Dubois, WY: Our impressions of the area

If you are looking for a quieter stay in a small town away from the hustle and bustle of Jackson and the areas surrounding or within Grand Tetons National Park (GTNP), this might be the place for you.  The population is less than 1000 residents, it’s about 1 1/2 hours away from GTNP, with a beautiful drive through Shoshone National Forest, crossing over the continental divide at over 9500 feet in elevation, and some gorgeous ever-changing scenery along the way.  They have a well stocked grocery store called Lynn’s Superfoods, and if you can’t find what you need there, the Ace Hardware or Family Dollar stores will likely have what you need.  The town is clean and quiet, and the residents seem somewhat reserved, but friendly and polite.  

According to Best Places, the unemployment rate was a bit on the high side at 6.2% the last time it was measured, but the cost of living is just under the national average.  If you’re looking for sunshine, they have it here in spades with 235 average days of sun per year, well above the 205 day average for the U.S.  Not surprisingly, this area is very conservative politically, as is the county and the entire state of Wyoming.  The weather is cold in the winter, often averaging below freezing, but the summers are mild with averages topping out in the upper 70’s.  But don’t let this fool you…at an elevation of nearly 7000 feet above sea level the sun exposure is more powerful than you may be used to.  It always felt a lot hotter than the temperature gauge was reading.  I have said this many times in my activity write ups, but do NOT forget your sunscreen when visiting places in higher elevations.

In addition to our general impressions, here are some reviews of the places we have frequented while in town:

Solitude RV Park:

Solitude is the the smallest RV park we have stayed in yet, and we have really enjoyed our time here.  Their website has a fairly easy reservation system, though if you change your arrival or departure dates in the middle of booking a reservation, it may place a temporary “hold” on the site you picked and you will have to wait an hour for it to reset if you want to reserve that specific site. All sites have full hookups (water/sewer/electric), but be sure to ask for a converter if you have anything besides a 50-amp electrical hookup as that is the only one available at each site. Each plug is shaped differently, but with a proper adapter we could plug in our 30-amp cord to the 50-amp service.  The caretaker is the local sheriff Erik, who was quite friendly, greeted us upon arrival, and arranges for garbage pick ups at your site in the mornings.  There are only 19 sites, spaced comfortably apart, and we lucked out with one of the best sites (#14), which has expansive views of the Badlands to the east of the RV park.  

Erik will go out of his way to make sure you are taken care of.  For example, our neighbors ended up at Solitude by accident.  Their truck broke down nearby and the sheriff was called to help assist them with their situation.  He offered up Solitude as a place for them to stay while they figured out what to do next.  It was a shame Tracey and Ken’s plans to go to the Tetons had been waylaid, but at least we had friendly new neighbors in the meantime. Erik even went as far as driving Ken to the nearest airport so he could fly back to Colorado and drive another vehicle up to Dubois so they wouldn’t be completely stranded.  

We had frequent visits from the local chipmunks, rabbits, and birds, and the site is also equipped with a picnic table, a fire ring, a bench next to the fire ring and is stocked with firewood as well.  Because it has been so smoky and dry, we haven’t been allowed to have fires in most places we have traveled, and haven’t really felt the desire to.  But, while looking up at the starry skies one clear and cool evening, and knowing the Dubois area had been getting rain, we felt it was the perfect night for a campfire.  We also heard some coyotes calling off in the distance. Later on, we had our neighbors over for a fireside chat as well with their adorable dog Willow, who would frequently swing by and visit us while we were here. 😍

Desert cottontails

One of the best features of this park is the fact that it butts up against BLM Badlands that you can walk onto right from the RV park’s northeastern end and explore to your heart’s content.  We saw lots of what we think was coyote activity when observing the skeletal remains, but it could have just as easily been a cougar, bobcat, wolf or grizzly bear.  If you plod up one of the many steep hills, you get an impressive view of the area and also some pretty large gusts of wind, so again, hang onto your hat!  The wind seems to pick up nearly every afternoon here, but usually dies down by the evening.  Overall, I highly recommend this place if you are traveling out this way. 👍 👍

The Perch Coffee House:

Coincidentally, the local coffee house is owned by Sheriff Erik’s wife Sheila.  We popped in to get a few iced coffee drinks and some whole roasted coffee beans for our upcoming travels.  They don’t display that they have beans for sale, but if you ask, you can get 1lb bags for a reasonable price.  They roast their beans nearby and have a small yet flavorful selection.  

We had the opportunity to talk with Sheila at length about her coffee beans and how the locals are quite particular about what coffee they like to drink, so she tries to keep their bean supply and roast consistent, having a Columbian and a Sumatra roast available whenever possible.  The Perch is clean with a nicely organized coffee station, and there is seating available both inside and out that provides a cozy atmosphere.  Overall, the owner has created a delightful slice of heaven in such an unexpected part of the country that coffee nerds such as myself can enjoy. ☕️ 😍

Cowboy Cafe:

Our neighbors in the RV park told us about their scrumptious dinner in town.  The Cowboy Cafe offers breakfast, lunch and dinner and is a popular, casual restaurant to get a tasty meal.  We saw people milling around this cafe day and night, so it’s definitely worth popping in, especially if you’re a fan of pie!  I hear their pies are superb. 🥧 😋

I had their Chicken Havarti sandwich with sweet potato fries and Matt had their All American burger with tater tots.  The chicken was tender and juicy and it was a nicely balanced sandwich with great flavor that was easy for me to eat.  I often have the experience where sandwiches are way too big, so it was nice to have a proportioned sandwich for a change.  Matt’s burger was great and he really loved the tots.  They had a hint of onion, which gave them a little something special compared to your standard tots.  Overall, the food quality is excellent and the service is solid, so pick a mealtime and come on over! 

Laundromat and Car Wash:

I must give a shout out to the quirky local laundromat and car wash.  Although it may be a bit shabby inside, there are large folding tables and lots of machines to choose from, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting in and out in a reasonable amount of time.  They have dollar coin and quarter change machines and your typical detergent, softener and bleach options in a coin operated machine all in the back of the laundromat.  The entrance to the building is a massive, sculpted animal skull, and if that isn’t enough to make you smirk a little bit, next door at the Country Store is the world’s largest jackalope exhibit. 😂

We even ran into our RV park neighbors while there and talked with another full timer while loading the washers.  If there is one thing I’ve learned since we have been traveling, you will run into people from all walks of life, and the people who love to travel often are some of the nicest people you will meet.  I have really enjoyed getting to know people in every place I have stayed and the experience is restoring my faith in humanity.  There are good people out there…all you have to do is say “hi”. 💗 

We are off to another destination as we slowly circle back to Oregon.  Until then, do me a favor and say “hello” and smile at a stranger sometime in the near future.  You might just make someone’s day.

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