Visitors often wonder about the difference between Jackson, Wyoming and Jackson Hole, Wyoming and proximity to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Jackson Hole refers to a 48-mile long valley surrounded by jagged mountain peaks and includes the towns of Jackson, Kelly, Moose, Moran, Wilson, and Teton Village. Known to early settlers as Jackson’s Hole, the area has been renowned since its discovery in the early 1800’s for its incredible natural beauty and abundance of wildlife.
Just 15 minutes from Grand Teton National Park and two hours from Yellowstone National Park, Jackson, WY is a great stop if you’re looking for an old West town with a touch of class and a lot of fun. If you’re looking for a historic Old-West-style town with a lively foodie scene, great shops and world-class outdoor activities, look no further than Jackson. Most tours of both national parks pick-up in Jackson so exploring both parks is easy and convenient.
Discover the wonder of Wyoming’s most iconic landmarks and wilderness areas. Colorful pools, jagged peaks, other worldly rock formations and breathtaking canyon walls remain untouched within state borders. Some of America’s most pristine landscapes are living in Wyoming, beckoning adventure-seekers to take in their beauty. Outdoor Recreation, Wildlife watching, skiing, Snow King and Accommodations
Jackson, WY is encompassed on all sides by mountain barriers. The hole – or valley – is 48 miles long and for the most part, six to eight miles wide, embracing an area of approximately 400 square miles. It lies a few miles west of the Continental Divide and occupies the central portion of the headwaters of the Snake River. Mountain streams converge radically toward it from the surrounding highlands, and the Snake River receives these as it flows through the valley.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. Mostly in Wyoming, the park spreads into parts of Montana and Idaho too. Yellowstone features dramatic canyons, alpine rivers, lush forests, hot springs and gushing geysers, including its most famous, Old Faithful. It’s also home to hundreds of animal species, including bears, wolves, bison, elk and antelope.
Yellowstone National Park is the flagship of the National Park Service and a favorite to millions of visitors each year. The park is a major destination for all members of the family. By driving the grand loop road, visitors can view the park from the comfort of their vehicle and also take a rest at one of the many roadside picnic areas. For the active visitor, the park has thousands of miles of trails from day hikes to back country explorations. The main attractions are all located on the grand loop road and here are some of the top reasons to visit the park.
Yellowstone National Park spans an area of 3,468.4 square miles (8,983 km2) comprising lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-elevation lakes in North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano on the continent. The caldera is considered a dormant volcano. It has erupted with tremendous force several times in the last two million years. Half of the world’s geysers and hydro thermal features are in Yellowstone, fueled by this ongoing volcanism. Lava flows and rocks from volcanic eruptions cover most of the land area of Yellowstone. The park is the centerpiece of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the largest remaining nearly-intact ecosystem in the Earth’s northern temperate zone. In 1978, Yellowstone was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hundreds of species of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles have been documented, including several that are either endangered or threatened. The vast forests and grasslands also include unique species of plants. Yellowstone Park is the largest and most famous mega fauna location in the contiguous United States. Grizzly bears, wolves, and free-ranging herds of bison and elk live in this park. The Yellowstone Park bison herd is the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States. Forest fires occur in the park each year; in the large forest fires of 1988, nearly one third of the park was burnt. Yellowstone has numerous recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, boating, fishing and sightseeing. Paved roads provide close access to the major geothermal areas as well as some of the lakes and waterfalls. During the winter, visitors often access the park by way of guided tours that use either snow coaches or snowmobiles.
GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
Rising above a scene rich with extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, and alpine terrain, the Teton Range stands as a monument to the people who fought to protect it. These are mountains of the imagination. Mountains that led to the creation of Grand Teton National Park where you can explore over two hundred miles of trails, float the Snake River, and enjoy the serenity of this remarkable place.
Few landscapes in the world are as striking and memorable as that of Grand Teton National Park. Grand Teton has a lot to offer, whatever your interests. Mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers, and skies are home to diverse and abundant forests, wildflowers and wildlife. The park also has a rich cultural history with old homesteads and cattle ranches to explore and photograph. Walk on a trail built by the Civilian Conservation Corps or one that American Indians or fur trappers might have used in the 1820s. Ride a bike or paddle a canoe. There is something for everyone.
The human history of the Grand Teton region dates back at least 11,000 years, when the first nomadic hunter-gatherer Paleo-Indians began migrating into the region during warmer months pursuing food and supplies. In the early 19th century, the first white explorers encountered the eastern Shoshone natives. Between 1810 and 1840, the region attracted fur trading companies that vied for control of the lucrative beaver pelt trade. U.S. Government expeditions to the region commenced in the mid-19th century as an offshoot of exploration in Yellowstone, with the first permanent white settlers in Jackson Hole arriving in the 1880s.
Efforts to preserve the region as a national park began in the late 19th century, and in 1929 Grand Teton National Park was established, protecting the Teton Range’s major peaks. The valley of Jackson Hole remained in private ownership until the 1930s, when conservationists led by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. began purchasing land in Jackson Hole to be added to the existing national park. Against public opinion and with repeated Congressional efforts to repeal the measures, much of Jackson Hole was set aside for protection as Jackson Hole National Monument in 1943. The monument was abolished in 1950 and most of the monument land was added to Grand Teton National Park.
Grand Teton National Park is named for Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. The naming of the mountains is attributed to early 19th-century French-speaking trappers—les trois tétons (the three teats) was later anglicized and shortened to Tetons. At 13,775 feet (4,199 m), Grand Teton abruptly rises more than 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above Jackson Hole, almost 850 feet (260 m) higher than Mount Owen, the second-highest summit in the range. The park has numerous lakes, including 15-mile-long (24 km) Jackson Lake as well as streams of varying length and the upper main stem of the Snake River. Though in a state of recession, a dozen small glaciers persist at the higher elevations near the highest peaks in the range. Some of the rocks in the park are the oldest found in any American national park and have been dated at nearly 2.7 billion years.
Grand Teton National Park is an almost pristine ecosystem and the same species of flora and fauna that have existed since prehistoric times can still be found there. More than 1,000 species of vascular plants, dozens of species of mammals, 300 species of birds, more than a dozen fish species and a few species of reptiles and amphibians inhabit the park. Due to various changes in the ecosystem, some of them human-induced, efforts have been made to provide enhanced protection to some species of native fish and the increasingly threatened whitebark pine.