The First Tourists

The region acquired a national reputation for its splendid hunting and fishing in the 1880s and 1890s. Many settlers supplemented their incomes by serving as guides and packers for wealthy hunters. A few, such as Ben Sheffield, made it a full-time occupation. He acquired a ranch at the outlet of Jackson Lake in 1902 to use as a base for outfitting his expeditions. The ranch became the town of Moran.

Others recognized that dudes winter better than cows and began operating dude ranches. The JY and the Bar BC were established in 1908 and 1912, respectively. By the 1920s, dude ranching made significant contributions to the valley’s economy. At this time some local residents realized that scenery and wildlife (especially elk) were valuable resources to be conserved rather than exploited.

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