Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I’m Faith Lapidus.
And I'm Steve Ember. Today we travel to the mountains of Wyoming for a trip to Jackson Hole.
This beautiful valley was named after the nineteenth-century
explorer and hunter David Jackson. After he spent a winter in the
area, his friends started to call it “Jackson’s Hole.”
The valley looks like a hole in the middle of the mountains that surround it. Over time, the name stuck.
Hole is about forty-eight kilometers long. The valley includes the
town of Jackson. About eight thousand people live there. The valley
also includes the Grand Teton National Park and much of the
Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Jackson Hole is a popular holiday place. In the summer, people go
there to ride horses, climb mountains, catch fish and take trips on the
rivers and lakes.
Many visitors take a trip across the valley on the Snake River. The
Snake Indians once lived near this river. It turns from side to side,
like a snake on the move.
Some visitors bird-watch from sailboats. One of the birds they can
see is America’s national symbol, the bald eagle. Other people go
white-water rafting. Rubber rafts carry them along the fastest parts
of the river. The water moves so fast, it becomes white with foam.
the winter, people come to Jackson Hole to ski. Jackson Hole Mountain
Resort provides some of the best downhill skiing and snowboarding in
And there are other kinds of skiing. Some people skate ski; they
speed across level snow. Others enjoy the slower speed of
Some people go dog sledding in Jackson Hole. They get on a sled and
are pulled by a team of dogs through the snow. This is one of the many
ways to enjoy the extraordinary mountain views.
Some wealthy people have homes near the ski resort. Other people
stay in the many hotels nearby. Some of these hotels are new and very
In fact, the average sale price of a single-family home in Jackson Hole is more than one million dollars.
Visitors to Jackson Hole have many shopping, dining and entertainment choices.
People can imagine they are in a town in the Old West. At the
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, instead of chairs, they can sit on saddles
as if riding a horse. On some nights there are dance lessons. People
can learn the two-step, a kind of Western dance.
Or they can eat dinner and listen to live music at the Mangy Moose Saloon. There, a large dead moose hangs from the ceiling.
At the Silver Dollar Bar, a long table is covered with more than two
thousand shiny silver dollars. If you look carefully, you see that the
coins are all from the year nineteen twenty-one.
Visitors can also enjoy an evening at the Jackson Hole Playhouse.
In the summer, actors perform musicals and other plays. This brightly
painted old theater is one of the oldest wood buildings in town. It
has been a popular entertainment place since the nineteen fifties.
Some of the stores in Jackson Hole sell unusual things, like
furniture made of deer antlers. Antlers are the hard and bony points
that grow on the heads of male deer. These stores sell chairs, lights
and other objects made from antlers. They look more like pointy
sculptures than furniture.
Many stores in Jackson Hole sell winter sports equipment and
clothing. Some sell cowboy clothing. C.J. James owns the Jackson Hole
Hat Company. Her Web site describes the cowboy as a "symbol of
American independence and strength."
She will sell you a cowboy hat made to fit the exact size of your
head. There are many shapes, colors and materials to choose from.
of the ways of the Old West cowboy are kept alive in Jackson Hole. In
the summer, visitors can go to a rodeo to see competitions based on
traditional cowboy skills. Some people say it is the truest of
The rodeo usually begins with a parade of cowboys and their horses.
Then comes the competition. In one event, riders try to stay on a wild
animal for eight seconds. They ride wild horses and large bulls. The
animals try to throw the cowboys to the ground. The cowboys try not to
In another event, the cowboy throws a rope around the neck of a
young cow. Then he tries to tie the rope around three of its legs.
The cowboy who does this in the shortest amount of time wins.
Visitors to Jackson Hole can experience different parts of cowboy
life. They can ride horses. They can eat meals cooked outdoors over a
fire. In the summer, they can watch actors dressed as cowboys perform
“The Shootout.” This short Western play has been performed since the
Arts and culture are important in Jackson Hole. Each summer,
musicians from around the country perform classical music at the Grand
Teton Music Festival.
Musical guests also visit local schools while they are in town.
Each autumn, Jackson holds the Fall Arts Festival. This event
celebrates many examples of visual and performing arts. It also
provides many examples of fine local foods.
Visitors to Jackson Hole can explore the National Museum of
Wildlife. When this museum opened, it was located in the center of
town. But soon the museum space was not large enough to hold the art
In nineteen ninety-four the museum reopened in a new building made
of stone. It looks like a fortress built centuries ago. The museum
contains over two thousand artworks showing nature and animals.
There are many paintings, photographs and sculptures of antelope,
deer, birds, horses and other animals. The museum says its art
celebrates the powerful connection between animals and humans.
This art shows the natural beauty of the land and its creatures. To
see this beauty in real life, all you have to do is walk outside the
The building sits on a hillside overlooking the National Elk
Refuge. The refuge contains the largest wintering population of elk in
the world. It had an estimated seven thousand elk this season.
The refuge has ten thousand hectares of land. It was started in nineteen twelve to help protect the local elk population.
Six kilometers north of Jackson, Wyoming, is the Grand Teton
National Park. Congress created this park in nineteen twenty-nine. In
the nineteen forties the wealthy John D. Rockefeller bought a great
amount of land nearby. Then he gave it to the federal government.
Both Rockefeller and the government added to the park later. Today,
the government controls about ninety-seven percent of all the land in
the Jackson Hole area.
The park is named for the Grand Teton Mountains. These mountains
rise directly from the floor of the valley. They are part of the Rocky
Mountains. The Grand Tetons are about four thousand meters high and
sixty-five kilometers long. Many artists have captured images of these
The Native Americans who lived in the area many years ago called the mountains Teewinot, meaning “many pinnacles.”
Fur trappers from Canada had their own idea of what the three
largest mountains looked like. These French-speaking hunters named
them “les Trois Tetons” -- "the Three Breasts."
The Grand Teton Mountains were formed about ten million years ago.
This makes them some of the youngest mountains in North America. The
Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States, for example, are
about two hundred million years old.
Many of the lakes around the Grand Tetons were formed millions of
years ago by slow-moving sheets of ice. Some small glaciers are still
active in the mountains.
People come to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, from around the world to enjoy
the best of cowboy and mountain culture. If you ever go, just don’t
forget your cowboy hat.
Our program was written by Dana Demange and produced by Caty Weaver. I’m Faith Lapidus.
And I’m Steve Ember. Read and listen to our programs at
voaspecialenglish.com. And join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA
in VOA Special English.