With an emphasis on fresh, house-made ingredients, quality spirits, and exacting standards of execution, The Rose has an expansive selection of classic and modern cocktails well suited to every drinker’s interest. As with their handcrafted cocktails, The Rose’s food is prepared in-house from the finest ingredients. A playful menu of classic Mediterranean small plates and flatbreads is available between 5:00 pm and midnight, seven nights a week.
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar
The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar’s gallery-like atmosphere is an awesome display of the true Wild West. The decor alone will keep you fascinated for hours at a time. Wyoming’s landmark watering hole for spirits, beer and wine, The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is located right on the town square in the heart of Jackson. It is famous for its western cowboy flare motif, complete with a large collection of western memorabilia, unique knobbled pine architecture, cowboy murals, animal mounts, and genuine saddle barstools. Some of the finest entertainers on the country music scene have been known to hit the stage here, including Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Jr., Asleep at the Wheel, Hoyt Axton, Glen Campbell, Tanya Tucker, Willie Nelson, Commander Cody and the James Cotton Blues Band. The best times in Jackson Hole are had at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
Yellowstone National Park
Get ready for grizzly bears and eagles. Geysers and mud pots. Forests and lakes. Historic cabins and prehistoric sites. Yellowstone offers countless opportunities for discovery. It is a place to make lifelong memories. In 1872, a country that had not yet seen its first centennial established Yellowstone as the first national park in the world. A new concept was born and with it a new way for people to preserve and protect the best of what they had for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.
Triangle X Ranch
The 2013 season marks the 87th year of operation for the Triangle X Ranch. The Triangle X Ranch is an authentic dude ranch and the only operating guest ranch concession in the nation’s entire National Park system. An all-in-clusive Wyoming dude ranch vacation at Triangle X offers unparalleled horseback riding and one of the most complete outdoor recreation packages of any facility in the Mountain West.
Fighting Bear Antiques
Fighting Bear Antiques specializes in furnishings by Thomas Molesworth, rustic furniture, American Indian beadwork, Navajo rugs and textiles, and other fine antiques. From their home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, they search high and low to bring you the finest accents for your home. They are very proud of the items they carry and are happy to work with you to find the perfect items to make your home uniquely yours.
JD High Country Outfitters
Born of a life in the Tetons, JD High Country outfitters have the expertise and equipment to provide authentic experiences that enhance outdoor pursuits and lifestyles. JD High Country Outfitters is the evolution of the two leading fly shops, guiding operations and purveyors of outdoor gear in Jackson, WY: High Country Flies and the Jack Dennis Outdoor Shop. In addition, Jack Dennis Outdoor Shop has been supplying its customers with quality outdoor apparel, footwear, skiing, firearms and camping equipment for over forty years.