There’s nothing like incessant Atlanta humidity and a calendar bubbling over with obligations to make you run for the hills or, more appropriately, the Teton Range! A recent trip to Jackson, Wyoming provided a much-needed respite from the proverbial hamster wheel that reaches a fever pitch right around autumn. I had a hunch that the majestic mountain air and fabulous accommodations awaiting my husband and I would be incredible but Jackson Hole very much exceeded my expectations.
Neither of us had visited before and, through recommendations from family, friends, and lovely Instagram followers, we really lucked out in every category from hotel to cuisine. I had many an inquiry about our getaway and I wanted to share our highlights in case they prove useful to some of you. I am by no means an authority on the region, but I was bestowed with plenty of expert advice that I’ll share below.
Of note, we traveled to Jackson at the very tail end of their season and it was blissful—the crowds were small and the weather was snowy with clear conditions. We heard time and time again that mountain weather there was very unpredictable so perhaps a visit towards the beginning of October versus the end is a more conservative choice. Many hotels and restaurants will shutter between now and ski season (it starts November 28th!) and activities such as horseback riding or rafting down the Snake River aren’t available until summertime. All in all, I would recommend a fall visit if you’re looking for a laidback few days to explore one of America’s most incredible destinations without throngs of tourists. Oh, and definitely rent a car—a big SUV with snow tires was the ticket for us!
Four Seasons Jackson Hole– We stayed at the Four Seasons in Teton Village, a short drive from Jackson, and had such a wonderful experience. For moi, accommodations are integral to the vacation experience and the Four Seasons really delivered. The conditions were perfect for enjoying the chilly weather, think plenty of fabulous fireplaces to sit by and a snowy day luxuriating at the spa. The incredible concierge helped us navigate our excursions and the restaurant options were also top notch, more on that soon.
Yellowstone National Park– I must admit, I went to Yellowstone thinking I was just appeasing my husband. Visions of RVs and screaming children (I live with a little one so I can say that!) clamoring for views of Old Faithful didn’t spark a deep desire to experience the park. It wound up being a magnificent experience and, really, the highlight of our trip. Since we went so late in the season the traffic was very light and, on the day we explored it, conditions were perfect for seeing all that nature had to offer including awe-inspiring canyons and wildlife right up close. It was worth the two and a half hour drive through parts of Idaho and Montana to get there and the drive back was brimming with scenery to marvel at too. Definitely plan for a whole day trip if you go and do download the GyPSy app, an audio tour that works even without cell service that will guide you to notable stops and provide some interesting science and history commentary along the way.
Grand Teton National Park– Much closer to Jackson is this incredible park with the most glorious views of the Tetons jutting up from shimmering lake vistas. Using the GyPSy app, you’ll explore the famed Mormon Row, some excellent hiking trails, and the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center. We did the park loop in about two and a half hours. Not to be missed is the Snake River Overlook made iconic by photographer Ansel Adams in 1942.
Downtown Jackson– like every vacation destination, Jackson has its fair share of tourist-y t-shirt shops but its charm shines through with plenty of local haunts to explore. A picture under the antler arches is a must, followed by a stop into Cowboy Coffee and Rodeo for a little mountain shopping. A drink at Million Dollar Cowboy—with its western saddle bar seats—is required too.
Expert Recommendations: Do a guided tour of Yellowstone via the Four Seasons. Enjoy trail riding on horseback through the mountains at Mill Iron Ranch followed by a cowboy steak dinner (I really, really wanted to do this but alas, its season was over!). Shop at Bootlegger, Skinny Skis, Mountain Dandy, Altitude, Workshop, Belle Cose, and Sing Hat Company.
The main event, the cuisine! Our favorite dining experiences:
Westbank Grill– We came to the Cowboy State in pursuit of the most decadent cuts and were treated to just that at this modern steakhouse. I had a wagyu flank steak, my husband had an elk chop and we both enjoyed incredible side dishes and a fabulous view of the mountains right from our window-side table. It was the cherry on top of our day after touring Yellowstone and the best part was being able to pop right down from our room to an exquisite dinner as it’s located in the Four Seasons.
Snake River Grill– This was the most recommended place in all of Jackson Hole and it really is that special. A true fine dining experience tucked away on the second floor of a downtown building, it is unassuming from the outside and totally in-the-know on the inside. I made reservations three weeks in advance and we enjoyed everything from their signature brand iron onion rings to elk carpaccio. What the locals say is true, it’s a must-try!
Local– Right in the heart of downtown, Local is downright delicious and convenient for lunch or dinner. I really could have had one of each of the menu offerings, it was all so enticing! My favorite dishes were the French onion soup and a glazed duck salad.
Basecamp– On one of our exploring days, we picked up lunch at this hip place located inside of a gas station—it’s civilized, don’t worry. Their gourmet sandwiches, Ascent kombucha, and nosh-worthy car treats were stellar. Basecamp is in Wilson, just a few minutes drive from Teton Village.
Aspens Market– Another on-the-go option filled with fun things you don’t see at your everyday grocery store. I loved the offerings at Aspens Deli and assembled a cheese board to take with us to Grand Teton.
Bin 22– Speaking of cheese boards, Bin 22 was a delight for a glass of wine and a charcuterie plate before dinner one evening. Family style tables at the back of a wine shop bustling with locals made us feel like we fit right in.
If you’re looking for a true local’s take on all things Jackson Hole, make sure to head over to Lacelliese King’s blog for her excellent travel guides of the region. She’s our kind of gal!