The best of the West in Jackson Hole
Wildlife has been a source of fascination and inspiration for artists for thousands of years. And at the National Museum of Wildlife Art a few miles north of Jackson there are more than 5,000 wildlife art works, with pieces by John James Audubon, Georgia O’Keefe, Rodin and Picasso, with much of the collection focussing on art by European artists as they explored the US West. The building itself is a work of art; on a bluff overlooking the National Elk Refuge, the wintering grounds for the approximately 7,500 elk of the Jackson elk herd, the rocky architecture of the museum blends nearly seamlessly into the mountainside.
Head to the rustic, homey Il Villagio Osteria in Teton Village to watch pizza chef Cassidy Hudson show off her dough tossing skills – she competed in the highest dough toss at the Las Vegas Pizza Expo in March 2013. Let your kids chow down on pizza topped with homemade sausage while parents will be tempted by the more complex dishes of fried Brussels sprouts and foie gras caramel sausage.
At the base of 1,571ft-high Snow King mountain in Jackson, Snow King Resort can keep your kids entertained with its an outdoor pool, arcade game room and a mini golf course. But it also has something no other place in town has – the Alpine Slide. Open in summer only, take the double chairlift up and ride a sled 2,500ft down the mountain on a plastic track through wildflowers. You can take it slow or bomb down as fast as you want – you control the speed with brakes on each sled.
Jackson has claimed itself the “Last and Best of the Old West”, and it proves it in its free daily summertime “shootouts” in the town square at 6 pm. Frontier justice involved taking the law into your own hands, and the re-enactments of these gunfights, complete with elaborate costumes, are performed by the “Shootout Gang”.
From 15 June to 2 September, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort transforms from ski resort to mountain biking heaven for cyclists of all levels. One of the best spots to fuel up after a ride is one of the newest pubs in Teton Village – The Handle Bar. Right at the base of Apres Vous Mountain, the restaurant serves classic pub food with a spin – try the bacon burger with peanut butter or fried pickles.
Surrounded by national park and forest, there is plenty of camping in the Jackson Hole area. But if you do not want to pack your own tent or food to overnight in the wilderness, head to Rock Springs Backcountry Yurt. A guide will lead you 2.5 miles and 1,400ft up from Teton Village into Bridger National Forest to the yurt, a domed structure with canvas tent walls. It sleeps up to eight on bunk beds, and the guide can prepare dinner while you relax on the deck or in front of the fireplace.
Jackson Hole also has hundreds of rock climbing routes for all abilities. To get around on the rock, Jackson Hole Mountain Guides teaches climbing classes, and lead single day or overnight trips up into the mountains on classic climbs. If heights are not your thing, get your thrills by hitting the water. Jackson Hole Whitewater organises half day excursions on the class III Snake River with some big rapids through the limestone cliffs of Snake River Canyon.