Richard “Spirit Horse Hunter” Ashburn, an outfitter and guide from Jackson Hole, looks out on Green River Lakes in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Richard “Spirit Horse Hunter” Ashburn, an outfitter and guide from Jackson Hole, looks out on Green River Lakes in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Mountain Men

Each year around the Fourth of July, in a vale in the Rocky Mountains, a scene from another century plays out. Dozens of rugged-looking men mill around an encampment. They tether their horses and mules to trees. They wear animal skins. And as they roast slabs of buffalo meat over a fire sparked with flint and steel, they share tips on how best to trap beavers and load a flintlock rifle.

Who are these guys?

They’re American mountain men—reenactors of the fur trade that flourished in North America from roughly 1800 to 1840. Like the better known reenactors of the Civil War, they’re dentists or lawyers or mailmen in real life. But for a week each year they shake off the yoke of civilization and return to a time when survival meant self-reliance.

Read This Next

Can today's youth overcome widespread climate anxiety?
To discover wild America, follow Bigfoot’s mythical steps
Inside the race to save West Africa’s endangered lions

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet