JACKSON HOLE, WYO – John Colter is widely considered to be the first known mountain man. He enlisted with the Lewis and Clark Expedition ( 1806 – 1806 ) where he proved to be one of the party’s more skilled hunters and overall outdoors-man. When the trek reached present day North Dakota on its return, and every member of the Corps of Discovery probably eager to get back to civilization, Colter asked for permission to quit the group and head back to the frontier to assist two trappers in need of a guide.
During the years after his time with Lewis and Clark, Colter explored and trapped throughout the Rocky Mountain West from 1806-1810. During this time, he made his famous escape from Blackfeet (Colter’s Run), discovered parts of Yellowstone (Colter’s Hell), and likely became the first white man to lay eyes on Jackson Hole.
Colter is best remembered as the first person of European decent to enter into the region we know today as Yellowstone National Park during the winter of 1807-1808.
The Colter stone is a piece of rhyolite lava carved into the shape of a human head and engraved with the name John Colter, and year 1808. Discovered in Tetonia, Idaho in 1933, the stone, if authentic, represents the only solid proof of his presence in the region. The stone has not been authenticated to have been carved by Colter and some believe it may have instead been the work of later expeditions, possibly as a hoax, by members of the Hayden Survey in 1877.
The Colter Stone will be on display at the Colter Bay Visitor Center beginning today, June 21 through Sunday, June 30.
The annual John Colter Day will be held Monday, June 24, at the Colter Bay Visitor Center.
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