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Jackson Hole, Wyo., has always been the gathering place for skiers and snowboarders keen on shredding the best powder in the country. But that only can take place in the winter and very early spring.
During warmer months, this town nestled in the foothills of the Grand Tetons’ craggy peaks thaws and transforms into a verdant paradise, open for business to mountain bikers, campers, wildlife watchers and all-around adventurers. Below is what not to miss.
HikeIt’s impossible to see Jackson Hole’s vistas without getting an itch to explore them. Luckily, Jackson Hole has a network of scenic trails to hike.
“My favorite hiking spot is Cache Creek because it’s so accessible, and it’s easy to get into the backcountry without having to go very far,” said Joe Madera, general manager of SpringHill Suites by Marriott Jackson Hole, who has lived in the area for 11 years.
In nearby Grand Teton National Park, there are many others hikes that are bucket-list-worthy, including Death Canyon, which offers gorgeous vistas of Phelps Lake. There’s also Jenny Lake, which can be accessed either by following the Jenny Lake Loop or by taking a boat across the lake to hike Cascade Canyon, Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls.
For the ultimate backcountry trek, carve out a day or two to hike the Teton Crest Trail, which runs for roughly 40 miles north to south along the Tetons. Go to the top of Teton Pass and start your hike from there, or take the tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and hike down behind it, then up on the ridge.
FlightTo really see the area’s astounding beauty, travelers must take to the skies and see Jackson Hole’s peaks and valleys from above. They can try their hand at paragliding — or tandem paragliding with an experienced pilot at Jackson Hole Paragliding — and soar over the majestic landscape. If clients are feeling a little more adventurous, they can take lessons to learn the sport.
Another option is a flight in the comfort of a climate-controlled cabin instead. Fly Jackson Hole offers several different small plane tours including the Summit Tour, which takes passengers over the Tetons’ jagged peaks, and the Grand Tour, which takes them as far as Idaho.
Mountain BikeThose who prefer a more grounded journey can explore the mountains on a bike. In the summertime, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort swaps out its skis and snowboards for bikes and gets the trails ready for mountain biking trips filled with stunning panoramas and wildflower-decorated meadows.
On offer are trails that range from beginner to expert, as well as bike tours if clients prefer to take on the challenge with a guide. There are several mountain bike tour operators in town, but one of the best ones is Teton Mountain Bike Tours, which has half-day to multiday trips.
WildlifeEven with Yellowstone National Park casting its shadow in the north, many prefer Jackson Hole for wildlife safaris. It’s not only home to the National Elk Refuge, which sees a few thousand elk every year, but it’s also frequented by moose, bison, antelope, bears, foxes and several birds of prey.
Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris takes wildlife enthusiasts on several excursions, from short half-day trips that cover the general sighting spots to multiday safaris that stop in grizzly and wolf habitats as well as less-traveled areas.
Wet and WildWhile winter has its snowmobiling, snow tubing and dog sledding, summers at Jackson Hole means heading to Snake River for memorable river trips. (The river stretches through Wyoming and into Idaho and the Pacific Northwest.) Take the scenic, relaxing route, and see wildlife along the way. Or, guests may opt for something more exciting, such as whitewater rafting.
No matter what floats your clients’ boat, Barker-Ewing Whitewater will likely have the answer, from scenic rafting trips to 8-mile whitewater rafting experiences — and even a combination of the two if they would like the best of both worlds.
WHERE TO STAYBlending contemporary design with a traditional Jackson Hole aesthetic and vibe is what SpringHill Suites by Marriott Jackson Hole does best. It features midcentury modern furniture and trimmings that keep company with skull mounts and a wooden, rustic cabin exterior; as a result, the property doesn’t feel like another homogeneous hotel.
The staff, many of whom have been there since the opening, are warm, welcoming and generous with their time and assistance — and the rooms are so invitingly cozy guests might not want to leave.