Cars line the streets of Jackson, Wyoming the week before Memorial Day. We’ve just arrived after a short stop to photogragh a young moose grazing near our timeshare at Teton Village. Jackson is a popular place even though it’s not the “height of the season”.
This is our first trip to Wyoming, home to the first National Park, Yellowstone National Park. To get our bearings and decide what we’re going to see and when, we’ve decided to spend a little time in Jackson.
You hear about Jackson Hole, Wyoming but Jackson isn’t Jackson Hole. Let me explain, Jackson is a town in Jackson Hole. When people refer to Jackson Hole, they mean the valley surrounded by mountains. Hole was what the mountain men called the valley and thus, Jackson Hole.
Jackson is everything you’d want in a town established in the 1800s. It’s got wooden sidewalks, old bars, hitching posts, and the feel of the old West. We parked near the tourist information center and took a self-guided tour of the small museum.
After a brief pit stop we walked up the street to the city park entrance festooned with elk antlers. We didn’t know at the time, but just North of town is the National Elk Refuge.
The valley leading into Jackson is a natural habitat for the largest elk herd in the world. In 1912 the federal government established the National Elk Refuge. designed to protect habitat and provide sanctuary for the herd.
Elk shed their antlers naturally each year. In the spring, local Boy Scouts gather the magnificent racks and collect them for their annual fund raiser. They auction antlers off to artists, collectors, and others. Seventy-five percent of the money goes to support long-term habitat improvement projects. The other 25% pays dues for the Boy Scouts.
One of the unique uses of the antler is the arches over the city’s park entrance. I can’t help but wonder how they keep the dogs from chewing them to pieces?
Shops and boutiques abound around the center of town and one can spend a full day browsing. Art galleries, craft stores, and T-shirt shops abound. Ilene and I spent a couple hours shopping for the kids and then made our way to the National Elk Refuge Visitor Center.
The visitor center has several displays about elk and other inhabitants of the valley. We were lucky enough to see elk, geese, ducks, and a bald eagle in the wetlands.
It’s a small world they say and we found out how small while browsing through the gift shop. I happened to strike up a conversation with one of the workers and found out we’d met the year before. Last year he had worked at the knife store in Skagway, Alaska.
As you may remember, we took a cruise to Alaska last year with our friends Hoss and Janet. You may remember my post, Skagway Sled Dog Musher’s Camp. Well, as it turns out, one of the places we stopped while in town was that store. In fact, Hoss and Janet bought a nice Ulu knife from the same fellow I ran in to in Jackson. Like I said, it’s a small world.
Our trip to the visitor’s center gave us a chance to get our bearings in Jackson Hole.
We learned that just up the road was the National Museum of Wildlife Art and Jackson National Fish Hatchery. We visited both during our week-long stay and I’ll write separate posts for each of those adventures in the future.
Next week we’ll continue our first day to Jackson and our first run into Yellowstone National Park.
Have you visited Jackson? Why don’t you share your thoughts on this neat little town?