A private jet lands at a tiny commercial airport. Moments later, a dusty Mercedes GLS SUV pulls up to the plane. It would have been there sooner, but the car had to stop twice–once to let a moose cross the road, another time to snap a picture of a bear who was ambling beside the highway. Two people emerge from the jet–their faces obscured by sunglasses and hats. The Mercedes whisks them away in the direction of the Grand Tetons into the valley known as Jackson Hole. Welcome to Wyoming. Your favorite celebrities’ “home away from home.”
In 1983, a former-carpenter-turned-movie-star had appeared in a string of soon-to-be iconic films that included the original Star Wars, the first Indiana Jones adventure, and Blade Runner. The actor on top of Hollywood’s A-list was Harrison Ford, but all he could think of at that time was where to get away.
When Ford rolled into Wyoming, he knew he had found his sanctuary. “The first time I saw Jackson Hole, I said, ‘This is the place that’s been in my mind all the time,’” Ford once told a biographer.
What Ford saw, was an 800-acre tract of land nestled alongside the aptly named Snake River, for the way it crosscuts the loose rocky soil dotted with cottonwoods, willows, and big green leaf sagebrush.
Elk and mule deer roamed the property and bald eagles built their nests at the peak of the tall trees framed by the majestic mountains in the background.
The land already had a house on it, but Ford quickly went to work sketching plans for a new house, a guest home, and a barn/workshop. Of course, every building would feature custom master-crafted cabinetry.
Since then, Ford has become an active member of the growing community. He fights for the conservation of the area and volunteers his own piloting skills for aerial search and rescue missions.
Ford came to Wyoming to seek balance and harmony with nature. He ended up staying and helping to ensure those qualities remain intact for future generations.
In the town square, in the heart of Jackson, there’s a local watering hole where the barstools have been replaced by saddles and the music’s always country. It’s called the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and it’s a favorite of part-time Jackson Hole resident Sandra Bullock. In 2014, Bullock celebrated her 50th birthday at the cowboy bar with Chelsea Handler and six other close friends.
Bullock loves the skiing in Jackson in the colder months (she had Jennifer Anniston on the slopes with her in 2016), and riding horses or hiking trails with her kids and celebrity pals like Ryan Reynolds when temperatures warm up. Never one to shun the outdoors, Bullock seems perfectly comfortable in a pair of jeans with cowboy boots.
“My goal now is to remember every place I’ve been, only do things I love, and not say yes when I don’t mean it,” Bullock once said. With that attitude, she’ll probably try to spend more time in places like her cozy 3-bedroom, 2-bath log cabin that sits on a 2.94-acre lot surrounded by soft firs and tall Aspens.
Earlier this week, in celebration of dropping his new album “Ye,” the ever-surprising Kanye West flew a collection of music critics, close friends, and collaborators to his Wyoming studio to catch the first listen of the finished LP. He also shared a link to an app that allowed anyone to stream the event live.
It was a surreal experience for the journalists and industry types who attended the listening party at Diamond Cross Ranch. Before the music started, they were greeted by a herd of horses nibbling on yellow dandelions in a field. Eating a mac-and-cheese buffet in a barn with Chris Rock, Jonah Hill, and Kim Kardashian is not the prelude anyone would expect for the launch of a Kanye West album – but does Kanye do anything expected these days?
By all accounts, Wyoming seems to be good for Kanye. He seemed genuinely happy, smiling ear to ear, arms around close friends, as his diverse collection of invitees circled around a bonfire to bounce to his beats.
With an abundance of space and natural beauty, it’s easy to see why so many famous people come to this wide-open state. The wild American West has always inspired artists and writers. Ernest Hemingway once said, “there are two places I love; Africa and Wyoming.” He went on to write his novel A Farewell to Arms while staying at the Spear-o-Wigwam Ranch in the heart of Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains.
“Jackson Hole is a world-class destination at the foot of one of the most majestic mountain ranges in the West. We are steps from Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone, America’s 1st National Park,” Clancy said, before heading out to assist another family to make a Wyoming land purchase that would last for generations to come.
This fertile country was once the domain of the Arapaho and Cheyenne, fur trappers and pioneers. Wyoming will always stay true to its cowboy roots–while hiding a few escaped celebrities and investment bankers along the way.