White Grass Dude Ranch, Wyoming

Date posted: January 2013


White Grass Dude Ranch was one of the last great pioneer dude ranches in Jackson Hole. Homesteaded in 1913, White Grass operated as a dude ranch from 1919 until 1985 when it was acquired by the National Park Service as part of Grand Teton National Park. The 13 buildings on approximately 30 acres were deteriorating due to abandonment and deferred maintenance until a public-private partnership between the National Trust and National Park Service pledged to rehabilitate White Grass as part of the Western Center for Historic Preservation. The Western Center teaches National Park Service employees and volunteers traditional building crafts to help them preserve log architecture in national parks in the West.


Save one of the last great pioneer dude ranches and help the National Park Service address its growing backlog of deferred maintenance needs, which includes many historic structures listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the 300 historic structures in Grand Teton National Park and 1,000 historic structures in Yellowstone National Park are in fair to poor condition and in need of preservation. The skills necessary to preserve, rehabilitate, and maintain these structures are not always available in today's Western parks and surrounding communities.

By the numbers

100 – years since White Grass Ranch was homesteaded
13 – historic cabins to be saved and rehabilitated
66 – years that White Grass operated as a dude ranch
$950,000 – amount of private donations raised by the National Trust


Thanks to an innovative collaboration between the National Trust and National Park Service, White Grass Dude Ranch will once again take its place as a beacon to people who care about the American West’s landscapes, traditions, and heritage. As home to the Western Center for Historic Preservation, White Grass provides a site for an important new educational center that will rapidly increase the number of people with the skills to save threatened rustic architecture found across Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain states. National Park Service maintenance staff, volunteers and outside contractors will work side by side with the Western Center crew to accomplish this important objective. Part of the National Park Service’s Vanishing Treasures of the North program, this project would not have been a success without the National Trust’s commitment to raise $950,000 in private donations to match Federal dollars for the rehabilitation of five of the most significant cabins at White Grass.

Key takeaways

  • Sharing and illustrating the important message that cultural and historic resources found in our National Parks are just as important as the natural resources and should be protected and maintained at the same level.
  • Public-private partnerships can provide necessary leverage to protect historic places on public lands.
  • Identifying a viable, creative alternative use for vacant historic properties on public land that complements the Federal agency needs is a key to success.

Photo (Top): The historic landscape of the White Grass Dude Ranch in Jackson Hole.
Credit: Frank Galey Family




Have questions about this case study? Looking for others like it? Contact Preservation Leadership Forum, forum@savingplaces.org.