Best of the Tetons

Bar BC Dude Ranch

Jackson Hole’s second dude ranch, the Bar BC Dude Ranch was built by Struthers Burt and Dr. Horace Carncross in 1912.

Bar BC Ranch

On October 4th, I was heading back home after spending the morning at Schwabacher Landing. From the highway, I could see some bright yellow leaves along the west bank of the Snake River. By 10:30 am on most mornings, I would have headed on home. The yellow leaves were beckoning…and it was a beautiful fall Saturday morning. I made the executive decision to drive on over and check it out (again).

(Note: In case you were wondering, the first Dude Ranch in the Jackson Hole was the JY Ranch—1908. The area is now part of the Laurance S. Rockefell Preserve.)

The Road Off the Bench

The Road Off the Bench:

How to get there: Drive north from Jackson to Moose Junction. Turn left onto the Teton Park Road. Drive through the entrance station and pass the Cottonwood Creek picnic area. A quarter mile past the picnic area turn right and drive east on the River Road almost two miles. This road is recommended for 4-wheel drive vehicles only. As the road bends north, park at the small lot near a gate. Walk the cobble-covered hill toward the Snake River to view the remaining ranch structures. You can also view buildings from the terrace by walking to the right of the gate to an interpretive wayside and looking down. Please do not enter any of these buildings as they may be unsafe. (via the GTNP web site)

Bar BC MapMap: “As the crow flies”, the ranch is only a few miles north of the Chapel of the Transfiguration and Menor’s Ferry. Click the link to see a TPE/Google image showing the main roads to the area.

The comments above suggest having a 4-wheel drive vehicle. I drove it in our all wheel drive van with no problems, but the drive from the Teton Park Road to the gully road is rough and full of gravel bottom puddles. I counted 43 on my way back out.  I don’t believe I needed a 4-wheel drive to make the trip to the parking area, but I definitely drove it slowly and carefully.

My morning at the Bar BC Dude Ranch

I made my trip to Bar BC in the middle of the morning and stayed a couple of hours, roaming around and looking for anything of interest. Most of my images from the trip were intended on documenting the area and show you what you might expect. I’d love to go back and catch it with morning light, or even late in even at night for some stars and light painting. The Teton Range looms high above the scene if you move close to the river, yet can be clipped if you get close to the bench. I’d recommend a trip there if you are into history, scenery, or like taking photos of textures and close-up details.


Corrals: The parking area is just at the top of the little bench. The walk down is easy and casual. The corrals have been restored or rebuilt.

The remains of the large dude ranch are available for viewing in Grand Teton National Park. Preservation and restoration on the buildings have been ongoing for quite a few years. It is a huge undertaking with so many buildings and structures. This external page shows images of the restoration projects and give a little more information on the topic.  Bar BC Dude Ranch Restoration

Restored Tack Shed

Restored Tack Shed: Located next to the corrals.

Too Late

Too Late: While many structures have been preserved or stabilized, a few have collapsed under the weight of the winter snows.


Aspens: I dialed my aperture up to F/22 and took this shot into a tiny opening of the leaves allowing the star burst from the sun. No special Photoshop trick or special effect on this image.

Aspen Leaves

Aspen Leaves: The last shot was taken “up”. This was aimed “down” into a puddle of water with floating aspen leaves. Filtered light from the stands of aspens added some glow to a few leaves.

Aspen Trunks

Aspen Trunks: I liked the idea of seeing the peak of the Grand between these venerable aspens.

Row of Cabins

Row of Cabins: One of the informational signs near the parking area suggested the ranch could handle up to 50 guests at one time. The area is quite large with cabins spread all around.

Clubhouse and Cabins

Clubhouse and Cabins: I believe the old fireplace was part of the”main cabin”. The rest of the structure is gone now. The green visqueen plastic sheeting was intended to protect the roofs until restoration teams can get to them.

Bar BC Satellite View Click Here to see a Satellite View showing the roads and buildings as they stand today. You can click to enlarge the view and scroll around. This map comes from The Photographer’s Ephemera and works off Google Maps. TPE is also available for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. It is a very valuable tool for photography in the area.

Future Projects

Future Projects: Another view of the cabins awaiting restoration. Mt. Moran can be seen in the distance. The map identifies most of these buildings as “dude cabins” and a “mess hall”.


Nails: If this kind of shot “floats your boat”, you can find lots of it at the Bar BC Dude Ranch.

Restored Cabin and Grand

Restored Cabin and Grand: None of these cabins are being fully “restored” for use, but instead are being stabilized to stand up against snows and weather.

Up Scale Privy

Up Scale Privy: Many of the visitors at Bar BC were used to the best. But, in 1912, outhouses were part of the scheme of things.

The Pot

The Pot: Most outhouses I’ve ever seen had a rough wooden seat and were quite primitive. This outhouse sported a porcelain pot (the lid is missing now). The rich and famous were “going in style”!

History and Links

Here are a few links related to the historic old Bar BC Dude Ranch I could find.

Log End

Log End: There are plenty of textures and details at the ranch. The six bursts caught my eye on this log.

Number 15

Number 15: This lettering was on one of the original doors.

Rusty Vehicle

Rusty Vehicle: This old car might make a great light painting subject. The roof of the tack shed is partially visible near the row of aspens.

Vehicle Window

A Window into the Past: I walked down the hill to the ranch with a Nikon D4 and a 28-300 mm lens. No tripod this time! I think it would be a good place to go with my 200-400 mm lens and a tripod to zoom in on small details and textures. A standard lens would be good for most shots, however.

J.E. Stimson Photo of Bar BC at Cayuse Western Americana: This link shows a hand tinted image of the ranch taken over the swimming pool. Worth a look to see the ranch in its heyday and read Cayuse’s description of the historic place.

Park Sign

I mentioned earlier I spent roughly two hours at the site and could have stayed longer. There are no rest rooms, fountains, or services—so go prepared. The road north from the Taggart Lake Trail Head closes on October 31st, eliminating vehicle travel down the “Cottonwood Creek Road”. Most people around here know that road as the RKO road. Much of the area is under a winter wildlife habitat closure during the winter months, so hiking and snow shoeing into the area is illegal. The sign above is located near the parking area at the top of the bench. It gives a little history and includes a map identifying the individual buildings.  The map indicates the Swimming Pools near the Snake River and in front of the Dance Hall.


If you like this post, please take a minute and “share” it by clicking on any of the Social Media Icons below. >>MJ


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Comments (3)

  1. Trenna

    Wow! I didn’t even know about this area. Now it is on my list of places that I must visit when I’m in the area. Thanks again Mike for this wonderful blog and all the work you put into doing it for your fans. I love, love, love your photography!

  2. Lowell Schechter

    Mike, I enjoyed looking at the images of the Bar BC Dude Ranch. I certainly never had heard of this place it would have made a nice photographic trip to it. But as you said the roads are only for 4 wheel drive vehicles. You did a great job documenting this place.

  3. Judy Lenoir

    Love this ranch, the history, the people, and the area during the dude ranch era. Good job, Mike !

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