Turpin Meadow Ranch: Snowshoeing in Wyoming’s Grand Teton Wild Country

“We cannot overlook the importance of wild country as a source of inspiration, to which we give expression in writing, in poetry, drawing and painting, in mountaineering, or in just being there.”  – Olaus Murie

Traveling to Wyoming offers a unique opportunity to see countless landscapes – each representing a different brush stroke on a vast painting that seems to go on forever. At the focal point of this work of art is the northwestern corner of the state: Home to the majestic Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks…and the tranquil offerings of Turpin Meadow Ranch.

I consider myself a religious man.  I believe spirituality – no matter the denomination or worship setting – is ingrained in the surrounding world.  Connecting with nature and Mother Earth has its benefits; it provides a necessary hit of the “reset” button for the soul.  To aide in the pursuit of transcendental perfection, Turpin Meadow Ranch offers snowshoers a wild country excursion where breaking trail in two to three feet of snow is fairly typical.  But “typical” doesn’t describe the overall experience at the Ranch; it is the epic snowshoe destination and genuine rustic lodge found only off-the-beaten path.

In fact, the Ranch is found tucked away in a scenic valley about 10 miles down Buffalo Valley Road, just off highway 26/287 and approximately 45 miles northwest of Dubois, Wyoming (pronounced Du-boyz).  My wife and children accompanied me from our home in Denver, as we had decided to make this a Christmas trip.  Despite the long drive, excitement levels ran high as the kids anticipated some holiday fun.

Traveling to the Ranch is an experience, and quite the reward after a white-knuckle drive over snowy Togwotee Pass (pronounced Toe-go-tee), which is part of the Absaroka Mountains.  You ultimately start to see what makes Wyoming famous after reaching the peak of Togwotee; it’s a remote, unscathed mountain experience with an elevation of 9,658 feet.  The pass and surrounding mountains receive heavy snowfall throughout the winter season.  Total snow depths at the pass can reach up to 25 feet during the winter season and sometimes upwards of 40 feet.

After conquering Togwotee, the drive becomes less treacherous and far more scenic.  The majestic Grand Tetons are located to the south and are a prominent part of the Jackson Hole Valley skyline.  Eventually, the Teton Range will become a permanent part of the skyline you will witness and appreciate once you reach the Ranch.  Views to the south from any of the cabins at the Ranch provide a humbling view that will forever haunt your snowshoeing dreams.

I unfortunately brought to the Ranch a whole year’s worth of stress – 2008 was certainly a year worth forgetting.  But, once I stepped out of the car and heard the crunch of snow under my boots, I could feel the year’s frustrations and aggravations slowly melt away into the cold air that surrounded me.  “I hope you have a chance to unwind while you’re here,” said Dennis Jordan, the General Manager at the Ranch.  “We’re really glad you’re here.”

With a couple feet of snow on the ground, the Ranch’s main lodge aglow with Christmas lights and members of the staff preparing a holiday feast, I immediately felt at home.  As my family and I eagerly entered the lodge, we were greeted with smiles, introductions and warm regards.

Dennis and Beth Jordan work together to run the Ranch’s day-to-day operations – and their four kids aren’t far behind.  As my kids (Hayden and Lola) began to run amok after a long drive from Denver, I felt somewhat concerned for the ruckus that they were about to create.  But the Jordans made us feel as though we were part of their family, instantly alleviating my apprehension.  “I now have a home in Wyoming,” I thought.

Unpretentious Turpin Meadow Ranch is the ideal place to take a family, especially for Christmas.  The charm and spirit of the Ranch enveloped my surroundings while visiting.  And before we started to unload our luggage and check-in to our cabin, we were excited to see a group of moose grazing near the main lodge.  As we gawked at our first encounter with Wyoming wildlife, the moose introduced us to an upcoming long holiday weekend of relaxation and snowshoeing.

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About the author

Ryan Alford

Ryan Alford is the founder of Snowshoe Magazine and River Sports Magazine. He now spends his days in Texas working for Lockheed Martin but dreaming of being back in the mountains of his home state of Colorado.

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