Days of Mountain Men


The splendor of the Teton Mountains first dazzled fur traders. Although evidence is inconclusive, John Colter probably explored the area in 1808. By the 1820s, mountain men followed wildlife and Indian trails through Jackson Hole and trapped beaver in the icy waters of the valley.

The term “hole” was coined by fur trappers of the 1820s to describe a high altitude plateau ringed by mountains. Thus, Jackson Hole is the entire valley, 8 to 15 miles wide and 40 miles long. The valley was named for David E. Jackson, a trapper who reputedly spent the winter of 1829 along the shore of Jackson Lake.

After the decline of the fur trade in the late 1830s, America forgot Jackson Hole until the military and civilian surveys of the 1860s and 1870s. Members of the Hayden Survey named many of the area’s features.

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