Wagon-training around the Tetons~Tanya Hanson



A while back,  I and my hubby T.L., brother-in-law Timmy and sis Roberta (l-r in the pic above) had the experience of a lifetime, taking a wagon train around the Tetons with an amazing group, Teton Wagon Train and Horse Adventures headed by wagonmaster Jeff Warburton out of Jackson, Wyoming. He’s a true cowboy and a gentleman and guested here in Wildflower Junction not long after we got back.

Anyway, this fantastic trip helped inspire my eight-novella series Hearts Crossing Ranch, about the lives and loves of eight siblings of a Colorado working ranch that also runs city slicker wagon trains. The entire series–including the never-before-published finale about the baby sister Chelsea–has been compiled in one big anthology, available next month, and available for pre-order.


Anyway….We spent four days circling the Tetons through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest bordering Yellowstone bear country. We didn’t see any bear– likely the thundering horses skeered ’em away.

We got our start in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

First stop on the bus taking us to the wagons were photo-ops of the Grand lady herself..followed by her neighbor Mount Moran reflected perfectly in a oxbow lake.

These scenes were practically perfection in itself..but all breath stopped when we reached The Wagons.

 There was nothing quite like chuck wagon cooking in the open mountain air.

Pulling our wagons were magnificent draft horses, Percherons and Belgians. They are named in teams, such as Lady and Tramp, Gun and Smoke, Sandy and Sage, Jack and Jill. The first name is always the horse on the left. These glorious beasts are capable of pulling up to 4,000 pounds as a team, and they love to work. In winter, they lead sleighs to the elk refuge outside Jackson.                                                              

While the wagons do have rubber tires and padded benches, the gravel roads are nothing like a modern freeway. Most times our route was called the “cowboy rollercoaster.”

Most of our hard-working, helpful cowpokes were college students working for the summer. I promise you they remembered everybody’s name from the get-go. No question was too dumb.



I think everybody’s favorite “crew member” was Buddy, probably the cutest dog ever. He accompanied every trail ride after following the draft horses from camp to camp…he romped in every stream and lake, caught mice, and totally stole everybody’s heart. Jeff says, Buddy’s pretty disgusted to become a backyard dog after the summertime.

Our tents were comfy—all sleeping essentials are provided–, and there was nothing so fine as a cup of Arbuckle’s to warm us up on a chilly evening.  After supper—cowboy potatoes, Indian frybread, and raspberry butter are among our favorites—we gathered around the campfire for Jeff’s tall tales, historical accounts of the Old West, legends, guitar strumming, cowboy poetry and songs, S’mores, and delicious Dutch oven desserts such as peach cobbler and cherry chocolate cake always served to the ladies first.

One of the nicest parts of the meals was Jeff leading us in a blessing first. Nobody had to join in…but seems like everybody did.


Days were full of Wyoming wildflowers, lakes and pine trees reaching for the clouds.   Nights after the camp quieted down were almost beyond description: the stars are endless, multi-layered, sparkling on forever and ever amen. What a sight.                                                   

But the most fun of all was riding horses!  Folks either rode, hiked, or wagonned it to the next camp each day.   My favorite mount was Copper. You can see her ears in the photo below–I’m astride and taking a pic of my hubby, ahead in the red ball cap.


Our last day, the Pony Express rode through camp and brought us all mail.

Me and mine, well, we had the time of our life.


As Jeff said when we left, “There’s always be a campfire burnin’ for ya here in Wyomin.”


Yep. I’m feeling the warmth right now.



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20 thoughts on “Wagon-training around the Tetons~Tanya Hanson”

  1. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful article, our vacation this year is WY and sonim excited to see all these wonderful photos.
    You have a great rest of your week.

    • Hi Tonya, oh, you’re going to love it! The town of Jackson (where the ranch buses first picked us up to get to the wagons) is really western and fun, too. Enjoy and take lots of pictures! Thanks so much for stopping by today.

    • DebraG, it was truly amazing. I think about it all the time. There were repeat travelers, too…maybe some year when the grandangels are old enough, we can all go again! I so appreciate you posting today.

    • Hi Estella, yes indeed it was. I had read about it in a magazine and was instantly intrigued but doubted anybody would want to go. Wow, was I surprised when they did! Thanks for posting.

    • You’re very welcome, Melanie. I highly recommend the adventure. Kids have to be four years old, but it truly is a family-style vacation. And we even had a great-gramma in her 80’s–her fourth time! Wow. I so thank you for commenting today.

  2. That is beautiful country. We have been out there twice. The first time there were forest fires in the area. It was hazy and we didn’t have those beautiful vistas. We had poor visibility driving into Yellowstone with smoke over the roads. The second trip out 3 or 4 years ago we took our 15 year old grandson with us. No big fires there that time but bad ones in Colorado. In Yellowstone we did a wagon train ride out for a campfire dinner with western music by fireside. Not an overnight experience, but enjoyable just the same. It didn’t happen during our visit, but they have had bears come into their site area.

    We will have to look for a similar experience the next time we are out West, even if only for a couple nights. I am glad the four of you had such a wonderful time. I checked the website. They have some other exciting opportunities.

  3. Hi Patricia, it’s always so nice when you visit us in Wildflower Junction. You love the West like we all do. What a lucky grandson. Thanks for posting today. I so appreciate you.

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