Flagg Ranch and Jackson Hole

1 09 2013

It was a long day, nearly 6 hours up from Rawlins, but we’ve arrived at the Flagg Ranch RV campground on the shores of the Snake River and just south of Yellowstone National Park. This campground has about 100 RV sites and 75 tent sites. All RV sites offer plenty of dense forest, good privacy with full hookups including water, electricity and sewer. The campground has shower and laundry facilities. The lodge provides a small convenience store, restaurant/bar and a gift shop.  There is no cell service here, but there’s complimentary WiFi at the Lodge.  We found the satellite WiFi to be barely usable and were advised there’s better Wifi at Colter Bay Visitors Center or in Jackson.

The Flagg Ranch area was initially occupied by the Snake River Military, part of the network of US Army posts to patrol and watch over Yellowstone National Park which was originally under military administration. In 1910, Edward Sheffeld established the Flagg Ranch as a dude ranch and exploited hot springs along nearby Polecat Creek for bathing and health effects. In 1972 the areas around the Flagg Ranch were transferred to the National Park Service and taken over by a concessioner. In 2011, the Flagg Ranch Company, an affiliate of Vail Resorts, acquired a 15 year lease to operate all aspects of the ranch.

During a conversation with the restaurant manager we find out that the hot springs of Polecat Creek still exist and are in fact used by employees and guests that want to make about a 30 minute trek through the woods. Sunday morning turns out to be bright and brisk, perfect for a short hike through the woods in search of hot springs. As we get close, the hot water isn’t hard to spot with steam rising out of the creek and alongside ponds. The first, Huckleberry Springs is larger, but sits right over a vent that produces very hot, deep mud. We were warned that the high mud temperatures could be uncomfortable – he was right, unless you’re on the side, or able to balance on a rock, the mud is too warm to stand in. Moving on after several other groups arrive, we find Polecat Springs. Set in an open field right along the Polecat River with beautiful views of the Teton range, this pond is cleaner with a rock bottom and more moderate temperatures.

After returning to camp for a shower and quick breakfast snack, we’re bound for Jackson, WY for lunch and souvenir shopping. It takes about an hour to drive south along Jackson Lake and past the Jackson Hole airport before arriving at the old town section of Jackson. Mostly art galleries and tourist shops, it reminds us a bit of Steamboat Springs. We enjoy lunch on an outdoor patio before locating the Snake River Brewing Company for a few samples of the local brew. Then it’s back to Flagg Ranch, more from there tomorrow…

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