Diamond in the Rough

In the saddle since 1912, a family-run ranch is the jewel of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Written by Jenn Thornton

Diamond Cross Ranch runs deep in the DNA of Jackson Hole. A gateway to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, this historic working ranch has been around since 1912, but in the hands of only one family—and a remarkable clan at that. 

Third-generation ranchers, Grant and Jane Golliher have a tight rein on operations. Rather than sell the ranch to a developer keen to build yet another golf course or condo, they choose to sustain the land that sustains them—a blood, sweat and tears decision, but the right one for this tight-knit family. “Without our parents’ hard work and dedication to leave us this amazing space, we would not be doing what we are today,” say the Gollihers, who, though drawn in by the romance of open spaces, are steely-eyed pragmatists when it comes to the realities of what it takes to keep a working ranch up and running. Long hours, lots of work, and resources.  


Without our parents’ hard work and dedication to leave us this amazing space, we would not be doing what we are today.

The Gollihers

 

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” the Gollihers matter-of-factly acknowledge of their decision to branch into what they call “creative agriculture” (non-traditional streams of business). “We needed other income to preserve the ranch for open space and further the education of our children.” The Gollihers found a niche in working with corporate clients when, 25 years ago, Diamond Cross Ranch hosted its first group—300 of the top brass from Microsoft. “It really launched our business,” they say. Today the ranch—voted Wyoming’s #1 wedding destination— hosts all kinds of events for larger groups, along with photo and video shoots for different commercial clients, and a limited number of guests each season to preserve the authenticity of the experience.

The “great outdoors” don’t get any greater than it does in this storied part of the West. With not one but two world-famous national parks as playgrounds, the region is a haven for outdoor activities. Fishing. Hiking. Horseback riding. Mountain biking. If it is even remotely actionable, it’s happening in and around Jackson Hole. The ranch, then, is in the enviable position of granting passage to the best of just about everything. 

Heritage, to which the ranch holds tight, is a big part of the Diamond Cross Ranch experience. “We preserve our historic value because it is the legacy that our grandparents and parents left us,” say the Gollihers. Jane’s grandfather, Fred Feuz, is among the earliest homesteaders in Jackson Hole, having arrived in 1912, when it was barely a town at all. Those were hardscrabble days for Fred and his wife Caroline, but they made a good long go of it, and after the Second World War, Jane’s parents, Walt and Betty Feuz, established Diamond Cross Ranch in Buffalo Valley. 


We preserve our historic value because it is the legacy that our grandparents and parents left us.


 

 

“Then it came down to myself, my three sisters and our husbands,” says Jane. “Now it is with our sons and their wives. My grandson, Walter, is the beginning of the fifth generation. He’s 3 years old.” Not many places like Diamond Cross Ranch are left in the American West, which, though strongly spurred and happily chapped, has given itself a good dusting off over the years. It’s an authentic, family-run operation that doesn’t just throw on a fashionable pair of boots and a nice hat, it rolls up its sleeves and gets to work. The early struggle and perseverance of the Feuz family makes the experience “more meaningful than if a “person simply bought a ranch,” the Gollihers observe. “So much work has been done here. So much labor. So much history.”

So much beauty. Based at the foot of the Grand Tetons, one is hard-pressed to find a better view in the American West. Peaks to bring grown men to their knees. As Diamond Cross likes to say, “Nothing clears the mind like a mountain ranch.” True. But this particular mountain ranch does everything it can to steal the breath from your body, too. The land is green, the air is brisk, the sky is wide, and the space blissfully open. “It is our joy to share the beauty of the ranch with our visitors,” say the Gollihers. 

They also share their know-how—born and raised in Jackson Hole, Jane has been riding horses as long as she’s been walking, and Grant is a renowned horse whisperer who trains quarter horses professionally and has an affection for recusing and training especially difficult horses. (“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” he is fond of saying.) Grant uses natural horsemanship principles to speak to Fortune 500 companies about leadership, and outlines them as applicable to everyone in his newly released book “Think Like a Horse.” Though Diamond Cross Ranch is far cry from the days when Fred Feuz rode into town, it survives on the wits and hard work of the Gollihers. “Instead of keeping it within the family and private, we open the ranch to give visitors all over the world a taste of the true West and those values.” Some wild horses should never be tamed.


Instead of keeping it within the family and private, we open the ranch to give visitors all over the world a taste of the true West and those values.


 

Photographs courtesy of Grant Golliher