Jackson Hole (originally called Jackson's Hole by the mountain men) is a valley between the Teton Mountain Range and the Gros Ventre Range in Wyoming sitting near the border of Idaho. The term "hole" was used by early trappers or mountain men, as a term for a large mountain valley. These low-lying valleys surrounded by mountains and containing rivers and streams are good habitat for beaver and other fur-bearing animals.
The town of Jackson was named in late 1893 by Margaret Simpson, who, at the time, was receiving mail at her home as there was no post office. She named the town in order for easterners to be able to forward mail west. Jackson, which became incorporated in 1914, was named after David Edward "Davy" Jackson, who trapped beaver in the area in the late 1820s with a partner in the firm of Smith, Jackson & Sublette. Davy Jackson was one of the first European Americans to spend an entire winter in the valley of the Teton Mountains.
Though it was used by Native Americans for hunting and ceremonial purposes, the valley was not known to harbor year-round human settlement prior to the 1870s. Descriptions of the valley and its features were recorded in the journals of John Colter, who had been a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. After returning to the Rocky Mountains, Colter entered the region in 1807 in the vicinity of Togwotee Pass and became the first European American to see the valley. His reports of the valley, the Teton Range and the Yellowstone region to the north were viewed by people of the day with skepticism.
The first people to settle the region were Native Americans, then fur trappers, and then homesteaders. Because the soil is not ideal for raising crops, the valley was used for cattle. Tourism quickly became popular with the establishment of dude ranches.
The only incorporated town in the valley is Jackson, located at its southern end. Other communities in the valley include Wilson, Teton Village, Moran Junction, Hoback, Moose (Moose Wilson Road), and Kelly. West of Jackson, Teton Pass crosses the southern end of the Teton Range, providing access to Victor and Driggs in eastern Idaho and Alta, Wyoming, on the western side of the Tetons. This area was known as Pierre's Hole and hosted a major Rendezvous in 1832.
Numerous elk use the valley as grazing range during the winter, and sleigh rides are offered to tourists. The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King and Grand Targhee Resort ski areas, and nearby Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks are major tourist attractions throughout all seasons of the year.
The valley is formed by the Teton Range on the western side and the Gros Ventre Range on the eastern side. Grand Teton National Park occupies the north-western part of the valley encompassing much of the Teton Range as well as Jackson Lake. The town of Jackson is at the southern end. Between them lies, on U.S. Route 26, "Glacier View Turnout" offering a view of Teton Glacier on the north of Grand Teton, and the National Elk Refuge, home of the largest elk herd on earth. The Snake River threads through the entire valley from its headwater in Yellowstone in the north to the mouth of the Snake River Canyon at the southern tip of the valley. Blacktail Butte is a prominent landform rising from the valley floor. The average elevation of the valley is over 6,500 feet (2,000 m) above sea level.
High altitude and steep mountain slopes on all sides of the valley often cause calm winter nights to be very cold, as radiational cooling from snow-covered ground creates cold air near the surface, which then slides down into the valley due to the higher density of the air. In 1993, this effect during an already severe cold snap plunged the morning low temperature down to −56 °F (−49 °C) in the valley, officially recorded by the National Weather Service. The state record low temperature was also recorded in the valley at Moran at −66 °F (−54 °C) in 1933. Summers are warm to mild, due to the surrounding mountains.
Jackson Hole Airport is the largest and busiest commercial airport in Wyoming. The Jackson Hole Airport is also the only airport in the US that is located inside of a National Park. Strict noise abatement regulations and the terminal building's low profile allow for the airport to operate within federal guidelines inside Grand Teton National Park. However, it becomes difficult to fly in the winter months. Major airlines serve the valley with jet service, some of which is seasonal (summer and winter). Jackson Hole Airport is the only airport that has been permitted to be built inside of an American National Park.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City has hosted an annual economic policy symposium at Jackson Lake Lodge since 1982. They chose Jackson Hole in 1982 because of its trout fishing, as they were trying to attract Paul Volcker, who was Chairman of the Federal Reserve and a keen fly-fisherman.
In 2016, the Jackson Hole Tourism website put up 20 separate live screening web cams of the town in order to boost tourism. Since then, the audience of the live screening has grown rapidly, with some reports saying there may be 2000 people watching at any one time.
Jackson Hole has been the location for a number of films.
- 3 Bad Men (1926) – Starring George O'Brien and Olive Borden, and directed by John Ford.
- The Big Trail (1930) – Starring John Wayne.
- The Big Sky (1952) – Starring Kirk Douglas.
- Shane (1953) - Starring Alan Ladd and directed by George Stevens.
- Spencer's Mountain (1963)
- Any Which Way You Can (1980) – Starring Clint Eastwood
- The Mountain Men (1980) – Starring Charlton Heston
- Rocky IV (1985) – Starring Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren
- Dances with Wolves (1990) – Starring Kevin Costner
- Django Unchained (2012) – A Quentin Tarantino film, starring Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio
- Hays, Carl D. W. (1983). "David E. Jackson". In Leroy R. Hafen (ed.). Trappers of the Far West: Sixteen Biographical Sketches. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 80–81. ISBN 0-8032-7218-9.originally published in Leroy R. Hafen, ed. (1972). Mountain Men and Fur Traders of the Far West vol. IX. Glendale: The Arthur H Clark Company.
- Mattes, Merrill J. "Grand Teton NP/Yellowstone NP: Colter's Hell and Jackson's Hole (Chapter 6)". Colter's Hell and Jackson's Hole. Yellowstone Library and Museum Association, and Grand Teton Natural HIstory Association, in cooperation with National Park Service. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- Grand Teton National Park Photographer's Map & Guide. Earthwalk Press. 2008. ISBN 978-0-915749-25-6.
- "Jackson Hole Airport". Jackson Hole Airport. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
- Zeitlin, Matthew (31 August 2012). "Summer camp for bankers". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- Wiseman, Paul (30 August 2012). "Why world markets focus on tiny Jackson Hole, Wyo". USA Today. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- "The best campsite in every state". Msn.com. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
- "Confession: I'm addicted to the goofily charming Jackson Hole webcam".
- "Jackson Hole Tourism website".
- "Why are thousands of people watching this live stream of a random town in Wyoming? Internet obsesses over Jackson Hole".
- Maddrey, Joseph (2016). The Quick, the Dead and the Revived: The Many Lives of the Western Film. McFarland. Page 184. ISBN 9781476625492.