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Years ago a friend ofmine spoke ofa remote
town in Wyoming called Jackson Hole.
She described it as a place of serenity, peace
and majestic mountains… this “little slice
of apple pie you’d travel miles to eat.”
Quaint and beautiful, it embodied the
romance ofthe American West we have
all come to cherish.

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  1. 1. SJNS-WYOMING-800 5/27/08 11:37 AM Page 1 O U T D O O R A D V E N T U R E Last of the OLD WEST Discovering the Pioneer Spirit of Wyoming BY KAREN PASACRETA Years ago a friend of mine spoke of a remote town in Wyoming called Jackson Hole. She described it as a place of serenity, peace and majestic mountains… this “little slice of apple pie you’d travel miles to eat.” Quaint and beautiful, it embodied the romance of the American West we have all come to cherish. “The stunning wildlife, the Old Western Town feel and those glorious mountains… oh, those mountains,” she had exclaimed. ■ The view of the Tetons from Taggert Lake in Grand Teton National Park takes the breath away. Photo © Ron Niebrugge / WildNatureImages.com 12 SOJOURNS SPRING/SUMMER 2008
  2. 2. SJNS-WYOMING-800 5/27/08 11:37 AM Page 3 ■ Jackson Hole was originally named Jackson’s Hole for mountain man Davey Jackson. In those days, “hole” meant a high mountain valley. Photos (right) © Ron Niebrugge / WildNatureImages.com and photo (below) © Jennifer Dunlop / Alamy ■ Historic barns of Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park, where a number of Mormon families homesteaded in the late 1800s, are some of the most photographed sites in America. Photo by Stefano Amantini © Atlantide Phototravel / Corbis From yesterday to T hese thoughts nested in the back of my mind, knowing one day I would get there. Nearly 10 years and many life changes later, I made some reservations, today, Jackson Hole gathered up my family and made the trek last year. has always been a Jackson Hole lies deep in the valley of the Northwest Region of Wyoming with Grand Teton Park. The “Hole,” as it is called, is 48 miles long and 8 to 15 miles place for people wide, and every element of fascinating landscape in between. The town of What could have seemed intimidating just fueled our curiosity and exhilaration. Jackson sits at the southern end of the valley. I once read in a travel book that We did what any self-respecting tourist would do: We headed right for the Visitor to enjoy the traveling isn’t about the journey; it’s about the destination. My family and I Center to grab activity brochures and maps. With only eight days to explore this wanted both. So, we decided to spend our summer vacation driving, grabbing “hometown” feel. as much of the American Western experience as we could. outdoor wonderland, we didn’t want to miss anything. HOLE IN THE MOUNTAINS ARE WE THERE YET? It’s hard to believe that prior to the 19th century, there were no written accounts of We flew into Salt Lake City, Utah, and braved the countryside with our 10-year- Jackson Hole. Mountain men were enticed to explore the region after being old daughter staring out the rear window of the rental car. And what a drive it encouraged by the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1803 to 1806. Jackson Hole was was, climbing up and down and over and through mountains, hills and valleys. named for David E. Jackson, a partner in the Mountain Fur Company. Jackson The hues were amazing, especially when the sun struck and turned the carved It was the outdoor adventure trip that referred to the town as his very own remote “hole in the mountains.” The name rock red, orange and yellow. We were mesmerized by all that was spread out turned into much more than we stuck. With the passage of the Homestead Act of 1862, settlers could acquire land before us. A far cry from the salty New England air we lived expected. It became a revelation. After and the pioneers poured in. With a risky climate and a limited growing season for and breathed daily; we felt out of our element, yet excited 7 hours and 275 miles of winding farmers, however, many sold out. Those who stayed consolidated the lands into and exhilarated. We were experiencing something highway, few passing cars, two states sizeable ranches. Some still remain today and are open to visitors. completely new and different, something we (Utah and Idaho) and several “are we had only read about. there yets?” later, we arrived at a With incredibly warm days reaching into the 90s to the cool nights that sometimes fabulous area bustling with outdoor hit 40 degrees, clearly this town is a seasonal draw and transplants continue to pour activity. People laced the streets, biking in. As of 2000, Jackson Hole boasted a year-round population of 8,647, increasing with fishing poles on their backs and by 52,000 in summer alone and by 5,000 in the winter. tennis rackets under their arms. Kayaks and inner tubes were strapped to LAST OF THE OLD WEST cartops… and stores everywhere called Downtown Jackson centers around the historic town square, a small patch of green out to us to attempt a white-river that welcomes you from all sides with artistically crafted arches made of real Elk rafting trip down Jackson’s antlers. My daughter had pointed these out in the yards of some of the homes as we famed Snake River Canyon. made our way downtown. It seemed to replace the New England trellis one might place as the gateway to a backyard. Here they were proudly displayed in the front – As we looked up from the valley, some displayed last name monikers; others spoke for themselves. we couldn’t help but draw in a deep breath. We were finally here. That We learned these arches were an important part of Jackson culture. Each spring, majestic Teton Mountain range we thousands of wintering elk on the Teton Valley’s National Elk Refuge (a short had heard so much about soared driving distance from downtown) shed their antlers before migrating to the straight up to the sky. Grand Teton, summer range. Every year the Boy Scouts of Jackson Hole harvest them in huge the highest peak at 13,770 feet above quantities for an auction to bidders from all around the globe. They are expertly sea level, stared down at us. crafted into furniture, light fixtures, decorations and jewelry. SPRING/SUMMER 2008 SOJOURNS 15
  3. 3. SJNS-WYOMING-800 5/27/08 11:37 AM Page 5 It was hours before anything came into view and then... “Stop there!” My daughter noticed people gathering their cars on the side of the road and migrating like herds into the woods. “Shhhh…” whispered an onlooker, barely able to contain his excitement. “A moose is in the woods, just grazing. It’s extraordinary!” As we carefully followed the crowd, I got my camera ready to zoom. Not more than 10 feet in front of us was an oblivious bull moose having lunch. It felt like an intrusion, like coming in without knocking. I snapped a quick photo and we darted back to the car, all three of us silent and stunned. ■ Stagecoach rides (above) by the elk antler arch in downtown Jackson bring back another time. Photo © Ron Niebrugge / WildNatureImages.com Whitewater rafting (right) down the Snake River is a not-to-be-missed experience in Wyoming. Photo © David R. Frazier Photolibrary, Inc. / Alamy The auction, which takes place during the annual Elkfest, has been a part of Jackson for over 40 years. More than 5,000 people gather annually in the third week of May for a chili cook-off, live music and good ’ol community fun. This precipitates Old West Days, a town celebration held a week later. Now in its 27th year, Old West Days delights with a parade, a brewfest, a wine festival, a town rodeo and stagecoach rides. IN THE WORLD’S FIRST NATIONAL PARK OF TIME AND THE RIVER It didn’t take long during our trip to realize we needn’t step back in We couldn’t resist ending our trip on a high note – time to get a small taste for ourselves. After spending an impatient taking a float ride down the Snake River Canyon. afternoon waiting for a herd of bison to take notice of our car, we We spent our last two days in Jackson enjoying the decided all we could do was sit back and relax. We were the river and all it had to offer. Originating in the high inconvenience. The bison belonged to the land. As we pondered this, country of Yellowstone, the Snake River meanders the road opened up and just like that, the bison were off, and so were through the valley, fed by the Ventre River, Flat we... to a new destination: Yellowstone National Park. Creek and others. We floated down the tame end in a large raft filled with about 10 people from all over the world. Wanting us to see and experience it all, our skilled guide instructed us to look straight ahead. And right there sitting on a bank was the very symbol that embodies America – the American Bald Eagle. I had never seen one before. Before our trip finished we would see nine more, some on the banks and some in nests. It never got old. In the days that followed our trip we longed to return to Jackson. Even now, a year later, Jackson Hole is in our hearts and our minds like a friend far away that you can’t wait to see again. ✵ To plan your own Wild West adventure,visit www.wyomingtourism.org on the Web or call Wyoming Travel & Tourism at 1-800-225-5996 to order your guide to the Old West. SPRING/SUMMER 2008 SOJOURNS 17