Second homes are the stuff of fantasy. Not a necessity, like primary residences, they are often expressions of the ways homeowners love to spend leisure time, whether at a pied-a-terre close to the theater, opera, museums and other urban attractions, a house along an isolated stretch of beach, an island getaway, a luxurious apartment on a golf course or a multi-generational gathering place near the ski lifts. Whichever vacation home a family chooses tells a lot about what they cherish in their spare time.
Since we have been isolated and confined by a troublesome new pandemic, an undeniable trend has risen to the top of real estate wish lists: we crave nature.
If we live in cities, we try to find places where we can walk, breathe fresh air, keep a garden and maybe even observe wildlife. If we can, we buy a second home that offers all of these, with space to gather during school vacations. Most desirable are second homes that offer the amenities of five-star resorts, married to a low-key, private sensibility.
The place that checks all those boxes and then some is Tributary, the 1,500-acre Idaho private club growing on the west side of the Grand Teton Mountains. A four-season community, Tributary is part of the 15-million-acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the most intact ecological landscapes in the world and the only wildlife habitat in the U.S. in which all of the species that existed prior to the arrival of Europeans still live.
The development now called Tributary began when members of the Annenberg family bought land nestled between the Grand Tetons, the Big Hole Mountains and the Snake River Range, with spectacular views of all of those mountains. The real estate crash of 2008 put an end to the family’s plans and the property was sold, but not before the Annenbergs built a raised two-mile boardwalk on nearly 500-acres of fen-designated wetlands, operated and managed by the Teton Regional Land Trust. These wetlands, ponds and creeks are part of the Tributary community, and the boardwalk is a favorite place for jogging, wildlife observation and strolling.
Construction is progressing apace, outstripped by growing demand.
“When we began, we built two- and three-bedroom homes,” says Jeff Heilbrun, director of real estate. “We soon learned that our clients wanted vacation homes that had all-season appeal. Now we are building five- and six-bedroom homes, and we can’t build them fast enough.”
The modern homes, outfitted with luxurious elements like Wolf stoves, Sub Zero refrigerators, hardwood flooring, remote-operation blackout curtains and luxurious spa baths, are designed by Northworks, a national design firm headquartered in Chicago with offices in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. When completed, Tributary will offer 350 homes, all with extraordinary views. There is also a five-acre pond, a clubhouse, a spa, an 18-hole David McLay-Kidd-designed championship golf course and access to myriad outdoor activities. These include fly-fishing, hiking, national parks, biking, snowmobiling, boating, Nordic and downhill skiing.
Prices for single-family homes at Tributary begin at $2.25 million. It is equidistant between Jackson Hole Airport and Idaho Falls Regional Airport. Teton Aviation Center, a full-service FBO, is also a stone’s throw from Tributary.
Individual home sites are also available for those who prefer to bring their own architect, designer and builder (subject to Design Review approval).
Less than 30 minutes from Tributary’s front entrance is Grand Targhee, a 2,600-acre, intermediate-friendly and powder-rich ski resort founded by Teton Valley potato farmers and ranchers in 1969. Membership at Tributary includes transportation to Targhee, a private clubhouse at the mountain’s base lodge, refreshments and ski concierge service.
“People who buy property here love nature, want to get outdoors at all times of year, and want the luxury and the amenities you get at a top-level private club,” says Heilbrun. “But, unlike just across the pass at Jackson, Wyoming, this is what locals refer to as ‘the quiet side.’ We have all the same easy access to the national parks, but without the crowds.”
The town closest to Tributary is Driggs, Idaho, a charming and historic mountain town; it is a short walk to the town center. Further down the road is Victor, another mountain town with outsized charm.
In the shadow of those authentic communities, lacking the inflated costs and crowded streets found in Jackson, Tributary blends into the surrounding wilderness with becoming modesty. This is truly a place where luxury means being able to recreate in some of the most spectacular natural lands still found in the United States today.