By Alison Bailin Batz
Spacious skies? Check.
Amber waves of grain? Check.
Purple mountain majesty? Check.
Jackson Hole, a mountain-lined paradise in the heart of Wyoming and near the Teton Mountain Range, is America at its most beautiful. The region has earned national attention as a chic refuge for the likes of Kim Kardashian, Sandra Bullock, Demi Moore and Harrison Ford in recent years. Beyond being a mecca for celebrities looking to escape from it all, it is the perfect place for adventure buffs, culinary connoisseurs and nature lovers of every shape and size. It also happens to be one place you need not worry about social distancing, as there is space as far as the eye can see—and then some.
Most who visit do so in the thick of the winter given the tremendous skiing at Jackson Hole Resort, but also consider a trip in the fall or even plan for a spring or summer visit, because it is heaven on earth.
Surrounded by 3.4 million pristine acres of the Bridger-Teton National Forest and encompassed by the iconic, jagged peaks of the Teton Range and Grand Teton National Park, Snow King Resort is one of Jackson’s most celebrated resorts. It provides an authentic, Western lodging experience with 203 comfortably appointed guest accommodations and 60 luxury and classic vacation condominium rentals.
The resort’s signature restaurant, Hayden’s Post, features traditional American favorites with a local-centric twist and an expansive outdoor patio with panoramic views. The property also features a seasonal outdoor heated pool and hot tub and executive fitness center that is open 24 hours a day. Recreational activities abound all season, including mountain biking, water sports, skiing and snowboarding, as well as all of the outdoor experiences offered on Snow King Mountain. Most notably, Snow King Resort is the gateway to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, which make for easy day trips.
Another amazing option: Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole. The Five Diamond AAA resort is just a mile from the entrance of Grand Teton National Park, among the top mountaineering, hiking, backcountry and fishing locales in the United States and home to thousands of species of animals, notably moose, bald eagles, elk, deer, bears and bison.
There are just over 100 rooms, 18 suites and 34 residences on property, and each standard room boasts its own private balcony. The spectacular suites—ranging from 750 to 2,200 square feet—have similarly stunning balconies as well as spacious living areas, expansive master bedrooms and marble bathrooms. The prettier-than-a-postcard resort has a heated outdoor pool, multiple hot spring-style jetted tubs, three award-winning restaurants, a small-bite mixology bar, access to a nearby ropes course and hiking trails. There is also a dedicated team of on-site naturalists that lead adventures, including wildlife safaris, fly fishing and stargazing daily, given the greatest of the great outdoors awaits at every turn.
Beyond what the hotels offer, adventure awaits at every turn here. For those looking to see it from a bird’s-eye view, Fly Jackson Hole offers four scenic flight packages daily that start at $295 and range from 60 to 90 minutes. During the tours, expect to soar over the Tetons, Snake River, several waterfalls, alpine lakes and canyons. For the daredevil, Teton Hang Gliding’s experienced FAA Flight instructors lead multiple hang-gliding expeditions daily using a powered buggy with an open cockpit.
Less high in the sky and more wet and wild, Barker Ewing White Water offers whitewater rafting and scenic float trips along Jackson Hole’s Snake River. The tours, available separately and able to be combined together into packages, many with meals included, range from seven to 15 miles and start at $60. The whitewater rafting section of the Snake River is Class III, perfect for people of all ages and experience, while the scenic float is an unhurried, relaxing jaunt down the river best for photographers and nature lovers. Or if a power boat is more your speed, there are four main marinas for boating in Grand Teton National Park that offer rentals, services and other amenities for adventures on the Snake River and numerous lakes. Signal Mountain Lodge is a best bet, as it has deck cruisers, pontoon boats and motorboats.
Also a must for nature lovers is the Jackson Hole Grand Teton Wildlife Safari, an eight-hour exploration of the wildlife, geology and natural history of Grand Teton National Park. The tour—which starts at $275 and includes meals, water, binoculars and spotting scopes—features hiking, wildlife viewing, an optional boat ride, light mountain climbing and ample photo opportunities along Jenny Lake, the base of the Tetons, Signal Mountain, Jackson Lake and Snake River.
Sip, savor and shop
Because one cannot live on adventure alone, Jackson Hole has a vibrant culinary, art and shopping scene.
Both Jackson Hole Winery, which sits along a serene creek and makes exceptional chardonnays, pinot noirs and red blends, and Jackson Hole Still Works, which makes vodka, gin and double cask gin using water from the nearby mountains, are open daily for tastings. If just one wine tasting option won’t cut it, Bin 22, which is inspired by the owner’s visits to European tasting rooms and bistros, features an eclectic wine shop, gourmet groceries and a tapas bar. West Bank Grill, a modern American steakhouse, offers dishes inspired by indigenous flavors and local traditional. Snake River Grill, in the heart of the town square, has become known nationwide for its rustic fine dining. Similarly, Granary Restaurant at Spring Creek Ranch offers refined dining with floor-to-ceiling views of the Tetons. There is also The Blue Lion Restaurant, which is located in charming historic house that owner Ned Brown purchased in 1978. There, expect dishes such as rack of lamb, elk tenderloin and fresh Idaho rainbow trout.
Among the dozens of art galleries in the region, Gallery Wild, which showcases fine art inspired by wildlife, wild open spaces and conservation, and Wilcox Gallery, home of renowned landscape painter Jim Wilcox and several others, both stand out.
And finally, for the travelers who like to stop and shop a bit, Wyoming Outfitters, a locally owned boutique that dates back to 1910 and features men’s and women’s casual apparel, jewelry, gifts, home décor and children’s items, and Altitude, a designer boutique, are musts. ν