Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson is a town located in the US state of Wyoming. The town and its heritage harken back to the days of the Wild West and the cowboy lifestyle. Jackson was founded in the late 19th century. It was initially popular with homesteaders who journeyed to the town in the hopes of staking new land claims. The town became even more popular when two national parks were established in its vicinity. Thus, Jackson became known for its close proximity to places where visitors could get a glimpse of the area’s natural environment and wildlife. By the early 20th century, Jackson developed a reputation for being a great destination for skiers; a reputation that it still enjoys today.

Geography Of Jackson

Jackson is located in the Jackson Hole valley of western Wyoming, close to the state’s border with Idaho. The town is surrounded by the Teton and Gros Ventre mountain ranges. To the south of Jackson are the small villages of Rafter J Ranch and South Park. There are no towns or villages immediately to the north, east, or west. Farther to the north, however, are two well-known national parks. The smaller one is called Grand Teton National Park, while the larger one, which is located north of Grand Teton, is Yellowstone National Park. Two rivers flow within the city limits of Jackson: Cache Creek and Flat Creek. Both are tributaries of Snake River. These two rivers intersect in the north of the town, not too far from the downtown area.

Population Of Jackson

Downtown Jackson.

As of 2021, the population of Jackson, Wyoming, is 10,659. Close to 86% of the town’s population is considered white, of whom 73% are non-Hispanic, and 13% are Hispanic. Hispanic people of other racial backgrounds make up 12.2% of Jackson’s population. English is the only language spoken by 72.5% of Jackson’s residents, while 25.9% speak Spanish. Over 83% of Jackson residents were born in the United States (25.31% were born in the town), and 16.54% were born abroad. Just over 15% of Jackson’s population does not carry US citizenship. The overwhelming majority of these non-citizens, 92.3% are from Latin America.  

Economy Of Jackson

The average household income in Jackson is $98,336, and the town’s poverty rate is a low 5.99%. Since Jackson is a popular tourist destination, it should be no surprise that the largest industry in the town, in terms of the number of employees, is accommodation and food services, followed by healthcare and social assistance, and retail trade. The tourism industry in Jackson has enabled the town to develop a large shopping and eating district, which is home to a large number of galleries, custom jewelers, and designer clothing retailers. This district is centered on Town Square.

History Of Jackson

Before the arrival of European settlers, Jackson Hole was inhabited by several Native American nations, including the Shoshoni, Crow, Blackfoot, Bannock, and Gros Ventre. In the early 1800s, what is now the town of Jackson was a place where trappers and mountain men passed through. Among these men was David Edward Jackson, for whom both Jackson Hole and the town of Jackson are named. During the Hayden Expedition in 1871 and 1872, William Henry Jackson took the first photographs of the Teton Mountains and Yellowstone. These photos helped persuade the US Congress to protect Yellowstone. Thus, in 1872, Yellowstone National Park was founded as the country’s first-ever national park.

Jackson history
Jackson Town signboard.

The town of Jackson itself was founded and named in 1894. Shortly after that, homesteaders began to make their way to the new town, attracted by the availability of land in the area. Some of these first settlers gave their names to other nearby towns, streets, and landmarks in Jackson Hole. In fact, some of their descendants still ranch or reside in the valley. Jackson was officially incorporated in 1914. Some of the buildings constructed early in the town’s history can still be found in Town Square today. One of the town’s claims to fame is the fact that its residents elected the first all-female council in the United States, all the way back in 1920, the same year that national suffrage was granted to women.

The 1920s was also the decade in which the tourist industry began to emerge in Jackson. It began with dude ranches offering to lodge visitors seeking time away from the big city and a taste of cowboy life on the open plains. The tourist industry was also given a lift in 1929 when Grand Teton National Park was founded. The first ski resort in the area, known as the Snow King Resort, was opened in 1939. Seventy years later, the town of Jackson was designated as a Preserve America Community in recognition of the town’s important heritage.

Attractions In Jackson, Wyoming And Vicinity

Jackson ski slopes
Ski slopes near Jackson. Editorial credit: WitGorski / Shutterstock.com

Jackson is probably best known for its natural attractions. It is in close proximity to both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Another outdoor attraction in the Jackson area is the National Elk Refuge, located just outside the town. It is the largest elk preserve in North America. In addition to the wildlife and scenery, many tourists visiting Jackson come to ski in the area. As previously mentioned, skiing has been popular in the area since at least the 1930s. There are now three ski resorts in the vicinity of Jackson, including the aforementioned Snow King Resort, the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and the Grand Targhee Ski and Summer Resort.

Jackson Town Square
The Town Square in Jackson. Editorial credit: f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Jackson also hosts several historical attractions. Some of these attractions are in Town Square, which is officially known as the George Washington Memorial Park. The square’s four entrances are adorned with large arches made from elk antler sheds that are collected from the previously mentioned National Elk Refuge. At the center of the square is a memorial to an early explorer named John Colter, one of the first people to explore the Jackson Hole in the early 19th century. Also located in the Town Square is the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, whose staff give visitors walking tours and information about historic buildings in the square, as well as the people and events that shaped the town’s history.

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