Things to Do in Jackson Hole
The vast Yellowstone National Park, stretching over portions of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, was the first U.S. National Park when it was established in 1872. Famous for its scenery, wildlife, and geothermal activity—most notably, the geyser known as Old Faithful—Yellowstone covers almost 3,500 square miles (9,000 square kilometers) of mountainous countryside. The park boasts one of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America (Yellowstone Lake), the longest undammed river in the contiguous United States (Yellowstone River), and even its own Grand Canyon.
Grand Teton National Park protects the jagged, snowcapped peaks of Wyoming’s Teton Range along with glacial lakes, dense forests, 200 miles (322 kilometers) of hiking trails, and a stretch of the Snake River. The park also provides excellent opportunities to spot resident elk, bears, bald eagles, gray wolves, and moose.
Part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the National Elk Refuge protects a 24,700-acre (10,000-hectare) winter habitat for the Jackson Elk Herd and several other endangered species of mammals, birds, and fish. With Grand Teton National Park as a backdrop, visitors can spot 47 species of mammals and nearly 175 species of birds.
Stretching 1,080 miles (1,735 kilometers) from Yellowstone National Park to the Oregon border, the Snake River is one of North America’s longest rivers. It serves an important role in the ecosystem as a home for tons of wildlife, including wild salmon, and is also a top location for water recreation like rafting, fishing, and kayaking.
Nestled into the cliffs as if it simply grew there, the National Museum of Wildlife Art is 51,000 square feet of space dedicated to wildlife art. With works dating from 2500 BC to the present, the collection chronicles the history of wildlife through art. As photography is a relatively new invention, this art collection allows us to get a glimpse of wildlife—and life—in a bygone era. Though there is a definite focus on American and European art, the collection includes pieces from around the world, including New Zealand and Africa.
The National Museum of Wildlife Art by the numbers:
• 5,000 items of art in various mediums including oil, bronze, stone, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, pastel, pencil, lithography, photography and charcoal
• Works by more than 550 artists ranging from early American Tribes to contemporary masters
• A new .75 mile (1.2 km) sculpture trail by artist Walter Hood
• More than 80,000 visitors per year
Known for its "steep and deep" terrain (Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is home to some of the most advanced in-bounds terrain in the country) and annual snowfalls averaging 450 inches per winter, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a powder hound’s mecca. But what you might not know is that Jackson Hole has some amazing beginner and intermediate terrain: almost 50% of the resort’s terrain is for less-than-expert skiers. Located in Teton Village, about 12 miles from the town of Jackson, the Mountain Resort is lively year-round with avid skiers and snowboarders in the winter and hikers and bikers in the summer. Of course, the world-famous Jackson Hole Aerial Tram runs year-round and is a fabulous way to take in the expansive views of the Grand Teton National Park, the Snake River Valley and the Gros Venture Range.
For a taste of the Old West in Jackson, visit the Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum. Founded by a collector and entrepreneur more than 50 years ago, the Museum’s exhibits breath life into the early days of Jackson Hole, Grand Teton and the Yellowstone region with exhibits about homesteading and an outstanding collection of American Indian artifacts. For those truly interested in digging through the history of Jackson Hole, the Research Library houses more than 16,000 images, 10,000 documents, 400 oral histories, an extensive Western history magazine collection, local newspaper microfilm and thousands of books, films and videos about the West and region.
The heart of the town of Jackson, WY, Jackson Town Square (which is technically named George Washington Memorial Park) epitomizes the town of Jackson itself. A blend of 19th century log cabins next to modern western architecture, high-end boutiques next to western supply stores, it displays the unique blend of the people that call it home. The bulk of Jackson’s shops, restaurants and bars are located around Town Square, making it a shopper’s delight. Part of Hollywood history (it was the setting for the climactic fight scene between Clint Eastwood and Tank Murdock in the film "Any Which Way But Loose"), Jackson Town Square is also home to the often photographed antler arches. Curved over the four corners of the Town Square, these arches are created from antlers that elk shed annual and contain about 10,000 pounds (about 4536 kilograms) of antlers.
Since 1966, the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram has been whisking guests and locals of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort 4,139 vertical feet (1,262 meters) in 15 minutes to an altitude of 10,450 feet (3,185 meters) at the top of Rendezvous Mountain. A ride up for the views or a bite to eat at Corbet’s Cabin has become a quintessential Jackson Hole experience.
Nestled on the west side of the famous Teton Range, the Grand Targhee Ski Resort is arguably one of the most popular yet tranquil resorts in the country. The resort’s name is a direct reference to both the 13,000 feet high Grand Teton Summit and to Chief Targhee, which was the great head chief of the Bannock people who lived in the region in the 1860s.
The resort consists of two mountains: Fred Mountain and Peaked Mountain, totaling 2,400 acres. The former features 1500 acres and 2200 vertical feet of ground, accessible via four different chairlifts. The latter is fully equipped with a high-speed quad, giving open access to 602 acres of snowcat skiing and tree skiing. Combined, the two mountains receive over 500 inches of snow annually, making Grand Targhee Ski Resort a veritable heaven on Earth for winter sports aficionados. Those who would rather not ski can opt for one of the many other activities available onsite, like tubing, snowshoeing, sleigh ride dinners and numerous spa services. The hotel has several different types of rooms on offer, from simple suites to accommodating townhomes.
The resort is also accessible in the summertime, for some of the most striking hiking trails in the United States.