Pamela Gibson: Jenkins Ranch

I was delighted today to sit down with Mike Wardell on the Jenkins Ranch in the home he has lived in since he was 2. He was so kind to take me through the history of the Jenkins Ranch, and I came away so grateful that the Jenkins Family had the foresight to conserve much of that ranch. They were among the first in the Valley to do so.

For seven years I have been exiting my own neighborhood not realizing the ranch is directly across Boyle’s Hill Road. Today I had permission to proceed through the Do Not Trespass signage onto the immaculate one lane gravel road that bends through the Ranch. What I noticed especially were the very large conifers intertwined with the cottonwoods-very different from the mostly sage and cottonwoods just across the road in my neighborhood. These did not come from the local nursery, but have been growing for decades.

Interspersed among the towering trees were very large open spaces. Mike explained to me that the ranch is ideal for the 500 strong elk herd that comes and goes. He told me every mammal and bird except beavers find a home on the ranch.

The ranch was originally 1100 acres, including Ely Springs and The Dairy. Now it consists of 400 acres, all conserved by the Jackson Hole Land Trust. Mike has been very active in the JHLT over the years, following the legacy of his family. He regaled me with stories of his grandfather driving stagecoaches in Yellowstone early on, still riding at the age of 80 and living until he was 97. I was grateful to be able to have Mike take me through the amazing photos he has documenting the history of the ranch and of his family.

The ranch has been stewarded by this family since 1938. The road, the garden and the footbridge to the house are all carefully tended. As I looked through the front window of this beautiful old home, I saw the Tetons watching over above the trees. This is the legacy of Jenkins Ranch, and because of this stewardship and generosity, this land will remain open in perpetuity.