A family-run Jackson Hole lodge offering luxury amenities and more, the Rusty Parrot Lodge and Spa has been a dedicated supporter of Foundation initiatives since 2006. We talked to owners Ron and Brandon Harrison to gain some insight into their work and passion for Jackson Hole, specifically, Grand Teton National Park.
As a family owned and operated lodge, tell us a little bit about the history of the hotel and its Jackson roots.
Ron: I was raised in northern Utah and our family visited Jackson Hole and Yellowstone often. The first photos I have of Jackson Hole were from a trip taken in the ‘40s. In some of the photos, I can recognize landmarks like Jenny Lake Lodge, Dornan’s, and of course, the iconic images of the park that are unchanged today. I can’t say I remember that trip but I do remember many subsequent trips as well as the love I developed for Jackson Hole during these times. When I was just starting my business career I listed a number of things that I wanted to do during my life. One such life goal was to own a small mountain lodge similar to that of Alta Lodge in Alta, Utah. I did a lot of interesting things over the years and in 1989 the lodge rose to the top of the list. I considered a number of special places. In the end, I decided none was as special as Jackson Hole.
Parrots are not the first species that comes to mind when you think of Wyoming wildlife. Tell us the story behind the name Rusty Parrot.
Ron: The story behind the name is a frequently asked question. The only person that is authorized to tell the real story is me and only at the Parrot. Few of my family or staff pay much attention to those instructions but if you want the unvarnished truth, catch me at the Lodge and I’ll fill you in!
What is your favorite part of operating a small, luxury hotel in Jackson Hole?
Brandon: The best part about our operation is the relationships we are able to build with our guests. Because we do everything on such an intimate scale, it truly allows us to get to know our guests on a personal level. The most remarkable part of the experience is the incredible frequency with which guests become friends and then neighbors.
Ron, you have been involved in the Foundation since 2006 on several levels—as a donor and also as a resource council member. What prompted you to get involved with GTNPF?
I had a friend say to me once, “Ron, when you get out of your plane in Jackson you can reach up and feel the magic in the air.” That is the way I feel about Grand Teton National Park. It is truly one of the special places in the world. I have wonderful memories of my experiences in the Park that stretch over 60 plus years. If I can in some way help to enhance and protect this treasure, I am honored.
As long-time locals of the area, what is your favorite way to enjoy Grand Teton?
Brandon: My favorite way to enjoy the park is by getting together with my family and sharing adventures. There is so much variety in the types of activities available, that it makes it easy to enjoy no matter how old you are. I also love that my favorite activities can and have evolved not only over the course of my lifetime, but over generations of park-goers. Now, as the third generation comes of age in this valley, this transfer of shared values, memories and skillsets often happens on some of the great assets that the Foundation has helped create and conserve.
On behalf of GTNPF and park staff, thank you for all you have done for our organization, Ron, and thank you, too, for the many volunteer hours and expertise you’ve shared to advance our work.