Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole, with two National Parks and the National Elk Refuge as its neighbours, boasts an abundance of recreational opportunities as well as bustling dining, art and shopping scenes. To ensure that you make the most of your next trip, we asked Hope Maloney, Chef Concierge at Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole, to share her recommendations for the best things to see and do in Jackson Hole—from wildlife safaris and stargazing in the summertime to a wealth of ski activities in the winter.
Jackson Hole is the rare ski town that is busier in summer than winter, thanks to the profusion of activities and the nearby Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. The Resort’s Base Camp outfitters can help you enjoy the region’s myriad warm-weather charms, including some of the world’s best fly fishing, with private guided full-day fishing trips on the Snake River and within Yellowstone. The Concierge team can customize a tour to suit your interests, including a photography or wildlife safari with the resort’s in-house biologist and naturalist. Tight on time? Two helicopters are available for heli-safaris over Grand Teton and Yellowstone, offering amazing flyover views. You can even see Oxbow Bend, the exact spot where Ansel Adams shot his famous photograph of Grand Teton. If it’s wildlife you have your eye on, consider the “Evening With the Wolves” programme, which allows you to hike with a Resort naturalist to a rendezvous spot in Grand Teton and watch (from a safe distance) as wolves and their pups interact in their natural habitat. Families won’t want to miss the twice-weekly evening rodeo in Jackson Hole. Make sure you sit in the bleachers behind the bullpen to get the best view of the action.
To the mountaintop
In the warmer months, there is no easier or faster way to gain an appreciation of the area’s natural beauty than aboard the aerial tram, Big Red. Just steps from the Resort, it will whisk you away on a scenic 12-minute ride that rises to the top of Rendezvous Mountain at 10,450 feet (3,170 metres), where you can take in sweeping views of the Teton Mountain range. If you have some time, take the tram up and hike down, enjoying the vast fields of wildflowers as you descend. One of the most scenic routes is the picturesque Teton Crest Trail, offering views down into Idaho and Wyoming. A brand new 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometre) trail links the tram with the top of the ski resort’s gondola, creating a number of scenic loops. Pick up a detailed map from Base Camp to survey all possible routes. For an adrenaline rush, guided paragliding is also offered from the top of the tram. No matter how you make it to the summit, break for a locavore lunch or dinner at the fine-dining Couloir restaurant, which is attached to the tram terminal.
Flavours from the West
To fully immerse yourself in the spirit of this destination, place an order at any of these food and drink spots. The Resort’s Handle Bar, from celebrity chef Michael Mina, serves international and domestic beers in boot-shaped mugs alongside playful takes on Western cuisine, such as elk nachos. In ski season, complimentary s’mores are served poolside from 3:00 to 6:00 pm. Dornan’s, in Grand Teton National Park, is where locals take visitors to experience the park’s splendour. Here, chow down outdoors beneath the namesake peak on casual sandwiches, pizza, pasta and a selection from the adjoining Wine Shoppe. In the town of Jackson, breakfast, lunch, dinner or a drink at The Silver Dollar Bar & Grill at the historic Wort Hotel should not be missed. The famous bar is inlaid with more than 2,000 real U.S. silver dollars. At night, hit the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, where bar stools take the shape of saddles, for an ice-cold beer, pool, live music and dancing. Jackson Hole also houses a progressive culinary scene that features a variety of cuisines and extends well beyond the destination’s Western roots. Popular choices include Il Villaggio Osteria, Teton Thai and Bin22, a wine and modern tapas bar. A long-time favourite with locals, Snake River Grill serves a contemporary American grill menu from its wood-burning oven. Save room for dessert and order the chocolate soufflé, topped with cinnamon and a honey crème anglaise.
Ranked North America’s best ski resort by Ski Magazine, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort goes by the nickname “The Big One,” thanks to its height and size of the terrain. Despite its well-earned reputation for ultra-challenging expert runs, there is skiing for all abilities here, not to mention one of the world’s best ski schools and some of the deepest, driest powder on Earth. To expand its appeal to intermediate skiers, the resort recently redeveloped its Casper Bowl into a blue slope playground of gentle cruisers, served by a new, high-speed quad. This and other famed Jackson Hole runs are just steps from the Resort’s Base Camp. A new collaboration with the ski school means that parents (for a fee) can skip the early-morning trip to registration and drop their kids off for lessons right in the Resort’s lobby.
The popular Jackson Hole Shooting Experience is a favourite stop for cowboys and cowgirls in training. The outdoor firing range offers expert instruction in various handguns and long guns (a three-hour multi-gun experience is also available), as well as courses in skeet shooting and archery. A concierge favourite as well, this has quickly become one of the top-rated TripAdvisor activities in all of the Jackson area.
Visitors find themselves marvelling at the night sky in Jackson Hole, which is no surprise considering this is one of largest undeveloped and remote tracts of land in the lower 48 states, with virtually no light pollution. On a clear night, celestial wonders come alive, including the Milky Way, which stretches overhead from one end of the valley to the other. All this makes for perfect conditions for stargazing, and the Resort boasts a staff astrophysicist and astronomer, who offer private viewing sessions right at the Resort or in Teton National Park (combined with a sunset dinner). Both experiences feature the Resort’s professional-grade Schmitt-Casgranian 11-inch (20-centimetre) telescope.
Tee it high
Jackson is famed for its world-class skiing, fly fishing and hiking, but many visitors are pleasantly surprised by the high-quality golf available here. Renowned for its stunning views, Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club was designed by Robert Trent Jones II and borders Grand Teton National Park. Jackson’s other public course is Teton Pines, where former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s home sits alongside the 18th green. The Arnold Palmer course has several breathtaking holes, including 7 and 9, playing directly at Grand Teton, but the signature 16, facing steep Rendezvous Bowl, pairs mountain splendour with challenging design. Just 30 to 45 minutes away in Idaho, on the other side of Teton Pass, are two more excellent and scenic layouts: the Byron Nelson–designed Headwaters Golf Club at Teton Springs Resort and the David McLay Kidd–designed course at Huntsman Springs, a labour of love from former Utah Governor John Huntsman.
An altitude that is ideal for views can also wreak havoc on the skin, which is why it’s important to soothe and replenish with the Shea Butter Skin Lustre treatment at the Spa at Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole. During this scrub and wrap combination, your body is gently exfoliated with a luscious shea butter exfoliant before a warm, conditioning shea butter body wrap is applied (choose citrus- or lavender-infused moisturizers), leaving skin nourished and soft.
Jackson is where the Old West meets the millionaire’s playground, and the variety of retail in stock here reflects this juxtaposition. Teton Art Gallery is a jewellery shop where earrings, necklaces, rings and belts are crafted by hand. The owner even digs up many of the stones himself. Made carries an inspiring array of handmade goods, and Bet the Ranch specializes in one-of-a-kind vintage home décor items. Bring back a piece of the West from Wyoming Outfitters, packed with belt buckles, leather jackets and the house specialty: custom cowboy boots. You’ll also need a matching custom cowboy hat created by the Jackson Hole Hat Company, which has been making bespoke 100 percent beaver fur hats for more than 30 years.