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Grand Teton National Park Report

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"Dude Ranch" is not an expression that carries a clear-cut meaning to everyone, for a dude ranch is neither a summer hotel nor a farm where dudes "ranch". . .. The most typical dude ranches of all the West are in this section of Wyoming. They range all the way from the most exclusive outfits that require references and advance reservations for not les than three weeks or a month at around $70 per week per person-including saddle horse and equipment, modern cabin, meals and other advantages-to the guest ranches or outfitters where accommodation may be had by the day, week or season. The person of moderate means can arrange his vacation in Jackson Hole to fit his purse. (Jackson Hole: Where to Go and What To See, published between 1929-1950) The American West is home to one of the most distinctive agricultural tourism activities in the world: dude ranching (Rees 2004). Dude ranching is the "single most unique contribution of the Rocky Mountain West to the ever-growing national vacation industry" (Roundy 1973), and it has been crucial in shaping the ways in which the West is perceived, working to effect continuing romantic notions of the American West (Rodnitzky, 1968). Though dude ranches can be found in the East (Zimmerman 1998), the South, the Southwest, California, Hawaii, and the Northwest, it is the Northern Rocky Mountain region, especially Montana and Wyoming, which forms the nucleus of dude ranch tourism (Rees 2005). However, unlike cattle ranching, agriculture, and mineral extraction, tourism has rarely received the attention it deserves in Wyoming, though it continues to be an important part of the Western image, as well as an important factor in the production and reproduction of that image. Just as dude ranching has failed to receive the attention it deserves in the state, it has also failed to receive that attention in one of the region's densest nexus or collection of dude ranching, Jackson Hole, and in particular, Grand Teton National Park (GTNP). Indeed, dude ranches have faired miserably in the first seventy-five years of the park's existence. As cultural landscapes dude ranches have been de­emphasized in favor of celebrating the natural environment. This project's research has revealed that a vast majority of the thirty-three dude ranches that once functioned in what is now GTNP have disappeared, been auctioned off, burned, pulled down, or allowed to rot in situ. In the last decade, critics of federal cultural resource management philosophy sought to reject this often-fragmented approach to cultural heritage protection, and looked to embrace environmental and cultural resources as an indivisible whole (Hufford 1994) and this research project falls within that effort to produce a narrative that embraces both environmental and cultural resources to tell a story of the ways in which humans and nature have interacted through tourism in GTNP.