Jackson Hole Wyoming
Jackson Hole is a valley surrounded by high mountains. Our valley is about 50 miles long and about 12 miles wide, and the valley floor is as high as 6,779 feet in the north to about 6,069 feet at the southern end.
The Snake River, which begins in the high mountains of Yellowstone, makes its way through the valley, fed by streams and rivers, such as the Gros Ventre River and Flat Creek. Along the west side of the valley, the famous Teton Mountains rise into the sky, a sharp soaring of rock with hardly any foothills to separate the massive mountains from the valley floor. A couple lakes lie along the base of the range; among them is large Jackson Lake.
Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the range, is 13,772 feet above sea level, towering over Jenny Lake at its base. In the valley to the east, the Gros Ventre Mountains roll up a little more gently from the valley floor.
Grand Teton Government Park occupies most of the valley of Jackson Hole Wyoming, managing public access to the towering peaks of the Teton Mountains and the beautiful glacial lakes. The native wildlife includes moose, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, elk, grizzly and black bear, bison, and trumpeter swans. Many of the large animals roam undisturbed across the valley floor. Many trails lead into the mountains to satisfy adventurers. The park is 310,000 acres! That is huge!
The Town of Jackson is located near the south end of the valley, nestled between the Hoback Range, which contributes Snow King Mountain to the southern boundary of the valley, and East Gros Ventre Butte. The butte is one of several that punctuate the valley, varying the flatness of the Snake River plain with the rocky humps of ancient landforms.
Jackson is the government seat of Teton County. Teton County had a year-round population of about 22,000, and Jackson had a population of about 10,000. A number of temporary residents swell the population totals during the tourist seasons – in the summer months by about 50,000 and by 5,000 in the winter months. The county has a large land area – 2,697,000 acres or 4,214 square miles. Nearly 97% of the county is government land, and what little remains in private hands is very strictly regulated by the Teton County Commissioners. Due to the large amount of government ownership and control, housing prices are very high. Many billionaires and millionaires live in Jackson Hole and philanthropy is alive with Old Bill’s Fun Run being the most popular fund-raiser in Jackson Hole!
With a great expanse of government land, including two national government parks, tourism is the primary industry in the area. GRAND TETON GOVERNMENT PARK lies in the center of Jackson Hole, and Yellowstone Government Park is only a bit to the north. The town of Jackson is a gateway to both parks. Grand Teton Government Park typically hosts between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 visitors each year. The total indicates the popularity of the area and the health of the industry.
A few ranches remain in operation in the valley, reminding the residents of the area’s original economic base. Many of the ranch operations, however, supplement their income with tourism, as guest ranches and headquarters for outfitting hunters and fishermen. Many of the ranches are being regulated through “sustainable development” to make them worth very little in practical use. Many ranching families own land that is appraised at tens of millions of dollars but are not allowed by local government to use it as they choose. One pioneer’s descendant, Lane Ross, famously said about a 160 acre plateau his family owns, “The only thing they will let me do with it is pay taxes.”
The area is beautiful, and locals welcome visitors to come and enjoy!