Jackson Hole is best known as resort town for the popular Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee Resort. Celebrities and tourists alike come to enjoy the world-class ski resorts, breathtaking views of the Grand Teton mountains and get away from the stress of a large city. Jackson Hole is a base for many grand adventures. It's a place where you can be pampered at a full-service resort or enjoy an affordable family vacation. Here are the top things to do while in town from shopping to exploring one of the nearby national parks.
The National Museum of Wildlife Art occupies a distinctive stone building situated on a hillside overlooking the National Elk Refuge. The museum, founded in 1987, holds more than 5,000 pieces of art, all depicting wildlife in some shape or form. The collection includes works from famous artists like Andy Warhol and Georgia O'Keeffe and chronicles the presence of wildlife in art from 2,500 B.C. through the present-day. The museum overlooks the National Elk Refuge and is only two miles from the entrance to Grand Teton National Park.
Outside the museum is the 3/4-mile Wildlife Sculpture Trail, designed by Walter Hood, an award-winning landscape architect. The trail opened in 2012 and will eventually have 30 wildlife sculptures by different artists. The trail also has live music performances, yoga and more.
Part of the US National Wildlife Refuge System, the National Elk Refuge is the winter home of elk and bison herds. The herds can be seen from a number of viewpoints situated around the periphery of the refuge: these viewpoints can be reached on an auto tour. Winter sleigh rides are another popular way to see elk. While November through April is the best time to see the herds, the refuge is worth a visit year-round. Be sure to stop at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, an interagency facility that includes interpretive displays, education programs, and a gift and bookstore.
After you visit the National Elk Refuge, consider heading to one of the other nearby national parks. In the immediate vicinity are Grand Teton National Park (you'll actually start your visit in this park since it's home to the Jackson Hole Airport), Yellowstone National Park, Bridger National Forest, Teton National Forest, and the Gros Ventre Wilderness.
Fun for the whole family, rodeos are a great tradition of the American West and you shouldn't leave Jackson Hole without seeing one. The Jackson Hole Rodeo takes place every Wednesday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with some extra shows during the summer months. Events include bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, bull riding, and barrel racing. There are even some peewee events.
Visit One of Jackson's Art Galleries
With amazing views in every direction, it's no wonder that Jackson Hole is home to plenty of artists who work in a variety of media. Take a trip to one of the many galleries to see the excellent paintings, photography, and sculptures being made by Wyoming locals. Art galleries can be found around Jackson, with many concentrated along Broadway and Deloney Avenue. Here are some highlights:
- Mountain Trails Art Gallery: Fine art featuring Western scenes, including wildlife and landscapes
- The Legacy Gallery: Western paintings and sculpture from contemporary and deceased American artists
- Wilcox Gallery: In addition to Western-themed paintings and sculpture this gallery offers woodwork and drawings
Brave Jackson Hole Mountain
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has a reputation for being one of the most difficult mountains to ski. Corbet's Couloir (a near-vertical chute visible from the Aerial Tram) draws expert skiers from around the world. However, the newly opened Solitude Station is a haven for skiers who want a less-intense experience. There's a ski school for adults and children 7 years old and up, rental lodge, two dining areas, and a fire pit. During the summer months test your mettle on the Via Ferrata, a guided climb up the mountain. There are six routes of varying difficulty and all of them can include a walk across a 120-foot suspension bridge.
Explore Town Square
Jackson Hole's town square isn't very large but it's jam packed with shops, bars and the postcard-worthy antler arch. Take a photo of your own in front of the arch (there might be a line but it's worth it) then start exploring. Design your very own cowboy hat or buy some authentic Western accessories at Jackson Hole Hat Company. Enjoy a meal at The Kitchen modern, Asian-fusion restaurant. We recommend the ramen, which incorporates kimchi and gochujang. After your dinner, take a short walk to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar for some drinks and Western dancing.
Take a Scenic Float Tour on Snake River
Of course, you can, and should, explore Wyoming's wilderness on foot but sometimes you want to marvel at the beautiful landscapes without moving. Enter, the scenic float trip. Barker Ewing Whitewater offers tours—with options to have breakfast or lunch—on the Snake River offering panoramic views the Teton, Gros Ventre, and Snake River ranges. The boatman does all the work while you can enjoy the scenery and spot some wildlife. For a truly one of a kind experience, sign up for the dinner float, where customers enjoy a family-style dinner at a private riverside camp. Thrill-seekers can opt for their whitewater rafting trips.
Even if you don't to ski or spend time in the snow, there's nothing quite like eating a bacon and peanut butter waffle (it's delicious, we promise!) while watching the snow swirl outside a cabin window. Corbet's Cabin is nestled at Rendezvous Point, a short walk from the tram, just look for the building with skis on the side. Corbet's sells four different kinds of waffles; coffee and tea; and a few snacks. Enjoy the gorgeous views of the mountain on the tram, then duck in for a freshly-made waffle.