June 24, 2019
Writer: Jaime Strobel

The life of John Colter is being celebrated today in Jackson Hole.

John Colter Day is an opportunity to learn about the history of mountain men in the Yellowstone and Jackson Hole area, C.J. Adams, a ranger in Grand Teton National Park said.

Colter was a part of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and was said to be the first Euro-American to pass through Yellowstone, and possibly the Grand Tetons, in the 1800s.

Adams explained there is a lot of history of fur trappers and mountain men who passed through the area, including Davy Jackson, the man Jackson Hole was named after.

This week, the Colter Stone will be on display at the Colter Bay Visitor Center in Jackson Hole. The stone was found in Tetonia, Idaho in the 1930s and is shaped like a head. “John Colter” and “1808” are engraved on it. This is the only evidence the park has that indicates he passed through the Tetons. It is uncertain whether the stone is authentic. However, it is an artifact that remains a legend, and people can learn more about it at the visitor center.

Throughout the day there will be presentations by individuals who have studied lives and historic events of John Colter’s era.

At 11 a.m. the history and legend of the Colter Stone will be shared by park ranger Dan Greenblatt. At 3 p.m. Dr. Barbara Mueller will be doing a presentation on John Colter and his history. At 5:30, a local author, Ken Thomasma will be about Sacagawea. At 7, park ranger Joe Thompson will be talking about the life of mountain men, and at 9 Mueller will again speak about historic adventures.

If there are any questions about today’s event, people can contact the Colter Bay Visitor Center at 307-739-3594 or visit their website at https://www.nps.gov/grte/learn/news/twelfth-annual-john-colter-day-to-tell-story-of-mountain-man-history-in-jackson-hole.htm.

Adams said visitors enjoy learning about the history of the area and comparing it to ways we live today.

His favorite part of John Colter Day is meeting people who come from all over the world and hearing what they thought was fascinating.

“Most of all, we kind of hope that people have fun, maybe learn something new that they didn’t know before and all the beauty of Grand Teton National Park,” he said.