Did you know Jackson Hole is home to the longest-running continuous shootout in the United States? Yes, that’s a real record, and yes, it’s absolutely true. The Jackson Hole Shootout has been going for more than 65 years, which is slightly longer than the gunfight at the end of the last John Wick movie.
What can you expect?
If you’re in town and you have a hankerin’ to watch some rascally outlaws git what’s comin’ to ‘em (and you happen to be in town from Memorial Day through Labor Day because after that the outlaws are out skiing), be sure to stop by the town square every night (except Sundays, of course). Spectators can gather on the northeast corner of Jackson’s Town Square starting at about 5:30 pm, and by 6:15, the world’s most punctual outlaws have appeared and the bullets start to fly. It’s free to the public, and no reservations are necessary.
The performers come from the nearby Jackson Hole Playhouse, and if you stick around you can usually see a Western-themed musical there. And here’s a fun fact: the guns are real, but they’re shooting blanks.
How did it all get started?
Depends on who you ask. If you want the colorful local legend, the shootout began with the notorious outlaw Clover the Killer, “the meanest, ugliest, no-good hoss-thief this side of Teton Pass,” according to the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. No doubt he also cheated on his taxes, kicked puppies, and left the toilet seat up. He went up against the Cache Creek Posse, the good guys, who would drag Clover into Town Square every night in an attempt to hang him. And every night he would escape, thanks to the intervention of his friends, the rope breaking, or some other unforeseen circumstance. At some point, you might think the good citizens of Jackson might have considered replacing the Cache Creek Posse with some more competent law enforcement, but apparently, they all thought it was great fun. (This was also 1956, so maybe the real police were off chasing actual modern criminals.) And then, as the story goes, the shootout just kept happening.
Or, according to another story, the shootout was just a clever marketing stunt to attract visitors to stay in local hotels and motels, eat at local restaurants, and buy souvenir T-shirts from local gift shops. But who believes that story? The other one is way more fun.
Featured image credit: Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce
Ryan Kunz is a copywriter and freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics, including media, the outdoors, and whatever else strikes his fancy. He is sure the first story is historically accurate.
We’re back, Roads Scholars, with another installment in our “American Road Trip” series. When last we wrote, we were young, naive, and optimistic. Since then, we’ve seen things.
As a result, we can now write with more authority on road-tripping with small children. As a Washingtonian residing in Utah for the last decade or so, I’ve taken the lengthy drive between the states countless times. However, this month, my husband and I loaded up our five-month-old and almost three-year-old into our Toyota RAV4 and embarked on this drive as a family for the first time. We survived and we’re here to tell the tale. Here’s what we did, here’s what we regret, here’s what we’d do differently if we did it again.
What We Did
The drive from Salt Lake City to my parents’ home in Washington State is approximately twelve hours and takes you through Boise, eastern Oregon, eastern Washington, and finally western Washington and the small town where my parents live. It’s a long drive for an adult, but it’s especially rough for a toddler.
To keep our toddler busy, we made sure we made a variety of games, activities, and shows. We had been considering a Toniebox for a while and decided to pull the trigger for the trip. It was a huge hit and even though we listened to the same song for maybe half of the drive, it kept our little girl entertained and happy. We also took coloring pages, books, the iPad with plenty of annoying toddler content, and small toys and games. We put these in a caddy next to her seat for the drive there, which didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, so we changed it on the way back.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much we could do for our five-month-old other than take a few toys she likes and some infant contrast cards. She tolerated these, though she was quick to let us know when she got bored.
As mentioned, I’ve driven this route countless times so I know the route well. What I didn’t know is where/how often to stop with our girls. Rest areas can sometimes be sketchy and I wanted to feel comfortable taking my little one to go to the bathroom, as well as giving her a place to stretch and play.
My husband and I broke the drive into two legs: the first was from Salt Lake City to Boise, a drive of about five hours; and then Boise to Snohomish, Washington, which is almost exactly eight hours. From there, we plotted our stops about every two hours.
On the drive to Boise, we decided to stop in Twin Falls at Shoshone Falls, a beautiful waterfall that we’d surprisingly never been to. Near the falls is Dierkes Park, where we let our toddler play for a while. At each stop, I took our baby out, changed her diaper, nursed her, and laid her on a blanket in the shade so she could kick and roll. On arrival in Boise, we stayed in a hotel with a pool so our daughter could swim and get her car wiggles out. She quickly dubbed this place “our new home” and was disappointed when we had to leave the next day.
The next day, our drive was much longer so we made three stops. In Oregon, we stopped at two very cute parks, one with an adjacent public library which we had to check out. Our third stop was in Yakima, Washington, where we visited possibly the most average public library I’ve ever seen. Our stops on the return journey were the same, except we skipped Yakima because it’s so bland. Apologies to anyone from Yakima.
Necessities for all our stops:
Picnic blanket, or something like this, was a must for our baby. It was her play place at stops, our picnic spot, and a diaper-changing mat all in one.
These are a necessity for anyone who ever uses a rest area. Buy them. Keep them in your car at all times.
When you add two car seats and two adults, our car seems fairly small. We bought a trunk organizer, a car trash can, and a tiny vacuum to keep our car as organized as we possibly could. It still looked like we’d been living out of it for years after only 15 minutes of driving, but we did our best.
I discussed this in a previous post so I’m not going to go into it much, but we loaded up on snacks and drinks for the drive which kept everyone satisfied, if not happy.
What We Regret (And What We’d Do Differently)
We only wish we’d bought a bigger car before the drive. I’m kidding. Mostly. But at a few points, either my husband or I was jammed in the back seat between the two car seats with barely enough room to breathe. This made us particularly grumpy which didn’t help when one of the children was already grumpy.
On the drive to Washington, we had all our daughter’s entertainment items in a small caddy by her seat. This didn’t work as well as we’d hoped so we purchased some seat organizers for the return. Although she’s almost three, we still had her car seat rear-facing for safety, but for the return drive we turned her car seat forward facing so we could more easily help her.
Overall, the journey was surprisingly smooth. Our girls were as good as they could be, the snacks were flowing, and the stops were fun. When we weren’t helping a chatty toddler, my husband and I even had time to talk to each other. I’m not in a hurry to make the drive (or any drive for that matter) again, knowing what we know now, I think I’d do it again someday. Maybe.
Breanne Kunz was raised in the Pacific Northwest but grew up spending summers in Idaho and frequently visiting Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. She is a wife and mom who likes to write. She still doesn’t enjoy road trips, but taking one did not kill her.
Let’s go visit the Jackson National Fish Hatchery!
Entrance to the Fish Hatchery
This fish hatchery is just a little outside of Jackson Hole, not far from the Flat Creek Inn. Look for the “Jackson National Fish Hatchery” sign and follow the arrows to the parking lot.
The views from the fish hatchery are beautiful. It’s a really peaceful and scenic area. Visitors can follow the wide, paved pathway from the parking lot down to the fish hatchery building.
Along the path are several signs that give the history of the fish hatchery and educate on the process and purpose of the hatchery.
Inside the Fish Hatchery
Once you reach the building, you come inside to the front room which includes a guest sign in and these screens on the wall that show footage of the different stages of the fish hatchery process. You can see the fish at the beginning of their journey until the end when they get released.
There are also two large fish tanks with a variety of fish to look at.
Inside the Hatchery Area
Here is where the whole process happens. Inside these tanks of water, you can see fish in various stages of development. It’s fun to watch the fish swimming around and even jumping out of the water!
Behind the Fish Hatchery
When you walk out of the building you can see more areas where the fish are held when they get too large for the indoor areas.
There is a beautiful pond behind the fish hatchery with fish inside. It’s a beautiful area to walk around and enjoy the scenery.
You can find out more about the purpose of fish hatcheries here. The Jackson National Fish Hatchery is well worth the visit, and even better, it’s free!
For close lodging to the Fish Hatchery, we recommend staying at the Flat Creek Inn!
Shan’tel Christensen is a mother to 5 and is currently getting her masters in social work. Whenever she gets the chance, she loves to visit beautiful places like Jackson Hole!
Admittedly, we’re on a bit of a Yellowstone kick lately. As one of the nation’s oldest and most popular national parks, not to mention the second largest in the continental United States, Yellowstone offers plenty to talk about. Over 4,000,000 visitors flock to the park each year and you can bet they’re all making a beeline to Old Faithful. And while Old Faithful is incredible, it’s also incredibly popular, welcoming approximately 2,000 guests pereruption. If you’d rather skip those crowds but still want to see some impressive hydrothermal activity, here are five Yellowstone geysers that aren’t Old Faithful.
Here’s a fun fact: Steamboat Geyser is the world’s tallest active geyser. While unpredictable and occasionally years apart, Steamboat’s major eruptions spew water up to 300 feet in the air. Minor phase eruptions are much smaller, reaching between 10 and 40 feet in height. Only Waimangu geyser in New Zealand has had larger eruptions, but not for over 100 years.
The aptly named Riverside Geyser is unique in that it shoots water at a 60-degree angle across the Firehole River. Time your visit right and you might just see a rainbow amid the eruption (no promises you’ll find the pot of gold, though). As of a few years ago, the eruption interval was 6 hours and 20 minutes, give or take half an hour. If you’re super into marmots (the animal, not the gear), this is also a favorite summer hangout for the yellow-bellied variety.
Located near Old Faithful in the Upper Geyser Basin, this impressive geyser has blasts that reach between 150 and 200 feet in the air, making it the world’s tallest predictable geyser. Rather than a steady stream (like Old Faithful), Grand Geyser erupts in bursts, with 1 to 4 bursts per eruption.
Grotto Geyser wins the award for the weirdest shaped cones and is worth a visit just for that alone. Sitting on the bank of the Firehole River, this geyser is one of the most picturesque and predictable geysers in Yellowstone. With 20-minute eruptions occurring about every 6 hours, this geyser shoots water to heights of 75 feet.
Great Fountain Geyser/White Dome Geyser
This Yellowstone geyser is two for the price of one! Located in the Lower Geyser Basin, Great Fountain Geyser’s 45-60 minute eruptions display a pretty impressive series of bursts and “superbursts” that can reach up to 200 feet. While most geysers do experience some periods of irregularity, Great Fountain is fairly dependable. After an eruption, the pool slowly fills over 10-14 hours and then begins to overflow about an hour to an hour and a half before the next eruption.
While you’re waiting for Great Fountain Geyser, watch for eruptions from White Dome Geyser. While it’s normally overshadowed by Great Fountain, White Dome’s 12-foot geyserite cone is the largest in the park. Eruptions could happen in intervals between 15 minutes and three hours, so it’s basically the same schedule as the person coming to fix your dishwasher.
There you have it, five Yellowstone geysers that aren’t Old Faithful! This list is literally 1% of the geysers Yellowstone has to offer. Find a complete list here and see if you can catch a rare eruption of the geysers off the beaten path.
Breanne Kunz was raised in the Pacific Northwest but grew up spending summers in Idaho and frequently visiting Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. She is a wife and mom who likes to write. She occasionally travels (not as much as she’d like) and always eats.
David L. Sifry, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Dirtsc, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
National Parks Service (n.d.). Hydrothermal Features. Yellowstone National Park. Retrieved March 5, 2023, from https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/hydrothermal-features.htm#geysers
A visit to Yellowstone National Park is almost certain to involve thrilling landscapes and wildlife sightings, but what really sets Yellowstone apart from the pack is the geysers and other hydrothermal features. Of course, “hydrothermal features” sounds a bit boring, but that’s only because geologists can’t take each other seriously if they call these features “hot, occasionally explodey water that comes out of the ground.” But what’s the difference between a geyser and a hot spring? Are mud pots hydrothermal? And what on earth is a fumarole?
In today’s blog post, a continuation of our series on the national parks near Jackson Hole, we’ll explore all the different types of hydrothermal* features you’ll find in Yellowstone National Park.
Hot springs are the most common kind of hydrothermal feature in Yellowstone, probably because hot springs represent hydrothermal activity in its most basic form. It’s a pretty simple process: water seeps through the bedrock, where it comes in contact with heat below and then rises to the surface. This process of convection (hot water rising, cooling down, and then getting replaced by water from below) makes it so the water never gets hot enough to erupt. Which is good news for the people inevitably skinny dipping in the water.
EXAMPLE: Grand Prismatic Springs may be the most photographed feature in Yellowstone. It’s a hot spring the size of a football field, glittering with rings of orange, yellow, green, and blue. It’s also deeper than a ten-story building. If you drop your keys into those superheated depths, please refrain from jumping after them.
Still got your geology hat on? (We’re not sure what a geology hat looks like, but it’s probably pretty stylish, right?) Mudpots are a special type of hot spring. A gas called hydrogen sulfide (which is what gives mud pots their characteristic unpleasant smell) is usually present, giving tiny microorganisms something to feed on. These microbes help convert the gas to sulfuric acid, which in turn breaks down the surrounding rock into clay. The clay turns to mud, and voila! You get a gooey, gurgly sludge that smells like rotten eggs. Okay, we’re really not selling the experience very well, but it’s still worth a look.
EXAMPLE: There are basically two notable locations of mud pots in Yellowstone. First, the Artist Paint Pots are about three miles south of Norris Geyser Basin. The Fountain Paint Pots can be found in the Lower Geyser Basin between Madison and Old Faithful. Both mud pots bubble various striking colors thanks to iron oxides in the goo.
A fumarole sounds like some sort of delicious pastry you might eat while on vacation in Europe, but we actually don’t recommend you put your mouth anywhere near one. A fumarole, or steam vent, happens when there’s heat and just a little bit of water below the surface. Most of the water boils away, leaving steam and other gases to hiss from the vents.
EXAMPLE: Red Spouter is one of Yellowstone’s most famous fumaroles, so called because the earth around it is red-colored and it—if you can believe it—spouts steam.
Travertine terraces are step-like formations where formed when hot water carries dissolved limestone (calcium carbonate) through tiny fissures to the surface, where carbon dioxide is released and calcium carbonate is deposited. This process forms a chalky white mineral called travertine. Stunning instances of travertine terraces can be found all over the world, but we’re particular about the ones right around the corner.
EXAMPLE: Probably the most famous travertine terraces in the US are Mammoth Hot Springs, which you can view via 1.75 miles of boardwalk. (Travertine terraces like this one are technically hot springs, and “Mammoth Travertine Terraces” doesn’t really roll off the tongue as well.)
Like a lot of the items on this list, geysers are just another kind of hot spring. What makes them special, much like your dishwasher at any given time, is that their internal plumbing is clogged. The difference between a geyser and your dishwasher, other than the fact that a geyser is definitely not covered in your home warranty, is that the pressure builds up behind the clog until it finally erupts.
EXAMPLE: Everyone’s heard of Old Faithful, right? But there’s also Riverside Geyser, Castle Geyser, Grand Geyser, and (the largest geyser in the world) Steamboat Geyser. (Fun fact: Americans pronounce the word “GUY-zer,” while the British, for some reason, say it “GEE-zer.”)
Now you know . . .
You don’t have to memorize the inner geological workings of the geysers and other hydrothermal features in Yellowstone to enjoy them, but you can certainly impress (or possibly annoy) the other people in your party with your vast geological knowledge.
One more thing: it’s currently winter, which is of course not the best time to see all these features. However, there’s no better time to start planning your Yellowstone vacation. And if you’re looking for a place to say while you road trip across the West, consider Flat Creek Inn.
* “Hydrothermal” comes from the Greek words for “water” and “heat.” Geologists are not known for their creativity.
Ryan Kunz is a copywriter and freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics, including media, the outdoors, and whether or not Darth Vader could beat Batman in a fight. (The answer is yes.) He visited Yellowstone about a thousand times in his youth.
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