Jackson Hole is a beautiful scenic valley, an ideal vacation for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, wildlife watching and amazing mountain views. Here are the top things to see and do in Jackson Hole, travel tips and other information for visitors.
- What's the Weather Like?: During the day, average temperatures are above 80 in July and August, but fall down to low 40s during the night. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is at high altitude where sun's rays are more powerful than at sea level. Be sure to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water. Winters are cold with average high temperatures in the 20s. Often the temperature will fall below zero and stay there for several consecutive days. Spring is usually rainy with temperatures in the 50s in the afternoon and in the 20s at night. Similar temperatures are found in the fall, which, however, is a drier season than spring. It usually takes a couple of days for the body to acclimate to thinner and dryer air that is found at the high altitude (more than 6,200 feet). Therefore, it is advisable to plan easy activities during the first few days.
- Jackson Hole Airport: Jackson Hole Airport, located about 6,400 feet above sea level, is one of the most scenic airports in the country, and the only one located in a national park. The airport is located about 10 miles north of Jackson town. Airlines that fly there include American, Delta, Continental, Northwest and United. Several car rental companies are situated at the airport where you can pick up a rental car. Although local transportation is available between Jackson and Teton Village, and several hotels will pick you up at the airport, you will need a car to explore the area, especially in the summer. Driving time from the airport to Jackson is about 30 minutes, and 45 minutes to Teton Village. During the peak summer and winter season, reservations are recommended.
- Mangy Moose Saloon in Teton Village: Mangy Moose Saloon is where you go in Teton Village for a night of western entertainment. A restaurant and saloon, Mangy Moose hosts live concerts with two levels of dance floors and a 400-seat bar. Certain shows are fee, some require ticket, and others a cover at the door. The restaurant is open for lunch (11:30am to 5 pm) and dinner (5:30pm to 9:30 pm). Menu items include tasty ribs, steaks, pasta, salads and pizza. Dinner for two is about $70 for an appetizer and main courses, excluding wine. On a summer evening, grab a seat outside on the deck and enjoy a sunset over Jackson Hole valley. Inside, the restaurant features eclectic decor with model airplanes and memorabilia hanging from the wooden ceiling. It is located facing the Teton Village parking lot, which gets quite full so you may have to look for a space. For upcoming concerts and events at the venue, visit www.mangymoose.net or call 307-733-9779. For restaurant reservations, call 307-733-4913.
Where are some of the best spots for wildlife watching?
Get up at sunrise and drive to the Moose Habitat on the Moose-Wilson road about 25 minutes from Teton Village. You may be able to spot moose or even a bear. Bring your binoculars. A part of the road that connects Wilson with Moose is situtated in Grand Teton National Park, beginning just north of Teton Village. The road winds through trees, across streams and near Snake River.
Wildlife can be most easily seen where the road approaches the river, especially early in the morning or late in the evening. Look for moose, deer, bears and diverse species of birds. Before approaching Moose, there is a turnout overlooking Moose Habitat where you can walk around enjoying nature. The Moose Habitat is located a few miles from Moose. There is a turnout where you can sit and look down towards the habitat below. Moose like juicy green grass that grows in the wet areas of the habitat. It is unlikely that you will see moose during the day because of the noise cars make on the gravel as they stop at the turnout. If you arrive early, however, or stay out late in the evening, you may be rewarded with incredible views of wildlife. After 9pm in July we saw a large black bear hiding behind the bushes down in the valley. After seeing people at the lookout, the bear turned around and started walking from bush to bush parallel with the path that leads from Moose Habitat south through the trees.
The Granite Canyon Trailhead is located near Teton Village. The trailhead is a gateway to numerous hiking trails in the park. At the Moose Visitor Center or in outdoor shops in Teton Village, you can pick up a detailed trail guide of the area. We liked "Teton Trails: A Guide to the Trails of Grand Teton National Park" by Duffy and Wile. The book includes information about wildlife and helpful tips for hikers. For beginners, we liked "Best easy day hikes - Grand Teton" by Bill Schneider, a small book which you can easily bring with you. It features easy hikes, complete with trail maps.
Teton Village - Tips for Visitors
Teton Village is situated at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, 12 miles northwest from the town of Jackson. The town is home to several hotels, lodges, restaurants and the Aerial Tram which takes visitors on a 4,139 foot vertical rise to the summit of Rendezvous Mountain. In the winter, stay here if you are looking for ski-in/ski-out access to the ski slopes. In the summer, the town is a quieter alternative to hotels in Jackson. You will, moreover, have easy access to hiking and mountain biking trails. The Moose Wilson Road, open during the warmer months, takes you directly into Grand Teton National Park.
Lodging in the town ranges from inexpensive to luxury. Hostel X, a family operated ski lodge, offers inexpensive rooms. Common areas at the lodge include a lounge area with fireplace, game rooms, ski wax area, children's play area, picnic area, and coin operated laundry. (doubles from $52, phone: 307-733-3415). Jackson Hole Resort Lodging offers condominiums and homes for rent (Phone: 307-733-3990, 800-443-8613). The Four Seasons Resort features oversized guestrooms with fireplaces and private terraces. It also provides a ski concierge, teen recreation center, spa, salon, health club, heated outdoor pool and whirlpools. Rates start from $475 per night. (Phone: 307-732-5000, 800-295-5281).
Inn at Jackson Hole, a Best Western hotel, offers doubles from $89 in the summer, and from $109 in the winter. Alpenhof Lodge has rustic rooms decorated in Bavarian style (Phone: 307-733-3242). Teton Mountain Lodge offers Western-style rooms and luxury condos. After a day of skiing, hiking or mountain biking, party the night away at the Mangy Moose Saloon in the village.
Take a Ride up Rendezvous Mountain on Aerial Tram
After you have taken a day or two to acclimate to the high altitude of Jackson Hole, take the Aerial Tram up to the summit of Rendezvous Mountain, a 4,139 foot vertical rise. The base of the tram is in Teton Village. The ride features scenic views of the mountains and the village. Often the tram driver will point out a moose or other wildlife hiding in the bushes. At the summit, you can walk around and enjoy the view of the valley. Alternatively, many hiking trails into Grand Teton National Park begin at the top of the mountain
The tram leaves every 15 minutes and carries up to 60 people. The schedule is adjusted to weather conditions and demand. In the summer, the tram opens at 9am and runs until 5pm (until 6pm in July and August). Adult tickets cost $29 during peak season, senior tickets are $23, $12 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for kids under 5 years old. For additional information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The tram climbs 4,139 feet up Rendezvous Mountain in about 25 minutes. At the top of the mountain, Summit Loop takes you on a 0.3 trail around the top. Be prepared for wind and low temperatures, even in the summer. Bring a jacket or a sweater. If you are planning to hike, be sure to bring water. Watch out for sudden weather changes, especially thunderstorms during summer afternoons. Other trails at the top of the tram include Corbet's Trail (0.5 miles each way), Rock Springs Loop (4.2 miles round trip), Green River Overlook (1.75 miles each way) and Rock Springs Overlook (1 mile each way). Stay at the Snake River Lodge. Amangani is a short drive away and offers scenic mountain views.
Jackson National Fish Hatchery and National Elk Refuge
Jackson National Fish Hatchery in Wyoming produces eggs and fish to mitigate for fish losses for a distribution area that covers 18,000 square miles. The hatchery is located in the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, north of the town of Jackson. The hatchery is a part of the Fish and Wildlife Service's National Broodstock Program. Open to the public, it attracts 75,000 visitors annually. Visitors can tour the fish production process. Be sure to bring binoculars to observe the birds in the area. For hours and more information call 307-733-2510.
The Elk Refuge is comprised of more than 23,000 acres of elk habitat. It was established in 1911 to protect elk wintering in the area. The refuge is bordered by Gros Ventre River and the main road through the valley. The road features several turnouts where you can pull over and spot elk with binoculars. Stop by the Visitor Center for more information.
The Western Town of Jackson, Wyoming
The town of Jackson, Wyoming, is located near the southern end of the Jackson Hole valley, between Snow King Mountain ski resort and East Gros Ventre Butte, south of Grand Teton. Jackson has a year-round population of about 8,600 and is one of the unique vacation destinations in the U.S. During the peak summer season, the town houses 52,000 visitors and residents, and 5,000 in the winter. The focal point of the town is the Town Square featuring trademark antler arches which were built in 1968 using elk antlers shed on National Elk Refuge.
In the summer, watch the Town Square Shoot-Out on the Jackson Town Square - the longest running shoot-out in the country. Visitors form a square around actors dressed in period costumes. Kids love it! In downtown Jackson, visitors can go on a Stagecoach Ride from 9am to 9pm daily, Memorial Day through Labor Day. The area offers a number of vacation activities and spectacular scenery. There are three ski resorts, and Grand Teton which borders Yellowstone at the northern end. Jackson is located 300 miles northeast of Salt Lake City and 500 miles northwest of Denver. If you are flying, theairport is located 10 miles north of the town. Airlines that fly here include American, Delta, Continental, Northwest and United.
he valley is located at high altitude, at more than 6,200 feet. It takes a couple of days for the body to acclimate to thinner and dryer air. Wear plenty of sunscreen since sun's rays are more powerful in the mountains than at sea level. The weather is unpredictable year-round. The valley is 48 miles long and 8 to 15 miles wide. At the sounthern end, the valley is at 6,069 feet, sloping up to 6,779 feet above sea level towards the north.
Scenic Overlooks and Hidden Drives in Grand Teton
If you are on your way to see The Old Faithful in Yellowstone and don't have a lot of time to explore the Grand Teton National Park, here are five spots and hidden drives that will let you soak up the beautiful scenery this area has to offer.
Glacier View Turnout
Situated between Moose and Moran Junctions, Glacier View Turnout offers spectacular views of the Teton Mountain Range. Grand Teton, at 13,770 feet, is the highest peak in the middle, flanked by Mt. Owen on the right and Middle Teton on the left. Although the mountain presents a demanding climb, it attracts more than 3,000 climbers per year. Mount Owen is named for Teton climbing pioneer William Owen. If you are traveling from the town of Jackson north to Yellowstone, the Glacier View Turnout is well worth a stop. You can pull over and enjoy beautiful mountain views.
The Snake River Overlook
The Snake River Overlook, located on Highway 191 between Moose Junction and Moran Junction, is a scenic turnout with views of the river and the moutains. Approximately 50 miles of the 1056-mile long Snake River lie within the national park. Oxbow Bend, just south of Jackson Lake Dam, presents exciting wildlife watching opportunities.
The Windy Point Turnout
Located just north of the Moose Entrance Station, Windy Point Turnout is a great spot from which to admire the southern peaks in the Teton Mountain Range. The Windy Point Turnout has a sign explaining the names of the mountain peaks. You can pull over and take in the scenery, or look for wildlife with a pair of binoculars.
Mountain View Turnout
Located on the Teton Park Road between Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake Junction, the Mountain View Turnout overlooks the mountains from a different angle. The Mountain View Turnout features an area where you can pull over, and a sign explaining the names of the mountains included in the scenery. After you enjoy the view, stop at the Signal Mountain Lodge, located just down the road. The lodge overlooks Jackson Lake and offers various different dining options.
The unpaved Schwabacher Road leads towards Snake River from Highway 191, a few miles north from Moose Junction in Jackson Hole. Where the road ends, you can park your car and take a walk to the river. This is a quiet spot with beautiful views of the Tetons. If you are a nature photographer, get there at sunrise and capture the Tetons reflecting in the river. Otherwise, sit back and listen to birds serenading from the bushes.
Pacific Creek Road
Pacific Creek Road is a hidden road that leads to Two Ocean Lake in Grand Teton National Park. The drive winds through scenic rolling hills and woods. Two Ocean and Emma Matilda Lakes were formed 70,000 years ago by a glacier. There are hiking trails around both lakes which are not very frequented. Keep in mind that this is bear country - pay attention to National Park Service warnings to ensure your safety. Along the way, you will see wildflowers, open meadows and woodlands. Two Ocean Lake lies at 6,896 feet and the trail that surrounds it is quite flat. In the summer, there are many insects near the lakes, so insect repellant will come in handy.