Fake News About Dubois, and the Facts

Groceries, grizzlies, antelope farms, and more …

Most of what follows is hearsay. In the past few weeks, several people have told me about some remarkable comments they’ve heard from visitors to town. I’ve also run across some other amusing misconceptions on my own.

I decided I should set the record straight:

Outfit1. We don’t dress this way as part of a historic re-enactment. This is really how we like to dress, and for good reason. We wear brimmed hats and long-sleeved shirts for protection against the fierce sun. We wear vests because it’s just enough to keep us warm in the high-desert cool. We wear jeans because they’re comfortable and sturdy. We wear boots because they keep the rocks out. (Here’s what I might be wearing today, if I hadn’t chosen a different shirt, vest, and jeans.)

2. Whatever that person in Jackson may have said, there’s no need to stock up before heading this way. Dubois does have an amply stocked grocery store, a gas station (well, actually four of them), and many places to buy a cup of coffee (or even a latte, a cappuccino, or a chai).

3.  There probably isn’t a grizzly bear in the Town Park just now.  Our bear expert Brian does say that, in theory, except in the dead of winter, a grizzly could be anywhere. But a grizzly doesn’t want to see you any more than you want to see her. We know better than to leave trash around for her to find, and she prefers to be in the forest anyway. Everybody knows how to recognize the signs that a bear has been around, and if any had been seen recently, you can bet that (1) everybody would be talking about it and (2) it would have been taken care of long before they began talking.

Antelope_1006174. We do not “farm” deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, or other animals you may see behind fences near town. This is actually the wildlife you have come all this way to view. They come here of their own free will, probably because they like it around here as much as we do. They leap the fences, live in peace with the livestock, and like to graze our fields. (Please drive with care.)

5. We’re not all cowboys in Dubois. Indeed there are many working cowhands, retired cowboys, former cowboys, and would-be cowboys. But the population also includes (off the top of my head) a computer architect, a designer of medical devices, a lobbyist, and many painters and photographers.

stopsign6. Dubois does have stop signs.“There’s not even really a stop sign in town,” Jeda Higgs said on the video “Chasing Totality: Making the Eclipse Megamovie.” I probably would have been dazzled by the exposure too, but that was hyperbole. More accurately, there is no stop sign, yield sign, or traffic light for cars making the 90-degree turn on the highway as it passes through the center of town. They have the right of way (and locals know it). People do face stop signs as they enter the highway from many side streets in town, and there are more in the residential parts of the village.

7. Dubois is not the most remote town in the lower 48 states. I dealt with this long-held and much-quoted myth in a previous post. The following is true: Dubois is more than an hour’s drive from the nearest large towns. A remarkable proportion of the surrounding landscape is publicly owned wilderness. The nearest Interstate is about 3 hours away. On the other hand, goods and services are easily accessible and residents take the commute to big-box stores and other conveniences as a fact of life (just as people elsewhere endure traffic, which we don’t have). Besides, those “commutes” are unusually scenic. But by any published criterion, Dubois is not the most remote town in the US. Maybe the most interesting or most charming or most authentically Western or most friendly remote town in the lower 48, but not the remotest.

100_06658. Winters aren’t brutal in Dubois (generally). Last winter may have been tough, true. But in general, temperatures here are several degrees warmer than in Jackson. Most of the snow (usually) gets dumped on that side of Togwotee Pass or on the Pass itself, giving us wonderful opportunities for snowmobiling and snowshoeing. The dry climate keeps winter temperatures surprisingly tolerable. And the air is magically clean.

© Lois Wingerson, 2017
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Author: LivingDubois

I am a retired science journalist, devoted to enjoying and recording the many pleasures of life in the Wyoming's Upper Wind River Valley.

3 thoughts on “Fake News About Dubois, and the Facts”

  1. If I said stop sign in the vid, I meant stoplight! True there is no stoplight in town, and we could sure use a crosswalk! And good observation about our “harsh” climate. We are in the rain shadow and have those Chinook winds to keep us (somewhat) comfortable in the winters 🙂

  2. I would disagree with many of these statements. I have lived in Dubois almost all of my life and here is my take:
    – Grizzly bears are spotted in town almost every summer. Like it or not, they are around and it’s only a matter of time before a person is attacked. The Game and Fish do what they can to remove these “problem bears” but it usually takes time to trap them. I’m talking days, so always be aware in bear country, period.
    – Food – yes we have a grocery store and dollar store, but that is it. The quality of food seems to be Jackson’s rejects and for twice the price. If you can shop in Jackson Hole before coming to Dubois then I personally would recommend it. Many residents make special trips to neighboring towns to do their food shopping where it’s of much better quality and much cheaper. Package liqueur is also twice the cost of neighboring towns. I would recommend you bring your own of that, too.
    -Winter- Winter weather isn’t as cold or snowy as Jackson Hole, this is true. The wind is what makes it harsh. If you don’t mind sub zero wind blowing at a constant 30mph most of the time, then Dubois is perfect for you. I can work in zero degree weather all day with no wind. Add the wind and it’s brutal. I’m a labor hand and I question winters every year. Not from the dry cold, but from the unrelenting wind.

    1. GJ, thanks for reading and commenting.

      You are right that we must always be vigilant for bears. As I said, bear sign was right across the road a few weeks ago. We avoided going into the woods there for a while. But the Town Park in mid-afternoon? Really?

      Also, I have done direct price comparisons in SuperFoods after returning from shopping trips down-county. The prices may be higher on some items but if you figure in the cost of gas, it’s not worth the trip. I have been known to look into the produce at Smith’s in Riverton and return right back to the parking lot. Sure, when I’m in Jackson, I might drop by Albertson’s for some fancy cheese. But unless you’re a hotshot gourmet, you can do just fine with SuperFoods. I’ve recently bought tahini for my hummus there, and the salad greens I bought last Sunday were great.

      As to the winters, it can be brutal when the wind is blowing. But an “unrelenting” 30 mph most of the time? Let’s not exaggerate here. I looked at a weather history website (https://www.worldweatheronline.com/v2/weather-averages.aspx?q=82513) to check this out. In February 2016, a fairly high-wind month judging from their timeline chart, the average wind speed was 13.2 mph, with a maximum of 19.5 mph and gusts up to 23.9. Average temperatures that month were 32, with highs of 37 and lows of 23 (only about 10 degrees lower than my former home of Brooklyn, where the humidity easily makes up the difference). I’m sure it’s tough for people who work outdoors all day, but for those of us who work indoors most of the time and have the liberty to enjoy the outdoors when the conditions are fine, it is rarely “brutal.”

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