Grizzly of a trip!
Wanting some SERIOUS adventure in your life? Jackson Hole is perfect for this. Jackson is a town in Wyoming’s Jackson Hole valley, home to 3 ski areas: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee Resort. Cold weather aside, the Town Square features arches made of shed antlers from the nearby National Elk Refuge. The National Museum of Wildlife Art has works by Andy Warhol and Georgia O’Keeffe. North are the peaks of Grand Teton National Park, as well as vast Yellowstone National Park. THESE are the summer places to hike!
The best times to visit Jackson Hole are the months of April, May, September and October, unless you're a skier, then winter is the season for you. I however, get the privilege of visiting every Fourth of July Weekend. While prices to stay out here during this time are steeper, The family friendly areas are crawling with amazing attractions, parades, festivals and fireworks.
This is a bit of a difficult place to get to, (hence the whole "HOLE" thing) and for good reason! The views and "off the beaten path" locations are WORTH the hassle!
In true Jackson Hole fashion, even the local airport is worth seeing. Situated 10 miles north of the town of Jackson in the heart of Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole’s airport (JAC) is a beautiful timber and stone structure featuring huge, sun-filled windows that frame a spectacular westward view of the Tetons.
Though it's a small airport, it still has the amenities you’d expect from a major hub. Numerous rental car, shuttle, and taxi services as well as Uber and Lyft are available for transport to and from the tarmac.
The airport is just under a 20-minute drive from the Jackson Town Square.
Fun Fact: On weekends between the third weekend in December and the third week in March—between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.—you will be greeted by the Howdy Pardners in the baggage claim area. Proud ambassadors of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, and dressed like the cowboys and cowgirls who settled this valley in the early 1900’s, the Howdys roll out the red carpet at the Jackson Hole Airport during the winter months to greet visitors with mimosas, orange juice and hatpins.
Traveler Tip: With expanded non-stop service to 12 major cities on the roster for this winter, the timing is ripe to start planning your trip to Jackson Hole. And in spring of 2018, American Airlines will begin flying a daily CRJ700 from Dallas Fort Worth to Jackson Hole all year 'round.
There are actually only a few roads leading in to the Jackson Hole valley:
If you're driving from points south you're probably going to be arriving on either U.S. Routes 191 or 89. These two meet and become one north of Hoback Junction, carrying you just 20 more minutes directly to the town of Jackson. Route 191 comes from Pinedale, Wyoming, and Rock Springs, Wyoming which is about 3 hours away where 191 intersects Interstate 80. U.S. 89 comes north to Jackson from Salt Lake City and southern Utah.
If you're coming into our valley from points west, your options are to get on U.S. 89 down in Alpine, Wyoming and drive up 45 minutes to Jackson from there, or drive in over the famous Teton Pass Hwy 22 from Victor, Idaho.
Approaching Jackson Hole from the north is trickier because Yellowstone National Park borders us on that side, so to avoid coming through the (sometimes very) slow but obviously scenic two lane road through Yellowstone, you will probably be wanting to drive to Victor, Idaho and approach from the west on Teton Pass Hwy 22, or maybe U.S. 26 over Togwotee pass from Riverton, Wyoming.
Driving to Jackson Hole from the east is the most straightforward. You can come in over Togwotee Pass on U.S. 26 from Riverton, and Casper, Wyoming. The typical route to get here from further east is by taking Interstate 80 to Rock Springs, Wyoming and taking U.S. 191 north 3 hours to Jackson as described above "driving from points south."
Summer driving around here is easy and these are all good roads (though note the nearly 3,000 foot elevation gain of climbing Teton Pass on Hwy 22).
Road quality during the snowy months is rarely an issue, but you will want to check the weather forecast to make sure you aren't approaching smack in the middle of a storm. Roads can close or become unsafe quickly during winter storms, especially Teton Pass.
Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) has a great website to look up webcams and updated road conditions for each route.
My go-to spot is always AirBnB at The Aspens, located between Downtown Jackson and Teton Village. Lots of owners rent their spots out on various websites. This years condo was by far my favorite! We woke up to a MOOSE in the back yard!!!
I recommend this One Bedroom Mountain Getaway, Minutes from Parks.
You will just love the fireplace and decor is so mountain-modern!
If you have a bigger family to travel with, Teton Village is always fun to visit!
There are quite a few other options strewn across the valley, even though I have not personally tried them, you can find lots of other amazing options here.
For Fourth of July weekend, we usually fly in on the third so this takes all day traveling for us. The first full day here, I always start with a day trip to Downtown Jackson. Theres so much walking and sight-seeing to do! I hit up a local coffee shop called Cowboy Coffee, for some famous huckleberry coffee. Then I shop-hop to some of the coolest stores in town. Lunch downtown has never produced a disappointing meal and the art, trading posts, fur depots and hat shops hold some spectacular and unique pieces to view.
An evening Yoga session at the Teton Yoga Shala gets us ready and limber for tomorrows hike.
Recommended shops to visit
Jackson Hole Book Trader - Books
Made - Local Artists
Yippy I-O Candy Company - Nostalgic candy
Teton Village Sports - Sport Equipment
Thal Glass Studio - Blown Glass
Jackson Mercantile - Souvenirs
Mountain Dandy - Coolest Dude stuff ever
Jackson Hole Hat Company - HATS!!!
Altitude - Cutest Boutique Clothing
Habits - high end Boutique
Lee's Tees - all the T-Shirts you could imagine
Skipping Stones - Kids Mountain Clothes
Early to rise for a quite advanced hike! My MOST FAVORITE place to hike is Phelps Lake in Teton National Park. There are different modifications of this hike from beginner to advanced. Beginners, and kid-friendly hikes starts at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve off Moose-Wilson Road. To reach the trailhead from Moose Junction, turn left onto Moose-Wilson Road and drive roughly 3.6 miles south to the turn-off for the Preserve on the left. You can do the short hike to the mouth of the lake, or spend the day doing the 8 mile total loop around the entire lake. You can take a break and jump off the famous jumping rock to cool off half way through, or stop by Huckleberry point and dip your toes in the water. You will pass by many waterfalls, fishing spots and swimming locations along the route.
The only part of this day I was not thrilled about was, on our very tired half mile left to the car, we encountered a Grizzly. BE PREPARED for bear encounters. Locals and Park Rangers take this very seriously in Jackson Hole. We blew our whistles and backed up slowly, got out our bear spray and, thank goodness, got away! We then found some other hikers and stayed in a group. NEVER HIKE ALONE!
As if an 8 mile hike isn't enough, Day 3 is always a little bit of a resting day driving 2 hours north to Yellowstone National Park... for more hiking!!! There are so many spots to pull over and view wildlife. We saw another bear, elk, moose and bison along the drive. A single day trip is doable. While you won't be able to visit everything Yellowstone has to offer in one day, I recommend visiting the Grand Prismatic Spring FIRST! Its the most beautiful natural occurrence I have ever seen! I would then hit up Old Faithful. While its worth saying you have seen it, I personally wasn't that impressed. I did, however, enjoy walking the trails behind old faithful and seeing the many baby springs in action! We pulled off a few points to view waterfalls and valleys but were pretty tired by this point so we headed back through the Tetons to clean up and enjoy a final-day dinner and toddy.
Beware of the Bears!
Identify yourself by talking calmly so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal
Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you
Pick up small children immediately
Hike and travel in groups
Make yourselves look as large as possible
Carry and blow a wistle
Carry and know how to use Bear Spray
Do NOT allow the bear access to your food
Do NOT drop your pack as it can provide protection for your back
If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways
Leave the area or take a detour
Be especially cautious if you see a female with cubs
As most of my adventure trips go, I eat out a few times, but always appreciate local markets and packing picnic lunches and snacks. After you check in at the Aspens, mosey on down to the Aspens Market. Definitely check out the butcher and the imported cheese selection! I grab a few freshly made sandwiches, a round of imported Swiss smoked gouda, some fresh fruits and a couple sticks of fresh bison meats. these all hold up nicely in your hiking pack.
BONUS: Theres an AMAZING wine and beer store attached to the market for that evening toddy by the fire.
Near The Aspens