Nestled close to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park, Jackson is a picturesque town that is not only rich in wildlife and natural beauty but also offers numerous outdoor activities to keep adventure seekers busy.
If you’re looking for a fabulous vacation spot where you can mix outdoor recreational activities with unmatched scenic beauty, then Jackson, Wyoming is your ideal destination.
Whether you’re an avid hiker, a water sports enthusiast, a wildlife lover, or a winter sports fanatic, Jackson has something for everyone. Here’s everything you need to know before planning your trip to Jackson.
Hiking & Biking: Explore Jackson’s Trails
Jackson has easy access to several hiking trails with fabulous scenery for hikers of all levels of skill and endurance. From leisurely strolls to challenging treks, here are some of the best trails to explore:
- The Teton Crest Trail: For adventure seekers, the Teton Crest Trail is a must-see destination. Spanning 40 miles, the trail runs from Static Divide to Cascade Canyon, passing through Grand Teton National Park. The trail offers a range of hiking experiences, from easy to intense, with stunning views of the Tetons throughout. One of the highlights of the trail is the panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks as you traverse the high-altitude passes. Keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife, including bison and moose that call this area home.
- Gros Ventre Wilderness: If you’re looking for a more relaxing hike, the Wells Creek Trail in the Gros Ventre Wilderness is an excellent choice. The trail is about five miles long and offers a gentle, easygoing hike through the wilderness. The trail is relatively flat, making it ideal for families with young children or novice hikers. Along the way, you’ll enjoy the beautiful scenery, including the meadows full of wildflowers and the pristine alpine lakes. Be sure to bring your camera as the views of the Teton Mountains are breathtaking.
- Cache Creek Trail: Cache Creek Trail is a great destination for those who prefer biking over hiking. The trail stretches for about six miles and offers riders a chance to explore some of the most stunning landscapes around Jackson. The trail offers a range of terrains, from easy to challenging, making it ideal for both novice and experienced bikers. You’ll ride through thick forests, open meadows, and rocky outcroppings as you make your way along the trail. Be sure to take a break at the overlook to enjoy the stunning views of the town of Jackson.
- Shadow Mountain Trail: The Shadow Mountain Trail is another must-see destination for bikers. The trail begins about seven miles northeast of Jackson and takes you through some of the most scenic landscapes in the area. The trail runs for about 15 miles and offers a range of terrains, from easy to challenging. Riders can expect to see a range of wildlife on the trail, including bison, elk, and deer. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the scenery, including views of the Teton Mountains and the Gros Ventre Wilderness.
- Snow King Mountain Trail: If you’re looking for a challenging hike, the Snow King Mountain Trail is an excellent option. The trail is about six miles long and ascends to the top of Snow King Mountain, which offers fantastic views of Jackson, Grand Teton National Park, and the surrounding areas. The trail is relatively steep, making it a more challenging hike, but the views from the top are worth the effort. Once you reach the summit, you can take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch while taking in the stunning 360-degree panoramic views.
Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking
The sight of the rippling waters and the breathtaking views of the mountains will leave you in awe as you experience the thrill of whitewater rafting or the tranquility of kayaking. Here are some options for water sports enthusiasts in Jackson:
- Snake River Rafting: The Snake River is a popular destination for whitewater rafting in Jackson. With a variety of rapids ranging from class I to class IV, there are options for both beginners and experienced rafters. Guided tours are available, allowing you to navigate the rapids with the help of experienced professionals. As you make your way down the river, you’ll enjoy the stunning scenery, including towering cliffs, lush forests, and the occasional wildlife sighting.
- Flatwater Kayaking: If you prefer a more peaceful water experience, Jackson offers plenty of opportunities for flatwater kayaking. The Snake River offers calm sections where you can paddle at your own pace and take in the beautiful surroundings. Kayaking allows you to explore the waterways, navigate through gentle currents, and enjoy the serenity of the natural environment. It’s a great way to relax and connect with nature while enjoying the tranquility of the river.
Best Time to Go: Summer Adventures
The best time to visit Jackson for outdoor activities like kayaking and whitewater rafting is during the summer months. From June to September, the weather is warm, and the water levels are optimal for these activities.
During this time, you can expect pleasant temperatures, clear skies, and a vibrant outdoor atmosphere.
However, it’s important to note that the popularity of these activities during the summer months means that you may encounter larger crowds, so plan accordingly.
Wildlife Viewing: Nature at Its Finest
Jackson is renowned for its incredible wildlife, and it’s no surprise given its proximity to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Here are some ways you can experience the wildlife in and around Jackson:
- Wildlife Tours: One of the best ways to see the wildlife in the area is by taking a guided wildlife tour. These tours will take you to the best spots for wildlife viewing, where you can see animals such as bears, elk, moose, wolves, and eagles. Knowledgeable guides will provide interesting insights into the behavior and habitats of the animals, making for an educational and exciting experience.
- National Elk Refuge: Located just north of Jackson, the National Elk Refuge is a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts. The refuge provides a winter home for thousands of elk, as well as other animals such as bison, bighorn sheep, and various bird species. You can take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the refuge to get up close to the elk and experience the magic of the winter landscape.
Skiing & Snowboarding: Winter Wonderland
When winter arrives in Jackson, the outdoor activities shift to snow-focused adventures. If you’re a fan of winter sports, Jackson has some of the best ski resorts in the country. Here are some highlights:
- Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: Known for its challenging terrain and epic powder, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a paradise for skiers and snowboarders. With over 2,500 acres of skiable terrain and vertical drops of over 4,000 feet, the resort offers a variety of trails for all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner looking for gentle slopes or an expert seeking steep chutes and bowls, Jackson Hole has something for everyone. The resort also features excellent facilities, including a ski school, rental shops, and cozy lodges where you can warm up and relax after a day on the slopes.
- Snow King Mountain: Snow King Mountain, located in the heart of Jackson, is another popular ski destination. With its proximity to downtown, it offers a convenient option for skiing and snowboarding. Snow King Mountain features a range of trails suitable for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, as well as a terrain park for those looking to test their skills. The resort also offers night skiing, allowing you to enjoy the slopes even after the sun goes down.
Jackson, Wyoming, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide range of activities throughout the year. From hiking and biking in the summer to whitewater rafting and wildlife viewing, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
In the winter, the focus shifts to skiing and snowboarding, with world-class resorts providing thrilling experiences on the slopes. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or the chance to connect with nature, Jackson is the perfect destination for your next outdoor getaway.
So pack your bags and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Wyoming’s natural beauty.