Today, the JY Ranch is open to the public for the first time in over six decades.
The Rockefeller family’s historic association with Jackson Hole has continued to
the present day. In September 2007, their private holiday home, the JY Ranch, covering
3,000 acres of the finest terrain in the valley, was donated to the U.S. government
as a new addition to the Grand Teton National Park. Today, it is open to the public
for the first time in over six decades.
The transition began in 2001, when 90-year-old Laurance S. Rockefeller—John D. Junior’s
son, who had honeymooned at the ranch in 1934—announced that it would become the
“LSR Preserve” and include a state-of-the-art Visitors Center crafted from recycled
Hikers can now take a 4-mile loop trail to crystalline Phelps Lake, passing through
spectacular mountain landscape that has not changed since the Shoshone Indians roamed
here over a century ago. What visitors won’t spy are the 30 log buildings that once
made up the JY Ranch. Before the Rockefellers bought it in 1932, it had operated
as Wyoming’s first dude ranch, but as part of the 2007 donation, all man-made structures
were carefully removed, along with seven miles of asphalt roads and 1,500 tons of
building materials, to return the lake to its pristine state.
Even so, it is easy to imagine the JY in its heyday, when a string of rough-hewn
cabins with wooden furniture and stone fireplaces stood above the alpine lakeside.
To this idyllic frontier outpost, Rockefeller family members would arrive from the
East every summer to indulge in hiking, swimming, fishing, hunting, and horseback-riding—outdoor
pursuits not so very different from those enjoyed by the Shoshone in warmer months.