Cunningham Cabin – A Peek At Jackson Hole’s Past

A nondescript turn off, a ¼ mile road boarded by “buck and rail” fences stretching like an dagger pointed directly at the Tetons, and sagebrush and flatland stretching all around you – why stop here?

After you park your car and pass through the open fence, a faint trail leads you to an unanticipated delight.  Cunningham cabin – really two small cabins with an open roofed middle stands in a large slight depression.  The trail leading to it is better described as a suggestion than a path, but it is impossible to get lost, the slope is gentle, and the reward is a timeless view of an era long past.

J. Pierce Cunningham staked a homestead on the site for 160 acres.  The remaining structure is the first of what once were several that once stood on the site.  Some understanding of their locations can be gleaned from the map and guide available at the beginning of the trail and the post holes in the ground that show where the corral once stood.

What I love is the quiet beauty that accentuates the loneliness and isolation that the original inhabitants must have experienced.  I have been here late in the day to watch sunsets, during storms and at night.  During the four months of the year that the road is barred by snow drifts, it makes a great location for snowshoeing. 

The cabin is on Route 89, 5 miles south of Moran Junction and about 15 minutes north of the airport.  If you are heading north a couple minutes after descending from a slight hill you will see a small sign on your left and a broad turn off with a narrow road bisecting its middle.  Follow the road to the end and then it is an easy walk to the cabin.  I have frequently seen buffalo during the summer and upon occasion moose in the winter (one December a moose jumped the fence and kept walking as if it wasn’t there).  Needless to say, on a clear night the stars are in their glory but be very careful walking and on the ride back home watch closely for the animals that think nothing of straying into the road.

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