Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Big Sky, Montana
Jackson Travel Blog› entry 14 of 18 › view all entries
The valley is formed by the Teton Range on the western side and the Gros Ventre range on the eastern side. Grand Teton National Park occupies the north-western part of the valley encompassing the much of the Teton Range as well as Jackson Lake. The town of Jackson, Wyoming, is at the southern end. Between them lies the National Elk Refuge, home of the largest elk herd on earth. The Snake River threads through the entire valley from its headwater in Yellowstone in the north to the mouth of the Snake River Canyon at the southern tip of the valley. Blacktail Butte is a prominent landform rising from the valley floor. The average altitude of the valley is over 6,500 feet (2,000 m).
High altitude and steep mountain slopes on all sides of the valley often causes calm winter nights to be very cold, as radiational cooling from snow-covered ground creates cold air near the surface, which then slides down into the valley due to its higher density.
The valley is thought to be named for David (Davey) Edward Jackson, a mountain man who trapped the area for beaver in the early nineteenth century. Though used by Native Americans for hunting and ceremonial purposes, the valley was not known to harbor year round human settlement prior to the 1870s. Descriptions of the valley and its features were recorded in the journals of John Colter, who had been a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
The only incorporated town in the valley is Jackson, sometimes also mistakenly called Jackson Hole itself. Other communities in the valley include Wilson, Teton Village, Moran Junction, Hoback, Moose (Moose Wilson Road, Wyoming), and Kelly. On the west side of the valley, Teton Pass crosses the Teton Range providing access to Victor and Driggs in eastern Idaho and Alta, Wyoming on the western side of the Tetons. Numerous elk use the valley as grazing range during the winter, and sleigh rides are offered to tourists. The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King and Grand Targhee Resort ski areas, and nearby Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks are major tourism attractions throughout all seasons of the year.