Take a picture underneath the elk antler arch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Jackson Hole's Elk Antler Arches are located at each corner of the public square, outside George Washington Memorial Park. Although Jackson Hole is a top ski destination, tourists also enjoy white water rafting on the Snake River, mountain biking, and shopping in the town square. Among many other things, the antler arches are famous, and a definite tourist draw for anyone wanting to take a neat picture.
George Washington Memorial Park is a central park in Jackson. The park was dedicated as a park in 1934 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of our first president's birth. The very first elk antler arch was built in 1953 by the Jackson Hole Rotary Club. Over 2,000 antlers were used for the first of the four arches. All of the elk antlers used for the arches are from discarded antlers. Male elk grow their antlers to impress the females and fight off other males. They are made of bone and can grow up to an inch a day. The male elk naturally shed its antlers when their testosterone drops after breeding season, and the process begins every year. There is a National Elk Refuge down the street from Town Square, with an estimated local elk population herd of 11,000. During antler shedding season, it is easy to find the antlers everywhere on the refuge.
Each arch is supported by a steel framework and is constructed by hand using 14,000 pounds or more than 2,000 elk antlers each. They are held together by friction and gravity but need to be rebuilt about every 50 years. Eventually, the antlers decompose, and the structures lose their rigidity. In 2006, the Rotary Club began fundraising efforts to replace the arches once again. With the donations made from auctioning off the original antlers, the club could replace them with new frames and newly collected antlers. These unique arches are a well-known Jackson Hole icon. The arches are decorated with Christmas lights during the holiday season and are a magical sight when there is falling snow.