The region where present day Jackson Hole, Wyoming now sits has long been a popular place for people to settle down. Long ago, prime fur trapping is what brought so many people to this large valley in the Teton Range; it’s what prompted the first year-round settlements of the region around 1870, as well. Today, hunting and trapping have taken backseats to the tourism industry, which thrives on the phenomenal skiing, snowmobiling and other winter sports that are so rampant across the area. Throw in a great mix of national parks – including Yellowstone and Grand Teton – and it’s plain to see why Jackson Hole is such a well regarded area for adventurers and travelers.
Sightseeing and Attractions: Jackson Hole’s Best Kept Secrets
There’s never a dull moment in Jackson Hole. The scenery alone is enough to keep you occupied for hours on end. Outdoor activities predominate in the area, but there are plenty of other ways to have fun in this exceptionally beautiful part of the country. They include:
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you simply can’t miss out on the prime skiing opportunities that are presented in the Jackson Hole region. While there are plenty of huge ski resorts to choose from, you may want to skip the larger establishments for a more intimate one. In that case, consider skiing at Snow King Resort. Located just six short blocks from Jackson’s town square, it’s centrally located and very cozy.
National Elk Refuge
More than 5,000 elk pass through the Jackson Hole area during their annual migratory travels; you can increase your odds of spotting them by visiting the National Elk Refuge. In addition to keeping your eyes peeled for these graceful creatures, you can enjoy great amenities like horse drawn sleigh rides. In that way, you can easily spend an entire afternoon exploring this unique place.
Jackson’s Town Square
The actual city that is located in the valley known as Jackson Hole is simply called Jackson. The Jackson Town Square is a quaint place that shouldn’t be missed on a visit to the region. Its four large arches are bound to catch your eye; they are made out of hundreds of elk antlers, making them wonderfully unique and a bit quirky. A soldier memorial can also be found in the square, and shops, restaurants and galleries line it as well.
Aerial Tram Ride
There are many great views to enjoy in and around Jackson Hole, and one of the best ways to see for yourself is by taking an aerial tram to the top of a nearby mountain. There are many such rides available, yet many people overlook them in favor of the many winter sports activities that abound; make a point of trying at least one for yourself.
Best Kept Secrets For Families & Couples
Beyond the region’s prime skiing and winter sports activities, there is a plethora of options that will keep couples and families alike suitably occupied. No matter where your interests lie, you should be able to find a compelling attraction to enjoy while in Jackson Hole, such as:
The Snake River is an immensely popular place to engage in whitewater rafting, but most people stick to the tamer sections of the river. However, thrill seekers should definitely consider hitting a more intense section of this mighty river. Daredevil couples will especially enjoy famous rapids like the Lunchcounter and the Big Kahuna.
Jackson Hole Museum
Before all the ski lifts and other tourist trappings, Jackson Hole was the home of many Native American tribes and many other settlers. By perusing the more than 12,000 items that are on display at the Jackson Hole Museum, you can get a better feel for the rich and interesting history of this stunning part of Wyoming.
Horse Creek Ranch
The kids can get in on the historical fun when you stop by the Horse Creek Ranch. There, you can ride a horse to the top of a nearby mesa and check out a place that Lewis and Clark stopped along their famous journey. At the end of the long ride, everybody gets to sit down and tuck into an authentic cowboy meal.
Eating - Sample the Local Cuisine
There are many great dining establishments in and around Jackson Hole, so it helps to arrive hungry. Chuck wagon fare – think beans, corn bread and beef stew – is easy to find and is a great way to remind yourself about the area’s exciting past. Also, such meals fortify you well for long days on the ski slopes – or for long trips down the mighty Snake River.
When To Go & How to Get There
The nearest decently-sized city, Salt Lake City, is about five hours away from Jackson Hole. That would also be where the nearest international airport is, so if you must fly in you will have to be willing to drive a ways as well. U.S. Route 191 will bring you all the way into Jackson Hole, however, making the home stretch a snap.
In order to get the most out of the winter activities in Jackson Hole, you’ll want to arrive in the dead of winter – January and February are prime times. If snow-filled days aren’t your cup of tea, high summer – the end of July and early August – is an optimal time to visit the region. Great sightseeing opportunities about year-round in Jackson Hole, though, so come whenever you’d like.