Over the last few years, my wife and I have been interested in vacations that combined stress-destroying nature set in culturally rich places where adventure and great food were as common as the wide-open spaces, and Jackson Hole (we recently discovered) is clearly one of those places. I’ve been interested in visiting Jackson Hole since I saw a photo of the Grand Tetons, and every day we had in the Hole was an absolute pleasure. Below, you will see 10 things to do in Jackson Hole with Your Wife Before You die and photos from our trip.
1. Be Beary Aware
All throughout Grand Teton National Park, Teton Village, and Jackson Hole, it’s impossible to ignore the signs that read: “Be Bear Aware.” The signs are pretty self explanatory, but they want you to be on the look-out for bears. Well, Heron and I were terrified of bears yet incredibly intrigued by the prospect of seeing one. (We actually preferred the slogan “Be Beary Aware.”) So, when we were hiking to Amphitheater Lake, we actually saw a bear as we were coming around the corner of a switchback. He was young and ravaging through the huckleberry patches. It’s quite a sight to see, especially if they’re not about to eat you.
2. Buy Bear Spray
When I was hiking and we approached switchbacks, I always reached down for my bear spray, just in case some hungry Grizzly wanted to have a French and Irish snack. I really recommend buying the bear spray at the supermarket — or asking your hotel to borrow some — but it does feel essential, considering I talked to a couple that needed to use it.
Ask people in the hotel you’re staying at if they have a good bear spray story. The best one I heard is that some people commonly interpret bear spray as a bug spray. One of the hotel employees told me the story of a father lining his entire family up against a wall, the bear spray in his hand, and dousing his entire family. From what I hear, the pain of mace to bear spray is like comparing the heat of a campfire to the sun. This poor family must have lost all faith in their father.
Huckleberries are a treat for bears…and humans. (Not pictured above.) It’s not right to let all the bears get all the good stuff. I recommend finding a huckleberry patch and searching for the delectable berry. Make sure that the plant has alternating leaves on the stem. If you have time, then try and find some huckleberry dessert at a local restaurant. I recommend Westbank Grill or Gather.
4. Morning Sunset on the Grand Teton
Get up early in the morning and try and find the alpenglow.
5. Take a Safari
For some reason, I never imagined I could take a legitimate safari in America, but in The Grand Teton National Park, you certainly can hop in an SUV and see incredible wildlife that truly make you understand “where the buffalo roam.” Heron and I took Eco Tours, and we were lucky enough to have Laura “the Legend” as our tour guide. I call her the legend because every other tour guide that met her along the way had a story about her. Here are two of my favorite:
- Stalked a bison for 20 days
- Killed a deer in the middle of winter with a bow and arrow and carried out the carcass on her back
Overall, EcoTours was fantastic. We drove around in an SUV, drank fresh coffee, and saw incredible wildlife and parts of the park we would never have found on our own. For instance, we saw bison, elk, a coyote, a badger, pronghorn, and more.
6. Dance Like a Cowboy at the Silver Dollar Saloon at the Wort Hotel
I grew up in Massachusetts, and I wish I could actually say that I was close to being a real-life cowboy. I can’t, however….mostly because I tend to glamp instead of camp. But I can claim to dance like one. I recommend heading over to the Silver Dollar Saloon in Jackson when the live band is playing and figuring out how to cut a rug like you know how to herd cattle.
7. Peresphone Bakery
When I first decided to book a vacation in Jackson, I never expected to find such incredible food. We ate at several great restaurants, but my favorite spot was Persephone bakery. They had great coffee, a peaceful outdoor patio, and spoons on the wall. Go there for great breakfast and Intelligentsia Coffee.
8. Hike to Amphitheater Lake and see the Elephant eye
Heron and I love to hike, and before you die, you need to make sure you get as close to the Grand Teton as possible. I recommend hiking to Amphitheater Lake. It’s a difficult hike, but the views are intense, and the sense of accomplishment is even better. When you get to the top, you can wade in glacier water so refreshing, cool, and clean, you’ll almost want to go swimming. But then you’ll remember the cold part. Plus, you’ll get to see the rock that looks like an elephant eye. (At least that’s how I see it.)
9. Walk with the wildflowers
In Wyoming, the state flag is a bison, but I would argue that it should be the wildflower patch. Take some time to walk through a meadow and appreciate these colorful planets buzzing around your feet.
10. Fly Fish Down the Snake River
With all of the above said, it’s easy to say what our favorite part of the trip was in Jackson Hole: Fly fishing down the Snake River. I don’t claim to be a master fisherman, and neither does my wife. In fact, I have never been fly fishing before in my life, but we couldn’t miss the opportunity to try something new. We booked “Fish the Fly” with Tristan, our guide, and he took us down the Snake River in his boat, prepared all the rods, and hosted us down a river that was as large and glorious as the West. My wife was the only one to catch a fish, but it was worth it just to float down the river and catch site of the Grand Teton Mountains behind us and watch bald eagles and osprey zoom over head. Plus, we saw two golden eagles that stood taller than I could ever imagine. Being able to float down the Snake River in Wyoming, well, it gave us a reason to always return.