About Jackson Hole

Where's the Hole? 

People often ask whether they are in Jackson Hole or Jackson. The answer is... both! Jackson Hole refers to the entire valley which is approximately 60 miles long. Jackson refers to the Town of Jackson which sits on the southern end of the Jackson Hole valley.

Jackson Hole was originally populated by indigenous tribes including:

  • Bannock
  • Blackfoot
  • Crow
  • Gros Ventre
  • Shoshoni
A Horse Tied to a Wagon in a Farm near Mountains

John Colter entered Jackson Hole during the winter of 1807/1808 during the return journey of the Lewis & Clark expedition. Subsequently, the area became a prime spot for trappers, and many famous mountain men traveled through Jackson Hole in the early 1800s. These mountain men are responsible for many of the names in the valley including Bridger, Jedediah Smith, and Sublette. David "Davey" Jackson gave his name to the valley after a winter spent on the shores of Jackson Lake.

National Parks

As part of the Hayden Expedition of 1871 and 1872, William Henry Jackson took the first photographs of the Teton Mountains and Yellowstone. His photographs, along with the sketches by Tom Moran, were important evidence to convince Congress to protect Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone became the first National Park in the country in 1872 (18 years before Wyoming was even a state). Grand Teton National Park was created in 1920 and greatly expanded in 1950 through the generous efforts of John D. Rockefeller, who purchased and then donated over 30,000 acres.

Town of Jackson

The Town of Jackson was named in 1894 and incorporated as a municipality in 1914. Some of the early buildings remain and can be found throughout the area of the Town Square. The Town of Jackson elected the first all-female city council in 1920. Jackson is the only incorporated municipality in Teton County.

Ski Areas

The first ski town was built at Teton Pass in 1937 and Snow King Resort was established in 1939. Teton County now boasts three excellent ski areas including Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village, Grand Targhee Ski and Summer Resort located on the West slope of the Tetons, and Snow King Resort located right in the Town of Jackson.

Land Use

The Town of Jackson is the county seat of Teton County and the only incorporated municipality in the region. Less than 3% of land in Teton County is privately owned. 97% of the 2,697,000 acres in Teton County is federally or state owned / managed.

Preserve America Community Legacy

In 2009, the Town of Jackson was designated as a Preserve America Community (PDF). This designation recognizes that, as a community, we protect and celebrate our heritage, use historic assets for economic development, and encourage people to experience and appreciate local historic resources.

Additional information

For more information about the history of Jackson and Jackson Hole, please visit the Jackson Hole Historical Society.