I visited 2 very different luxury resorts in Jackson Hole, and the contrast between them helped explain why the area has become such a hotspot for celebs, CEOs, and the ultrawealthy

jackson hole resorts

Katie Warren/Business Insider

On a recent trip to Jackson Hole, I visited a dude ranch and a five-star hotel.

The Jackson Hole valley, which sits between the Teton Range and the Gros Ventre Mountain Range in Wyoming, is known for its dramatic natural beauty. Anchored by the ritzy resort town of Jackson, the area has become a magnet for celebrities and the ultra-wealthy.

Read more: I spent 3 days in Jackson, Wyoming - the most unequal place in America, where the 1% makes more than $16 million a yearAdvertisement

On a recent trip to Jackson Hole, I visited two very different destinations. One was Amangani, a luxury resort 10 minutes outside of Jackson that starts at $975 per night and goes up to $2,100 per night. It has valet parking, an outdoor infinity pool, and luxurious suites with soaking tubs.

The other was Gros Ventre River Ranch, a dude ranch nearly an hour from Jackson that charges visitors between $2,170 and $4,100 for a six-night, all-inclusive stay, which comes out to about $362 per night to start. At the ranch, guests can get a taste of modern cowboy life, sleeping in cabins or lodges and learning how to wrangle cattle.

I found that each resort offered its own distinct version of luxury.


Katie Warren/Business Insider

Amangani is a five-star resort 10 minutes outside of Jackson, Wyoming.

Tailored experiences and a focus on wellness

At Amangani, where hedge funds, oil and gas companies, and auto companies hold corporate events and a wedding buyout can easily cost well over $100,000, the standout feature is a heated outdoor infinity pool with mountain views. The five-star hotel's wellness space includes four spa treatment rooms and an exercise studio with his-and-her steam rooms.Amangani also partners with local businesses to give guests access to customizable outdoor experiences that include skiing, snowmobiling, horseback riding or riding in horse-drawn carriages, as well as scenic helicopter, plane, and hot air balloon rides. Advertisement

After my visit, it was clear that Amangani delivers on some of the major preferences of affluent travelers today: personalized experiences and wellness amenities.

Seclusion as the ultimate luxury

At Gros Ventre River Ranch, on the other hand, the main draw is just how secluded and disconnected it is from the rest of the world.

jackson hole dude ranch

Katie Warren/Business Insider

Gros Ventre River Ranch is a dude ranch in Kelly, Wyoming.


The dude ranch is a 50-minute drive from Jackson, instead of a 10-minute drive, like Amangani. There's no cell phone service at Gros Ventre, and WiFi is available only in the main lodge, not in the guest accommodations. That forces guests to disconnect from work and other distractions. But there's plenty to do instead: Guests can go horseback riding, fishing, hiking, and even learn how to wrangle and pen cattle.

Wyoming, as the least populous US state, offers a degree of seclusion no matter where you stay. That, combined with the varying luxury offerings, could explain why Jackson Hole has become such a hot destination for wealthy travelers and home buyers.

"We've seen it change from a nice little quaint cow town to millionaires," local rancher Jane Golliher told me. "And now billionaires are coming in buying out the millionaires."Advertisement

Jackson Hole

Katie Warren/Business Insider

Jackson, Wyoming, is not a cheap summer vacation destination.

Jackson: A hotspot for luxury, but what about budget travelers?

For those who aren't millionaires or billionaires, Jackson offers fewer options.

Finding an affordable place to stay on my trip was nearly impossible - especially because I was booking only about 10 days before my arrival. I scoured Airbnb but found nothing at all available in the town of Jackson. The closest thing I found was a room in someone's house in Driggs, Idaho, more than a 45-minute drive away, for $100 per night.Advertisement

Even the two-star hotels in Jackson were astonishingly pricey. A room at the Motel 6 on the outskirts of town cost more than $200 per night, and it was completely booked. I ended up at the second-cheapest option, a Super 8 with no elevator and unbearably slow WiFi, for $245 per night.

So, while the area is flush with options for travelers who are flush with cash, those don't want to spend around $200 per night on accommodations might want to rethink where they're staying.