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Everything You Need to Know about the Jackson Hole Shootout

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. 

This post is brought to you by Flat Creek Inn.

Featured image credit: Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce

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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. 

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