Laurance S. Rockefeller’s Jackson Hole Preserve cooperated with the New York Zoological Society and Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to establish a wildlife park in 1948, attracting visitors to the Jackson Hole National Monument (now Grand Teton National Park). The wildlife park served as a scientific research center and a place where visitors could view bison and elk.
When homesteaders first arrived in 1884, no bison roamed the Jackson Hole valley. The wildlife park reintroduced a small captive herd of bison to the valley. In 1968, 15 bison broke through the wildlife park’s fences, starting Jackson’s free-roaming herd. Jackson Hole resident and renowned biologist, Olaus Murie objected to the staged viewing, calling the fenced park the “antithesis” of healthy wildlife habitat. The National Park Service later abandoned the unnatural and controversial display.
Today, our only reminder of the wildlife park is the free-roaming herd of bison found throughout the park.
How to get there: Although nothing remains of the wildlife park you can see the area where it was located by driving on highway 89 west toward Jackson Lake Junction. Park at the large unmarked turnout just east of the Oxbow Bend Turnout. Elk and bison once grazed behind a fence in the open meadow to your southwest.
Last updated: February 24, 2015