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    Jackson Hole in Wyoming: discovering the Grand Teton Valley

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    Lluis Enric Mayans

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    Many stop at Jackson (Wyoming) exclusively to visit the 2 large nearby national parks, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park, ignoring that the town is immersed in a beautiful natural valley full of attractions, Jackson Hole; of course, often the tight schedule of a road trip in the USA does not allow you to find time to explore the so-called "secondary attractions", however, it might be convenient for you to know that, in case you have time left over, there is no risk of getting bored in and around Jackson ...


    • What is Jackson Hole?
    • Where is it and how to get there
      • By car
      • With internal flight
    • How to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone from Jackson
      • Do-it-yourself car itinerary
      • Organized tours
    • What to see in the Jackson Hole valley in addition to the national parks
      • The city of Jackson
      • Bar T 5 Covered Wagon Cookout
      • Bridger Gondola
      • National Elk Refuge
    • Where to eat
    • Accomodation

    What is Jackson Hole?

    Jackson Hole Valley

    Located on the west side of Wyoming and bordered by the snow-capped peaks of the Grand Teton (Teton Range) and the Gros Ventre Range, the Jackson Hole valley is characterized by wild and fascinating nature, and probably represents the tourist area par excellence all over the state, where recreational opportunities are never lacking, from skiing in the winter to hiking and panoramic tours in the summer.

    The Grand Teton park itself is part of the valley (North West area), along with other nature reserves such as National Elk Refuge (South), or to the ski resort Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which is located in correspondence with the small town of Teton Village (West). The town of Jackson, to the south, is the reference town for the whole area, extraordinarily convenient for travel (unfortunately it is expensive), with a considerable amount of accommodation, as well as numerous tourist activities and all the necessary services.

    Where is it and how to get there

    Just a few miles away from the Idaho border, the Jackson Hole Valley is fairly easy to reach by car or by domestic flight.

    By car

    Jackson is approximately four and a half hours from Salt Lake City, the closest large city in the area; if you come from the capital of Utah, I refer you to reading my itinerary from Jackson to Salt Lake City, which also applies in reverse.

    West Yellowstone is 200 km away (about 2 and a half hours of travel), but it is likely that you decide to opt for the road that crosses the Yellowstone park and considering all the wonders you will encounter along the way it cannot be excluded that it will take a day whole. If you opt for the shorter route (which passes outside the park) you can still console yourself with Mesa Falls.

    The distance from Cody is instead more than 280 km, and also in this case you can reach Jackson passing through the park (following the itinerary you find in my article on the Yellowstone geysers), or from the outside (but the road is well longer, more than 470 km).

    With internal flight

    The airport is located right in the center of the valley, from which you can move to nearby towns with taxi and shuttle services (prices here), or by renting a car from one of the agencies present at the airport (in just over 10 minutes by car you will be in Jackson). If you opt for this solution, I recommend that you read our guides on:

    • How to rent a car in the United States
    • How to book a low cost flight to the States

    How to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone from Jackson

    Mount Moran, Teton Range

    Do-it-yourself car itinerary

    The southern border of Grand Teton National Park is a few minutes from Jackson, while to reach the Moose Entrance (Parkway entrance) or Mormon Row, it will take you just over 20 minutes. For more information on the areas and points to be privileged during the visit, I refer you to our guide on how to visit Grand Teton.

    You can reach Yellowstone directly from the South entrance, from which the town of Jackson is about 1 hour and a quarter (obviously net of the stops you want to make along the way). From here in about an hour you will be in Old Faithful (without considering the traffic though). Again, I refer you to my article on how to visit Yellowstone and my recommended itinerary for Yellowstone National Park.

    Council: if you are looking for a proven and ready-to-use itinerary that allows you to visit some of the most beautiful natural areas of the West Coast and the parks of Grand Teton and Yellowstone you can take a look at our ebook Yellowstone and Utah Mighty Five: 16 days in the West American

    Organized tours

    If you prefer to rely on a guide who picks you up in the city to visit the 2 parks (or 1 of the 2) without having to undertake the planning and organization yourself, in Jackson you will find various organized tours:

    • Grand Teton National Park Tour da Jackson Hole: an 8-hour tour by coach to discover the most beautiful views and wildlife of the Grand Teton.
    • Safari al Grand Teton: 4-hour safari to discover the fauna of the Grand Teton, spotting bears, wolves, bison, moose, deer and many other animals in the park.
    • Jackson's Yellowstone Tour: a day tour that will take you to admire the geyser area, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Hayden Valley.

    What to see in the Jackson Hole valley in addition to the national parks

    Let's now examine the so-called "minor attractions" of the region:

    The city of Jackson

    Jackson presents itself as an upscale and rather upscale location to be in the Old West, filled with art galleries, chic shops and elegant accommodations. Despite this, the reference to the western atmosphere is not lacking, especially in the style of the buildings and in the inevitable wooden arcades, as well as in the arches made of intertwined moose antlers in the central square (Jackson Town Square).

    You can stroll through the pretty streets of the town, go in search of some live country music performances, visit the numerous art galleries or, why not, even a museum: if you want to know more about the history of the city and the valley, take a jump to Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum, while if you are more interested in art, just outside the city, you will find the National Museum of Wildlife Art, a museum entirely dedicated to paintings and sculptures that reproduce the local fauna.

    If you want to spend a characteristic evening you have 2 possibilities: read the paragraph below or head to the Jackson Hole Playhouse, where, in a western setting, you can enjoy a dinner with singing waiters who will sing country melodies for you between courses; look at the times because here you dine early (at 17 and at 18:30), from 19:30 instead the real show starts, a musical that according to some locals (who perhaps exaggerate a bit) seems to have nothing to envy the most experienced Broadway shows.

    Other places to listen to live music are the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, whose large sign imposes itself on the central square, the Pinky G’s, one of the most popular pizzerias in town, and the Virginian Saloon, a very distinctive American diner.

    Bar T 5 Covered Wagon Cookout

    This is an experience that I recommend to try firsthand a type of attraction that is most popular in these parts, allowing you to fully breathe the western atmosphere and that, most likely, you will not have the opportunity to do elsewhere. It is an experience that includes dinner and entertainment, structured as follows:

    Tour in stagecoach
    assault on the stagecoach!
    dinner with live music
    1. gather at the meeting point to begin to immerse yourself in the atmosphere
    2. board a horse-drawn caravan to cross a canyon (during the journey the cowboy driving the chariot will tell you stories from the Old West)
    3. get ready to witness a stagecoach assault!
    4. at the arrival point a real cowboy meal awaits you, with meat, beans, various sauces, dessert, lemonade and hot chocolate
    5. enjoy the country concert of a band of excellent musicians

    You can book tickets directly on the official website.

    Bridger Gondola

    If you are looking for good views and don't want to spend a cent you can make use of the Bridger Gondola, a free cable car that will take you to a beautiful panoramic point from which to observe the valley and eat at the restaurant The Deck @ Piste, which has an enchanting panoramic terrace. The gondola is usually active from mid-June to mid-September, starting from mid-afternoon (around 17 pm if I remember correctly), but in any case it is always good to contact the manager at 307-739-2654 or check the timetables on the website official, because on some days it can be closed for private events.

    As you can also see in the official brochure, the Bridger Gondola will not take you to the highest point available, the Top of the World su Upper Mountain, which can be reached by another cable car, the Aerial tram, capable of carrying 100 people and reaching the top in 9 minutes (at 1260 meters above sea level), but it is actually quite expensive.

    National Elk Refuge

    Il National Elk Refuge it is a natural area of ​​over 24000 acres on the border with Jackson, you will pass through it to go to Grand Teton and it can be an excellent opportunity to admire the fauna of the area. Famous for the large numbers of deer that migrate here in herds of thousands during the cold winter months, this reserve actually serves as a home for bison, Rocky Mountain sheep, coyotes, wolves, antelos and over 175 species of birds including swans. , cranes and eagles.

    The nature reserve is particularly famous for the winter sleigh ride, which allows you to admire an incredible number of deer up close (see the video above), however it can be a pleasant experience even in summer. If you want to venture into some path you will still have the opportunity to meet the local fauna, or you can walk the multi-use pathway, the pedestrian / cycle path adjacent to the reserve, which runs parallel to US 191. The route begins as soon as you leave Jackson.

    Where to eat

    Persephone Bakery
    Local Restaurant & Bar

    In Jackson you will find many restaurants and they will often be crowded, in any case do not worry too much, even if you arrive without a reservation in many places you can leave your mobile number to be called back once a table is free, and in the meantime stroll quietly around. . The prices are not exactly cheap so, if you try to get by on a budget, it is much better to fall back on a good hamburger (here I indicate an excellent one), on large Subway chains or on the various markets with take-away foods that you find in the city. Here are 3 places to consider:

    • Persephone Bakery: in this place I had a really excellent breakfast, with scrambled eggs, bacon, french toast, blueberry pie and not bad even the cappuccino (which is not a small thing in the USA)! The location with the beautiful garden on the outside is also really pleasant. Passed with full marks.
    • Local Restaurant & Bar: in the central plaza of Jackson is this restaurant specializing in steaks. The modern decor is a far cry from the western atmosphere of many local restaurants in the area, but the meat served is that of the region and for those looking for more, the menu also offers fish dishes and a selection of cheeses. If you do not have an exaggerated hunger and want to save a little you can also throw yourself on the side dishes, real "mini dishes" at a more affordable price (with 15 dollars they will bring you 3, they are the ones in the photo above).
    • Liberty Burger: a few meters from Jackson Town Square you will find one of the best places to eat burgers in town. The burgers, with homemade bread, are reinvented in a creative way and it is possible, with the addition of 5 dollars, to transform them into "bison burgers", which you can enjoy on the terraced patio overlooking Cache Street.


    Elk Refuge Inn, apartments overlooking the reserve

    Sleeping in the Jackson Hole Valley is expensive and alas there is not much that can be done to bring down costs that much. The first place to look is obviously Jackson, so I recommend taking a look at our targeted recommendations (our recommended accommodations in Jackson), but you can give it a try too Teton Village, where the ski resort is located (about twenty minutes from Jackson). Another alternative is to opt for the accommodations available inside the Grand Teton park, probably the most fascinating experience; if you want to know more you can take a look at our tips on where to sleep at the Grand Teton.

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