clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

JACKSON: A TOWN THAT SLEEPS WITH ITS BOOTS ON

This is a town that sleeps with its boots on.

With the Grand Tetons looming in clear view, herds of beef cattle grazing in green pastures and the Wild West all around, Jackson is a place where even city slickers let out whooping "yeee-has!"While the natural wonders of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks provide nature's finest, the town of Jackson, on the southern border of the Grand Tetons National Park, provides a bit of civilization.

And although the spirit and legacy of Indians, mountain men and pioneers live on, dudes won't have to rough it. Jackson offers fine dining, comfortable lodging, great shopping and other upscale amenities demanded by city slickers.

To clear up the inevitable confusion: The town is called Jackson, while Jackson Hole is the name of the entire valley.

The showcase of the town is Jackson Town Square, flanked by four impressive arches made of elk antlers, shed by some of the 7,500 elk that winter on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole. Bulls shed their antlers each spring.

This annual antler shed also leads to an event that draws participants from around the world - the annual Jackson Hole Elk Antler Auction, where antlers shed by the wintering elk are put on the block.

Spectators from all over the world come for this event, the third Saturday each May. Local and regional craftsmen use the antlers to create everything from jewelry to furniture, and Asians buy the antlers to grind up for aphrodisiacs.

The average going rate, locals say, is $14 a pound. Local Boy Scouts collect the antlers and keep 10 percent of the auction profits. The other 90 percent goes back to the refuge where it's used to purchase feed for next winter's herd.

Jackson is a unique mix of the quaint Old West and the modern conveniences tourists demand.

Mixed in with the Rawhide Motel and the Silver Dollar Bar are a TCBY frozen yogurt stand and McDonald's and Wendy's restaurants. Well-dressed tourists share the wooden sidewalks with cowboys.

Jackson is a well-known Western art center, featuring painting, sculpture, pottery, crafts and photography in more than 35 galleries. There are cowboy boots and hats galore for sale, furniture and chandeliers made from antlers, Indian crafts and Western art.

The area has more than 70 restaurants, where you can order up slabs of Wyoming beef and buffalo. At night, you can rub shoulders with real cowboys in the local bars with live entertainment from rock to country.

Wyoming celebrates its 100 years of statehood this summer, and history as far back as 150 years will come to life during the Wyoming Centennial Rendezvous, July 6-22, at Boyle's Hill, two miles from downtown Jackson. Three hundred camps will be erected with some 1,000 participants, all decked in authentic pre-1840 dress, weaponry and regalia.

For more information on Centennial events in Teton County, contact the Teton County Centennial Committee, P.O. Box 574, Jackson, Wyo. 83001, or call (307) 733-8429.