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What to See and Do in Spectacular Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Wyoming is a spectacularly beautiful state filled to the brim with eye-catching splendor. See some of the images I captured here.

The Teton Mountains viewed from our cabin at Spring Creek Ranch on top of East Gros Ventre

The Teton Mountains viewed from our cabin at Spring Creek Ranch on top of East Gros Ventre

Visiting Jackson Hole

In the summer of 1988, my mother, niece, and I decided to explore Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The town sits in a "hole" or mountain valley that extends for 55 miles in length and varies from 6 to 13 miles in width.

Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers can't get enough of this place! With an average elevation of 6,800 feet, the Teton mountains soar above the valley floor another 7,000 feet or so, making for dramatic landscapes. We were to see many great attractions and capture numerous photos on our vacation trip. I'll share some of our experiences to give you an idea of what there is to enjoy, should you decide to travel there.

We flew from Houston to Jackson Hole, and our airplane landing was the first exciting moment of our planned two-week vacation. 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! It is one of the only airports within the confines of a national park in the U.S.

Spring Creek Ranch

One has a choice of many places to stay in Jackson Hole and the surrounding area, including ski resorts and so-called "dude" ranches. For once, we decided to unpack and make our headquarters in one place, venturing out on daily sightseeing trips. We chose to stay at Spring Creek Ranch, which sits 700 feet high above the valley floor of Jackson Hole. This Four-Diamond Resort offers much in the way of amenities.

We deposited our belongings in a charming and rustic condo. It had 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 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 provide and made excellent suggestions as to how best to spend our time.

One area of the ranch is set up for outdoor picnics and is very rustic. Bales of hay along with picnic tables provided seating.

The Town

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 that make up each 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.

Other museums show the historical nature of this area and also showcase the wildlife.

Shoppers can purchase souvenirs in the town's stores, including 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. We enjoyed eating in many of the town's different restaurants while there.

So Much to Enjoy!

One day my niece and I enjoyed riding the ski lift to the top of Snow King Mountain. Terrific panoramic views can be seen from the top of the mountain, looking down at Jackson Hole. Many people enjoy this ski area, as well as others, during the snow season. 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 near Spring Creek Ranch. 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.

The three of us ate al fresco in the town that evening at Sweetwaters and went to the 8 P.M. 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, we got tickets to see the Music Hall Revue at the Pink Garter Theater. It is an entertaining 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.

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There are many different concerts and shows available, even a rodeo at times of the year.

Snake River Whitewater Rafting

Another day we decided to widen our horizons and try our hand at a whitewater rafting experience. We signed on for the Dave Hansen tour, one of many choices. 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 is needed 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.

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, guides bring out pails, 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.

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 last five pictures shown below 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 took buses back to our point of origin.

Depending upon river conditions, this same trip could be calmer or wildly dangerous, all depending upon the season.

We boarded one of these covered wagons for our cookout and wild west show.

We boarded one of these covered wagons for our cookout and wild west show.

Cookout and Wild West Show

One 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. One day we decided to check out the Teton Village. Driving 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 and the surrounding countryside.

Numerous pristine alpine lakes and verdant forest trails abound in the beautiful mountains of the Grand Teton National Park, and 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.

For a spa and wellness package, visitors can go to the Granite Hot Springs containing a thermal pool a short 20 miles or so outside of town.

Wildlife lovers can elect to take safari-type tours in this area. In the wintertime, some of those tours are by sleigh rides in the snow! The National Elk Refuge, 1.9 miles from the center of the city, attracts herds of elk in the autumn and winter months.

Yellowstone National Park is only 65 miles north of Jackson Hole.

Enticements

Should these breadcrumbs of ideas of what we got to enjoy while visiting Jackson Hole, Wyoming make you wish to partake of a full loaf of experiences, then I will consider writing this article a success. There are almost endless attractions that have some people returning year after year to enjoy the many activities in this most scenic of places.

Winter sports, in addition to skiing, include snowmobiling, dog sledding, and ice skating. Summer sports include hiking, biking, all types of water sports, fishing, camping, horse riding, hang gliding, and hot air ballooning, to name a few. Photography and nature viewing is a year-round form of enjoyment.

Check out the source links below for more information.

Sources:

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

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