Safari specialist Kim Green spent the perfect long weekend exploring Wyoming’s natural wonders
Serious Wildlife Seekers will Love a Quiet Spring or Fall Weekend in Jackson Hole, Although Jackson Hole is renowned for its beauty – at the base of the majestic Grand Tetons National Park – its winter snow sports, its summer blue skies, and all of the magic of the American wilderness, it’s also an absolute perfect mini-break, especially for true wildlife lovers.
Avoiding the busy and expensive high season means you can indulge in special activities, avoid crowds, and get your choice of lodging experiences. My Mother’s Day Weekend trip was ideal, and a long fall break would be just as relaxing and enjoyable.
A Weekend in Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole, a 55-mile-long valley situated between the Gros Ventre and Teton mountain ranges in western Wyoming, retains its old-west charm while offering stunning mountain views, exceptional wildlife sightings, and is easily paired with extensions to Yellowstone National Park to its north.
My own experience was that this little spot, often paired with a Great American Vacation to Yellowstone, is just perfect for a long weekend getaway in and of itself.
Adventurous souls can find plenty of whitewater rafting options on the river, mountain biking, rock climbing, and alpine hiking, while those who prefer a calmer way to enjoy nature can take a scenic float, do some fly fishing, take a game viewing drive, and experience alpine walking trails or eBike tours.
The experience of the American safari is so much different than an African safari, in that you’re really relying on your guide’s experience to find the more elusive North American species. While I’ve seen lions lounging around in the sun in South Africa, I know many people who have spent decades living in the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest without ever having spotted a bighorn sheep or porcupine in real life.
For people who are into wildlife photography and spotting animals in nature, Jackson Hole is a rewarding and intense challenge.
In some ways, they do make it accessible: Right when we first arrived, we visited the National Elk Refuge and saw elk heading back into the mountains.
Elk and bison herds also made an appearance during our guided mountain biking adventure in Grand Teton National Park, but while it may seem tempting to rent a car or a bike and take on the park by yourself, I wouldn’t recommend it if you really want to see more of the park’s inhabitants.
Hiring one of the area’s experienced, award-winning private guides is the best way to be sure you don’t miss a thing. It often takes a trained eye to spot the animals in the area.
By getting up early for a morning game drive to a few secluded spots that our guide has spent decades observing, we were able to see brown and black bear, antelope, elk, moose, mule deer, and we saw a unique partnership between coyote and badger, as they commonly forage together.
By leveraging Extraordinary Journeys’ relationships with experienced guides who have been in the area for years, you’re better positioned to maximize your wildlife and Grand Teton experience. And, by booking with us, you can ensure that all the minute logistics of the trip–from permits to equipment–will be covered.
Where to stay
If you want to explore the downtown saloons, shops, restaurants, and atmosphere of historic Jackson, I recommend the charming and homey Huffhouse Inn, a bed and breakfast with a main house and cabin suites. The Inn is just a 15-minute drive from the Jackson Hole Airport, making it extremely convenient for those flying in.
If you’re looking for million-dollar sunrise and sunset views over the Grand Tetons, privacy, and pampering, you can opt in for an ultra-luxury stay at Amangani, one of the most beautiful properties in all of Wyoming.
However, if you’re looking for something more down-home, lots of activities to choose from, and still those amazing Tetons views, next door to Amangani is Spring Creek Ranch, a comfortable, classic resort property with opportunities to do everything from horseback riding to spa treatments to tennis and everything in between.
Food and drink in Jackson Hole
The restaurants in the town have a polished old western town feel to them. It feels like being transported to the Wild West, with slightly more comfort and all the history. Many of the restaurants offer great live cowboy music, the shops offer up high-quality cowboy gear, and the local flavors still persist, despite the robust tourism trade.
If you want to dive deeper into the local scene, we loved discovering the charming, not crowded Jackson Hole Winery. We enjoyed the incredible patio views, our friendly hosts, and being able to find something most tourists don’t know about (yet).
Follow in Kim and John’s Footsteps across Wyoming!
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