Jackson Hole is rightly proud of its identity as the gateway to Yellowstone and Grand Teton – yet these two iconic national parks are just the beginning of the natural wonders accessible from this postcard-perfect western city.
Surrounded by peaks over 13,000 feet high and vast wilderness areas, the valley (or “hole”) surrounding Jackson is a four-season playground for adventurers, popular with winter skiers and hikers, cyclists and nature lovers in summer. There’s no shortage of arts and culture here, too: With a full schedule of museum exhibits, art fairs, concerts, and other events, Jackson’s cultural offerings are far more plentiful than they are at all. one would expect in a city of only 10,000 inhabitants. Here’s how to play by day and relax at night in Jackson Hole.
Between them, Jackson’s two ski resorts complement each other with a wide range of experiences, from the convenience in town and family fun of Snow King Mountain to the plethora of trails and facilities at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the most great Wyoming ski resort.
Founded in 1939 and relatively small in scope, Snow King has the low-key vibe characteristic of less developed old-school resorts. But don’t expect all rabbit hills: Snow King offers almost exclusively expert-level steep slopes that tend towards ice. It’s also the home of the Alpine Slide and the new Cowboy Coaster, a vertiginous slide-like ride that tumbles down the equivalent of a 45-story building. Winter 2021-2022 will see the opening of a new gondola and rear chairlift, which are part of the $ 20 million upgrades that will facilitate access to the resort’s slopes and open up the sunnier south side of the mountain. .
Expert skiers have plenty to attract them to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, with its drop of over 4,000 feet from the top of Rendezvous Mountain and signature runs like the narrow chute known as Corbet’s Couloir. In fact, over half of JHMR’s tracks are advanced, including 24 double black tracks. Three long runs for beginners and 31 intermediate runs always keep the learner busy.
Go tube sliding
There’s another way to hit the mountain in Jackson Hole: via Snow King’s King Tube, a classic family-friendly snow tubing park with multiple trails for all skill levels. Like a roller coaster on ice, these exhilarating rides will leave everyone breathless and laughing and ready to go. And there’s no need to go up the hill, as King Tube has a tow rope to pull you all the way to the top. Tubes are also available when conditions permit at Grand Targhee Resort, just over an hour west, where a chairlift takes runners to the top of the slopes. (To use the tube parks, children must be 42 “or taller.) King Tube is open from early December to late March; check with Grand Targhee for information on tube operations.
Cycling on snow
Two wheels and snow banks don’t seem like the best combination until you see a fat bike, its extra-wide fork and five-inch tires designed to roll over compacted snow or sand without sinking or getting stuck. . Perfected over the past two decades by cyclists determined to ride all year round and on any terrain, fat bikes have made snow biking one of the fastest growing winter sports, along with Jackson Hole. at the center of the action.
Sign up for Teton Mountain Bike Tours, one of the early proponents of this new sport, for a guided winter bike tour of Grand Teton National Park, or just rent a big bike and tool in town by yourself- same. The first ski resort in the United States to incorporate snow biking, Grand Targhee has over nine million groomed Nordic trails and six miles of single track trails open to heavy cyclists. Teton Valley Trails & Pathways maintains a growing number of fat bike and Nordic ski trails, and posts frequent updates on trail conditions.
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Rafting on the Snake River
Many claim that the Jackson Hole Snake River was responsible for the invention of whitewater rafting as early as 1811 when the first such trip was recorded. While the claim may never be proven, what is not in question is that rafting on the Snake River is the number one summer activity in the valley. Choose from a host of local outfitters who run half-day, full-day, and multi-day rafting trips for all ages and skill levels. The action gets pretty exciting as the river narrows between the sheer cliffs of Snake River Canyon, where Class III rapids with names like Big Kahuna and Lunch Counter are hard enough to rock without being terrifying. Outfitters like Barker Ewing and Jackson Hole Whitewater offer trips in small boats for eight people and classic rafts that can accommodate 12 to 14 people.
Relax on a float trip
As the Snake River, uh, winds through Grand Teton National Park, the winding course provides the perfect vantage point to appreciate the scenery ready to photograph. Relax in comfort and watch bald eagles, hawks and ospreys soar above your head. The leisurely pace also allows for much better wildlife viewing, as you’re likely to spot shy moose, deer, and elk as they forage along the shoreline; binoculars are essential, if you have them. You won’t get very wet on a float trip, but the wind can get chilly, so bring a jacket or sweater to protect yourself from the cool breezes.
Celebrate the art of wildlife
Develop a better appreciation of the arts of wildlife photography, painting and sculpture at the National Museum of Animal Art, with its collection of over 5,000 pieces of âanimal artâ and exhibitions of photography and painting in Classes. The sculpture trail is also worth a detour. Known in particular for its collection of American West art from the 19th and 20th centuries, the museum has expanded its collection in recent years to include more modern pieces, such as Alexander Calder’s bear and deer sketches. to sculptures and engravings from Africa and New Zealand.
Listen to live music
Music echoes over the hills almost nightly in the spring, summer and early fall as Jackson’s many music festivals and concert series vie for variety and quality; concerts continue throughout the winter at venues such as the Arts Center and the Walk Festival Hall. Internationally renowned chamber and orchestral performances are at the heart of the Grand Teton Music Festival, while nationally touring artists join the lineup of Jackson Hole Live, an outdoor concert series at Snow King Ball Park. In Teton Village, the popular Music Under the Tram free concert series kicks off in April. Music on Main, sponsored by the Teton Valley Foundation, brings together renowned singer-songwriters and rock and country bands in Victor City Park on Thursday evenings from mid-June to mid-August.
Enjoy an outdoor art fair
Plan your visit to take advantage of the annual outdoor art fair hosted by the Arts Association of Jackson Hole, which in 2022 takes place on the weekends of June 17-19 and August 5-7. A selection of nationally renowned artists, photographers, ceramists, carpenters and jewelers showcase their latest creations in conjunction with gallery exhibitions and an assortment of food and drink. Musical performances and family activities are also part of the festivities.
Climb a mountain
Over 97 percent of Teton County is made up of national parks and forests and other federal Crown lands open to exploration. The Bridger-Teton National Forest is the largest national forest in the continental United States at 1.7 million acres, while Grand Teton National Park has eight peaks over 13,000 feet. If these stats don’t inspire you, check out some of the best hikes in Jackson Hole [[ED: LINK TO HIKING ARTICLE WHEN PUBLISHED]]The wildlife list sure will be – with bison, elk, moose, black bears, grizzly bears, wolves and trumpeter swans all easily spotted.