Wyoming bound to see the iconic town of Jackson or the Grand Teton National Park? Then check out our hottest tips to make planning a trip to this Western hot spot a breeze. Here’s our guide for things to do in Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons.
Jackson Hole is a year-round paradise for outdoor lovers. Whether snow skiing or summer vacationing, this area has as many activities as there are antlers in the Town Square (that’s a lot!) So we’ve complied a Jackson Hole guide for what to see, where to stay, and where to eat in Jackson and the Grand Teton National Park.
Disclosure: Thanks to BrushBuck Wildlife Tours, Barker-Ewing Whitewater, and Goosewing Ranch for the complimentary excursions and stay. All reviews are 100% our own.
Jackson Hole Guide: Things to Do
Regardless of the season, Jackson Hole is an outdoor lover’s dream. Our experiences were at the height of summer, but Jackson Hole also attracts snowbunnies during the winter. Jackson Hole has more than 2.6 million visitors each year. Because of its popularity, activities and excursions MUST be reserved in advance to get the best ones. So we’ve compiled our ultimate guide to things to do in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park:
Grand Teton Wildlife Tour
One of the grandest ways to tour Grand Teton National Park is a wildlife tour. We chose BrushBuck Wildlife Tours because they are a 100% military veteran owned company. Specializing in one-of-a-kind wildlife tours in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, BrushBuck also does tours in Alaska, Africa, and South America.
The Grand Teton Dawn or Dusk Half Day Tours are four-hour excursions focused on wildlife observation. This tour is a far more in-depth and educational way to explore the Grand Teton National Park. We learned so much more about the national park’s history, wildlife, and the area than if we had driven through on our own.
Our favorites include: seeing historic Moulton Barn at sunset, moose and elk sightings, and almost spotting a wolf (our guide did, but it was too elusive for us to find in the scope). Guides are educated, engaging, and fun. Read our full report and watch video of the BrushBuck Wildlife Tour.
Two of the best family activities in Jackson Hole is centered on the Snake River: whitewater rafting and scenic float trips. Whether you feel the need for speed or prefer a calmer, smoother ride, Barker-Ewing is the number one choice on Trip Advisor. Founded in 1963, Barker-Ewing is a small family run business and has remained true to its roots. For those who love to stay cool and water-based adventures, this is the ultimate outdoors experience. Memory making plus appreciation of nature plus gorgeous landscape all add up to one heck of a wild ride.
From the rush of Big Kahuna and Lunch Counter rapids to “riding the bull” in the front of the raft, adrenaline rushes are sure to be a part of whitewater rafting on the Snake River. To learn more, watch our video and read our full Barker-Ewing whitewater review.
Possibly the most Western activity, horseback riding combines nature, fresh air, and wonderful interaction with a horse. What more could you ask for? Best place to try this equine experience is at a dude ranch or a day ranch. May mean some sore muscles or a sore tush, but it’s one everyone will rave about later.
Jackson Hole Rodeo
From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, the Jackson Hole Rodeo entertains on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and most Fridays in July and August. The rodeo is an authentic western event featuring barrel racing, calf roping, bull riding, saddle riding, and bareback riding.
As the rodeo says, “You won’t find any rain delays here; we’re cowboys.” So rodeo happens rain or shine, so pack some rain gear. Prices start at $15, and kids 2 and under are free. Tip: Purchase tickets in advance online for $5 off.
Jackson Hole Aerial Tram
Head to the top of Rendezvous Peak (that’s 10, 450 feet) onboard the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram. It only takes 9 minutes for the aerial tram to climb the 4,139 vertical feet for 360-degree views of the Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole valley.
Between the views and the waffles at Corbet’s Cabin (see below), this is a definite MUST DO. But stay hydrated and drink plenty of water on the aerial tram day because the elevation is almost 11,000 feet.
Tip: Book online and save! The Family Tram Ticket is a deal for 2 adults and up to 4 juniors: $ 86/$97 peak season. Bonus: Kids 5 and under are free, so make sure you price it both ways to see if you need a family pass or would be better off individually.
This is only a small sampler of things to do in Jackson Hole and the Grand Teton National Park area. The key is to do what appeals to you and try new things, like fly fishing, mountain biking along the National Elk Refuge, and taking a dip in one of the area’s hot springs.
Jackson Hole Guide: Where to Stay
From luxury hotels, modern motels, dude ranches, and national park lodges, Jackson Hole lodging is as diverse as the landscape.
Upscale: White Buffalo Club
Expect to see plenty of buffaloes at the White Buffalo Club, upscale rustic hotel in the heart of Jackson. Rooms range from a single king to 1-3 bedroom suites featuring large kitchen space with horseshoe bar and flat screen TV. Added bonus: breakfast is included, featuring a waffle maker, yogurt, fresh fruit, pastries, and coffee/tea/juices.
One of the key advantages to the White Buffalo Club is its prime location 3 blocks from Town Square and the included parking. Buffaloes are proud creatures; likewise this hotel is a tad pricey. But with luxe touches like boutique spa, fitness center featuring yoga classes, and an American steakhouse, the benefits justify the price point.
Moderate: Mountain Modern Motel
Mountain Modern immediately appealed to us with its cool decor featuring map walls and a word search chalkboard with names of area attractions and wildlife. Mountain Modern is steeped in Jackson Hole theming. Black and white color palette accentuated by red accents really adds the modern to this made-over motel.
As your “base camp” for Jackson Hole adventures, Mountain Modern has mini fridges, microwaves, and ample space for all the luggage. Plus, it’s only 3 blocks from town square. Ordinarily, I prefer resorts and hotels with interior hallways, but I’m really glad we gave this snazzy motel a chance.
Tip: Book one of the rooms with bunkbeds-there are a limited number of these, so book early!
Specialty Stay: Goosewing Ranch
For a dude ranch experience in the heart of Jackson Hole, we recommend Goosewing Ranch. Nestled in the Gros Ventre River Valley and about an hour outside Jackson, Goosewing offers both traditional ranch cabins and a glamping experience in covered wagons.
Most dude ranches are owned by families or have been in their family for years, so it translates that a dude ranch vacation feels like staying with family.
From Grand Teton views to first-rate food to fun activities such as archery, target shooting, ax throwing, and fly fishing, Goosewing sets the bar high on family fun and new experiences. For instance, explore the property and beyond in a Polaris Ranger UTV (utility terrain vehicle).
The Goosewing glamping site is located about four miles northeast of the ranch and sits at about 8,400 feet. This is a unique western experience perfect for those seeking adventure without sacrificing comfort.
Inside the Park: Signal Mountain Lodge
Signal Mountain Lodge’s initials are SML which means “Simply Majestic and Lovely.” Located in the heart of Grand Teton National Park, Signal Mountain Lodge boasts some of the best park views overlooking Jackson Lake. Within 5 minutes of arriving, we spotted deer and heard of others having lots of luck with wildlife sightings. This family-friendly resort offers lakeside suite-style accommodations and cabins. We chose a 2 bedroom cabin with a shared bath, which was plenty of space for our family of 4.
One of the main reasons we chose Signal Mountain Lodge was to stay inside the national parks. There’s something about getting to see the sunset and sunrise while IN the national park. Signal Mountain also has 3 full service restaurants, a gas station, gift shops, and general store, so it’s a perfect spot for an overnight stay/pit stop before hitting the road.
Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole Guide: Where to Eat
No Jackson Hole guide would be complete without focusing on food. Here are some of the great eats we found in this area.
Take the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram to the aptly named Rendezvous Peak, and you’ll find Corbet’s Cabin, where the waffles simply taste better! And these aren’t just any waffles – these are made to order with delicious toppings like brown sugar butter, Nutella and strawberries, lemon glaze, and peanut butter and bacon. Corbet’s Cabin also has a great selection of hot and cold drinks, beer, snacks and tram souvenirs.
Pinky G’s Pizzeria
Teens would be lost without PIZZA (so would adults for that matter.) Word on the street is that THE place for pizza in Jackson Hole is Pinky G’s Pizzeria. Their ooey-gooey cheese pizza and cannoli for dessert converted us from famished to fabulous after our wildlife tour.
Pinky G’s has been featured on Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives with Guy Fieri. With names like “Funky Chicken” (mozzarella, oven roasted chicken, artichoke hearts, red onions and ricotta cheese on house made basil pesto) and the “Abe Froman” (with spicy sausage naturally in honor of the Sausage King of Chicago from Ferris Bueller), they are delicious!. So for late night pizza noshing and people watching, Pinky G’s hit the spot.
Trio lives up to its name with the combination of food, drinks, and atmosphere into one culinary concoction. I’m always attracted to local restaurants instead of chains, and Trio fits the bill as owned and operated by two local chefs. Small world department: the executive chef is from my hometown and my former music student. I’d say Trio is bitting all the right notes with blue cheese waffle fries, a wood-fired bread service, a hopping bar scene, and entrees like grilled elk chop and smoked duck ragu.
We all scream for ice cream, and the best local spot is Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream near Jackson Square: THE place to enjoy this sweet treat.
No wonder that Food Network chose Moo’s huckleberry flavor as the best Wyoming dessert. Moo’s ice cream is all organic cream, and the sorbets are 99% pure organic fruit with only 1 % cane sugar. And 100% delicious!
Disclosure: Thanks to BrushBuck Wildlife Tours, Barker-Ewing Whitewater, and Goosewing Ranch for the complimentary excursions and stay.
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