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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jackson Hole, WY

Scenes from Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole, WY attracts thousands of visitors each year who love the outdoors and want to experience all that Mother Nature has to offer. The wildlife and surrounding mountains is a unique corner of the rugged west where you’ll view animals and plants that you may never see elsewhere. Here are ten things about Jackson Hole that may surprise you:

  1. Jackson Hole was originally named Jackson’s Hole for Davey Jackson, a mountain man who trapped in this area during the late 1800’s. “Hole” was a term used in that day to describe a high mountain valley.
  2. John Wayne’s first speaking part was in “The Big Trail”, filmed in Jackson Hole in 1932. It also is reputed to be the first time he rode a horse.
  3. The U.S. Voyager II spacecraft, launched in 1977 to explore unknown reaches of the solar system, contains an Ansel Adams photograph of Jackson Hole as part of its artifacts cargo.
  4. Wyoming’s state slogan is “The Equality State.” It was the first government in world history to allow women to vote (in 1869, 51 years before the U.S. Constitutional amendment).
  5. In June 1989, President George Bush chose to deliver his first major speech on the importance of the environment and clean air in an open meadow in front of the Tetons in Grand Teton National Park.
  6. More than 15 feature films have been made on location in Jackson Hole including “Shane,” “Spencer’s Mountain,” “Any Which Way You Can” and “Rocky IV.”
  7. Among all 50 U.S. states, Wyoming ranks ninth in size and 50th in population with only five people per square mile!
  8. The world’s only public auction of elk antlers takes place on the Jackson town square on the third Saturday in May every year. Local Boy Scouts collect the antlers that are shed by the elk that winter on the refuge so that they can be auctioned off. The antlers are especially popular with the Asian market for use in aphrodisiac potions. The majority of the auction proceeds go back to the refuge for the next year’s elk feeding programs.
  9. The flora and fauna of Jackson Hole is rich in biodiversity. A float trip on the Snake River is a fantastic way to spot some of Jackson Hole’s wildlife and plant life. Over 74 species of mammals, over 300 species of birds, and 25 species of fish can be found in the Jackson Hole/Yellowstone area. Most notable are big game such as elk, moose, bison, deer, antelope, mountain lion, grizzly and black bears, coyote; rare birds such as the bald eagle, trumpeter swan, blue heron, osprey, and native game fish such as the Snake River cutthroat trout and mackinaw lake trout.
  10. The National Elk Refuge, located just outside the town of Jackson, is the largest established elk preserve in North America, with 24,700+ acres of grasslands, wetlands and forests conserved. The Refuge was established by various Acts of Congress, executive orders, and other documents to provide, preserve, restore, and manage lands for wintering elk, birds, and other big game animals. The main Act of Congress on August 10, 1912 set aside lands “for the establishment of a winter game (elk) reserve in the State of Wyoming, lying south of the Yellowstone Park . .”

The Refuge protects critically important habitat for numerous iconic species, including  elk, bison, wolves, trumpeter swans, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, and cutthroat trout. Up to 9,000 elk winter on the refuge and visitors can enjoy close-up views on daily sleigh rides from December through April.

Many guided tours are available, but the best way to experience Jackson Hole is on a photo safari with Sean Quintillian! Plans are being finalized for a trip from December 4-10, 2022 when Sean will be leading a safari to photograph the Bighorn Sheep Rut as well as other wildlife and landscapes. Only 5 lucky safarians will be able to go on this trip, so once it is announced, book your space as soon as possible!

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