Wyoming is home to one of the great natural treasures on our planet; Yellowstone Park. It was the first national park preserved by any country and remains the most famous. Despite its remote location, it has about 3 million visitors a year. Signs of volcanic action are everywhere and the fiery tumult of the earth’s interior is often close to the surface. Multiple geysers periodically spout huge quantities of steam and water into the air and there are thousands of ponds and springs where the water boils. Old Faithful consistently spews a spectacular plume over a hundred feet into the air every hour or so as it has done for unknown years.
The breathtaking vista of the Snake River Valley with the steep chain of the snow clad Teton Mountains rising to such a great height so sharply behind is unquestionably one of the world’s most unforgettable and uplifting sights.
Wyoming has one of the largest Indian reservations in the US covering an area half the size of New Jersey. It occupies a large part of the Wind River Valley and the surrounding mountains with good farm land and excellent hunting and fishing.
Our ranch lies in the foothills of this massive mountain range which stretches all the way into Montana. The Absarokas are very different from the much older Wind River Mountains across the valley. They cover a larger area and are much easier to travel through by foot or on horseback. There are many large meadows and wide river valleys providing good habitat for wildlife and nutritious grass for livestock.
The Wind River rises on the Continental Divide and flows eastward on its long, circuitous journey to the Gulf of Mexico. It is fed by melting snow from the Absarokas to the north and the Wind River Mountains to the south. The river provides irrigation water to a large area turning arid, semi-desert green and making it possible to grow some of the finest alfalfa in the world. Its current moves fast in places and dawdles in others, creating habitat for an excellent trout fishery.
We are fortunate to have a spectacular view of the Wind River Mountains across the valley from us. They tend to be solid granite which with steep cliffs and shallow top soil which provides comparatively little feed for grazing animals and is difficult for horses to negotiate. The rock is excellent for mountain climbers because it provides a safe purchase for pitons whereas the rock formations in the Absarokas often crumble easily.
The Shoshone National forest surrounds Dubois and borders our ranch. Much of the economic activity in the Upper Wind River Valley depends on this forest which extends to Yellowstone Park and is part of the largest wild ecosystem in the lower 48 states.
This quaint western town has only about 1,000 inhabitants and the tourist trade is the main business. There are some interesting shops and art galleries. The Dubois Museum has excellent coverage of the history and geology of the area. Dubois is proud to have America’s largest herd of bighorn sheep living just above the town and is home to the National Bighorn Sheep Center which has impressive exhibits of these fascinating animals which were once so abundant in the area and provided a large part of the food for the local Sheep Eater Indians. The wild sheep were nearly wiped out by diseases brought in by domestic sheep, but have now recovered to some extent although they are nowhere near the numbers of 200 years ago. They are mostly in the high country in the summer, but there are some interesting sites in the area. The easiest to visit are the petroglyphs near Torrey, Ring and Trail Lakes just outside Dubois. In July and August there is a rodeo every Friday night and square dances are held on Tuesday evenings.
The town lies in a spectacular location at the foot of the Grand Tetons and has become a popular tourist destination in summer and a world class place for skiing in the winter. It has a great variety of excellent art galleries, fine restaurants and chic shops. The National Museum of Wildlife Art near Jackson is a first-rate museum well worth a visit. Float trips can be made on the Snake near Jackson either for white water or more placid scenic excursions. Jackson is a 2 1/2 hour drive from the ranch. On the way you travel through Grand Teton National Park where moose and buffalo can often be seen from the road.
Cody is about a four hour drive from the ranch and lies near the eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It is the home of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center which is an absolutely world class museum. The collections of Western art, American Indian anthropology and firearms are superb. In Cody one can also visit the Old West Trail Town and rodeos are held every evening during the summer.