Jackson Hole was originally populated by Native American tribes including the Shoshoni, Crow, Blackfeet, Bannock, and Gros Ventre. John Colter entered Jackson Hole during the winter of 1807/1808 during the return journey of the Lewis & Clark expedition. The area became a prime area for trappers and many famous mountain men traveled through the area in the early 1800s. These mountain men are responsible for many of the names in the valley including Bridger, Jedediah Smith, and Sublette. David Jackson gave his name to the valley after a winter spent on the shores of Jackson Lake.
As part of the Hayden Expedition of 1871 and 1872, William Henry Jackson took the first photographs of the Teton Mountains and Yellowstone. His photographs, along with the sketches by Tom Moran, were important evidence to convince Congress to protect Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone National Park became the first National Park in 1872. Grand Teton National Park was created in 1929 and greatly expanded in 1950 through the generous efforts of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who purchased and then donated over 30,000 acres.
The Town of Jackson was named in 1894. Some of the early buildings remain and can be found throughout the area of the Town Square. The Town of Jackson elected the first all-woman city government (including town council and mayor, who in turn appointed women to town marshall, town clerk and treasurer) in 1920.