The bulk of an exclusive, private resort community surrounded on all sides by the Bridger-Teton National Forest is now owned by TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, who may look to swap the coveted property for U.S. Forest Service land elsewhere. 

Ricketts, whose family fortune exceeds $4 billion, has spent years trying to develop a resort and guest ranch along the Upper Hoback River Road in northern Sublette County. Now, over the course of the last year and a half, the businessman has moved into neighboring Lincoln County, where he’s bought up most of an “elite fly-in enclave” known as Renegade, Wyoming some 25 miles up Greys River Road from Alpine.

There are no final plans in place for what Ricketts’ camp intends to do with its portion of the Renegade subdivision, according to a source close to the businessman who asked not to be named.

Joe Ricketts’ investment website features this photograph of the TD Ameritrade founder. (

Continuing to build out the resort community served by a paved airstrip is one path forward, the source said. Another option being considered is to exchange the Greys River inholding parcels with the Bridger-Teton National Forest, trading them for national forest acreage that would add to the family’s ranchland in the Hoback River basin, the source close to Ricketts confirmed.

Ricketts owns two larger disconnected parcels in the Bondurant area: the roughly 1,300-acre Jackson Fork Ranch that snakes along the Hoback River and another 160-acre parcel, formerly the Dead Shot Ranch, roughly two miles farther up river. Other private land lots  — and a reach of national forest — separate the two Ricketts-owned chunks. 

According to Ricketts neighbor and Sublette County Planning and Zoning Board member Pat Burroughs, the billionaire is buying up any lot that goes for sale along Upper Hoback River Road. He’s recently bought two residential lots in the vicinity of his two ranch properties, she said. 

“His plan, for many years, has been to own this entire valley,” Burroughs said. “And if he can’t own it, he can run every resident out by commercializing it. Who wants to live on Hotel Row?” 

“His plan, for many years, has been to own this entire valley.”

Upper Hoback River Road resident Pat Burroughs

Ricketts has not submitted a formal proposal for a land exchange to the Bridger-Teton, according to forest spokesman Evan Guzik. The theoretical exchange would add to the forest’s Greys River Ranger District while subtracting acreage from its Big Piney District. 

“I’ve heard about [the exchange] from a couple different places beyond the Forest Service,” Guzik said. “We haven’t received a proposal, and that’s kind of where we’re at right now.” 

Burroughs said that it’s common knowledge in her circles that Ricketts acquired the Greys River Road inholding to entice the national forest into exchanging it for land near his Sublette County ranches, and that there’s been active discussions with the Forest Service.

“At first he wanted to have the other side of the [Hoback] River,” Burroughs said. “Trade that land in Greys River for land on the other side of the [Hoback] River. That was turned down.” 

Ricketts’ camp declined to discuss details of any potential land exchange. 

Roughly 25 miles up the Bridger-Teton National Forest’s most-traveled road, passersby encounter a luxury fly-in-community dubbed Renegade, Wyoming, pictured here on Lincoln County’s GIS server. TD Ameritrade billionaire founder Joe Ricketts has purchased most of the development. (Screenshot)

The 73-acre Greys River subdivision, dubbed “Renegade, Wyoming” in marketing materials, has a controversial history partly because of its incongruence with the surrounding remote, wild landscape. Initially proposed as the 43-lot Blind Bull Meadows subdivision by Lincoln County developer Dan Schwab a decade ago, the project was met with online petitions, letter-writing campaigns and vociferous opposition within Star Valley. Selling and building out the properties stretched for years, however, and by the time the development was renamed Renegade and successfully plotted in 2018, the community’s consternation had largely abated.

Lincoln County’s GIS server shows that a dozen of the parcels located within the Renegade subdivision are owned by Ricketts, including the largest 32-acre lot that includes the airstrip. Specifically, the parcels are registered to Riparian Lands II, LLC. That limited liability corporation registered a physical address with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office last year that traces to the Denver-based High Plains Bison meat company, which is among Ricketts’ holdings. Among his other investments: a 95% stake in Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field. 

Four other lots in the Renegade subdivision are still possessed by Dead Man Ranch, LLC, according to Lincoln County’s GIS server. That limited liability corporation was registered to an address listed by the former owner of the development, Schwab.

Largely, the Renegade subdivision is a failed development that hasn’t sold. One of its formerly listed real estate agents reached by WyoFile declined an interview, but remarked the properties haven’t been marketed in a year. Dated marketing materials posted on show that four of the 19 homesites have been sold.

A airstrip cuts through the Renegade subdivision 25 miles up the Greys River Road from Alpine. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

Ricketts, meanwhile, has made regular headlines in Wyoming for his philanthropy. He has a legacy of giving, including to Sublette County causes recently. 

On Feb. 13, Ricketts announced a $1 million donation to the Sublette County Health Foundation to make up for a shortfall needed to construct a critical access hospital and long-term care facility. Also last week, the University of Wyoming announced a “major” unspecified financial gift that’s supporting four bioversity-focused research projects in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. That builds on conservation work that a foundation in Rickett’s name is already doing.

But the billionaire’s real estate plays in western Wyoming have also collided with the natural resources his philanthropic efforts aim to support. The world’s longest-known mule deer migration corridor, which connects the Red Desert with the Hoback Basin, crosses Ricketts’ Jackson Fork Ranch in several places. There, he pushed a high-end resort and won approvals from Sublette County Commissioners after initially being shot down. That’s one of several developments that are proceeding within the migration corridor, which is afforded no protection on private land

The Jackson Fork Ranch on the upper Hoback River is typical of the agricultural landscape in the Bondurant basin. A guest-ranch resort is the only way to preserve the property, owner Joe Ricketts told Sublette County Commissioners in 2021. (Angus M. Thuermer, Jr./WyoFile)

The 56-acre rezone where the resort will go was tied up in court, from which Ricketts recently emerged victorious, according to the Sublette Examiner

“He has the zoning to do that [resort] and can move forward with that when he is ready,” Sublette County Associate Planner Tess Soll told WyoFile. 

Farther south along Upper Hoback River Road, Ricketts is also looking to add to his guest ranch by building an 8,000-square-foot lodge, a 6,000-square-foot dining center and a bunk house. A commercial use permit for those operations is set to go before Sublette County commissioners in March, Soll 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. Thank you for shedding light onto this important subject. These people are desecrating our area with the bulk of the commissioners green light.

  2. Great reporting.
    I believe there is a federal environmental impact statement required if there is a trade for the Greys River Property. Obviously the environmental impact here is huge because it interferes with the mule deer migration.

  3. Money talks in WY.
    The days of quiet living small western style seem to be at risk in Bondurant for sure.

  4. Perhaps our Sublette County residents can now see what is in store for the Bondurant area.
    And perhaps Mr. Ricketts should fund a study to show him what his development might do to our wildlife resources.

  5. this is heartbreaking. The FS tried so hard when the Deadman Ranch went up for sale to find a conservation buyer, and had a couple of leads that fell through. While the agency wanted the property to keep it from being destroyed by development 20 years ago, it would have no use for the place today, with a paved runway, non-existent riparian area and scorched-earth ‘ranch’ – so why would it do a trade now?

  6. Great reporting insights into the modern ghost town I encounter every time I fish the upper Grey’s River. The runway seems so out of place for the setting. It is one of the wider spots in the narrow river valley, but would still be a dicey take-off or landing even in good weather. I can see why Bridger-Teton NF would like to be rid of it. It is a blight on an otherwise pristine mountain river corridor. Not many like this left in the lower 48.

  7. Wyoming should do all they can do and anything they can do to foil this evil outsider. Evil,evil,evil…

  8. How do we stop this. Unbridled wealth taking control of Wyoming. It is everywhere. I literally hate these jerks and he now resides at the top of my lengthy list. But that does nothing to curtail these activities. People have to decide that they won’t sell to these people. They have to get over their personal greed and do what is right for this part of the nation. I just want to cry when I see difference between these greedy bastards and Rockefeller. Night and day!!!

    1. I’ve said before, people of Wyoming say they don’t want things to change but, will then sell their property for 4 times what it’s worth to a west coast person who will only reside here for the 3 months of summer. Wyoming loses year long patronage of local stores, and only gets 3 months. The family that sold that has 1 or 2 kids, goes to another state where the feds give that school district another 15k. Then Wyoming resident gripe and complain about their town and state changing. Well here’s an idea, don’t sell to west coast and north easterners. Get to know who you’re selling to. Sell at a fair price and to people who share your values. Or don’t complain about things like this. Oh and, blame your neighbor for selling his house and property for 3 times what it’s worth because most Wyomingites can’t afford the prices.

      1. I live on the Upper Hoback. The reality is that when an individual is wealthy little can be done to keep it out of their hands if they wish to acquire a property. Case in point the FS wanted to acquire the Greys Renegade properties but were out bid. Ricketts continues to buy out individual homes on the Upper Hoback; if an owner sells to a Wyomingite, it will likely be flipped to Ricketts anyways. The purchase of the Greys Renegade is a small part of an overall scheme that will probably change the Upper Hoback away from a rural wildlife-abundant landscape to a 1400-acre resort. I encourage all that appreciate what is at stake for Sublette and its wildlife to write, phone, and attend the 3/7 Commissioners’ meeting. It will be the last chance.

  9. Interesting. Glad that this development is being followed. There are also other interests looking to develop in Sublette County and it sure would be nice to know about everything before “its a done deal”.

  10. Does the development of a prime mule deer migration path fit in with the land use around it? Joe is developing this ground to save it for his kids. Damage or destroy it to save it? A race to the bottom.

  11. That should of never happened, we are losing to much habitat in the world, especially such a sensitive area to the ecosystem, that is what is happening in the world, and this country, swamp, and wetlands, they treat them as waist land, when they are the most vital for survival for man kind, as well as for wildlife, and to find out the Muledeer aspect, of the crossing, and to find out of the development of the land, it is plan sad. This is going to be the death of the earth, and it’s wildlife…..

  12. Sounds like a better option than turning the the area into an affordable housing district like Jackson Hole wants to do with the fairgrounds and definitely better than a Teton Village playground.

    1. So glad you feel that way, Mr. Burke. Maybe I’ll buy the property adjacent to yours and put in a pig farm and dog kennel. Ya gotta love the smell of those pigs and dogs barking at the moon at 2 a.m. Seriously, have you driven up the Upper Hoback Road? I think if you did, you would think twice about your pro-development stance.

  13. Joe Ricketts is 82 years old. Why would he need to expand his material wealth empire at such a late time of his life ?
    His four grown kids run the gamut from Pete , who was Governor of Nebraska and sits on the board of the Republican National Committee , to daughter Laura who is a national gay rights activist and former top fundraiser for Barack Obama. Son Tom is chairman of the Chicago Cubs baseball team which the entire family owns and takes active interest in. Other son Todd was as anti-Barack Obama as can be. For the most part , 3/4ths of Clan Ricketts are major bankrollers of far right , libertarian l’aissez faire causes . Pardoxically, Joe gave the Trump campain $ 1 million in 20216 bu later bankrolled a huge PAC opposed to Trump in the 2020 rematch election . Go figger.
    Joe Ricketts is a strident anti-Muslim ( which he calls a cult ) and litmus tests as mostly racist towards Blacks and Hispanics , awkwardle forced to apologize for years of e-mails stating as much. Joe Ricketts is on record despising labor unions .
    An interesting sidebar is Joe Ricketts involvement with raising ” wild” Bison for retail meat. The Blackfeet tribe feels some of their ancestral lands were wrongly sold to Ricketts to raise some small number of those harvest Bison , and a small allotment of Ricketts’ private land overlaps the Blackfeet open wild Bison range . The Tribe formally offered to buy those lands back from him. He refused. Old World Landed Aristochratic beliefs course deep thru Ricketts’ vascularity .

    It is amusing that Joe Ricketts wikipedia page lists his current legal residence as “Little Jackson Hole , Wyoming ” which nobody I know has ever heard of ( what does that say about Big Jackson Hole’s real world persona ). More importantly does Joe Ricketts and his children / heirs really care about Wyoming , let alone their gross aberrant influence on it ? That is an open , very fair question to ask here.
    What I just read in this article terrifies me when I realize there really isn’t a mechanism in place for the greater Public to stop this sort of wanton avaricious soulless development. The refrain is what drives an 82 year old man of means with vast holdings to subvert such priceless property to his own selfish ends ? If there is a Hereafter , I do not believe Joe Ricketts will enjoy his accomodations there…