The Buckrail “Spooky Stories Series” is meant to entertain readers during the Halloween season. In no way are these stories rooted in fact or proven to be true.
MOOSE, Wyo. — Struthers Burt, a dude wrangler in early Jackson Hole, used to camp in Death Canyon as a base for further Teton exploration. While camping there, Burt had three experiences with what he referred to as “my ghost.”
The first time encountering his “ghost”, Burt was camped in the canyon with a doctor friend. It was a gray day with snow on the ground, and Burt went to sleep early. At some point in the night he was awakened by footsteps and saw his partner leaving the teepee, hand on his revolver. The doctor swore he had heard someone approach the tent, but there were no tracks in the snow.
The second time was a moonlit night, with shadows cast across the walls of the canyon. Burt was awakened suddenly to find his companion crawling around the tent, again claiming to have heard footsteps.
The third time Burt himself was the one to encounter the “ghost”. While sitting around the fire with two companions, Burt suddenly jumped up at the sound of hoofbeats. “I had heard a horse galloping up the canyon, where no horse has ever been, and directly over me, and the hoofbeats were dying away in the further reaches of the meadows,” wrote Burt. “I would swear to that.”
Of all the places in Grand Teton National Park, few get as many questions about the name as Death Canyon.
It’s a spooky name, and many have cringed at the idea of entering a canyon named for Death.
There are numerous theories on how the canyon was named, but the most plausible is that a member of Thomas Bannon’s 1899 survey party wandered into the canyon and was never seen again.