Document Type

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Report

First Page


Last Page



The states of Wyoming, Montana, and to a lesser extent Colorado are commonly understood as the industrial heartland of U.S. dude ranching in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (Borne 1983). Though there were earlier small scale efforts to host easterners on ranches in the West from the 1850s onwards, dude ranching is commonly understood to have begun in 1879 in Medora, North Dakota by the Eaton Brothers (Borne 1983, Rothman 1998). Dude ranching--when outsiders pay to stay on a ranch ­ usually demonstrates most/if not all of the following six characteristics: 1). it embraces of the West's nineteenth century agricultural heritage; 2). it celebrates wild, preserved landscapes; 3). it provides an economic vehicle for ranchers to maintain their cultural heritage, and/or investors and managers to have a piece of the American West; 4). it demonstrates a distinct dude ranch aesthetic (architecture, clothing, food, music, stories, education and landscape); 5). it includes horse­related activities; and 6). it provides a safe and contained regional experience transforming the traveler from "mere' tourist status to that of a liminal space in­between outsider and insider. Since the late nineteenth century Wyoming has developed five centers of dude ranch activity located primarily near mountain ranges, within or close to public lands (National Park Service (NPS) or Forest Service (FS)): 1) Medicine Bow Mountain Range in southeastern Wyoming; 2) Big Horn Mountain Range (eastern and western slopes) in north-central Wyoming; 3) eastern gate region of Yellowstone National Park, northwest Wyoming; 4) Wind River Mountain Range (eastern and western slopes), northwestern Wyoming; and 5) Teton Mountain Range in northwestern Wyoming. My work seeks to establish the extent of dude ranching in Teton Valley.