I figured after 15 years in Jackson Hole that it was time to do something many, if not most, visitors have done: go to a chuckwagon! I did not, however, want to go to one with hundreds of people, mediocre food and silly entertainment (no offense if this is your thing!). Enter The Rancher Cookout.
This collaboration between the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Teton Valley Trail Rides offers a high-end, and I know this could sound contradictory, sophisticated take on the tourist-popular cowboy cookout dinner.
Attendees are first given a choice of taking a scenic horseback ride through the mountains or chuckwagon ride to a historic Snake River Ranch barn with sweeping mountain views. You are then treated to a first-class dinner with all the fixins’ of a great BBQ (bourbon bbq chicken, grilled local try-tip steak, corn on the cob, cornbread, cucumber and tomato salad, baked beans and a slice of watermelon). Of course, there is also dessert (a strawberry/huckleberry/blackberry cobbler with whipped cream). YUM.
After comes the entertainment. This is where I thought I would get scared. It was, surprisingly, very nice. “Colonel” Paul Vance, a true cowboy historian in every since of the meaning, and Josh Gayer offer roping lessons, live music, an axe throwing demonstration and a little history while you take it all in. There are also horse shoes to play if you want to get a game going.
The Colonel clearly enjoys sharing his pastimes with others to the point where he had to be wrangled to leave when it started getting dark. The intimate group (the Rancher Cookout can accommodate as few as 16 guests) then rides the covered wagon back to the barn. The wagon is a welcome relief since you will more than likely be tired and full.
This is a good option for anyone who has family or friends visiting. And trust me, you will enjoy yourself right along with them.
The Rancher Cookout details:
Open: Tuesday through Saturday until September 15th
Cost: $95 for adults with a trail ride, $75 for kids age 6-12
$70 with just the chuckwagon and dinner, $50 for kids ages 5-12
Reservations required. Call 307-739-2654