Jackson Hole, Wyoming: What To See and Do
Visiting Jackson Hole
In the summer of 1988, my mother, niece, and I decided to explore Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We were to see many great attractions and capture numerous photos on this vacation trip.
For once, we decided to unpack just one time and make our headquarters in one place, venturing out on daily sightseeing trips.
We flew from Houston to Jackson Hole, and our airplane landing was the first exciting moment of our planned two-week vacation trip. The landing strip is on top of a butte, and it appeared to us that the small aircraft stopped just in time before the end of the landing strip was in sight! We could envision tumbling over the edge, but I won't go there!
Spring Creek Ranch
One has a choice of many places to stay in Jackson Hole and the surrounding area. We chose to stay at Spring Creek Ranch which sits 700 feet high above the valley floor where the town of Jackson Hole exists. This Four-Diamond Resort offered much in the way of amenities.
We deposited our belongings in a charming and rustic condo. It offered views of the mountains, water, spectacular sunsets, fireplace, swimming pool and jacuzzi near our unit, excellent food service, and a beautifully tranquil and peaceful place to relax.
Spring Creek Ranch is also a wildlife sanctuary. It sits at the north end of the town of Jackson Hole.
We particularly liked the free transportation provided by Spring Creek Ranch that would take us down the butte into the town and then back up again. It ran on a regular and frequent schedule, and we utilized it often. The drivers were amiable and frequently asked us what we had seen and what we were planning to do. They were also very knowledgeable as to what the area attractions provided and made excellent suggestions as to how best to spend our time.
One area of the ranch was set up for outdoor picnics and was very rustic. Bales of hay along with picnic tables provided seating.
Spring Creek Ranch in Jackson Hole, WyomingClick thumbnail to view full-size
After enjoying a restful night's sleep, we caught a ride into Jackson Hole and spent much of the day exploring.
Each of the four corners of the city park in the center of town has arches made out of elk horns. Boy Scouts were responsible for collecting approximately 5,000 antlers per arch, and this is now a focal point of this town.
All of the sidewalks are wooden, and the town has that Wild West flavor. The sounds of clapping horse hoofs in the streets, taking tourists through the area, add to that old western flavor.
The town has many beautiful art galleries. We toured the Wildlife of the American West Art Museum one day. We were genuinely impressed with the array of paintings and sculptures, all portraying western subjects. Each of the other art galleries is also worth a visit, and if Western Art is what you desire, this is the place to find it! Much of it was museum quality, and pricing varied from affordable to dropping some significant investment dollars. There is something for everyone.
The museum in town is dedicated to preserving animals living with our encroaching civilization and, hopefully, learning to co-exist peacefully with one another. This area of the country, of course, still has much natural habitat for wild animals.
Souvenirs in the town's stores include turquoise jewelry, leather moccasins, and so much more.
The Granary Restaurant at Spring Creek Ranch was our choice for a delicious dinner one evening. It has a wall of glass facing the Teton Mountains, and the sun was spectacular as it began to set over the mountains as we dined. It was a perfect ending to a day of exploration in Jackson Hole.
So Much to See, Do, and Enjoy!
One day my niece and I enjoyed the ski lift to the top of Snow King Mountain. Terrific panoramic views can be seen from the top of the mountain, looking down on Jackson Hole. Many people enjoy this ski area during the snow season. Summertime also has its attractions.
The beautiful thing about this area of the country is that it is enjoyable no matter what the season.
Another time my niece and I went horseback riding through a grove of aspens on the top of the butte where Spring Creek Ranch is located. At times we saw glimpses of the town below similar to what we had viewed from the top of Snow King Mountain. Primarily we just enjoyed the trail ride through this pristine area of natural beauty.
We ate al fresco in the town that evening at Sweetwaters and went to the 8 PM show at Dirty Jacks Wild West Theatre. It is a fun-filled evening of hilarious, wild west comedy. It is also very family-friendly. At the time we happily attended their performance, they had been performing there for 17 years. Much laughter ensued throughout the comedy skit, and we smiled for days thinking about the actor's crazy antics on stage.
Another evening, tickets were purchased to see the Music Hall Revue at the Pink Garter Theater. It is a fun-filled evening for people of all ages, filled with great 1950s music to country favorites and high kicking dance productions. Much of what you will find in Jackson Hole, Wyoming is geared for good, wholesome family entertainment.
Snake River Whitewater Rafting
Another day we decided to widen our horizons and try our hand at a Snake River Whitewater Rafting experience. We signed on for the Dave Hansen tour. Whitewater rafting for novices is not only an education in basic river safety, but an exhilarating day of fun and water splashed excitement.
We joined our assembled group that day and were all issued coast guard-approved life jackets. When making reservations in advance of this trip, correct wearing apparel was suggested depending upon the season. Each raft had an experienced guide, and he advised us of basic river safety and paddling guidelines while still in quiet waters. Divided into several rafts was our tour group that pushed off about the same time that day. Many of the people in our particular raft were from Germany.
Typically, at some point while still in relatively quiet waters, a water fight between the people in the different rafts ensues. Suddenly as the rafts drew near one another, pails were brought out, and what was until this point, a relatively dry encounter with the river became a very wet one! Some people got drenched if the aim of a person in the opposing raft was good. Lots of laughter, lots of wet smiles and clothes, and a commonality of purpose ensued. Soaking the others suddenly became everyone's goal. After this encounter, many people just jumped in the river and swam along with our floating raft. My niece joined them.
We could hear roaring white water ahead of us long before we could see it. Photographers from above the most active whitewater (a place called "The Lunch Counter") snap photos of each group as they enter the whitewater and emerge on the other side. Back at the site of origin, these developed photos are for sale to each group completing this adventurous trip. I purchased the five photos shown here merely because there is no other way to capture that exhilarating moment in time. Before that, I used a disposable camera to photograph the more quiet stages of this river trip.
The organizers of this trip offer lunch on the banks of the Snake River after the whitewater experience. It was fun talking to people that had just experienced the same thing that we had and comparing notes. After this, we were bused back to our point of origin.
Depending upon river conditions, this same trip could be calmer or wildly dangerous, all depending upon the season.
Bar-T-5 Covered Wagon Cookout and Wild West Show
That evening we signed up for the Bar-T-5 Covered Wagon Cookout and Wild West Show. While a tad bit touristy, my niece, in particular, enjoyed the experience. Horses drew us to an outdoor dining room adjacent to a mountain stream in Cache Creek Canyon.
Barbecue chicken, corn on the cob, baked beans, and other offerings were on the menu as singing cowboys, Indians, and so-called mountain men entertained us.
Outside of Town
Jackson Hole is well known for skiing. It has many accommodations, restaurants, shops, etc. to satisfy travelers to this region. There are also numerous beautiful private homes up the steep road leading up the mountain.
Driving to Teton Village from the east, we went over some rickety bridges and ended up on some gravel roads. After leaving Teton Village, we took the paved road back to the west. Much easier to traverse! We enjoyed the trip to see Teton Village and the surrounding countryside.
Lakes and trails abound in the beautiful Teton mountains. We spent many of our days exploring those sites outside of town during our two-week vacation. I'll share those experiences in other posts.
Hopefully, my assortment of photos should give you a flavor of the town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and share a sampling of the great attractions that might keep you entertained while there.
Have you ever traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming?
Topographical map showing Jackson Hole nestled between mountains.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Peggy Woods