Jackson Hole

John Colter was a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition who left the expedition during the return leg to scout for fur trading opportunities. He is thought to have entered Jackson Hole in the winter of 1807-8, the first white American to explore it. Many trappers followed in his footsteps seeking beaver pelts including  Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, William Sublette, and David Jackson. These mountain men gave the name ‘hole’ to a high valley surrounded by mountains and in 1829 Sublette gave it the name Jackson Hole after his trapping partner David Jackson. By 1845 silk hats had replaced beaver hats as fashionable headgear, so the trappers left. Jackson Hole reverted to what it was before, summer hunting grounds for Indian tribes. Settlers began to arrive in the late 1880s but they found that the soil was not good for crops, by the 1890s it was cattle ranches that were to be found in Jackson Hole.  People first settled in what is now the city of Jackson in the 1880s but it was not until 1894 that it was given its name. In 1920 the people of Jackson elected one of the first all-female city councils in the US. Tourism initially arrived in the form of Dude Ranches, but in 1937 valley residents built a ski tow at Teton Pass and the winter sports industry was born. Two years later Snow King Resort opened on a mountain above Jackson, the first ski resort in Wyoming. Nowadays the proximity of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks has made Jackson a year round tourist resort.



Jackson Hole Playhouse & Saddle Rock Saloon, Jackson

This picture raises one question, is the city called Jackson or Jackson Hole? As described above the city was named Jackson and the valley Jackson Hole, but nowadays the name Jackson Hole is often used to refer to the city even though it is technically incorrect. Jackson Hole Playhouse is the oldest building still standing in the city, built in 1915. It was not built as a theatre but as a livery stable and its route from one to the other was pretty complicated as at different times the building was used as a car dealership, bowling alley, mercantile and post office. In 1948 it was converted into a theatre.  It now stages Western musical comedies as well as performing Shoot Outs in Town Square. The Saddle Rock Family Saloon next door is part of the theatre.

Antler Arch, Town Square, Jackson

The tourist centre of Jackson is Town Square. Each of its four entrances has an arch built from shed elk antlers collected from the nearby National Elk Refuge. While everyone calls this place Town Square, it was actually named George Washington Memorial Park when it was dedicated in 1934 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his birth. In winter there is an ice rink in the square, but when we were there pumpkins were on sale in the run up to Halloween. Click tab 2 to see pumpkins on sale in the Town Square.

View into Jackson Hole from Teton Pass

In order to climb out of Jackson Hole and head into Idaho you have to climb up quite a long way. Jackson is at an elevation of 1,901 metres (6,237 feet) but Route 22 takes you up to 2,570 metres (8,431 feet) at Teton Pass. In this early October picture, deep snow on the pass  contrasts with the warmer and drier Jackson Hole below it.

Bear sculpture outside Mountain Trails Gallery, Jackson

Jackson has many art galleries for tourists to browse. Some have examples of their wares in the street outside. This bear sculpture prowling near to Town Square is actually in the parking lot of Mountain Trails Gallery.



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Home > US States > The West > Wyoming >

View into Jackson Hole from Teton Pass, WY, USA
Antler Arch, Town Square, Jackson, WY, USA


Jackson Hole Playhouse & Saddle Rock Saloon, Jackson, WY, USA


Bear sculpture outside Mountain Trails Gallery, Center Street, Jackson, WY, USA


- A great tourist town especially if you are travelling to or from the National Parks
- At busy times it can be impossible to find a place to park in downtown Jackson
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Wyoming MinimapMontanaIdahoColoradoUtahNebraskaSouth DakotaNorth DakotaFort Laramie National Historic SiteGrand Tetons National ParkYellowstone National ParkJackson Hole
Wyoming MinimapMontanaIdahoColoradoUtahNebraskaSouth DakotaNorth DakotaFort Laramie National Historic SiteGrand Tetons National ParkYellowstone National ParkJackson Hole


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