All posts by gliffen

Spring In Jackson Hole – Things to Do

With the snow beginning to melt and weather starting to warm up, spring in Jackson Hole is here. Both spring and fall here in this mountainous region seem to be awkward transitional periods with the weather, activities to do, and the influx of visitors giving a middling ground to winter and summer. However although the ski resorts will soon be closed, there are plenty of other things to enjoy. Below we go over some of our favorite things to do during Spring in Jackson Hole.

National Parks

The beauty of this muddy snow melted season in Jackson Hole is that it is a much slower time for tourism than the heat of the summer and peak of the winter. Meaning you get to avoid the mayhem and crowds that normally gather throughout the parks during the summer months. Many of the hiking trails are covered in snow or mud still at this time of year but with some good boots you can still make the most of them. 

Also it is a fantastic time for wildlife viewing as the animals begin to start being more active as the snow clears out and warmer weather ensues. Bears especially are much more active coming out of hibernation, and moving down from the mountains into the warmth of the valley to get some of their first meals of the year. The elk also begin their migration out of the Elk Refuge and into the hills, as well as bison in Yellowstone that tend to become much more active. Wildlife is not limited to the national parks, but Yellowstone and Grand Teton are some of the more popular areas for them to roam.

Another awesome thing about Grand Teton during the spring during April is that the Teton Park Road is open to non-motorized traffic only until May 1st when vehicles are permitted to travel along the road. This means that the road is fair game to bikers, roller bladers, skateboarders, walkers and runners only, without the annoyance of having to dodge cars while enjoying the views and the ride/stroll. 

Fly Fishing

Before the snow melt is in full effect and the rivers start to roar with high water levels, the fly fishing is prime in the Greater Yellowstone region. While you will have to dress a bit warmer than usual, it is still a blast to get out and be on the water of the Snake River, or other nearby rivers. This period of calm water is typically throughout March and April, and it is recommended to get in touch with local fishing guides or shops to hear about the conditions. Once May and June roll around, usually this is when the water levels begin to rise depending on the harshness of the winter and how warm the spring has been, causing the rivers to become aggressively fast, murky and non-ideal for fishing. Fun fishing expeditions to the various lakes around Jackson can still be had.

Spring Skiing & Snowboarding

If you are still itching to slide down some slopes on your ski or snowboard, there is typically plenty of snow to still be had for much of spring in Jackson Hole thanks to the high elevation of the area. The Tetons are the place to be for spring skiing as the snow hangs around and Heli-skiing and backcountry touring guide services are usually still operating through May. For those looking for something a bit lighter, Snow King Mountain tends to retain snow for quite a while after closing and is fair game for skinning and hiking up, just exercise caution with rocks beginning to show themselves progressively as summer approaches. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is also an option once the Aerial Tram opens for summer in late May. Skiing or snowboarding without heavy winter gear can feel quite liberating.

Best Lakes to Hike to Near Jackson

While there are many amazing hikes around Jackson, we are focusing on the ones that lead you to gorgeous mountain lakes, that serve as a wonderful destination and turnaround point on your trek. Some of these lakes are fairly easy to get to while others require proper preparation for a longer haul, including snacks, plenty of water, bear spray and appropriate footwear. Below are some of our favorite lakes to hike to in Jackson Hole.

Phelps Lake Loop

This lake is one of the more popular hiking destinations in Grand Teton National Park, thanks to its gorgeous views and low elevation routes that lead to it. The hike begins at the Lake Creek-Woodland trailhead within the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, an area donated by Rockefeller in 2001. Due to its popularity, it is a smart move to get there early as the parking lot tends to fill up quickly. The Woodland trail is the fastest route to the lake, and there are trails that loop around the lake’s perimeter that are great to hike along or find a nice spot to picnic on the shores. Alternatively there is a longer hike from the Death Canyon Trailhead which brings you to the Phelps lake overlook that provides a higher vantage point for viewing the lake and great views looking out over the valley. For the thrill seeking hikers, there is also a popular jumping rock along the northeastern shore that is great for catching some air and cooling off all at once.

Lake Solitude

A more challenging hike due to it’s 15.3 mile round trip length, but it is all worth it thanks to the wonderful scenery and the reward of being able to dip in the lake at the end. Although it is a long trail the elevation gain is modest throughout with an average of only 307 feet gained per mile totalling at 2350 feet. The hike starts either with a hike around the south end of Jenny Lake or you may choose to take the shuttle boat across the lake to save your legs and some time, about 2.4 miles worth. There are several great viewing areas and water features to see along the way including Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Aside from the scenery you will likely encounter a good deal of wildlife on the way from bears and moose to marmot and a variety of birds. Once you have reached Lake Solitude you will see astonishing views of Teewinot Mountain, Mt. Owen the Grand Teton that makes it worth your while. Due to the length of this hike, there are many more details about the trip that you should read up on before you take off. Tetonhikingtrails.com has a great description that you can read here.

Amphitheater Lake

If elevation gain is your thing, then this hike is for you, with over 2,980 feet of elevation gain and 584 feet on average gained per mile. The round trip distance is 10.2 miles but it feels like much more with the seemingly endless switchbacks you will follow to reach your destination. You will start your hike at the Lupine Meadows Trailhead in Grand Teton National Park. To start the trails are fairly flat and mellow until you reach the more intense portion of the hike filled with steep switchbacks. Upon nearing the lake you will pass by the smaller Surprise Lake as you reach flatter grounds. Amphitheater lake as you will notice is much bigger and surrounded by large rock walls which is where it gets its name. The lake is a great place to set up a picnic or hike around the various rock formations to look down over the valley and the rest of the mountain range. If you worked up a good sweat the lake’s frigid waters will be sure to cool you off, but most will not want to stay in for long.

Other Lakes

Aside from these lake hikes that we have mentioned there are plenty more where they came from. If you are not interested in taking any major hike, there are several great lakes that are easily accessible within a short walk from your vehicle, including Slide Lake in the Gros Ventre, and Jenny, Jackson and String Lake located in Grand Teton National Park.

Hill Climb World Championship 2021

With plenty of uncertainty in the air over whether the event would take place this year, it is now official, the 2021 Snowmobile Hill Climb World Championship is scheduled to go on – with limited attendance. The event is currently scheduled for the weekend of March 25th-28th, with races taking place each day from Thursday through Sunday. 

The races are like few others in the world with riders pushing their snowmobiles to the limit on the steep slopes of Snow King Mountain, attempting to reach the highest point possible on the hill in the shortest amount of time. Competitors from all over will travel to downtown Jackson to showcase their skills. 

Best Ways to Watch

For those wanting to catch some of the action of the Hill Climb World Championship up close, you will need to arrive early or be very patient to get into the gates of the event with the 500 person limit. Within the gates there are numerous vendors, including snowmobile companies, outdoor apparel, and of course food and beverage booths. Tickets to enter will be available at the gate for $40 each day, with no weekend passes. Alternatively spectators can purchase lift tickets to ride up to the top, with options for $20 single rides or $60 unlimited rides. Snow King is also offering a special deal for 1 hour of unlimited mountain coaster rides with an included single chairlift ride. For those who may be only mildly interested in viewing the event, it can be seen from a distance from almost anywhere in town, although you may need binoculars to really tell what’s happening from most places.

COVID Guidelines

While local legislators were somewhat reluctant to approve the event returning to action this year after being cancelled on short notice in 2020, they were able to come to an agreement to make it happen this year. The agreement came with some conditions that will make it a bit different than previous years, with the most notable change being a limited attendance of 500 people at a time within the gates of the event. Some of the other restrictions and measures include, no VIP section, masks required, COVID screenings, social distancing and sanitizing surfaces.

View from Top of Snow King

Hiking Trails Closest to the Town of Jackson

While there are countless trails to hike in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National parks that are amazing, they can take a while to get to and many of them require most of the day to complete. For those staying in the town of Jackson that want to get a hike in but don’t want to make an entire day of it, you are in luck! There are several great hikes right on the edges of town that can be completed within a couple of hours or much less depending on your speed and how far you wish to go. Below are some of the more popular hiking trails within a short distance of town.

Snow King Summit

Right in the heart of Jackson sits Snow King Mountain, you can’t miss it, as it is the gigantic hill right on the south edge of town with chair lifts going up in various directions. This hike is sure to get your heart rate going, with about 1,500 vertical feet in elevation gain along just 1.8 miles of trail. Short but steep, this hike is a local favorite and for good reason, with gorgeous views overlooking town and the entire valley. On clear days you can see all the way over to the Grand Teton and out into the Gros Ventre range. 

Josie’s Ridge

This hike is similar to the Snow King Summit hike as it takes you to the top of a separate ridge of the same mountain, but with a more secluded feel as it goes along a single track rather than the wide service trail of Snow King. The views are essentially the same but will give you a panorama of the more southern areas of the Tetons and town. The climb amounts to about the same as well. However at the top of this hike there is a gorgeous meadow of wildflowers if you venture up at the right time, and a nice rocky outcropping at the very top to relax on and soak up the views. This trail can be accessed from the Wildlife Drive trailhead.

Cache Creek

For those looking for a hike with a much more mellow incline, Cache Creek road and it’s offshoot trails provide this all while still offering great scenery. The trail can be accessed from the far southeast corner of town by following Cache Creek Dr. which eventually turns to a dirt road and there is a small parking before the true wilderness road begins. The road travels alongside the creek, and there are singletrack trails on both sides, with Hagen being the main one to your right as you head out and Putt Putt and Cache Creek Sidewalk to your left. These are popular mountain biking trails so keep an eye out for fellow trail users. Putt Putt on the left will take you higher above the road and into more open meadows of wildflowers and sage brush while Hagen is lower along the creek and is heavily shaded by pine trees. The road itself is a great hike to take as well offering a bit of both types of scenery, it will ultimately take you out to game creek if you are looking for a longer hike.

Wildlife Safari Tours in Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole and its surrounding areas are home to a large variety of unique wildlife in high concentrations, due to its relatively remote location, distinctive ecosystem and the active preservation of the area. As part of the greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Jackson Hole is part of the migration patterns of bison, elk, bears, wolves, antelope and many other species that Yellowstone is known for. Unless you know where to look, many of these animals can be elusive, but lucky for you there are plenty of wildlife tour companies in Jackson Hole to put you right where you want to be for wildlife observation. There are a variety of companies that specialize in different areas, specific wildlife, photography, and more in depth information about the wildlife and history of the areas. Read below to learn about some of the top Wildlife tour companies in the area.

Ecotour Adventures

This company has something for everyone, with trips that take you to Grand Teton, Yellowstone and the wilderness throughout Jackson Hole, and specific tours tailored to nearly anything you may have interest in. They offer both winter and summer tours so you can enjoy the wildlife and scenery while learning a thing or two any time of the year. Some of their specialty tours include trips focused on geology, birding, and a 9 day photography workshop. The winter tours also have specialty options for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, as well as the normal tours by vehicle. Trips are offered in morning, afternoon and full day excursions and if you are looking for something that is not listed with them they offer fully customizable private tours as well.

BrushBuck 

Offering “one-of-a-kind wildlife tours”, as they say on their site, BrushBuck is one of the premier wildlife tour companies in the area that also operates year round with both winter and summer tours. They provide most of the same basic tours with options for half, full and multi-day trips. Some of the tour options that set them apart are their Bighorn Sheep Native American Petroglyph tour and their Wet N’ Wildlife Float combo tour in conjunction with Dave Hansen Whitewater that includes a rafting trip as well as a wildlife tour. During the winter they also offer snowmobile and snowcoach tours to get to the hard to reach areas during the frigid winter months. If you enjoy an experience with them and happen to take a trip to Africa or Alaska, they operate tours in those areas as well.

Alpenglow Tours

If photography is your thing, or perhaps you want to start having it be your thing, then Alpenglow Tours is right up your alley. Offering trips for both beginners and seasoned photographers, Brad Schwarm, the sole guide for Alpenglow, will show you the optimal locations at the optimal times for shooting incredible photos. With over 30 years living and shooting in the area, you know that you will be in good hands with Brad as your definite guide. He also offers strictly wildlife tours for those who may not have interest in photography but still want to be guided by an expert. Trips range from full, half and multi-day tours, in both the winter and summer.

Snow King Winter Activities

While skiing is quite the thrill and one of the biggest reasons for tourism in Jackson Hole in the winter, sometimes it can be nice to switch it up, and what better way to do so than snow tubing! Snow King Mountain is the place to do it, with three smooth groomed lanes and a “magic carpet” to get back to the top of the lanes, you will be hard pressed not to smile.  A perfect activity for the whole family to take part in, so long as the kiddos are at least 42” tall.  The only things you need are yourself, warm clothes and a ticket to ride. 

The Tube Park

The park is located right at the base of the mountain, in the parking lot across the street from Still West, looker’s right. Tickets can either be purchased on location or online on the Snow King Mountain website. Prices are the same for all ages, with a 1 hour pass for $20, and a 2 hour pass for $30. There are also options for bundle passes, one for the Cowboy Coaster and 2 hours of tubing for $45, and the other is the Big King Pass, which includes both of those plus unlimited skiing for the day at a price of $90. 

Cowboy Coaster & Skiing

The Cowboy Coaster is located on the other side of the mountain nearest to the Snow King Hotel, and is a thrilling ride through nearly a mile of loops, curves and tight turns. Skiing at “The King”, is also an incredible experience with steep slopes, 32 different runs, and a bunny hill slope equipped with magic carpet for beginner skiers and boarders, not to mention the views from the top overlooking town and across to the Teton Range (on clear days). 

So if you are staying in the Town of Jackson just know that you don’t have to go very far to have some unforgettable fun in the winter!

Fine Dining in Jackson Hole

While Jackson Hole is a relatively remote destination, situated about 5 hours from the nearest major city, you would never know based on the restaurant selection. Fine dining in Jackson Hole can provide the feeling that you are not in a remote mountain town, with exquisite local dishes and even seafood that normally most would stray away from in a landlocked state. Below are some of our favorite high end restaurants serving up some of the finest cuisine in the Rocky Mountains.

Snake River Grill

Widely considered one of the nicest places to have a meal in the area, Snake River Grill touts elegantly plated “new american” dishes in a refined log-cabin-like setting. This restaurant has been on the Jackson town square for over 25 years, and offers a menu that changes seasonally to reflect market availability. The menu features an extensive wine list and many locally inspired dishes, that include elk, bison, and beef from Mead Ranch, along with the professional touch of managing partner and culinary expert Jeff Drew. Some of their featured dishes include the SRG Steak Tartare Pizza to start, New Zealand Elk Chop, Bison Ribeye and Fresh Fettuccine Bolognese. 

Glorietta Trattoria

For those looking for a nice Italian style dinner in Jackson, Glorietta Trattoria offers just that with a quaint atmosphere that makes you feel as though you’ve stepped into an old school Italian American eatery. Their menu features traditional handmade Italian pasta dishes, as well as a selection of wood-fired meat based dishes including a dry-aged ribeye, Bison Osso Buco and their Skuna Bay Salmon. Glorietta also prides themselves on having an intricate and delicious cocktail and wine selection.

Amangani Grill

Situated atop the East Gros Ventre Butte at the Amangani Resort, a part of the world famous Aman resorts, the Amangani Grill offers exquisite meals with an unmatched view overlooking the Snake River Valley. Their offerings specialize in American Regional cuisine consisting of local, sustainable ranch meats, fresh fish and seasonal produce. Some of their featured menu items include Snake River Farms Wagyu Tartare, Bison Short Ribs, Poached White Hake, and Elk Medallion.

Cross Country Skiing in Jackson Hole

While downhill skiing is certainly a blast, sometimes you need a little vacation within your ski vacation, away from the crowds in a more relaxing setting. Cross country skiing can provide exactly that type of experience, while it is still a good workout that will get your blood flowing some. The greatest part of cross-country skiing, also known as nordic skiing, might just be the serenity and beautiful scenery that you can travel to on the various trails throughout the area. Getting out on nordic skis in Jackson Hole is fairly easy and affordable and there are several places to rent them. We will break down some of the details and information needed to get out on the trails.

Rentals

There are many different options for renting in the area. Skinny Skis, Teton Mountaineering, Hoback Sports, are the main ones within town. Aside from those there are a few other options just outside of town such as Dornan’s just outside of the entrance to Grand Teton National Park, as well as Teton Pines Nordic Center in Wilson and Turpin Meadows up in Moran which both have groomed trails for nordic skiing as well.  Skinny Skis is the only rental option that is a shop dedicated to nordic skiing so they have a wealth of knowledge about the sport and the various trails and conditions in the area.

Trails

As was just mentioned, Teton Pines Nordic Center and Turpin Meadows have both rentals and trails to ski on all in one place, and they are both respectively beautiful locations to XC ski. The nice thing about these designated areas is that the trails are neatly groomed which is perfect for those just learning to nordic ski. Outside of those there are many trails elsewhere that are also groomed and others that are ungroomed. Some of the popular ones are the Teton Park Road in Grand Teton National Park, and Cache Creek which is right on the east edge of town in Jackson. For more information on all of the different trails in the area visit JH Nordic where you can browse all of the known trails and get plenty of information about them.

JH Nordic


If you are looking for information in general about nordic skiing in Jackson Hole, JH Nordic is the one stop shop. They also have info about fat biking, which, for the uninformed, is bikes with extra large tires meant for riding across snow. JH Nordic not only provides information about the trails in the area, they also report on trail and weather conditions throughout the winter. Check them out at JHNordic.com.

Where to Buy Souvenirs in Jackson Hole

As with any good mountain town destination Jackson Hole is chock full of unique souvenirs to bring home to your friends and family. And with the gift giving season upon us, we at Jackson Hole Reservations thought it would be of the utmost importance for those of you planning to visit our valley to know the best spots in town to claim your JH souvenirs. Our iconic valley and Teton Mountain Range offers so many different things to commemorate throughout your visit to Jackson Hole. The town itself, the ski resort, the national parks, the local charm, and most of all the wildlife – you won’t want to forget.  From t-shirts to knick knacks for your home to local outerwear gear companies this is our comprehensive list of the best places to shop in Jackson Hole. 

Jackson Mercantile – Gift shop for amazing taxidermy and locally handcrafted antler art

Made – Handmade unique gifts with a western flare

Sing Hat Company – Locally made and operated custom hats using the finest quality beaver furs in the USA

Stio – Locally based ski outerwear and clothing company

Roam – Neighborhood shop for handpicked gifts, goods, and apparel

Mountain Dandy – American made gifts and home goods geared towards the men in your life

Teton Mountaineering – The local source for high quality outdoor goods

courtesy of Leestees.com

Lee’s Tees – T-shirts and souvenirs

New West Knife Works & Mtn Man Toy Shop – American made chef knives

Teton Toys – Locally owned and operated toy store

Million Dollar Cowboy Bar Gift Shop – A gift shop unique to the iconic Jackson Hole bar and restaurant

Belle Cose – Luxury lifestyle boutique

Fighting Bear Antiques – Antique furniture and gifts

Jackson Hole Resort Store – Souvenirs and clothing related to all things Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Jackson Hole Jewelry CO – Local jeweler 

Beaver Creek Hats & Leather – Premium hats, leather, apparel, and accessories for the mountain west

Women Folk – Vintage and designer consignment clothing curated and sourced in Jackson Hole

JD High Country Outfitters – Jackson Hole’s one stop shop for the outdoors

Vertical Harvest – An urban hydroponic farm that produces fresh, local food year-round, and provides jobs to underserved populations – visit their gift shop and take a tour of the greenhouse

Wyoming Outfitters – A boutique store for the western and outdoor lifestyle

Two Grey Hills – Shop the finest Native American art, including Navajo Indian jewelry, Navajo rugs, Pueblo Indian pottery

Guided Backcountry Ski Tours in Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is consistently ranked at or near the top of nearly every annual list of top ski resorts in the United States, but it is what lies outside of the confines of the resort boundaries that draw many to the region. The untouched powder of the Jackson Hole backcountry and side country is the stuff of ski lore. Now backcountry skiing is not for the faint of heart, and is recommended for well equipped, knowledgeable and experienced skiers and snowboarders only. With that being said, it is not advisable to go into the backcountry in Jackson Hole without someone who knows the terrain and is taking all necessary precautions, with regards to weather and snowpack conditions. So for visitors of Jackson Hole with eyes on the precious powder outside of the resort, it is a wise choice to go with a backcountry guide if you are not lucky enough to have your own friend with expertise to chauffeur you. Below are some of the best backcountry guide services in the area that can safely lead you to deep, steep terrain and face shots you will not soon forget.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

One of the best options for guided backcountry tours is actually run by the resort, and enables you to ride up on the aerial tram early, which is pretty cool on its own. The day starts with the early tram ride at 8:30am to the top of Rendezvous Mountain, after which you will learn the basics of performing an avalanche transceiver search before exiting the resort boundaries to start the real adventure. The rest of the guided tour is essentially up to what you prefer, with options for either skiing faster, more accessible runs or touring farther out for one or two epic runs, or even taking your time to learn more about snow science. These expert guides are able to cater to your desires. They also offer tours on Teton pass which is south of the resort, as well as a 4 day backcountry camp. Backcountry ski gear and equipment are necessary for the trips and cheaper rates are available when you book with a group. Learn More.

Exum Mountain Guides

While there is no privileged lift access for this option (isn’t the point to get away from lifts?), Exum Mountain Guides will lead you to some of the best backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the United States. Their tour options include runs located in Grand Teton National park as well as around Teton Pass. Similar to JHMR trips, their trips are basically a la carte, with options to do shorter, more frequent runs, big time lines, and everything in between so long as you have the chops to handle it. Also similar to JHMR trips are cheaper when you book with a group up to four. Learn More.

Jackson Hole Mountain Guides

As they say themselves “Arguably the best value in the valley”. Catered towards intermediate to advanced backcountry skiers and riders, JHMG will guide you through Grand Teton National Park and areas on Teton Pass. Expect to get around 2500-6000 vertical feet of riding in and the days to last around 6-8 hours in total including check in, gear check and beacon refresher session. Untracked powder awaits you when you take a trip with these AMGA certified guides.  Learn More.