Calling all adventurers: there’s a place for you in Jackson Hole this summer. Here, lively locals spend more time outdoors than in. A weathered wooden sign at the summit of Teton Pass reads, Howdy stranger, yonder is Jackson Hole, the last of the Old West. And interlaced with all of this beautiful ruggedness are luxury homes, fine art galleries, and amazing dining.
Despite its popularity, the town has remained a fairly well-kept secret, due to its remote location. But that’s just fine by the locals and repeat travelers who want to preserve Jackson Hole’s unparalleled beauty. And now you can explore it, too. So lace up your hiking boots and get ready to take on our favorite Jackson Hole summer activities.
For families who like to be on the go, the Jackson Hole area is an ideal destination. And it doesn’t matter how “outdoorsy” you are—there are near-endless ways to experience this beautiful place, and something for all skill levels.
Explore with a local naturalist guide company, whether your family is gathered around your first campfire, or glimpsing bison and grizzlies on a wildlife safari. Guided horseback riding or float trips along the Snake River are a great way to get out and explore, and to learn about Jackson’s ecology from a local’s perspective. Spend a relaxing afternoon fly fishing on the Gros Ventre (pronounced “Grow Vaunt”) River, a great place for catching cutthroat trout. And 30 miles southeast of Jackson, you’ll find tranquil Granite Hot Springs. These natural pools are a local’s favorite, and perfect for a revitalizing soak.
For a more exhilarating day, bring the kids on an adventure to Snow King Mountain’s Treetop Adventure Course. Here you’ll find seven ropes courses of suspended bridges, nets, swinging logs, and even an aerial skateboard. Or you can ride the Cowboy Coaster, where nearly a mile of adrenaline-inducing tracks take you careening down a mountain of wildflower meadows. Whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountaineering, trail running, mountain biking—no matter what your family needs to get your hearts pumping, you’ll find it in Jackson Hole.
It’s no secret that the outdoors are primarily what draw thousands of visitors each year. When your backyard is Grand Teton National Park, it’s impossible to stay away from the stunning peaks, rivers, alpine lakes, and meadows. And it quite literally is in their backyard: the town of Jackson is just five miles away from the park entrance.
The abundance of nearby trails is impressive, so it’s no wonder that hiking is one of the most popular Jackson Hole summer activities. Taggart Lake is one of the more popular trails, at only 3 miles round-trip, and its gentle grades are ideal for beginners. For a more difficult workout, you can head to Delta Lake via Lupine Meadows, an 8-mile trail with considerable gain. But we promise the sweat is worth the stunning views of the mountains reflected in the turquoise alpine lake.
Clip in and hit the crags at Black Tail Butte for a day of rock climbing. Drive the 42-mile loop through the park, stopping at overlooks. Popular Jenny Lake is a great and low-key place to bike, hike, or boat. In fact, it’s one of only two lakes in Grand Teton National Park that allows motorboat access, so you can enjoy a relaxing day on the water.
While the outdoors are certainly enough to draw most travelers, the town of Jackson has plenty to offer. Its town square is home to the area’s most iconic landmark: four enormous arches made entirely of elk antlers. The antlers are shed naturally every spring, and each arch contains about 2,000 antlers, all amazingly held together by gravity and friction.
After you’ve snapped the perfect vacation selfie at the arches, you can explore the quaint western buildings of downtown Jackson on foot. Snake River Grill is perhaps the best example of the town’s atmosphere: an elegantly rustic log building with a fine dining menu.
Or you can drive the 12 miles to Teton Village, located at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, for a craft beer and live music at the delightfully named Mangy Moose. Peruse Jackson Hole’s fine art galleries, attend an outdoor concert, explore the western-themed shops, and so much more.
Not only is Jackson Hole itself amazing, but it’s within driving distance to some of the most popular destinations in the U.S., including Yellowstone National Park. This gorgeous place is ideal for all levels of activity, from scenic drives and tours to backcountry hiking.
Though it’s situated mostly in Wyoming, Yellowstone spans into parts of Montana and Idaho as well. It’s larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, with over 2.2 million acres. Experience for yourself the jaw-droppingly vivid colors of Grand Prismatic Spring, watch the famous Old Faithful geyser erupt, or hike the dramatic upper falls of Yellowstone River.
The town of Jackson proper is nestled within the valley of Jackson Hole. “Hole” was a word used by Wyoming’s early fur trappers to describe a high mountain valley.
The south entrance to Yellowstone National Park is 57 miles away from Jackson. In regular traffic conditions, you can make the trip in about an hour and 15 minutes.
To travel like a local and experience the best of the area, a Jackson Hole vacation rental is key. You’ll also enjoy more space to spread out, full kitchens for easy mealtimes, and conveniences like washers and dryers.
Downtown Jackson is full of activities! Visit the famous elk antler arches, taste locally brewed craft beers, attend a ghost tour, or have an antique-style family photo taken, complete with Old West costumes.
While the skiing in Jackson Hole is amazing, there are plenty of other ways to get out and explore. In the winters, you can go snowshoeing, take a dog-sledding tour, enjoy a wildlife excursion, or explore quaint Teton Village. And when the snow melts, the mountains and rivers are perfect for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, golfing, rafting, and so much more.