The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Jackson’s Favorite Family-Owned Motel
The story of Flat Creek Inn is anything but flat. It’s a story full of ups, downs, and more ups. It’s the story of a family, a gas station, a few rough patches, and eventual success. And, with the tenth anniversary of the big comeback of this family-owned motel coming up, it’s a story we’re about to tell you.
In the late 1960s, Jerry Bagley, a man with legends as large as Davy Crockett, strolled into Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with his young wife and daughters and bought a parcel of land on the outskirts of the small, western town. Here, the Red Barn gas station was born.
For almost two decades, Jerry and his family made a living running the Red Barn and selling the best darned fireworks in town, even earning the title of “Jackson Firework King” (I actually bestowed that title upon him in a nice little song I wrote). In the early 1980s, Jackson County banned the selling of fireworks. This, as you can imagine, made an impact on the livelihood of a firework salesman, so the time was right to close the Red Barn and relocate their family to Idaho for a fresh start. But the land in Jackson Hole still remained.
Before their departure to Idaho, however, a stranger arrived in town. We imagine him riding in on his horse, cowboy hat pulled low over his brow, dusty from the long day’s ride. As tumbleweed blows across the road, the stranger jumps down from his steed, spurs jangling, and swaggers through the doors of Jackson’s saloon, where asks, “Where can I find Mr. Bagley?”
It may have gone this way, who knows? The important part is that he had a proposal for the Bagleys. He suggested leasing their land so he could build a motel. Both parties agreed and Flat Creek Inn came to be.
The partnership flourished for several years. The Bagleys enjoyed their new life in Idaho, all while keeping a distant eye on their property back in Jackson. Eventually, the original owner of the motel passed away and the motel fell into new hands. This proved the beginning of Flat Creek’s tragic decline, including bankruptcy. There, Flat Creek became the butt of every internet troll’s joke (“I think I found Jackson’s hole,” claimed one droll-witted reviewer) and had a sad life dead last on Trip Advisor (#44, if you’re curious).
By this time, Jerry Bagley had also passed away and the land was owned by his wife and children. Tired of seeing their land host this sad, dilapidated motel, the Bagleys agreed it was time to take up the mantle. And so, on October 21, 2012, the Bagleys became the owners of the lowest-ranked motel in Jackson Hole. There was literally nowhere else to go but up.
The End (and Future)
Thanks to the time, talents, and hard work of the Bagley family, Flat Creek Inn has been revived and is now the quaintest and best family-owned motel in all of Jackson Hole (in our humble opinion, of course). In 2022, Flat Creek Inn received a “Travelers’ Choice” award! According to TripAdvisor, the Travelers’ Choice award is given to “accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travelers and are ranked within the top 10% of properties on Tripadvisor.” Number 44, who?
Each summer, at least a few of Jerry’s grandchildren make the pilgrimage to Flat Creek Inn to work for the summer, cleaning rooms and working in the convenience store, each creating lasting memories of their time at the motel. And while the motel has been under Bagley ownership for TEN years (with many more to come!), we are so thankful to our employees, guests, and customers who have been with us for many years and continue to make Flat Creek Inn the best little family-owned motel in Jackson Hole!
To make your own memories at Flat Creek Inn, call (307) 733-5276.
Breanne Kunz was raised in the Pacific Northwest but grew up spending summers in Idaho frequently visiting Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. She is a wife and mom who likes to write. She occasionally travels (not as much as she’d like) and always eats.