GET OUT: Bar BC excursion a blast from the past

By on January 27, 2015
The Bar BC dude ranch is shown sometime during its heyday. PHOTO: JACKSON HOLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND MUSEUM

The Bar BC dude ranch is shown sometime during its heyday. PHOTO: JACKSON HOLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND MUSEUM

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – I’ve received a number of complaints that some of my excursions may be inaccessible to the average visitor. For this reason, I’ve decided to share a completely accessible yet slightly terrifying adventure I recently experienced on a gloriously brisk and sunny day in the mountains.

The skies were blue, and my sole goal for the day consisted of drinking tea and eating homemade muffins. After scarfing down a few in the solitude of my home, I decided to pack a picnic with the remainders of my mid-morning breakfast and wander somewhere in Grand Teton National Park.

By the time I moseyed out of my house, the sun was high and my motivation was low. Warm winter days make me want to find a snug spot, lie in the sun and eat prolific amounts of food. For this reason, I parked at Bradley and Taggart and chose to cruise around on the freshly groomed park road.

Visiting dude ranchers were housed in log cabins. PHOTO: JACKSON HOLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND MUSEUM

Visiting dude ranchers were housed in log cabins. PHOTO: JACKSON HOLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND MUSEUM

At first, it was relaxing. I stared at the mountains; I flailed on my not-so-nimble skis. Out of the blue, I heard deep bellowing breaths huffing closer and closer behind me. Frozen, I braced myself for an encounter with a wild animal. Upon looking over my shoulder, I spotted a Nordic skier headed my way at a speed only a ranger’s radar detector could gauge.

Hot tea splashed over my hand as I dove off the groomed park road. After processing the initial shock of a close-call collision, I scooted up the road directly east of the Taggart corral. After a few more minutes, I ended up at a junction where the road veered north along the bench or went east, down to the river.

Given my inherent propensity for icy hills, I chose to go down to the river. Upon falling down this crusty slope, I spotted a cluster of broken-down cabins, remnants of the old Bar BC Ranch.

This place is a time warp. One second, I was in 2015 and the next moment I was transported to 1912. I wanted to further explore this snowy wonderland, so I skied around and spotted what looked like an old track. Upon closer examination, I realized it was an animal track.

Long-ago loungers soak up life at the ranch. PHOTO: JACKSON HOLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND MUSEUM

Long-ago loungers soak up life at the ranch. PHOTO: JACKSON HOLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND MUSEUM

I’m no biologist. I couldn’t recognize what species or even what kind of animal created this trail. All I knew was that it looked large, and I was alone. Somewhere in the distance I heard a combination of huffing, squealing and indistinct moans. At that moment, I had a striking desire to rid myself of breakfast and get the heck out of there. I took my skis off and sprinted up the icy hill toward the park road. When I finally spotted people in the distance, relief vibrated throughout my body.

Looking back, it’s possible I freaked out for no reason. Elk, moose or multiple squirrels could have made the large tracks. Sometimes, while doing things alone, my mind gets the best of me. Still, as I made my way back, an increasing sense of curiosity made me wonder more about the Bar BC Ranch.

The Tetons soar above the Bar BC Ranch in this iconic view. PHOTO: JACKSON HOLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND MUSEUM

The Tetons soar above the Bar BC Ranch in this iconic view. PHOTO: JACKSON HOLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND MUSEUM

Upon searching the infamous “interweb” of knowledge, I found out that the ranch was established in 1912 and was the second-oldest dude ranch in the valley. As international travel was limited during World War I, many Americans made the trip to Jackson for vacations and stayed at this ranch. The Bar BC held a prime location for fishing along the Snake River, and people flocked there because of the amazing views and lack of mosquitoes. It its heyday, this ranch had a swimming pool, blacksmith shops, a store, a post office and an air hangar.

The property was eventually sold to the Park Service under a “life estate” clause in 1987 and has undergone some structural repairs in recent years. The historic ranch is a fantastic destination for soaking in the early remnants of Jackson Hole. The cabins are locked but this is one window into history that has endured the tests of time, thanks to the Western Center for Historic Preservation. I’m not sure how long these cabins will hold up or if they will ever get the funding to be completely restored, but it is definitely worth the trip while they are still standing.

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