Jackson Hole is one of those unforgettable places you must see and experience in person to fully understand. Stunning, rugged peaks guard soft meadows full of flowers and wildlife. Herds of bison blanket the plains as far as the eye can see. And solitary moose can be seen through dense vegetation along winding rivers.
Before you arrive, here’s something most visitors learn all too late — “Jackson Hole” refers to the entire valley, while Jackson is the name of the largest city located therein. Traveling around Jackson Hole will let you explore Teton Village, Wilson, the Aspens, Moran Junction, Moose — yes, that is actually the town’s name — and so much more. Both city and valley are named in honor of Davey Jackson, a 19th-century trapper who was one of the first Europeans to survive a winter in the valley.
Here are five things to do in Jackson Hole that allow you to really soak in the beauty of Wyoming.
1. Take in Grand Teton National Park
From Jackson Hole, you’re only minutes away from the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center, located within Grand Teton National Park along the banks of the Snake River. Learn about the culture, geography, and wildlife found within this national park, then head out for a hike around the pristine Jenny Lake. The Grand Teton Range is epic in any season. Get up close to glaciers, or watch moose, elk, and mule deer graze in the open fields.
2. Make a Day Trip to Yellowstone
The South Entrance of Yellowstone is around 60 miles north of Jackson Hole. Spend the night in your Jackson Hole cabin, then take a scenic drive to Yellowstone for a day trip. Yellowstone has a way of inspiring awe in people of all ages. Watch herds of bison nudge their babies across the highway, see prismatic geothermal wonders up close, and sleep under impossibly starry skies. Plus, you can’t leave Yellowstone without witnessing Old Faithful in all its glory. The hot springs and colorful pools of Yellowstone contrast with its wildlife-friendly forests and meadows.
3. Enjoy All the Action in Jackson
If you have some downtime in between your explorations, take a stroll through Jackson. You can hitch a short ride on a stagecoach clip-clopping through the historic downtown, or head to the boardwalk area to find souvenirs and window shop at western-themed storefronts. Ride a chairlift to see the Teton Range and Valley from Snow King Mountain. Snow King Mountain also offers tubing, skiing and other adventures right in town. Biking and hiking paths extend from Jackson for quick excursions into nature.
4. Book Tours to See Wyoming’s Grandeur
Hire a guide to take you around and through the splendor of Northwestern Wyoming. If you plan to stay in a cabin in Jackson Hole, finding a tour company like Eco Tour Adventures is a safe way to view the surrounding sights with a knowledgable guide. You can also sign up for a zip-line adventure course, or get your cowboy (or cowgirl) on with a trail ride on horseback.
There are also ample opportunities for rafting the Snake River in any season besides winter, and snowboarding or skiing Jackson Hole Mountain when the powder falls. You can also book fly fishing trips, photo-safari tours with AlpenGlow Tours, and glamping getaways any time of year.
5. Stay Near Stunning Scenic Drives
A trip to Jackson Hole puts you within a short drive of dozens of scenic overlooks and byways. Take a day trip through the Snake River Canyon to the town of Alpine, and stop to fish along the way. Or consider taking Gros Ventre Road Scenic Drive toward Kelly and Slide Lake, just keep in mind that it’s not completely paved, and requires a vehicle with four-wheel drive.
Loop around to head back to town on Lower Slide Lake Road for an intimate view of local wildlife. Seven miles outside of Teton on State Highway 22 you’ll encounter Teton Pass. Enjoy a ride up and over the pass, which offers epic scenery of ridges and wildflowers. Restaurants with majestic views give you ample opportunities to snack and snapshots in equal measure as you head through the rugged pass.
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