“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
Sounds intriguing, I know. When I was first told we were going to Wyoming for vacation, I replied with, “Ummmm……seriously? What’s even in Wyoming?” I thought they were joking. (This was years ago when I was an early teenager, I’m much more grateful now!) But seriously, what IS in Wyoming? I’ll tell you. The happiness your soul has been searching for.
We stayed at this quaint little place called Snake River Lodge in Teton Village (it’s not cheap, but the location is perfect), which is about a two minute drive from the entrance to Grand Teton National Park. We didn’t get out of the car to explore this wilderness because our main goal was Yellowstone National Park, but it was just as beautiful and full of wildlife. You’ll learn quickly that Grand Teton is very famous in Jackson. It’s the tallest mountain in Grand Teton National Park and the city is at the base of it so you can see it anywhere you go in town.
If you’re going to Jackson, Yellowstone is an obvious must-see. I’ve been twice now and on my trips I’ve seen brother bears wrestling with each other, a moose protecting her baby, an osprey nest on the edge of a cliff in a canyon, a bald eagle, a wolf pack, a mountain goat climbing a cliff, beautiful waterfalls, and countless breathtaking views. We even got stuck on the road once for two hours because a herd of bison was blocking it!
5 things you must see in Yellowstone:
1. Old Faithful (Duh!)
2. Mammoth Hot Springs
3. Yellowstone Lake
4. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (I’m not sure how it compares to the actual Grand Canyon because I’ve never been to Arizona, but I’ll let you know.)
5. Grand Prismatic Spring
Aside from Yellowstone, there are plenty of other things to do. If you have kiddos with you, the Alpine Slide on Snow King Mountain is loads of fun for them. They’ll experience a ride up the mountain on Rafferty Lift, where incredible views await so bring the camera!
If you don’t want to travel into town or the slide isn’t for you, there’s a tram right next to the Snake River Lodge that will take you up (and back down) Rendezvous Mountain where you will get equally amazing photos.
There are also multiple ranches that love to take tourists horseback riding in the mountains. The ranch we used two years in a row is called Mill Iron Ranch, and Chancy makes the best steak and chicken around! You’re getting beyond what you paid for with the kind hospitality and welcoming environment; they treat you like family here. Be warned, your back and legs are going to ache for a few days afterward but it is absolutely worth it!
Looking for something a little more on the wild side? Three words: white water rafting (or kayaking or canoeing or…you get the point). Guys, I’m not exaggerating when I tell you this is the scariest/most exciting thing I’ve ever done. I think you’re gathering that I don’t do many exciting things in my life, and you’re right. But this is at the top of my to-do list in Jackson right under Yellowstone. Thrill seekers enjoy.
If you’re not so much of an adrenaline junkie, you can calmly float the Snake River where the rapids aren’t present. During this kind of river tour, you’ll be able to relax and take the time to enjoy the scenery and wildlife that goes blurring past you if you’re whirling through rapids.
I’m not a strong advocate for this kind of thing because I’d rather be out adventuring and utilizing every second of my time in a new place, but I know some people (usually women) enjoy it. Shopping. It’s only about a 15 minute drive to the actual city of Jackson, where there are tons of boutiques and souvenir shops for tourists. There’s an adorable park in the city’s center as well for an afternoon nap under a shaded tree or a picnic with the family. Teton Village does have everything you need in its little town, but there is a much bigger selection of hotels and restaurants in Jackson. I, however, like the calm, quiet intimacy of Teton Village.
So at this point you’re thinking, “What about hiking?” Don’t worry, I didn’t forget. We utilized the hiking trails of Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. There are many different trails to choose from so I won’t bore you with the details, but you can’t go wrong with any of them. They all contain beauties to behold.
This still isn’t enough for you? Okay, you asked for it. Take a day trip over to Yellowstone Bear World in Rexburg, Idaho. It’s a little under two hours from Snake River Lodge, and earth-shattering scenery awaits you the entire drive. Here, there is a drive-thru wildlife tour where you’ll see animals such as elk, bison, black bears, grizzly bears, and much more. Except, there’s a catch: this time, they’re the ones allowed to roam free while you’re barricaded.
One other really cool thing about Yellowstone Bear World is that you can feed bear cubs! The way they put their paws on your hand while you hold their bottle is so precious (possibly more so than human babies). It’s a once in a lifetime experience that you’ll never forget, and well worth the drive.
The whole town of Jackson consists of ranchers, tour guides, mountaineers, snowboarders, fishers, hikers, and countless other unique jobs you wouldn’t find in the big city where I’m from. They are extremely kind and always ready to lend you a helping hand, so support the local companies and write great reviews because they thrive on tourism!
If I still haven’t convinced you to visit Jackson, then maybe a few more photos will do the trick…
It’s surprising to me that I’ve been to this same place three times with the same people, yet each time I’ve had unique experiences I didn’t have before. I often call this place my second home because it really does feel like home from the second you step off the plane. Stress doesn’t exist here and your soul is allowed to roam free.
Vacations don’t always have to be near beaches, people. Get outdoors and enjoy the fresh mountain air!