Flagg Ranch History - Countdown: 27 Days

July 29, 2012 Posted by: KG

Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch is a privately operated resort located in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway whose rich history stretches back to the late 1800s. 

In 1872, the United States Cavalry made the first permanent occupation of the area as an outpost of Yellowstone. From this location, the cavalry protected both the valuable herds and delicate resources of our first national park. The outpost operated under Army control until 1906, when the land to the south of the Yellowstone boundary was turned over to the U.S. Forest Service, becoming Teton National Forest in 1908.

Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch Photo credit: Flagg Ranch Company

The station became a stopping point for travelers between Jackson, Wyoming and Yellowstone, easily identifiable by the flags that flew over it. In 1910, the Flagg Ranch was established by Edward S. Sheffield, who named the ranch after the old post's flags. Ed Sheffield was the brother of Ben Sheffield, who operated a dude ranch of his own, the Teton Lodge Resort near the Moran settlement in northern Jackson Hole. Flagg Ranch became a stopover for dudes traveling from Livingston, Montana to Sheffield's Teton Lodge in Moran, WY. A 50-mile stagecoach ride connected Flagg Ranch to Ashton, Idaho, the nearest point of connection to the Union Pacific Railroad line. Today, this road is known as the Grassy Lake Road and can still be traveled and explored by visitors. In 1927, the Midwest Review described Flagg Ranch as "splendid accommodations for the tourist," consisting of a large main lodge surrounded by cabins and tent houses. The Flagg Ranch grew along with the dude ranch and guest ranch industry as it developed in Jackson Hole, and by Sheffield's death in 1927, the Flagg Ranch was a fully equipped dude ranch.  

Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch, Photo credit: Flagg Ranch Company

In 1972 the section of Teton National Forest between Yellowstone and Grand Teton was transferred to the National Park Service as John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, to be operated by Grand Teton. The Flagg Ranch became a Park Service concessioner with the transfer. The original log lodge was destroyed by fire in 1981; a replacement structure was completed in 1995. The Flagg Ranch area was also heavily burned during the Yellowstone fires of 1988 by the Huck Fire, started by a tree falling on a power line near the ranch, which eventually covered more than 200,000 acres.

Smoke column near the Snake River as seen from Flagg Ranch, 1988, Photo credit: NPS

Flagg Ranch is the oldest continually operating resort in the upper Jackson Hole Valley. Perched on the banks of the Snake River, two miles south of Yellowstone National Park and five miles north of Grand Teton, visitors can enjoy this historic place by staying at the Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch, whether in a tent, cabin, or RV.


Sources: Daugherty, John. "A Place Called Jackson Hole: The historic resource study of Grand Teton National Park." Grand Teton National Park. 1999.

Last updated: July 30, 2012

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