A Look at Land Ownership in the Tetons

Jackson Hole Land Ownership

“The one-time cowboy hangout of the 1940s and hippie pit-stop of the 1960s – a valley with the town of Jackson at its center – now caters to a new clan: the Forbes 400.” Warner, Gary. (Jan. 1995) “The Wealthy Have Taken A Liking To Jackson Hole”

At some point in our history people starting to migrate out of populated cities in search of a better life. The mountains have always called adventures, hippies, artist and nature lovers alike. So it made sense that mountain towns across North America become a cluster for like-minded folks wanting a simpler, healthier way of living. Houses were cheaper, jobs barely paid anything but when you have the outdoors in your backyard,  all the other B.S. that comes with living in a city is quickly forgotten once you step foot out into your backyard.

In recent years the often greedy real-estate market caught wind of what was happening in these hippie mountain towns. Ski resorts changed their business models from selling lift tickets to selling base area condos and luxury homes.

“I doubt anyone in this room over 30 was raised in Jackson.” – American Avalanche Institute founder and longtime Jackson, WY local Rod Newcomb.

Jackson Hole Land Trust

A total of 25,000 acres of open space in Teton County has been donated for preservation to the Jackson Hole Land Trust over the years making the land off-limits to any future developments. As a conservationist, I like this idea a lot.  Keep open lands the way they once were while allowing animals to exist in their natural habitat.

Take a look at the image below, the areas in bright green are annexed to the Jackson Hole Land Trust. While the dark green parts of the map show the national parks/forest areas. Most if not all of the land in and around Jackson Wyoming is protected from future development, 97% of it to be exact.

Land Trust owned lands in Jackson, WY in Bright Green, dark green is National Forrest


However, some in the community have started to question if such a large scale holding of land benefits anyone but current property owners. Surely the wildlife appreciates the open space in and around Teton County, but what about the next wave of seasonal workers, where are they going to call home?

If you had the financial means to buy the land next to your home and donate to a group like the Jackson Hole Land Trust what would your reasoning be?  To preserve open space in Teton County, to give wildlife a place to call home, or to make sure a neighbor never blocks your view of the Tetons.

Who Owns the Majority of Land in Jackson?

The most expensive ranch for sale in the United States according to the WSJ happens to be located in Jackson, WY at the Jackson Hole Land and Cattle Ranch. This 1,750-acre ranch is currently for sale for $175 Million.

Could a developer with deep pockets build a community of sorts located minutes outside of town, slowing Jackson’s housing crisis on the Jackson Hole Land and Cattle Ranch property?

Thankfully the 1,750 acres, for the most part, will remain intact when sold.  As the buyer will not be able to subdivide the land thanks in part to the former Jackson Hole Alliance for Responsible Planning and current Teton County regulations. The land will stay as is forever for generations and generations to come.

Lockhart Cattle, Leeks Canyon Ranch LL, Callahan River Ranch LLC, Porter River Ranch LLC owns a good portion of the remaining undeveloped land around Jackson, Wyoming.

Along with their sprawling ranch south of the town, the families above own all the land from the Snake River Bridge in Wilson along the Snake River levee all the way to the Snake River Bridge South of town.

We’re talking thousands of acres, millions if not billions in land value.

Cody and Chase Lockhart, run the Lockhart Cattle Company, their brand a heart with an L inside. Cody also doubles as a financial adviser for Wells Fargo so clearly, his family understands the value of their land. In recent years numerous court rulings have taken place between the families regarding ownership and access to these open spaces used for cattle grazing.

Money does funny things to people, especially families fighting over ranching land or better yet millions and millions of dollars. Wonder what their grandfather would think of all of this?

Will families like the Lockhart’s and Gill’s consider donating land to the Trust? Or will they get into the real estate market once ranching is no longer profitable? Perhaps the younger generation will take a look at the long-term sustainability of raising cattle in the Tetons?

Jackson Wyoming Housing

Resort towns with limited housing could potentially allow landowners to build an extra “rental” structures on their land, provided the units were restricted to long-term rentals.  The problem becomes the “not in my backyard” mentality. It’s easy to want additional rentals when you’re in need housing, the flip side becomes once you have purchased your own place.  Attitudes and opinions quickly shift once you start paying property taxes. I like my neighborhood as is, you might feel the same way too.

Another option would be to allow creative, small-scale solutions to rental housing. The tiny house movement is taking off globally. A landowner, for instance, could set up Tony Homes on their property, fully hooked up with power, water, and even sewer.

But ask yourself this, as property owner living next door would you really want to see a bunch of tiny homes lined up on your street, more cars out front, more people and more noise?

This article is in responsive to the current housing crisis that is gripping resort towns across the United States. Its such big news these days that VICE wrote an article titled “Homelessness and Housing Shortages are a Big Problem in Luxury Resort Towns like Jackson Hole” on 12 January 2016.

Jackson Wyoming Rental Market

Southpark Home
This home sits on seven acres where you can easily enjoy privacy and beautiful surroundings – I can attest to this as I run by this house daily. Best of all we would be neighbors.  4 Bedroom – $9,800 month

This exquisite home is conveniently located in downtown Jackson Hole. Three blocks away from the Famous Town Square 4 Bedroom – $20,000 month

WIlson Home
Incredible 360 Degree views of Grand Teton, Sleeping Indian, Glory Bowl, and Wilson Faces. Double fireplaces in the living room, (it gets cold in Jackson) plus the house features a 2 car attached garage. Now depending on what year this home was built, heating such a place could get costly, even with wood. 2 Bedroom – $3,200 month

Log Condo
This Picturesque Log Condo Located in the Heart of Jackson Hole can be yours for just over $3k a month. It comes with free Internet and DirecTv, Trash, water and electric are included. 1 Bedroom – $3,200 month

Aspen Meadows
If you don’t own too many toys a Studio apartment at the Aspens may just be right for you. The Price/Square foot on this rental is $33.60, it’s still lower than Manhattan yet above the average rental price $1.00 per square foot in the United States. Jackson Wyoming housing can be hard to come by, snatch this up when you see it on the market again. Studio – $1,260

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13 Comments on "A Look at Land Ownership in the Tetons"

  1. Having lived in Jackson, I can tell you that most of the people that live there were not born there. They are people that visited and decided that it would be a great place to live. (and it IS) But, having said that, if you moved to Jackson, a big time tourist community, and you didn’t do your homework so that you understood the housing costs, you have no right to complain. If you are working for $10 hr and you pretty much knew that’s what your situation was going to be, there are 2 points to make: #1 if you did your research, understand the housing costs and STILL moved to Jackson, stop whining about the housing costs. 2. If you moved to Jackson and didn’t do you homework regarding housing costs, shame on YOU. Stop your whining. Your situation is your fault either way.Now… should there be more affordable housing in Jackson? Sure. But, as liberals always feel, the rich and better-heeled folks should have to subsidize it. I am not one of those rich folks but do not feel that, simply because you are more well off than I am, you should have to pay for my decisions. Pertaining to our guitar shop, we sold our home in Jackson and have moved to be closer to family but, not only was our shop the ONLY guitar shop for a 100 mile radius, we didn’t adopt the “Jackson Pricing Policy” as most retail stores did. The JPP was pretty much marking up and additional 25-30% those items that you just can’t buy anywhere else in or near Jackson. We were (and still are in our new community) a lot more sensitive to the needs of our customers.

  2. Mike: I just shared your posting on my Facebook page, and I agree with most of it for sure:

    …Heres what I wrote on my FB posting:

    This is just a small fraction of what I am facing here in Jackson as I look for yet another place to live…Why am I still here? Because I love it in so many more ways than one… but eventually, unless I win the lottery, etc, I will likely have to leave…and that is such a major problem in these kinds of town nowadays: good peeps who put their heart and soul into the place, still end up one day leaving in sadness, and disgust…Who is to blame? The wealthy? Hardly! Its GREED. Locals…getting greedy. I hate to say it, but in the end, all landlords and homeowners do have a choice when it comes to setting a rent or a price, but it seems they all take as much as they can get, and don’t give damn about the increasingly fragmented communities they leave behind. Its the “More is better, I got mine, I am sorry you don’t have as much”, etc etc, mentality that is now more common than bad Madonna songs. lol. Sad, indeed.

    • Michael,

      My advise, take a trip to Kmart today. Or anytime this week.. They just had a “boatload” of workers leave and now there is no staff.. I waited about 15 minutes in line with another 20+ people before giving up. Willing to bet we will see more and more and more of this. Look how many jobs are in the paper, why so, because no one can afford to live here on $15 an hour. Or the $9 Lucky’s market is paying.

      But what you said here “Because I love it in so many more ways than one…good peeps who put their heart and soul into the place, still end up one day leaving in sadness, and disgust…” is so true, something I am feeling as are my peers.

      Its all fun and games until there ain’t anyone to answer the 911 dispatch calls or respond for that matter.

  3. I defy you to show me a desireable resort community that is managed by the poor and middle class earners… Of course, the wealthy dominate Jackson Hole. And, as I said, this is a resort area. Everyone has a choice as to where they live. If it’s too pricey, the answer is simple. Live somewhere else.

    • Jack,

      Attitudes like this comment “If it’s too pricey, the answer is simple. Live somewhere else.” are awful, if you feel Jackson is only for those that can afford the current prices kudos to you. Tell that to all the locals that grew up here who’s families have been priced out as well. You can find a bunch of them living down in Star Valley..


    • “Everyone has a choice as to where they live. If it’s too pricey, the answer is simple. Live somewhere else.”

      This has got to be the most common lazy-man’s response to this problem in JH that needs an actual answer. There are options for creating affordable housing in the valley and no doubt businesses have an interest in retaining long-term workers here. Housing prices should not be punitive, and, if they are, there are both private sector and government options able to combat it and give those who work in the valley a fair shake at renting and even owning.

  4. “How is someone to get into home ownership now in this community?” I can think of a couple of ways:
    -Allow people with lots out in the county to split off a piece and plat it for sale. This was allowed here some years back- people would subdivide their property this way so that their kids could build. The County and what was then the Jackson Hole Alliance for Responsible Planning put a stop to that.
    -Allow people who own a few acres in the County to build extra structures, provided they are for rental. Private enterprise would provide solutions, if the government would get out of the way. More rentals would be available. Prices would come down. The people would make the investment, take the risks, and gain from it. As it is, they severely restrict building, and throw every obstacle in the path of anyone trying to build.
    -Allow creative, small scale solutions to rental housing. The Tiny House movement shows the way. I could, for instance, set up a couple of shipping container homes on my property, complete with water, sewer, and power. Small rental units that would serve singles or couples for much of the year. Can’t do that now.

    What I am proposing is small scale, dispersed, flexible private sector solutions. The Town and County government you vote for doesn’t want that- They want concentrated development under bureaucratic control. It is not simply the rich driving up prices that is shutting you out of this valley.

    What I have outlined is a funkier, dispersed, disorganized community where the folks at the bottom have a chance to craft their own solutions, and work together to provide them. I have seen it work around other mountain towns, like Boulder and around Tahoe, and in British Columbia, before the bureaucrats shut it down.

    Let’s say you could find someone who would sell you a half acre, and finance it, and let you connect to water, power and septic for a fee. Let’s say you could build a shipping container home on it, instead of an architect-approved, LEED certified, engineered house that is five times what you need. Let’s say it wouldn’t take two years and five variances to get a permit. Would that work?
    Right now you can enter a lottery for an “affordable” home, which is basically public housing, and hope you get lucky. If you do, you will have some County bureaucrat looking over your shoulder as long as you live here.

    Your government WANTS you to blame the “wealthy” and private enterprise for this problem. They want you to vote for their program. You might want to consider whether their way is the only way.

    • RG,

      Wow I agree with you 100% here. I was not aware land owners are not able to subdivide their properties, yikes. No wonder my landlord looked at me funny when I asked if the place I am renting (which has been on the market for 2 years) could be split up, it I take the barn and small chunk of land for a fraction of what your asking price. But as a landowner you should be able to split it up and divide however you want, now putting commercial in residential I see issues there otherwise whats the problem?

      Are you saying current country zoning is not allowing for tiny houses or shipping container houses to be built? Wow, thats something if true I take offense to. Again not everyone is ealthy enough to throw up a stick built SFH.

      The “affordable” housing program here is a joke, one I will not be putting a ticket into the lottery for. Hundreds of thousands of dollars is not affordable by any means!

  5. Mandy Cartwright | September 2, 2015 at 2:35 PM | Reply

    I’d pay the $3,200. That is if I could afford Jackson Hole @ all!

  6. You just need 30 really close friends. I remember sharing my first A-frame in Mammoth with about 6 guys, although I think prices have gone up since then. At least you save on tax in Wyoming…

    • Love it Jeremy!

      Thanks for the comment, I didn’t realize you lived in Mammoth. No wonder you snowboard so well 🙂

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