The city was named in 1892 for Fred Dubois (1851−1930), the state's prominent politician in its early years. He came to Idaho in 1880 and was the state's first U.S. Senator and served for two non-consecutive terms (1891−97, 1901−07).
Six miles (10 km) north of town is the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, the county's second largest employer. The station studies sheep breeds to support U.S. sheep farmers. Dubois is near the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, which calls one of its administrative units the Dubois ranger district.