Jackson Hole, WY, A Teton Tree House
National Geographic TRAVELER
by Jayne Wise
A Teton Tree House
Bed & Breakfast Inn
Who could resist a place called A Teton Tree House, on Heck of a Hill Road? Actually the hill's not that bad. Just a short drive up beyond the crossroads hamlet of Wilson, and you're there -- at a whimsical, multi-level playhouse of a place almost hidden on a forested slope. Fuschia fireweed and creamy columbine nodded at me as I tackled the 95-step climb up into the bowers of this aboreal retreat. Actually the climb's not bad either -- and worth every step.
"This started out as a cabin for my wife, Chris, and me," Denny Becker told me. "But I just kept adding on." He gave a friendly, wide-open Wyoming laugh, and we began a tour that took me along labyrinthine hallways, on stairs that curved up and down four levels, and past six guest rooms where the forest presses into windows and rough lodgepole pine walls seem to mirror the outside.
In this sylvan setting, it was hard to believe that the busy tourist town of Jackson, with its fine Western art galleries, cowboy bars, and upscale restaurants, lay only eight miles down the road, with Grand Teton National Park several miles to the north. But all that could wait. This evening, I eased myself into the inn's hot tub and watched the stars bloom in Western heavens.
In the morning I followed the tempting aroma of baking to the breakfast table and joined with the other guests indulging in fresh fruit, hot porridge, and a sampler of muffins. Outside, we could see a darting contingent of wild things -- squirrels, hummingbirds, chickadees, nuthatches and finches -- busy at the line of feeders on the deck. "Keep an eye on the hillside," Denny advised, "You might spot a snowshoe hare, or even a moose."
Former wilderness guides, Denny and Chris had lots of ideas for the day's activities. Some guests decided on a daylong trip through Yellowstone -- its closest entrance about 60 miles away -- but I drove along the nearby benchland above the cottonwood-corridored Snake River, an area so serene that Hollywood moguls and other monied pooh-bahs have built rustic-elegant homes here.
In the afternoon, I set out for the ragged peaks of the Tetons. The piney smell of sap filled the air as I hiked the trail around bluer-than-blue Jenny Lake. By the time I got back to my car, dusk was settling in as a full moon inched up before the granite face of the Grand Teton. The mountian was coldly, penetratingly beautiful -- and so austere. Gratefully, I turned the car toward the human-scale intimacy of the inn that waits for me in the trees.