Each year, three to four million people visit Yellowstone National Park. Many of those people continue south to Jackson Hole. Just a short 60-mile drive through the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway and Grand Teton National Park, and you wind up in one of the true mountain towns of the American West. Jackson Hole is a town built on a history of people traveling to the free expanse of the mountain landscape to find a moment of solace, a place to reclaim the busy mind and indulge in some relaxation.
In its early history, Jackson was known as a place where fur trappers could trap, buy and trade. Later, as the fur trapping industry waned, a few people began developing the area’s first dude ranches. In 1872 when Yellowstone became the country’s first national park, the interest in the West increased. Easterners yearned for the chance to experience the frontier, and dude ranches provided this avenue, albeit in a safe and comfortable fashion. The term ‘dude’ was coined as a description of those who paid for the ranching service. Through the legacy of dude ranching, people began to see the benefit settling in, and spending some time ‘living on the ranch’ and thus, a long-standing tradition of people coming to spend time in the Tetons was born.
Today, Jackson retains a touch of its western heritage as it has been enveloped in the new western traditions of outdoor sports, art and gastronomy. There are endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, a myriad of art galleries to inspect, and wonderful restaurants to satisfy the palate. You will always enjoy something in Jackson, and in the busy summer months, you will be doing it with a lot of other folks.
Imagine all those three and a half million people driving their cars, wagons and RV’s from Yellowstone in a vigilant procession to get to the next flag on the vehicle’s fancy navigation system. Imagine yourself in that procession when suddenly you see a road leading in another direction. Off to a quiet vista of red rolling hills, majestic mountaintops where a crystal clear river rolls through the valley uncompromised in beauty. As all those people are checking in to their hotels and motels, you are sitting on the porch of your cabin, taking in the landscape of open wilderness as far as the eye can see. As the cars move through the town, the people swarm the town square, and wait for dinner reservations, you walk to the deck for a decadent BBQ dinner masterfully cooked accompanied by a full bar and scenery that is beyond compare.
One cannot help but think of Walt Whitman’s classic poem, The Road Not Taken. Not everyone has the opportunity to stay at a guest ranch in the heart of the Gros Ventre River Valley. Not everyone knows about such a magical place. And not everyone will ever know the wonder and peacefulness of spending time in the wilderness. The Goosewing Ranch offers weary travelers a respite from the busy chatterings of life, a chance to jump out of the line of status quo into a fresh unique way of discovering nature, letting her speak to you. Days on the ranch are filled with horse-back riding, fly fishing, mountain biking, hiking, sunbathing poolside, amazing meals, and time to unwind. No lines to wait in, no cash registers, no buses filled with tourists. And when you do get to Jackson, you will do so with a smile on your face, the furrow in your brow not quite so deep because you took the time to slow down, breathe in the expanse of the wild, and stare at a star filled sky.
So, when you are making your summer plans, think of Whitman… “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”