UPDATE: This story was updated at 8:25 p.m. on Oct. 2 to include remarks from Rep. Steve Harshman (R-Casper). —Ed.

The state of Wyoming has taken a key step toward unloading its last remaining 640 acres locked within the borders of Grand Teton National Park. The land, in the heart of Jackson Hole, could be sold at auction.

Progress toward the sale of the so-called Kelly Parcel came late Monday, when the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments announced it was initiating a land disposal in conjunction with releasing a detailed analysis of the square-mile property.

“This is one of the very first steps in the process, and there certainly is a long way to go,” Wyoming Office of State Lands Deputy Director Jason Crowder told WyoFile. “It definitely has consideration by the [State Board of Land Commissioners] still in front of it.” 

The Kelly Parcel is located along the eastern edge of Grand Teton Park, though it also shares boundaries with the Bridger-Teton National Forest and National Elk Refuge. 

The Kelly Parcel, center, is bordered on three sides by Grand Teton National Park. Its east border is shared with the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and there’s also a sliver of land touching the National Elk Refuge. (Teton County GIS)

The State Board of Land Commissioners — the governor, secretary of state, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction and the auditor — are scheduled to review the issue at its Dec. 7 meeting. If the board approves of the proposed sale, it’ll direct the Office of State Lands to proceed with putting the pricy acreage surrounded by federal land to auction. 

“Any sale of state lands, by constitution, has to be sold at public auction,” Crowder said, “unless we do an exchange or unless the Legislature gives the board authorization to do a direct sale.” 

The Wyoming Legislature has enabled direct sale of state land to the U.S. Interior Department — the National Park Service’s government parent — twice in the past. In 2016, a $46 million sale was completed for 640 acres in the Antelope Flats. In 2012, the state sold off an 86-acre tract near the Snake River. 

Negotiations between the Interior Department and Wyoming about state-owned land in Grand Teton began in 1949, the year before the park was enlarged. 

All that remains is the Kelly Parcel. 

The 640 acres has an estimated value of $62.4 million, according to the OSLI analysis. Past appraisals, in 2010 and 2016, put the value at $45 million, then $39 million. The tract is bisected by Gros Ventre Road, but its development potential is inhibited by a scenic easement lining the road. 

There are no statutes currently on the books enabling a direct sale of the Kelly Parcel to the Interior Department, Crowder said. 

But lawmakers have attempted to facilitate the sale in the past. As recently as 2021, former Rep. Andy Schwartz (D-Jackson) ran a bill that would have authorized a direct sale, though it fell apart after Rep. Steve Harshman (R-Casper) successfully passed an amendment that set the floor price at $3.2 billion — around 82 times the appraised value at the time. 

Sota the pudelpointer traverses a snowy ridge in the Bridger-Teton National Forest immediately east of the state’s inholding in Grand Teton National Park, a tract known as the Kelly Parcel. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

The Wyoming Legislature has also unsuccessfully tried to wring more money out of the parcel. In 2019, a bill died that would have allowed for economic development on the tract — even a casino.

Securing permission for a direct sale could be difficult during the Legislature’s upcoming budget session, at least judging by one lawmaker’s reaction. 

“Why would Gov. Gordon bargain sale for our most priceless 640 acres of state School Trust lands to the Biden Administration?” Harshman, a former two-time House speaker, told WyoFile in a text. “Wyoming people will be shocked.”

It’s unclear if Grand Teton National Park and its nonprofit partners have secured $62 million in the instance that the Legislature approves a direct sale to the Interior Department. 

WyoFile was unable to reach Teton Park officials before this story was published.

Any major development, either an auction or direct sale, will not occur until 2024 at the earliest, Crowder said. 

“We’re required to advertise it for four consecutive weeks before we go to a public auction, if [the board] approves us to move in that direction,” he said.

Mike Koshmrl reports on Wyoming's wildlife and natural resources. Prior to joining WyoFile, he spent nearly a decade covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s wild places and creatures for the Jackson...

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  1. Why is the headline describing this land as “a chunk of Grand Teton National Park” when it is a state parcel?

  2. This property should NOT be sold for commercial development. The Tetons, Teton Park and the Yellowstone complex is a national heritage and has world wide appeal, as visitors come from every continent to see this magnificent part of our world.


  4. “Why would Gov. Gordon bargain sale for our most priceless 640 acres of state School Trust lands to the Biden Administration?”

    I fail to see how the administration, regardless of party, should factor into a decision to protect land like this. National Parks, National Wilderness, National Forests should all fall outside the realm of partisan nonsense (I’d use a stronger word here…but moderators…)

  5. Why sell it, keep the land under Wyoming State ownership and conserve it and make a nice park

  6. If I win the powerball tonight I will buy it just to keep it the way it is, God please don’t let it be a developer that buys it

  7. Sell it to whom ever, it clearly states there is an easement that inhibited development. Heck if I win the Powerball I might throw a bid lol.

  8. This is the worst thing I have read all year. I was born and raised in Wyoming, this land should never be developed, what are you doing to one of the last pristine states left? Just watch a Yellowstone *Touron *video on You Tube and ask yourselves. Jackson is turning into Aspen, something they swore 30 years ago would not happen, EVER. THIS LAND NEEDS TO BE IN A TRUST, it should be GIVEN TO THE NATIVE PEOPLE, and no one else.and never developed.

  9. Misleading headline “chunk of Grand Teton Park” gives false impression of the issue. The parcel is not a part of Grand Teton Nat’l Park but only located next to the Park. The state has the right to sell the land and anyone could buy it including the Park. The headline is giving the false impression that Grand Teton Nat’l Park is selling the land. This headline is designed to be misleading to get more advertising clicks. The headline should have read ” State is set to sell parcel next to Grand Teton Nat’l Park.” Why not be honest. We know why.

    1. It’s located WITHIN the park. Still misleading but very different from it just being next to the park.

  10. I find it not only ridiculous but appalling that any State land in Wyoming be for sale.. Who gets to make that decision? We all know who moves in to buy land with that kind of price tag.. Wyoming isn’t for sale, especially our National Park land.. Where does that money go? I’d like a layout of that plan in black and white…

  11. The politician’s remark “Why would Gov. Gordon bargain sale for our most priceless 640 acres of state School Trust lands to the Biden Administration?” is unnecessary and misleading, meant to stir up controversy. If the land goes to the Department of the Interior it will be public land regardless of which party is in power.

  12. Regarding the headline of this article, with all due respect, it is a misstatement itself. The headline reads a chunk of Grand Teton Park may be up for auction. To be clear, this is not a part of the Park.
    I read WyoFile reports frequently and generally don’t expect to read clear misstatements of fact.

  13. Just came from Jackson Hole, there is definitely enough tourism in Jackson. It Would be beautiful, to gift it back to the original First Nations tribes who lived there before. Maybe it could be used for Conservation, Education & Habitat for the Bison, Elk & native species being pushed out due to construction & population.

    1. I agree, it needs to be gifted back to the rightful owners, if anything and it needs to stay in its current habitat…. it is home to thousands of wildlife, currently residing there

  14. Okay, folks. Time to learn about school trust lands, granted to Wyoming at statehood to support public education. (School sections are #16 and #32 out of every township.)
    The park was created around this section. It is more exposed to revenue-producing pressure as a school trust asset inholding (current status) than as part of the park (which will happen with the proposed sale). The section can be disposed of only at public auction, by law and the Constitution, unless the Legislature approves a sale to the Interior Department.
    The cash would be desposited into the Permanent School Land Fund, to generate revenue for public education.
    Note to Mike Koshmrl: In future stories about school trust land and funds, PLEASE include a brief tutorial, to perhaps avoid tise misinformed angst.

    1. That tutorial about school trust lands is important context that should have been included, Marguerite. I’ll keep it in mind for future stories. Thanks for weighing in.

  15. The land should be in a conservation or added to the park. Greed just can’t get out of the way fast enough. Sold to a developer and shazam – gone forever!

  16. Any successful effort and plan to preserve this parcel in a world class pristine area is applauded. Perhaps current and future citizens of Wyoming could appreciate it as we continue to lose Wyoming scenic views to “wind turbine ranches” and wonder how large and where a land fill for blades will be when new wind technologies develop or the current ones are no longer serviceable.

  17. In no way do I think selling this land off to a random highest bidder for private gain is a good idea— but this article’s title feels disingenuous. A State parcel inholding within the boundaries of the current National Park is still, ultimately, a State parcel, whose purpose is to generate revenue for the State, not to preserve habitat or public access. We can have more meaningful engagement with, and find more broadly beneficial solutions for, these issues/actions if we have a clearer understanding of how State land systems (including appraisal) work rather than thinking of them as being equivalent to federal lands.

  18. Why not sell the land to the Biden administration. It would be protected ecologically, and not corportized. Isnt that what every nature lover would want? Preservation and conservation is the ideal for such a glorious part of the state of Wyoming.

  19. If this thing ever goes to auction I can assure you that it will sell for well in excess of 62 million. That is a unimaginably low number

  20. Wyoming needs a revenue source just tax pensions of incoming millionaires, a state income tax anything but selling off trust lands .

  21. Circa 1990 I was contracted by the state to photograph a school section between the west side of West Gros Ventre Butte and the Walton Ranch. It’s just outside a gated community and I was harassed by a nearby out of state mic- mansion owner.

    I just ignored him and as far as I can remember the sale went through without controversy. I also photographed a section along the Teton Village road bordering the Snake River but don’t remember anything happening with that one. Gonna be interesting when the buyers and their plans come out with this one.

  22. Given the political climate in Wyoming, and the never-ending games of poking the Feds whenever possible (“…why would Governor Gordon bargain sale….to the Biden Administration….?” *) the obvious solution, in my opinion, is to follow the process last used in 2016 for the Antelope Flats parcel, where a collaborative group of conservation & other organizations raised 50% of the funds to acquire that parcel and donate it to the National Park Service. $46 million, of which 50% came from Dept of Interior and 50% from private fundraising efforts.


    Much different situation now than in 2016 (higher land values – “Yellowstone Effect”, etc.- , likely more difficulty in fundraising from private sources) but so it goes. If that process fails, then the State would be within its fiduciary responsibility to consider a public auction process for the Kelly parcel.

    Zero chance that parcel is worth $3.2 BILLION ($5 million per acre!), but again that’s part of the political games that flow freely in Wyoming :-/

    * I’m not aware of any evidence that suggests the federal government expects a “…bargain sale…?” If so, it would be a valuable WyoFile story posting to discuss that topic.

    1. Sounds like common sense to me. I remember Jackson Hole as a fun place for common folk to live and recreate. It’s now dominated by 1% of the 1%, and that makes it downright uncomfortable for the rest of us. Moguls have destroyed what Jackson Hole was and should still be. Next thing we’ll hear is that Trump’s building a hotel on the parcel. Oh, wait a minute, by the time of any auctions that might occur he might well not have the money to build a prefab. The courts appear determined to relieve him of large amounts of it.

  23. “Development” is the wrong word to describe this action anywhere on public or pristine land. What it really should be called is “Desecration”. THis is the reason for all the damages humans have inflicted on the earth.

  24. Maybe they should sell off the school parcel near Teton village that borders stare highway 390 and the snake river ranch ,it might not be as controversial