Dude ranch settings were in pristine, scenic areas.
Enjoying the scenery
Their clientele, typically wealthy dudes or dudines from the East who wanted to experience the West, were drawn to the dude ranch’s friendliness, hospitality, and fun that centered on fishing, hunting, horseback riding, singing around the campfire, and other outdoor activities. Some ranchers found wrangling dudes easier and more profitable than wrangling cows. Dudes were here only during summer and fall, while cattle had to be taken care of year-round.
Struthers Burt and Louis Joy began the JY, the first dude ranch in the valley, in 1908. Burt ended his partnership with Joy and started the Bar BC in 1912 with Dr. Horace Carncross. A year later, the White Grass Ranch was begun by one of the first Bar BC dudes, George Tucker Bispham, and wrangler Harold Hammond. Like the Bar BC had intended to raise cattle, the White Grass owners also decided by 1919 to wrangle dudes instead.
Many other dude ranches sprang up in Jackson Hole after the JY; the heyday of dude ranching was in the 1920s. The JY Ranch, Bar BC, and other dude ranches were purchased by John D. Rockefeller and his Snake River Land Company in 1927. Today, the JY is Grand Teton National Park’s Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. A handful of Jackson Hole dude ranchers continue the western tradition today.