Jackson is a town in Wyoming, situated in the valley of Teton County between the Teton Mountain Range and the Snake River. Early explorers called the area Jackson ‘Hole’ because they had to climb in and out over the steep Tetons mountains. Jackson is the only incorporated town in the valley, not to be mistaken with nearby communities Wilson, Teton Village, Moose or Kelly. Jackson Hole has become synonymous with snow sports; expert skiers come from all over the world to hit the steep slopes. Jackson experiences severe, cold winters and mild, warm summers, making it a year-round tourist destination. Below, a list of the best spots and activities, courtesy of Jackson Hole local, Libby.
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST HER: Libby, 29, has lived in Jackson Hole for eight years. She moved out west after graduating from college in Indiana and has fallen in love with every activity that the beautiful Tetons have to offer, including hiking, biking, skiing and camping. She knows the town of Jackson like the back of her hand, yet is always on the lookout for a new restaurant, live music show or hidden gem in the area.
1. Favorite Hike or Nature Walk in Jackson? Hanging Canyon.
You hit a series of three lakes along the 10-mile hike (roundtrip), and the trail offers an incredible view of the valley. A close second is Delta Lake (pictured above), which is no longer marked, but is on the same path as the hike to Amphitheater and Surprise Lake. You can find the trail, which starts at the fifth switchback, which is often hand-marked on a rock. It’s a physically challenging hike, especially because of the boulder fields you have to pass, but the resulting beauty at the lake is totally worth it. Make sure to bring lots of water and snacks or lunch. The hike takes between 4-6 hours, depending on how long you stay at the lake. This blog details the hike and how to get there nicely.
2. Best Coffee Shop or Bakery? Persephone Bakery Boulangerie and Cafe.
Delicious baked goods, coffee, and breakfast just off the town square. Grab something on the go or stay and enjoy their nice outdoor seating area.3. Not-to-miss art gallery or local shop in town?
There are lots of great galleries in the small town of Jackson. My favorite is the Tayloe Piggott Gallery, which sells contemporary art and fine jewelry. I also love MADE and Mountain Dandy in Gaslight Alley for handmade gifts, and Workshop for jewelry and ceramics.
4. Favorite Sunny Day Agenda?
Rise early and pack for a hike. Stop by Creekside Market to grab a sandwich to put in your backpack (can’t go wrong with the Turkey Club). Then, hop in your car and head to Grand Teton National Park for a hike. One great hike I’d suggest to visitors is to Lake Solitude, which goes through Cascade Canyon. The hike is long but fairly mellow and has with incredible views of the canyon. Before heading back to town at the end of the day, stop at Dornan’s for beers on the deck and watch the sunset.
While in the park, don’t miss the community of Grovont- more widely known as ‘Mormon Row‘. The Mormons settled there in the 1890s, creating a community of 27 homesteads. Today, the old homes and barns remain amongst a dramatic backdrop of the Tetons, making it a popular spot for tourists and photographers.5. Most Essential Jackson Tip?
If you want to explore Grand Teton National Park (…and you do), having a car is essential. Without your own transportation, you’ll be stuck within the confines of the town of Jackson and will miss out on all the beauty this park has to offer. There are car rental stations at the airport and in downtown Jackson. Also, if you plan to hike or mountain bike in the Tetons or in the backcountry, bring bear spray, and learn how to use it!
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE JACKSON HOLE ATTRACTIONS
1. Jackson Hole Aerial Tram Rides– Thumbs up!
The 100-passenger tram takes you 4,139 feet up to the top of Rendezvous Mountain and in the winter, is recommended for skiers with expert ability only. If you’re visiting Jackson in the summertime, you can hike down from the tram and see multiple mountain ranges from every angle. I’d recommend starting your hike with some famous waffles at Corbets Cabin!
2. Jenny Lake– Thumbs Up!
In Grand Teton National Park, you can hike around it, boat, fish and camp in the summertime. During the day, a shuttle boat runs from the base of Mount Teewinot to the Cascade Canyon trailhead every 15 minutes, and you can also rent boats for the day from Jenny Lake Boating.
3. Private Tours (BrushBuck Wildlife Tours, Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris etc)- Thumbs Up, but only if you can afford them. These tours tend to be very expensive. If you can’t there’s still so much you can see on your own or with friends.
4. Laurance Rockefeller Preserve– Thumbs Up!
Hike to Phelps Lake! The preserve is car-accessible from May through the end of October. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. purchased the land in 1932 intending to donate it to the Grand Teton National Park, but instead decided to use it as a family retreat. Finally in 2001, John’s son Laurance Rockefeller donated the land to the Park, and in 2007, the preserve became open to the public.
The hike to Phelps Lake is moderately challenging; a total of 7.2 miles round trip. Bonus: You don’t have to pay a park fee to reach this lake; just make sure you enter through Moose Junction and not Teton Village.5. National Elk Refuge– This is only necessary in the winter. In the summer, it’s a thumbs down.
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE JACKSON HOLE RESTAURANTS
1. Persephone Bakery Boulangerie and Cafe– Thumbs Up!
The French trained owner and baker makes delicious breads from wild yeast- don’t leave without trying a croissant or cinnamon brioche. They roast Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee and serve breakfast and lunch. The decor is chic and airy- lots of whites, grays and reclaimed wood. If it’s nice, sit out on the deck!
2. Bin 22– Thumbs Up!
A great local wine and tapas bar. They also have a wine shop and small grocer if you want to pick up food for a picnic or dinner at home.
3. Blue Lion– Thumbs Down.
I would put either Local or Trio here instead. Trio is a cozy American bistro just off Town Square. Keep it casual and sit at the bar for a pizza or call ahead and make a reservation. Don’t miss the blue cheese waffle fries and Blood Orange Margaritas.
4. Jackson Whole Grocer– Thumbs Down.
It’s a nice grocery store, but not a place to dine in Jackson unless you’re looking for something quick and fresh. Their prepared food section has some good options. Very similar to Whole Foods. If you’re looking for a casual dinner, try Thai Me Up, a Jackson Hole local dinner spot and brewery serving Thai food.
5. MacPhail’s Burgers– Thumbs Down.
Very surprising that it’s so high on the list!! One place you should stop in before leaving town is the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. They serve food starting at 11am, but the charm is really in the atmosphere. Located in one of the oldest buildings in Jackson Hole, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is an icon of the true Wild West. Genuine saddles for barstools, western memorabilia, a silver-dollar covered bar and live (western) music six nights a week. Yeehaw:)