Town of Jackson, Wyoming

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Jackson is, without a doubt, a tourist town.  But at the same time, it’s doing a pretty good job staying true to its wild-west heritage.  Sure, the town square is encircled by t-shirt shops and artsy galleries, but somehow, despite the distractions, Jackson hangs on to that authentic feeling.

The main road through Jackson (US 26/89/191) makes a left turn in the middle of town, taking you by the town square.  At all four corners, you’ll find an entryway arch made of elk antlers.  They come from the Elk Refuge on the north side of town. Every year the elk shed their antlers, providing plenty of material for the arches, as well as authentic souvenirs for sale in some of the shops.

The elk lose their antlers each spring, after spending the winter on the National Elk Refuge.  Boy Scouts gather them up each spring, and they’re sold at auction on the town square in May.

You’ll find this famous statue of a cowboy at the center of Jackson’s town square.

If you’re worn out from a day of hiking, and would like to take part in an activity that’s entirely sitting-based, you might want to catch a flick at the Teton Theater.  This is a classic movie house with just one screen, about a block north of the town square on Cache Drive (US 26/89/191).  I hadn’t seen the Bourne Ultimatum yet, so I went to the 7pm show.

The main road through town is also the main road to the Tetons and Yellowstone, so there will always be a string of cars slowly making their way through town.

In the distance is Snow King Ski Area.

As the sun set on Jackson, I wanted to get a better view of the town, so I took a drive up Saddle Butte Drive.  The road switchbacks up the hill that’s just to the west of downtown Jackson.  It’s a private drive, that has plenty of vacant lots and (so far) only a few multi-million dollar homes.  I don’t think I was actuallysupposed to be there…

… but with views like this awaiting me, I couldn’t resist.  You only have to go to the second switchback to see this view of Jackson.  Head on to the top, and you’ll get a nice view of the elk preserve (just north of town) and the Teton Range, too.  It would be an incredible place to live.

Back downtown, I took a look at some of Jackson’s cool neon signs, like this one for the Antler Motel.

Perhaps Jackson’s most famous landmark is the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.  You can’t miss it, on Cache Street across from the town square.

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar received the first liquor license to be issued by the state of Wyoming, after the repeal of prohibition.  These days, it’s famous for its bar, made with inlaid silver dollars, and saddle barstools.  There’s also a good chance you’ll find a live country music band performing inside.  For more information, here’s the website.

After admiring the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar’s neon…

… I walked down the street to the Teton Theater once again, to see what it looked like at night.

Note: This trip was first published in 2007.

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