Jackson Hole Benefits
Jackson sits within the geological valley of Jackson Hole along the western edge of Wyoming. The town site is without equal, surrounded by seven National Forests, the Teton Range to the west, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks to the north, the Gros Ventre Mountain Range to the east, and the Snake River Canyon and Mountain Range toward the south. The views, variety of terrain from the flats of the National Elk Refuge to the towering jagged peaks of the Grand Tetons, and the innate respect the community has for these surrounding wilderness areas make Jackson a one of a kind.
In the winter, 400 inches of powder, the annual average, make this a snowy wonderland. There is skiing and snowboarding on the steeps and chutes in three of the top-rated ski destinations in the U.S: Jackson Hole Mountain, Grand Targhee, and Snow King resorts (www.jacksonholechamber.com). The braver of heart can opt for heli- and snowcat skiing or boarding in the pristine backcountry. There is dogsledding, sleigh rides, snowtubing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling, with cross-country and telemark skiing to round out the possibilities. Condé Nast Traveler has also rated Jackson among the world’s best après-ski scenes.
When the snow melts (some years as late as May), the area transforms into a playground of a different kind. Nearby Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks offer unparalleled camping and hiking. Horse packing into the backcountry is a memorable way to experience the parks’ more remote areas. The Grand, rising 13,770 feet, is one of the most sought-after mountaineering challenges in the U.S. and offers more than 50 classic routes.
Biologist-led “safaris” to view the bison, pronghorns, moose, bear, and bald eagles that inhabit the parks are popular, as are rollicking raft trips down the Class IV Snake River. The Snake also has prime fly-fishing; the Oscar-winning film based on Norman McClain’s “A River Runs Through It” was filmed here. Even without snow, the area’s resorts are world-class with no better way to appreciate the explosion of wildflowers than by mountain bike or a scenic chairlift ride to the upper-elevation hiking trails. Championship golf courses are located nearby.
Jackson, founded in 1894, is graced with historic boardwalks with enchanting storefronts, restaurants, and art galleries, all anchored by a town square. The already-vibrant art scene has been enhanced by the recent addition of a Performing Arts Pavilion at the Center for the Arts (www.jhcenterforthearts.org), a 500-seat theater and music auditorium. The National Museum of Wildlife Art (www.wildlifeart.org), displays paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by more than 100 distinguished artists ranging from early American Tribes through contemporary masters. The Grand Teton Music Festival (www.gtmf.org) is not to be missed, as are the 11-day Fall Arts Festival; Old West Days and Rodeo; and Elkfest, which includes the annual Antler Auction. Local Boy Scouts collect antlers that have been shed by animals at the Elk Refuge and offer them to bidders, with proceeds benefitting the winter feeding program.