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12 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Jackson Hole, WY

Written by Karen Hastings
Mar 10, 2020

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Snuggled at the base of the mighty Teton Mountain Range in Northwest Wyoming, the valley of Jackson Hole offers an exhilarating taste of the Wild Wild West in more ways than one. At the southern edge of the valley, the little town of Jackson (population 9,577) is an authentic Old West town, where moose and mule deer roam the streets, and ranchers rub shoulders with ski bums and jet-setters from around the globe.

The valley is also home to Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton National Forest, with some of the most spectacular alpine scenery in the world, as well as an impressive array of wildlife, from marmots and mountain lions to elk, bison, and grizzly bears.

And if all this isn't wild enough, skiers and snowboarders can carve up the slopes of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, frequently voted North America's number one ski resort thanks to its more than 2,500 acres of precipitous and often powder-packed ski terrain.

Discover the best best places to visit with our list of the top attractions and things to do in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

See also: Where to Stay in Jackson Hole

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park | David Blackley / photo modified

Spanning more than 310,000 acres, Grand Teton National Park is one of the most beautiful mountain wilderness areas in the world. Tourists arriving in Jackson Hole for the first time often gape in awe at the jagged peaks of the park's towering Teton Mountain Range (Grand Teton is the highest peak at more than 13,770 feet.) If you arrive into the valley on a commercial flight, you'll actually land in Grand Teton National Park at Jackson Hole airport — one of the few airports in the world within the borders of a national park.

Nature lovers and photographers will be in heaven here with more than 200 miles of hiking trails and breathtaking vistas that range from dense pine forests and fields of colorful wildflowers, to sparkling lakes, and the winding Snake River. Among the diversity of flora and fauna are more than 900 species of flowering plants, 300 species of birds, and 60 species of mammals including moose, black bears, and grizzly bears.

A great place to begin a tour of the park is the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, which provides an excellent overview of the park's ecology. The popular Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve serves as the starting point for one of Jackson Hole's best hiking trails.

Other trail highlights include hikes to Signal Mountain, Taggart Lake, String Lake, and Leigh Lake, and the boat trip on Jenny Lake is also a favorite.

Photographers and anyone who loves gorgeous scenery should take the scenic drive to Antelope Flats between Moose and Kelly. Along the way, you can photograph the Mormon Row historic homes, one of the iconic images of Jackson Hole, as well as herds of bison and pronghorn antelope.

After exploring the park, stop by Dornans in Moose for a delicious lunch or snack on the outdoor deck with magnificent mountain views.

Note that some park roads and access points are closed during the winter months.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Grand Teton NP: Best Areas & Hotels

2. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Teton Village Editor's Pick

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Teton Village
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Teton Village | Photo Copyright: Brian Hastings

Frequently voted the number one ski resort in North America, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is legendary among powder hounds for its long runs and challenging in-bounds and backcountry terrain. The resort boasts a reputation as the birthplace of extreme skiing, however beginners and intermediate skiers will also find plenty of suitable terrain.

In the winter, skiers and snowboarders can carve up more than 2,500 acres of ski trails on two mountains, and expert skiers can take the plunge into the spine-tingling Corbet's Couloir, a steep and narrow chute with a 10 to 20-foot drop-in (depending on snow conditions) from the cornice above.

But the fun doesn't stop when the snow melts. In summer, you can ride the 100-person Jackson Hole Aerial Tram to 10,450 feet for incredible views and high alpine hiking trails, or hop aboard the high-speed gondola and enjoy a meal with panoramic views over the entire valley.

Other fun things to do in the summer include mountain biking, hiking, frisbee golf, and a ropes course catering to climbers of all abilities.

Teton Village, at the base of the ski mountains, offers excellent resort amenities including shops selling outdoor gear and clothing, as well as popular Jackson Hole restaurants and hotels. The free summer concert series staged here is a hit with locals and tourists alike.

Official site: http://www.jacksonhole.com/

3. Jackson Town Square

Jackson Town Square
Jackson Town Square | dw_ross / photo modified

Cowboys and cashed-up globetrotters feel equally at home in the funky Old West town of Jackson. Sitting at the south end of the valley at an elevation of 6,237 feet, the town is a popular jumping-off point for visiting the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone National Park, a mere one-hour drive away, and the rugged mountain wilderness of Grand Teton National Park.

A great place to start a sightseeing tour of popular Jackson attractions is the Town Square. Tourists love to snap photos here standing under the famous elk antler arches or gliding around on the tiny ice-skating rink in winter.

From the square, you can enjoy an Old-West-style horse and carriage ride around town or stroll along the boardwalks lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and popular Jackson Hole restaurants. If you want to do some souvenir shopping in Jackson Hole, you'll find plenty of options here, from gem shops to Lee's Tees, with an array of Jackson Hole T-shirts.

During the summer, don't miss the Old West-style Jackson Hole Shootout demonstrations in the town square, held Monday through Saturday from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Also nearby, Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum is a great place to visit to learn more about the area's history. It features exhibits on Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park.

4. Snow King Mountain

Snow King Mountain
Snow King Mountain | Photo Copyright: Brian Hastings

A five-minute drive from the town square in Jackson, Snow King Mountain is the steepest north-facing FIS (International Ski Federation) racing course in the continental US. This beautiful pine-cloaked mountain rises above the streets of Jackson on the south edge of town, and its summit sits at 7,808 feet.

Established in 1938, the mountain was the valley's first ski resort. Today, it offers an affordable ski or snowboarding experience for those who don't mind the relatively limited terrain. In winter, skiers and snowboarders can access 400 acres of trails, serviced by three lifts. One of the lifts provides access to five beginner trails and six intermediate trails, complementing the steep and often icy expert terrain. Night skiing is also offered, and kids will love the tubing course at the base.

Not a skier or snowboarder? No problem. Hop aboard the Cowboy Coaster, an exhilarating, almost-mile-long mountain roller coaster, which is open year-round — even in winter.

In summer, the mountain hosts horseback rides and the valley's only alpine slide, while the steep hiking and mountain biking trails give the calf muscles a great workout. At the base of Snow King, the climbing walls and children's playground are a hit with the little ones in the warmer months.

A highlight at Snow King is the stunning view from the summit (some say the best in the valley) of Jackson, the Elk Refuge, and the snow-capped Tetons in the distance. The hike up to the summit is one of Jackson Hole's top hiking trails and a popular lunchtime workout for locals.

Official site: http://snowkingmountain.com

5. The Snake River: Scenic Floats and White Water Adventures

The Snake River
The Snake River

An exciting way to explore the Jackson Hole wilderness from a different perspective is a rafting trip on the Snake River. This famous waterway slithers through the valley from its headwaters in Yellowstone National Park.

Several outfitters offer two different styles of trips: a relaxing scenic float trip through Grand Teton National Park (or the South Park section of the river), and an adrenaline-infused white water trip on Class III rapids. Both offer the chance to admire stunning scenery, including steep limestone canyons, the craggy peaks of the Teton Mountain Range, and thick pine forests.

Along the way, you might spot some of the local wildlife such as deer, bald eagles, osprey, moose, marmots, and beavers.

The Snake River is also one of Wyoming's top fly fishing destinations. If you're looking for things to do in April and May in Jackson Hole, it's one of the best times of year to fly fish, as long as you time it before the runoff. Guided fly fishing float trips can be arranged in season.

6. Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve

Hiker on the Phelps Lake Trail Loop in the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve
Hiker on the Phelps Lake Trail Loop in the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve

Part of Grand Teton National Park, but administered by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve offers a one-stop immersive wilderness experience. In 2001, Laurance S. Rockefeller followed in his father John D. Rockefeller's footsteps and donated 1,106 acres of private ranchland to the National Park Service. Today, it is one of the jewels of the park. If you can only make one quick visit to the park, make it here.

Some of Grand Teton National Park's best hiking trails radiate from here, but your first stop should be the excellent visitor center. Awarded a Platinum Leed Certification, the unassuming building sits in a serene sagebrush meadow and houses a series of sensory experiences. Sunlight streams through the large windows, poetry peppers the walls, large screens display images of the park's passing seasons, and a soundscape with recordings from the park offers a peaceful space for meditation.

After you've explored the visitor center, head out for a hike. Of the 16 miles of trails here, the Phelps Lake Trail Loop is one of the most popular. Make sure you pack bear spray, though — hikers frequently spot black bears on this trail. Before you head out into the wilderness, you can chat to rangers at the center about recent sightings and organize guided walks.

Insider's tip: The parking lot fills up quickly, so it's best to time your visit for early in the day.

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/lsrpvc.htm

7. Jackson Hole Rodeo

Jackson Hole Rodeo
Jackson Hole Rodeo | Brian Gratwicke / photo modified

A trip to the wild west town of Jackson wouldn't be complete without seeing the famous Jackson Hole Rodeo. Barrel-racing, bull-riding, bareback bronc-riding, and calf-roping are just some of the exciting activities on the lineup here, and even the local little tykes participate with nail-biting bareback rides.

The rodeo is held twice weekly during summer with extra performances during peak visitor times. Another popular event held at the Rodeo Grounds, usually in July, is the Teton County Fair with fun games, farm animals, and dizzying rides.

A word of warning: Animal lovers might find some of the events, such as the calf roping, disturbing.

Address: 447 West Snow King Avenue, Jackson, Wyoming

Official site: http://jhrodeo.com

8. National Museum of Wildlife Art

National Museum of Wildlife Art
National Museum of Wildlife Art | Daniel D'Auria / photo modified

Overlooking the Elk Refuge, the National Museum of Wildlife Art is worth visiting as much to admire the building's environmentally sensitive design as for what's inside. Composed of natural stone, the building blends beautifully with a rocky hillside, and the art exhibits begin before you even enter the building on the Sculpture Trail, with life-size wildlife sculptures.

Inside, the museum's superb collection of wildlife art ranges from 2500 BC to the present day, with a focus on European and American painting and sculpture. The more than 5,000 artworks span a variety of genres and media, from Romanticism to Realism and lithography to photography. Impressive temporary exhibitions complement the permanent collection.

After gazing at all the wildlife art, visitors can admire real wildlife on the Elk Refuge through the museum's spotting scope. The museum is also home to an excellent restaurant, Palate.

Address: 2820 Rungius Road, 6825, Jackson, Wyoming

Official site: www.wildlifeart.org

9. National Elk Refuge

National Elk Refuge
National Elk Refuge | Jim Bowen / photo modified

Famous for being the largest concentration of wintering elk in the world, the National Elk Refuge is home to herds of more than 5,000 animals.

In winter, horse-drawn sleighs take visitors out across the glittering snowscape for close-up views of these gentle creatures, and accompanying guides provide a narrative history of the refuge. The sleigh rides depart from the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, which presents excellent exhibits on the history of the refuge and local wildlife. Looking for some private couple time in the winter? Private sleigh rides can be reserved and are one of the most romantic things to do in Jackson Hole.

The National Elk Refuge is also home to a bison herd of more than 500 animals, and you might also spot coyotes, bighorn sheep, and trumpeter swans.

From May through September, you can tour the historic Miller Ranch on the refuge to hear fascinating stories about the valley's original homesteaders and the region's rich history.

Address: 675 East Broadway, Jackson, Wyoming

Official site: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/national_elk_refuge/

10. Chuck Wagon Rides & Wild West Shows

Chuck wagons in Cache Creek
Chuck wagons in Cache Creek | Phil Price / photo modified

For a fun dose of cowboy culture, sign up for a covered chuck wagon ride followed by a sunset cookout in the wilderness. After dinner, you'll be treated to tall tales, singing, and performances by local talent.

Several outfitters in the area offer packages: Bar T Five Covered Wagon Cookout & Wild West Show takes visitors into beautiful Cache Creek Canyon for an authentic Dutch-oven dinner, while Bar J Chuckwagon also includes a visit to a western-style village.

Teton Wagon Train and Horse Adventure offers four-day trips by horseback or covered wagon. The scenery is exceptional, and wildlife sightings are frequent.

The chuck wagon rides usually run from Memorial Day through September and are a huge hit with families.

11. Center for the Arts

For such a small town, Jackson is big on culture, and the Center for the Arts is a modern and intimate venue for an impressive lineup of events. The center comprises the Arts & Education Pavilion, as well as the Jean Louise and Mike Thieme Performing Arts Pavilion with a 500-seat theater, music center, and rehearsal space.

Among the many events staged at the center are ballet, opera, international music acts, films, dance performances, and the excellent Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, held every two years.

Classical music fans will also love the summertime Grand Teton Music Festival at Teton Village, while those who lean more towards musical theater will enjoy the delightful Christmas show at the western-style Jackson Hole Playhouse.

Address: 240 South Glenwood Street, Jackson

Official site: www.jhcenterforthearts.org

12. Day Trip to Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park

About 57 miles from the town of Jackson, Yellowstone is the oldest national park in the world and one of the country's most magnificent wilderness areas.

The park is known for its geothermal features and boasts the world's highest concentration of active geysers — Old Faithful is the most famous. Contrasting with these hissing moonscapes are sprawling green valleys, towering waterfalls, red-walled canyons, rivers, and vast lakes.

Wildlife is abundant. Among the dazzling diversity of species in these pristine ecosystems are grizzly bears, gray wolves, bison, black bears, and elk, as well as graceful trumpeter swans and bald eagles. The best way to explore the park is on the many hiking trails, however visitors can also drive the scenic Grand Loop, a 142-mile-long road that twists through the park.

Besides the geothermal attractions, park highlights include Yellowstone Lake, Hayden Valley, the Grand Canyon, and the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.

Tourists flock here in the summer months, but the park is open year-round and offers something different in every season, from the budding trees and flowers of spring to the fiery colors of fall and snowmobile safaris in the winter.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Yellowstone National Park: Best Areas & Hotels

Where to Stay in Jackson Hole for Sightseeing

When you're choosing a place to stay in Jackson Hole, the biggest factor to consider is whether you want to stay close to the mountain or near the attractions in downtown Jackson. If you're an avid skier or snowboarder, or you're visiting Jackson Hole for other mountain-based activities, you might want to opt for a hotel near the slopes in Teton Village. If you want easy access to a larger range of restaurants, galleries, and attractions, a hotel downtown is more convenient. Choose the best option from these highly rated Jackson Hole hotels:

  • Luxury Hotels: Right at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort's ski slopes in Teton Village, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole offers ski-in and ski-out convenience, a luxe spa, fitness center, and several excellent dining venues.

    At the Amangani, it's all about the views. Perched high on a butte overlooking the Tetons and Snake River Valley, this magnificent resort pampers guests with fine dining, a deluxe spa, and sleek rooms.

    In the heart of town, the LEED-built Hotel Jackson also offers a contemporary take on luxury. Highlights include the light-filled lobby, a Lebanese-inspired restaurant, and stylish rooms with textural accents such as reclaimed wood.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: On a peaceful street two blocks from the Jackson town square, Huff House Inn & Cabins feels like a homey bed and breakfast. The rooms and cabins are bright and fresh and come with a delicious breakfast.

    A Jackson Hole classic, The Wort Hotel graces the National Register of Historic Places. Cowboy charm, a convenient downtown location, and tons of character are the high points of this heritage property.

    For more Western charm, choose the Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole. Elk-antler lights, stacked stone, and a toasty fire set the tone in the impressive lobby, and the rooms are cozy and comfortable.
  • Budget Hotels: Budget options are limited in Jackson Hole, especially in high season, but the Alpine Motel offers affordable units a short walk from the town square. Upgraded units come with kitchenettes and dining tables.

    On a busy intersection just outside town but still near restaurants and shops, the Pony Express Motel offers good value. Some rooms come with kitchenettes, and family rooms have bunk beds.

    Just down the street, Virginian Lodge is an older property with large, clean rooms and a popular evening entertainment venue.

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