A rustic ski destination through and through, Jackson Hole offers a wide array of outdoor activities for nature lovers all year long. Depending on the season, you might prefer a leisurely sleigh ride or opt for heart-pounding whitewater rafting.
These are our top picks for what to see and do in Jackson Hole no matter the time of year:
Hit the slopes
In the winter, go skiing at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, one of the most challenging and beautiful ski resorts in the country. Half of its 116 runs are expert level, but that also means that 50 percent of the mountain playground is dedicated to non-advanced skiers and snowboarders — that’s 1,250 acres, which is larger than most ski resorts’ total terrain.
Set out on a sleigh ride
Adjacent to the town of Jackson, the National Elk Refuge is home to nearly 10,000 of these majestic animals every winter. They come down from the mountains to feed at lower elevations, where there is less snow. Elk are scared of people, but they are not afraid of sleighs, so take a ride and get driven right into the middle of the herd.
Hit a few of the hundreds of trail miles in Grand Teton National Park during the picturesque summer months. You’re bound to get some amazing photos of the mountains, but nothing beats a run-in with the plethora of wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for elk, moose, eagles and even black bears that call this national park home.
Hop on the lift to the summit
For a very different view — and without having to hike — take the chairlift up to the 7,800-foot summit of Snow King Mountain. You’ll look down on Jackson’s quaint downtown and out at the major peaks of the Teton Range.
Grab your paddle
Tackle the Snake River’s scenic and whitewater sections. The section from Deadman’s Bar to Dornan’s in Grand Teton National Park just may be one of the most beautiful stretches of river in the country. The Snake River Canyon, 20 miles south of Jackson, has eight miles of class II and III whitewater guaranteed to get your adrenaline going.
Eat some barbecue
The poolside barbecue at Jackson Lake Lodge, located inside Grand Teton National Park, allows parents to enjoy great scenery and classic summer fare — all-you-can-eat grilled brisket, barbecue chicken, corn on the cob, carnitas, hamburgers, veggie burgers, salad, watermelon, cobbler and brownies — while kids splash around in an Olympic-sized pool. Of course, the little ones get to eat, too. There’s often live music as well.
Soar through the valley
There’s no minimum age at Jackson Hole Paragliding, just a minimum weight of 50 pounds. For brave ones who meet the criteria, a tandem paragliding flight over the Tetons will surely be one of the coolest things you’ll ever do. The pilot attached to you directs the takeoff and controls the chute, so you really don’t need to know anything but how to follow instructions.
Take a dip in the hot springs
Couples will want to sneak off in the early morning or later in the evening for an intimate plunge in the naturally heated water at Granite Hot Springs in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. A soak in these therapeutic waters is good for the skin and with nothing but nature surrounding you and your mate, you’ll have hearts in your eyes in no time.
Indulge in a shopping spree
The best shopping in Jackson Hole is in the tiny ski town of Jackson, surrounding the centerpiece, Town Square. Peruse contemporary and Western art galleries, sporting goods stores, clothing boutiques, a bookstore, candy shops and, for when you get hungry, charming eateries.
Listen to live music at the Silver Dollar Bar
Inside Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Wort Hotel in downtown Jackson, the Silver Dollar Bar & Grill (so named for its bar inlaid with 2,032 silver dollars) is one of the most reliable venues for live, local music in the valley. The schedule constantly changes, but Tuesday nights are often given over to bluegrass.