Jackson; A Quaint Wyoming Town
Things to do in Jackson, Wyoming
Jackson is a charming town that offers plenty of outdoor activities (hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding), but also serves as a nice town for a relaxing trip for those who want to get away from it all and enjoy some fresh mountain air. Jackson, Wyoming is a beautiful area to visit, no matter the time of year.
Native American tribes including the Shoshoni, Crow, Blackfeet, Bannock, and Gros Ventre were the first groups of people to inhabit Jackson, Wyoming. In the early 1800s, Jackson was a popular area that was traveled by trappers and mountain men, such as John Colter. John Colter first visited Jackson during the winter of 1807/1808, after he was released of his duties as part of the Corps Discovery of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1806 at Fort Mandan (present-day North Dakota.) Other mountain men who visited the area of Jackson, Wyoming included Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, William Sublette, and David Edward Jackson. These men are responsible for naming most of the area in Jackson.
William Henry Jackson (a member of the Hayden Expedition of 1871 and 1872) is known for taking the first photographs of the Teton Mountains and Yellowstone. The photographs that William Henry Jackson took and the sketches done by Tom Moran were among the evidence used to persuade Congress to protect Yellowstone National Park. In 1872, Yellowstone National Park became the first National Park. Grand Teton National Park originated in 1929 and was expanded in 1950 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., “who purchased and then donated over 30,000 acres” to the National Park Service. The town was named Jackson in 1894 and today; many of the town’s early buildings are still around in Jackson’s Town Square. In 1920, Jackson elected the “first all-woman city government (including town council and mayor, who appointed women to town marshal, town clerk and treasurer.”)
The city of Jackson is often called Jackson Hole, which is a common mistake made by many. The confusion comes from the fact that the city of Jackson, Wyoming is located in the Jackson Hole valley of Teton County, Wyoming. Today, Jackson, Wyoming is a fun town to indulge in snow activities (considering the town is very close to many ski resorts including Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee Resort and to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park) and enjoy the outdoors.
George Washington Memorial Park/Town Square
George Washington Memorial Park is located at the center of Jackson, Wyoming. While the park is named after our first U.S. President, it is generally referred to as “Town Square.” A structure that has helped George Washington Memorial Park become well known with the public is its elk-antler arches, which can be seen at each corner of the park (which are consistently rebuilt.) The Boy Scouts of America collected the elk-antlers from the National Elk Refuge for the George Washington Memorial Park arches. George Washington Memorial Park was established in 1934.
Town Square started out as an open space in the middle of Jackson that was used as a commons area by citizens and was also used by elk that enjoyed wandering through the park. In 1917, the town of Jackson started to make repairs to the area and evened out the square’s foundation. In 1924, the open area (which by then was referred to as “the little park in the center of the town”) was further improved by the city of Jackson and trees were added to the little park.
In 1932, when the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birthday was drawing near, Congress had asked states to prepare memorials for our first U.S. president. Wyoming had made the decision to found a George Washington Memorial Park in as many of its cities as possible. In 1932, Town Square was chosen to house Jackson’s George Washington Memorial Park. In 1939, the park created a memorial of John Colter in the park’s center. In 1953, the famous elk-antler arch was built at the southwest corner of the park. The remaining corners received elk-antler arches of their own in 1966, 1967, and 1969.
In 1959, a house was moved onto Town Square and was known as “The Stage Shop.” The building remained on Town Square until 1995 (even though the townspeople of Jackson didn’t like that the house had been placed in Town Square and that is was possibly illegal to build the house in the park in the first place.) Today, George Washington Memorial Park is a popular place to visit in Jackson and includes many great photo opportunities. George Washington Memorial Park is TripAdvisor’s #1 recommended attraction to visit in Jackson.
Elk Antler Arches at George Washington Memorial Park Photo Courtesy Wikipedia
National Elk Refuge
The National Elk Refuge is a Wildlife Refuge that was established in 1912, in order to “protect habitat and provide sanctuary for one of the largest elk (also known as wapiti) herds on Earth.” The National Elk Refuge is home to about 7,500 elk each winter and is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
A group of bison trudge across the landscape at the National Elk Park Photo Courtesy Wikipedia
The progress in protecting elk in Wyoming began in the early 1900s. The National Elk Refuge is nearly 25,000 acres that consist of meadows and marshes for the elk to enjoy. The National Elk Refuge is an interesting attraction to visit in Jackson. In the wintertime, you can even take a horse drawn sleigh in order to get a closer look at the elk. The National Elk Refuge is TripAdvisor’s #2 recommended attraction to visit in Jackson.
Elk on the refuge during winter Photo Courtesy Wikipedia
National Museum of Wildlife Art
William and Joffa Kerr founded the National Museum of Wildlife Art in 1987, with the help of a few of their friends. Many of the items in the museum were donated from William and Joffa’s personal collection of wildlife art. The National Museum of Wildlife Art provides many educational programs, that all cater to different age ranges and learning styles. The museum also includes a wildlife themed gift shop. The National Museum of Wildlife Art is a fascinating museum to visit and is TripAdvisor’s #3 recommended attraction to visit in Jackson.
Wapiti Trail Bronze Sculpture by Bart Walter Photo Courtesy Wikipedia
Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve
The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve is a refuge within Grand Teton National Park that consists of 1,106 acres. The area was originally JY Ranch, a dude ranch that was created by Louis Joy and Struthers Burt. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. purchased most of the land in Jackson Hole in 1932, in order to expand Grand Teton National Park and erect the Jackson Hole National Monument. Rockefeller kept the original 3,100 acres of the JY Ranch as a destination for his family.
Visitor Center Reading Room at Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Photo Courtesy Wikipedia
In the coming years, the Rockefeller family started to donate parts of the ranch to Grand Teton National Park, until all of the land had been donated. When the last of the JY Ranch had been donated, there were preservation and maintenance restrictions that came with the bequeathing, as the Rockefeller family wanted the preserve to be a place where people who visited could “experience a spiritual and emotional connection to the beauty of the lake and the Teton Range.”
The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve features sagebrush meadows, a mixture of wildflowers and is home to many animal species. The forests of the preserve are comprised of fir, spruce, and lodgepole pine with a sporadic growth of cottonwoods and aspens. Sedges also grow in the wetlands, which provide migrating birds with food. The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve is TripAdvisor’s #4 recommended attraction to visit in Jackson.
Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Visitor Center, Teton ranges behind Photo Courtesy Wikipedia
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
The beginning of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort started when a man named Paul McCollister purchased a ranch. Along with his partners, Alex Morley and Gordon Graham, McCollister created the Jackson Hole Ski Corporation in 1963. Prior to McCollister buying the property, the ranch was known as the Crystal Springs Girl Scout Ranch. Construction on the resort began in 1964. That same year, skiing on the nearby Apres Vous Mountain opened and included 2 double chairlifts. The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort officially opened in December 1964. McCollister sold his share in the Jackson Hole Resort to John Kemmerer III in 1992. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a great place to stay at during your trip to Jackson, but is also worth a trip if you are just looking to ski.
Gavin Fine created the idea of Bin22 after spending time in Tuscany and Europe. Gavin wanted to start a restaurant that would be a unique concept to the city of Jackson and that would mirror the culinary experiences that he savored during his time in Italy. Gavin was inspired to open up a small wine shop, grocer and tapas bar, like the ones he had visited in Italy. Bin22 was the outcome of his inspiration. Bin22 proudly showcases a wine and tapas bar in the back of their extensive wine store. Bin22 offers European-style small plates and a vast, rotating selection of wine and draft craft beers. Some of the small plates offered at Bin22 include Grilled Ribeye, Octopus, Housemade Meatball, Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates, and Smoked Salmon Mozzarella. Bin22 is the perfect restaurant to dine at for all wine-connoisseurs and lovers of Italian-tapas bars. Bin22 is TripAdvisor’s #1 recommended restaurant to dine at in Jackson.
Persephone Bakery is an extremely popular French bakery in Jackson that offers rustic breads, delicious pastries and tasty breakfast creations. The menu at Persephone Bakery includes traditional French croissants, chocolate croissants, muffins, scones, tartlet, French macaron, s’mores cookies, double chocolate walnut cookies and much more.
The breakfast at Persephone Bakery includes a Seeded Avocado Bowl (Everything spice avocado, smoked salmon, goat cheese, pickled red onion, poached egg, lentils, tomato cucumber salad and rye crisp,) Scone Skillet (Cheddar black pepper scone, fried egg, parmesan, bacon pine nut crunch, and red eye sausage gravy,) and Bread Pudding French Toast (Croissant bread pudding, cranberry grapefruit compote, orange whipped cream, and maple syrup.)
Lunch is served at Persephone Bakery between 10:30 am-3:00 pm. The lunch menu is full of different kinds of soup, salads and sandwiches. It is not uncommon to wait in line at Persephone Bakery, but the warm pastries make the wait well worth it. Persephone Bakery is TripAdvisor’s #2 recommended restaurant to dine at in Jackson.
No matter how long the duration of your stay may be, Jackson, Wyoming is the perfect place to visit, whether you’re looking to enjoy nature and spot some elk or bison or perhaps you want to eat some fresh baked goods before you spend a day on the slopes. Jackson, Wyoming is a terrific town for a mountain escape. For more information about Jackson, Wyoming, check out the official Jackson visitor’s guide.
Arial view of Jackson, Wyoming Photo Courtesy Pixabay