Jackson Hole Overview
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. 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.
Jackson Hole is encompassed on all sides by mountain barriers. The hole – or valley – is 48 miles long and for the most part, six to eight miles wide, embracing an area of approximately 400 square miles. It lies a few miles west of the Continental Divide and occupies the central portion of the headwaters of the Snake River. Mountain streams converge radically toward it from the surrounding highlands, and the Snake River receives these as it flows through the valley.
Within Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park occupies the northwestern part of the valley encompassing the iconic, jagged peaks of the Teton Range. The Town of Jackson sits at the southern end. The Snake River threads through the entire valley from its headwater in Yellowstone National Park. These parks are part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the last remaining large, nearly intact ecosystems in the northern temperate zone of the Earth. This makes the area home to some of the rarest wildlife, including moose, grizzly and black bear, pronghorn, bison, and elk.
With so many mountain ranges within a stone’s throw, Jackson Hole is a hub of outdoor recreation opportunity. Wildlife watching is easy here; elk, deer, and many other small mammals can be found throughout the valley. A plethora of bird species hangs in the valley throughout the year including various ducks, geese and even swans. As it is with mountain ranges, skiing is the major winter pastime and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King and Grand Targhee all offer an excellent skiing experience and accommodations.
The Best Things To See in Jackson Hole
Grand Teton National Park
Spanning more than 310,000 acres, Grand Teton National Park is one of the most beautiful mountain wilderness areas in the world. Visitors arriving in Jackson Hole for the first time often gape in awe at the jagged peaks of the park’s towering Teton Mountain Range
Jackson Town Square
From the square, visitors can enjoy an Old West style horse and carriage ride around town or stroll along the boardwalks lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. 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.
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. Trip options include a relaxing scenic float trip through Grand Teton National Park (or the South Park section of the river), and an adrenaline-infused whitewater 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.
Jackson Hole Rodeo
A trip to the wild, 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. The rodeo is held twice weekly during summer with extra performances during peak visitor times.
Best Time to Visit Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole offers amazing sights and outdoor fun year-round, so the best time to visit Jackson Hole depends on your preferred adventure. Summer months are peak tourist season for hiking, mountain biking, fly-fishing, and horseback riding. The wildlife is most active during spring months, and autumn boasts the changing colors of the trees. For skiing and snowboarding, the winter months are the peak time, and visitors during the holidays can catch sleigh rides and showers of fireworks over the ski runs.