A Brief History of Jackson Wyoming

A Brief History of Jackson Wyoming

The Town of Jackson Wyoming

Jackson Wyoming is a gateway city always leading its visitors back towards nature. The mountains and valleys, flora and fauna, rain, snow and sun all contribute to create one of the most beautiful locations in North America. It is a location that is visited by more than six million tourists annually. Here you’ll find the scenery beautiful, and the photography opportunities are unlimited.

The Geography

School books and maps will tell you that the town of Jackson is located at 43°28′31″N 110°46′9″W (43.475, −110.769), at an elevation of 6,237 feet (1,901 m) above sea level. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.95 square miles (7.64 km2).

Jackson Wyoming sits atop the Yellowstone Caldera. The caldera formed during the last of three super eruptions over the past 2.1 million years. The Lava Creek eruption, happened some 640,000 years ago and created the Yellowstone Caldera and the Lava Creek Tuff.

The Weather

The regions surrounding Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone have a semi-arid climate with the wettest months between November and January. The primary form of precipitation is snow. Grand Teton National Park averages 450 inches of snow in the mountains and 191 inches in the valley annually. Over the course of the year, the temperature can vary widely by season. You will regularly see -1 for a low in January to an average high of 80 in July. Records include a high of 93F, down to a bone chilling -66F.  High altitude passes can remain snow-covered until mid-July. Thunderstorms are common during the summer months. In fact, there was recently measurable snow in downtown Jackson Wyoming at the end of July 2015!

The Original Residents

Native American tribes preceded the European and early American settlers in this region. Human history of the Teton region dates back at least 11,000 years. Notable native tribes found in the Jackson Wyoming area included Shoshone, Blackfeet, Crow, Bannock and Gros Ventre Indians.

John Colter was the first Caucasian to see the Teton Range when he passed thru Jackson Wyoming during the winter of 1807/08. He was leading a group of fur trappers through the area after having parted ways with the Lewis and Clarke expeditionary party. Based upon Colter’s observations and explorations, Lewis and Clarke expedition co-leader William Clarke eventually produced the first map of the area in 1810.

Colter is widely considered one of the first mountain men. He was in Jackson Wyoming for the extremely profitable fur trapping. The region was rich with the highly prized pelts of beaver and other fur bearing animals.

Natural History

Other than humans, the “big ticket” denizens of Jackson Wyoming are wolf, moose, elk and bear. With the introduction of wolves back into Yellowstone National Park in the early nineties, the eco-system of the region has begun to return to its natural balance. Grizzly bears, wolves and free-ranging herds of bison and elk live in and around the park. The Yellowstone Park bison herd is the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States. In general, this region is one of the most in tact ecosystems found in the world today.

You will find hundreds of species of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles in the region, including several that appear on endangered or threatened species lists. The vast forests and grasslands also include unique species of plants. Yellowstone Park is the largest and most famous megafauna location in the Continental U.S.

The region experiences forest fires each year. In 1988, nearly one third of Yellowstone was burned. Fire, can be a blessing in disguise to ecosystems of this kind. The regrowth and positive long-term effects of wildfires is well documented. The role of wildfire is an important one for plant and animal species diversity.

Photography History

William Henry Jackson is credited for creating the first photographs of the Teton Range and Yellowstone during the 1871 Hayden Expedition. His photographs were integral to preserving the land in and around the Greater Yellowstone eco-system. Jackson’s photographs were also utilized as the justification for creating the world’s first national park – Yellowstone. Since William Henry Jackson’s first trip here in 1871, millions of photographers flock to this region to capture its natural beauty. Ansel Adams was responsible for his infamous Snake River Overlook photo. Today, photographers like Art Wolfe, Thomas Mangelsen and Jay Goodrich continue the tradition of highlighting the natural history.

Recreation

In the national parks and wild areas around Jackson Wyoming, you’ll find a wide array of recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, boating, fishing and sightseeing. As evidenced by the variety of published photography, this is a beautiful place to create photos. You can access the major attractions via paved road, dirt road, and hiking during the warmer months. Visitors can access the much of the park by way of guided tours using snow coaches, snow mobiles or skis during the winter months.

For the Non-Photographer

For the non-photographer, there is plenty to do as well. Museums, galleries, arts-related activities and more are available to every visitor. Drop by the National Museum of Wildlife Art for a look at an amazing piece of architecture, in addition to a collection of art that dates back to 2500 B.C. You can also walk through the downtown square and visit the numerous photography galleries. Make sure you spend some time sitting in the park surrounded by the four antler arches.

The Bicycle

Road biking, mountain biking are great options when the weather is reasonably warm and dry. With the advent of “fat tire” bikes you’ll be able to ride year round, on any snow-covered or muddy terrain.

There is also a plethora of cross country and downhill mountain biking Singletrack available every season except for winter. Jay Goodrich was responsible for photographing the first national article produced on the riding here for the May 2014 issue of Bike Magazine.