Are you hoping to let your inner cowboy (or cowgirl) loose this summer? Then visit Wyoming’s Jackson Hole; staying wild in the wild wild west has never been easier or more luxurious.
Think vast open land, unspoilt nature areas, old country-western towns and ten-gallon hats. This is a place where you can enjoy horseback riding through the Snake River Ranch, fly-fishing on private concessions, floating down the river on a dinner boat and hiking in the majestic Grand Teton National Park. And, of course, a fantastic selection of not-roughing-it places to stay.
Your kids may not have camp this summer, but if you play your cards right, you can make your own summer camp. You’re going big, or going home.
Jackson Hole overview
Jackson Hole is a valley between the Teton Mountain Range and Gros Ventre Range in Wyoming. It is home to the towns of Jackson, Kelly, Moose, Moran, Wilson and Teton Village. Jackson is the seat of Teton County which is known as one of the wealthiest zip codes in the United States.
When landing in Jackson Hole, you quickly figure this out. It’s the only airport in the U.S located in a national park. There are many beautiful places in the United States, but this location is definitely in the top five.
The people sitting next to you in Jackson may wear scuffed-up cowboy boots and unassuming denim. However, they are likely to be among the heavy hitters who have figured out the end game and are lucky to call Jackson Hole home, at least for part of the year.
Good For: Couples, families, singles, solo travelers, groups of friends. Jackson Hole has something for all ages and interests.
When to Go: The summer is high season for Jackson Hole as there are outdoor activities for all athletic abilities (or none!) If you are a proficient skier, visit in winter. Jackson Hole has some of the best skiing in the region.
Suggested length of stay: Unless you’re flying private, there aren’t a lot of direct flights to town so getting here can take a while. Stay at least four days or ideally a week. If you can, stay the whole summer like a lot of visitors do.
Things to do in Jackson Hole; stay wild and have fun
Get up close and personal with the outdoors, whether that’s taking in the views or conquering the mountains.
If you are an experienced hiker and climber you can climb the Grand Teton. A trip to the 13,000 feet summit takes around eight hours. Or choose the easy option and drive through the national park taking selfies along the way.
For something in the middle of these options, there are a number of manageable hikes in the two to four hour range, including Jenny Lake and the ascent to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point.
Aside from hiking, let loose your inner cow person and get on a horse. You are in Wyoming, after all, with expert cowboy guides. Take a guided trip into the foothills of Teton Village with Teton Village Trail Rides.
Alternatively, head up by Amangani to ride at Spring Creek Ranch. The views will be spectacular.
Getting your fly-fishing on
You can fish from a drift boat, which covers a lot of area, or you can go old -school. Hike through the most beautiful private ranch concessions, wade knee-deep into waters and feel like you’re in a scene from ‘A River Runs Through It’.
Either way, hit up Grand Fishing Adventures, which has the inside track to the best private spots. Clay Moorhead is a brilliant guide who has way more patience than should ever be expected, even with the least-skilled fishermen and women (speaking for a friend he took out, of course).
Read our fly fishing beginner tips here.
There are mountain biking trails for every fitness level and ability. Choose between flat paths that run for miles to some serious single track mountain biking.
Stand-up paddle boarding
This is a local’s favorite activity and, even with the throngs of people during a 4th of July weekend, there were still hidden, totally isolated spots to discover.
There is something so peaceful paddle boarding against a mountain backdrop. It is important to know that the water is cold so bring someone experienced with you in case you fall in.
White water rafting
Like mountain biking,there are rivers and rapids to suit everyone. You can do the ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ smooth and calm route all the way up to Level 5 rapids, which are the ultimate adrenaline rush.
Checking out Jackson town
Jackson town feels like it stepped right out of a country-western movie. Stop by Silver Dollar Bar for the artichoke-and-spinach dip along with a whisky cocktail. Every day at 4 p.m, head over to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, saddle up (the bar stools are literally saddles) and order a drink like a boss.
The shopping is good here too; we like Belle Cose for clothing and homewares. Another addition to your to do list is to visit Encounter Hat Co. This is the place to buy a custom cowboy hat and pick up a pair of real cowboy boots.
In winter, ski, ski and ski. There are a few beginner-friendly trails but generally, we would categorize Jackson runs as more advanced than bunny hill. Experienced, skilled skiers love the terrain here. Jackson Hole is good value in winter as it’s actually considered to be the low season.
For more ideas, visit the Jackson Hole travel and tourism website.
Good to know visitor tips
Reservations are a must for dinner in Jackson Hole. Stay wild also means staying organised! Make a reservation, especially in peak season: otherwise you’ll be stopping for a slice somewhere in lieu of enjoying the charming atmosphere of the town. See our nutshell restaurant list below for recommendations of where to eat.
Where you stay in Jackson will dictate how much you will spend on Ubers. If you’re staying in Teton Village, it’s spotty on Uber, so it’s better to use the local taxi service to pick you up and return you home. Ubers are easy to use within the town of Jackson but as mentioned, the expense adds up.
You’ll need a car for daytime excursions as it’s much more convenient to have your own wheels and explore at your leisure.
When you’re around others in Jackson Hole, mask wearing is required. The sad part is not everyone wears a mask, and those that don’t are usually from one of the states experiencing high infection rates right now.
Try to avoid being indoors too long and opt for outdoor seating whenever you can. As of publication date, restaurants are closing around 10 pm, so Jackson has a relatively chill, more early-to-bed, early-to-rise vibe.
Where to stay in Jackson Hole
Although the town lies in a wilderness area, you will not have to rough it on a trip to Jackson Hole. Stay wild does not mean stay basic! There is a good choice of luxury hotels to choose from.
Four Seasons Jackson Hole
Where to stay in Jackson Hole depends on the season and your reason for being here. If you’re an avid skier and it’s wintertime, Teton Village at the base of the ski slopes should be your home. And The Four Seasons, at the base of the gondola, is as ski in, ski out as it gets. Its close proximity to Grand Teton National Park makes the Four Seasons a good option for summer vacations too.
The Four Seasons Jackson Hole is a quintessential, polished experience from start to finish. It is good value for the combination of service, rooms, location and food.
Plus, The Four Seasons is one of the exceptional restaurants in Teton Village. Their breakfasts are the best in town and the huevos rancheros are a standout. They also do a stellar seafood tower, which gives you just the right amount of indulgence while staying on the healthier side of things.
If you’re up for spending $2,500+ per night in Teton Village, the Caldera House is where the likes of the Kardashians have stayed. It is the most expensive place to stay in town. The art in this luxury hotel — including works by part-time local resident Jessica Lichtenstein — is off the charts. The hotel has a spa, sauna and heated outdoor plunge pool.
If you’re looking for the most spectacular views in the entire region, Amangani, which means “peaceful home,” is your spot. High on a mountain and facing the surrounding mountains, it doesn’t get any better than this hotel. Even if you do nothing except sit by the pool (get the two loungers directly facing the Grand Tetons), you still will have the essential Jackson Hole experience.
The common areas of the hotel are showstopping. The entrance lobby has grand views of the surrounding mountains whilst the cozy living and library areas are ideal for “working from home” or capping off an evening. Amangani suites are generously sized, especially for Jackson accommodations, and have large terraces from which to savor the views. For cosy nights in, each room has its own fireplace.
Executive Chef Andrew Walters has taken over the helm of the kitchen, and is creating the best food in Jackson. Right now, the hotel, spa and restaurant is only open to guests, so this is yet another reason to make Amangani at least a two-night stay on your circuit.
The best hotel in the town centre is the boutique Hotel Jackson. It is located right around the corner from the Jackson Hole Playhouse, the oldest building in the area. The Playhouse has kept much of its history intact as the original post office, a car dealership, a horse stable and even a bowling alley are still here.
Hotel Jackson’s service is unassuming and genuine; they want to help you in any way they can. Its 55 rooms are all new and spotlessly clean. The decor is a blend of modern and traditional wild west. The central location just can’t be beat and, when times go back to normal, it is ideal for late nights out.
Where to eat in Jackson Hole – our nutshell restaurant list
You will be spoilt for choice for places to eat in Jackson Hole. The town has a great range of international cuisine and hearty, good food go to’s.
Food is fuel in Jackson, so the style is more home-cooked meal versus fancy or elevated dining. Level set your expectations on the food experience. It is good overall but doesn’t tip the scales at great, like you may get in Aspen.
Best for breakfast
This all organic local café is located in the Jackson Hole Playhouse and offers a good range of vegan and gluten-free options. It’s well worth stopping by for one of their smoothies.
Persephone will quickly become your new favorite local coffee shop. This place even does emergency s’mores kits — seriously.
Best for dinner
Snake River Grill
A must for first time visitors to Jackson Hole. The high quality food and eating in the beautiful dining room will be a memorable experience. Snake River Grill is the exception to the town’s casual scene. This is fine dining at its best accompanied by a wine menu of over 200 wines.
Westbank Grill, at the Four Seasons
Hands down the best food in Teton Village. The elegant steakhouse restaurant has panoramic views and a private dining room. The menu is hearty and extensive and even has, unusually for Jackson Hole, a separate children’s menu.
Farm-to-table fine dining in an elevated restaurant. The views from Amangani are incredible.
Located in the Hotel Jackson, this is a good option if you are craving Lebanese food. Don’t miss the highly rated hummus.
This is a local’s favorite dining spot which is run by local chefs. The food is plentiful and solid, and they’re beautifying their outdoor space at the time of this article’s publication.
Best for casual dining
A welcoming wine bar near the town square where you buy a bottle from their wine shop to enjoy with appetizers and small bites. They also have an on site grocery shop so you can take the experience home with you.
This popular place is always packed and has a lively outdoor atmosphere. It serves American cuisine including Bison ribs and griller Idaho trout.
Freshly made pasta dishes are the star attraction at this local Italian neighborhood spot. They have a wood fired menu section and some great cocktails.
A casual restaurant offering tasty tacos (they have 10 different varieties) and guacamole. Make sure you stop by for one of their famous Margarita’s.
Il Villaggio Osteria
This delightful rustic Italian in Teton Village is the place to go for thin-crust pizzas, hearty pastas, fresh fish and steaks.
The Asian influenced cuisine served here is delicious and simply presented. The restaurant has a large outdoor terrace for summer nights.
Local is where you should go to get your meat sweats on. You can order up plates of locally ranched meat to share for the table. It is centrally located on Jackson’s town square.
This friendly place in Teton Village is renowned for its steak, drinks and its après ski atmosphere. It often has live music.
There are so many reasons to visit Jackson Hole. Staying wild has never so much fun or so luxurious. The town has adventurous activities, relaxing spas, fine dining and high end accommodation.
So, what are you waiting for?
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